During the pandemic, the masses have been forced online due to government restrictions and business closures, but attorneys have been slow to adapt their marketing practices to this changing world. We must realize that there is no going back even when the pandemic is over. The pandemic has catapulted the use of technology forward ten years in a single year. If you have yet to start a website or update your website, there is still time to do so. While it is important to have a website, that should not be the extent of your online presence.
Beyond your website, now is the time to get your social media act together so that you can build a social media history and presence. Potential clients are not just looking at the latest post on social media; rather, they want to review your social media history to determine the personality of you or your firm. In this column, I will give you some tips to get the most out of your social media presence.
Limit Your Social Media Platforms
There will always be a debate about how much of a social media presence to have. Should you try to get on all the various platforms and sprinkle posts on each here and there, or should you limit yourself to one or two platforms and really push content on those limited platforms? My advice is to limit your social media platforms so that you can keep up with your interactions on the platforms and truly engage with people who engage with you.
It serves no purpose to be on five to eight different platforms if you are unable to keep up with not only timely posting on each platform but also engaging with the users who comment or react to your posts. You simply cannot take the same post and run it across all your platforms—each platform has a nuance to it, engages audiences differently, has a unique audience, and requires different content. When your ability to keep up with the various platforms in the manner that each requires fails, so, too, will your audience and presence on each platform.
Limiting your social media platforms will not only help you focus on and manage your social media presence but also increase your targeted audience, who will better understand you and your firm and therefore want to retain you. Limit yourself to one or two of the major platforms rather than finding a very niche platform. The five major players currently are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Next-level players are TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest, with a whole slew of apps behind them. I personally have focused on Facebook and YouTube, but I have seen attorneys focus on all various kinds of platforms. How you pick is what I’ll cover next.
Choose Your Social Media Platforms
While most attorneys understand that it makes sense to limit their social media presence to a few platforms, where they get stuck is how to choose which ones to use. Choosing your social media platforms comes down to two factors: (1) where is your potential audience located and (2) what do you feel comfortable doing?
Knowing where your audience is located is key if you are using your social media presence as a marketing tool to generate new business (note that not everyone uses social media in this manner). Teenagers and people in their early 20s don’t really use Facebook and LinkedIn these days. You can find them on TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. Users in their 40s and above congregate on Facebook and Twitter. Just about everyone uses YouTube because video is what is being consumed these days on social media. Knowing if your audience likes to read versus scrolling through short videos and photos is important. Don’t go to LinkedIn to attract the younger generation who’d rather view videos and photos. Don’t go to Snapchat or TikTok to get your more financially stable, middle-class clients. You can find a number of articles on which platforms attract which audiences just by searching Google.
The second key to choosing your social media platforms is determining which make the process of posting the most comfortable and relaxed for you. Some of us are writers and abhor the thought of making short videos for TikTok or Snapchat. Some of us are just too shy to make photos for Instagram or videos for YouTube. Some of us are highly extroverted and thus love the thought of performing on various social media platforms. Figuring yourself out is important—you will actually post and engage more often in the platforms you are most comfortable with, which is key to engagement. I am comfortable with writing, photos, and instructional videos, so that is why I use Facebook and YouTube. Although I like to dance and make videos, I dare not post dancing videos or spend my time stitching videos together for TikTok. I occasionally post on Instagram, but trying to figure out which photo to share or quick phrase to post with the photo sometimes is overwhelming compared to just being able to type a few sentences in Facebook or doing a livestream on YouTube.
Regardless of which social media platforms you choose, you must be personal and genuine in your use of them.
Be Personal and Genuine
Because we as a nation and world are consumers of social media, we can figure out fairly quickly who are the fakes or who are just uncomfortable in their posts. To truly engage with people on social media, you must be willing to let your guard down and become personal and genuine. Granted, some people post too much of their personal business online, and that’s when we just turn away and say TMI! People generally like engaging with people they like. If you never get personal, people will not get to know you. If they don’t get to know you, they can never like you.
In just about every attorney profile I have seen on websites, there is at least a sentence or paragraph regarding the attorney’s personal life. Even in Big Law, they understand that each attorney profile needs to include more than just a photo, practice areas, and accolades. People want to know the person behind the professional role. Social media allows you to be yourself and engage with people who like getting to know you.
On a side note, you don’t do yourself any favors by getting into flame wars and arguments on politics and religion, but even those who do have their own audience. Although I’m a lifelong Democrat, you’d find it hard to figure that out by looking at my social media presence. From my Facebook and YouTube platforms, you can get to know me fairly well without my having revealed drama in my life.
Get Comfortable and Reap the Benefits
When you are comfortable in your own skin and comfortable posting on your chosen social media platforms, your posts and engagements will rise, and that is what social media is all about in the end. A website is still necessary for validation and credibility, but social proof is where most people go to vet their potential attorneys, so get on board with using social media!