Whether you’re new to law firm social media management or a seasoned veteran in need of a posting pick-me-up, an often-untapped resource for content inspiration is just across the aisle — with the firm’s business development team or operations department. These colleagues spend countless hours on negotiating terms and building consensus to develop actionable plans for the firm as an enterprise, its practices and industry teams, and even individual attorneys, to provide more quality client service and achieve greater market share. If you haven’t considered how they can be useful to your social media efforts, read on!
Before arbitrarily defining social media goals and guidelines, familiarize yourself with your firm’s written business plan — or, at the very least, engage firm leaders in an open discussion about their top goals for the business of the firm in a given timeframe. These benchmarks should be more granular than simply increasing brand awareness and revenues (although those are always on everyone’s list), but shouldn’t be numerous or frequent enough to lack focus. Aligning your social media strategies with these priorities effectively disrupts the narrative that social media is optional or “a bit of fun” and, instead, demonstrates how effectively these platforms can be used to support strategic goals — with minimal monetary investment and more client/employee/community engagement.
Some common benchmarks in law firm business plans are:
- Elevating a new practice area, industry team or service offering to become synonymous with the firm brand.
- Expanding geographical locations and/or existing practice units to deepen the bench of services.
- Equalizing promotion of multiple practice areas within a firm, eliminating the emphasis on any one area.
- Showcasing commitment to innovation, including technological adoption/advancements, internal work environment policies, alternative fee structures, etc.
- Celebrating corporate culture, including the firm’s appreciation of attorneys and staff, commitment to diversity and inclusion, approach to recruiting, dedication to community service, etc.
- Developing, maintaining and/or expanding referral networks in specific industries.
The firm’s business plan should also include market analysis and, if you’re lucky, profiles of your competitors and/or ideal clients, although this research should not define your social media strategy. While you should not hold your competitors’ efforts as a standard by which to measure your own, you most definitely should consider them to be “fact patterns” that illustrate the types of content other firms are showcasing.
Note that it’s always dicey to depend on anecdotes and hearsay when laying the foundation for any strategy. Reviewing the written version and consistently referring to it in all social media strategy meetings ensures everyone is aware of the common goal. That way, any discrepancies between what leaders think firm priorities are and what the business plans outline can be addressed and agreed upon before you begin the hard work of implementation.
Practice Area/Industry Team Goals
In addition to understanding the core firmwide business goals, reviewing the business development plans for each practice area (or, if your firm works in numerous legal areas, focusing first on the established and then the emerging priority practices) will often provide industry-specific guidance. You may find a list of dream prospects just waiting to be included in your social media outreach or sharing efforts, or an event calendar that provides the opportunity to be more thoughtful in campaign development.
Don’t be surprised if you find some duplication in practice/industry team goals and those of the firm. That alignment means you won’t have any difficulty with ensuring that the macro- and micro-strategies work seamlessly in support of each other.
Individual Attorney Business Development Goals
And speaking of micro-strategies: Don’t forget your attorneys! Your attorney’s individual BD plan is most likely an extension of their practice area BD plan. (At the very least, those plans should support one another.) With a little virtual sleight of hand and in the true spirit of collaboration, you can encourage an attorney to post on their feed in a way that lets the firm share their content.
This is the ideal win-win-win situation.
Your attorneys’ activities in social media in pursuit of their own BD goals moves them forward; your firm can publicly humble-brag about the brilliance of its attorneys while mixing up the type of content it produces; and you? You’ve gone beyond mere caption-writing to appease the almighty algorithms while supporting your marketing colleagues and attorneys.
Featuring attorney-specific posts may be more doable for small- to mid-size firms, but even large law firms will benefit from featuring their lawyers’ personalities, philosophies, and accomplishments this way. You just might have to come up with parameters to clarify and streamline the process.
Fun with the Funnels
Now that you have a comprehensive collection of goals from the firm, its teams, and its attorneys, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. But this part of the job — seeing the human story in all those business benchmarks — is where you shine.
- It’s important to use different types of visuals, including photography, illustrations, and video — keeping in mind that posts without any visually interesting components will never do as well as those with some sort of graphic element.
- Adding audio interest — podcast soundbites, videos with uplifting music — is also a way to give your audience a positive reason to stop scrolling and start reading.
- Celebrating the accomplishments of both individual attorneys and entire practice/industry teams, as well as showcasing breaking news and evergreen efforts, expands your firm’s content offerings.
Delivering endlessly interesting and consistent stories can stymie even the most seasoned law firm content creator. Reduce your creative block by reviewing your firm’s business plans and those of its practice areas, industry teams and attorneys, and you’ll improve the quality of your social media feeds in no time at all!