Social media for lawyers: does it make sense?

Social media for lawyers? What is “social media” exactly anyway?

Sure, you know about LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Maybe you’ve heard of Instagram. You might have heard someone mention Pinterest once.

So what? Why should you — a busy, stressed-out lawyer — care about social media?

Let’s put that question aside for now, and focus on something more fundamental.

Ask yourself these questions.

  • Do I need more clients? (If you’re too busy because you already have enough work, great!)
  • Do I get enough of the legal work I most like to do? (if you have enough good work, even better!)
  • Do I like working with most of my clients? (If most of your clients are easy to work with, congratulations: you won the lottery!)

If you answered yes to those questions, then you probably don’t need to spend time on figuring out social media. Or marketing, either.

But, if you find yourself wanting more good work, read on.

First, let’s be clear about strategy: your marketing goal should be to get more work from nice people with legal problems you enjoy working on.

Sounds like Nirvana, right? Wildly unrealistic, that’s probably what you’re thinking.

No, actually it’s not. What’s unrealistic is thinking that you’ll get better work from good clients without any strategy at all.

So, you ask: how can social media help my strategic marketing goals? (as wisps of skepticism seep out of your skin pores)

Crafting a sound strategy is about being realistic, and working through the process step-by-step.

Step #1: figure out how to get “ideal clients” to pay more attention to you. This is a lot harder than most lawyers realize. Why?

Because when these “ideal clients” are on the Internet they act like everyone else: flitting about from place to place with twitchy attention-spans. Yes, getting their attention is hard, but you have a more fundamental problem, more fundamental than Internet-enabled ADD.

Most people are afraid of lawyers. You know this, right?

Most people find lawyers cagey and unapproachable. Ordinary people don’t feel comfortable sharing private thoughts and troubles with anyone, much less with cagey lawyers.

So, if you want to attract new business the first step is to send a signal that you’re not cagey and unapproachable.

lawyers who are trustworthy and approachable

If you’re comfortable letting other folks see your “human side,” then you can probably make use of social media. But if you take the plunge, ignore pundits that advocate “engagement” via social media.

What does that term even mean? Engagement. Forget about it.

Just use social media to do what (hopefully) you are doing when you meet people in person: let them know that you’re down-to-earth and approachable.

Yes, you also need to convey that you’re a serious professional. Yes, you need to let clients know that you’ll protect their confidences.

But you also need to help folks feel comfortable talking about difficult subjects. That’s how you help your good clients. And that’s how you get more good clients.

So, to summarize: social media is just a tool. But, if you’re an approachable guy or gal then maybe you can use it to your advantage.

If what I’ve been saying doesn’t make sense, ignore me. Perhaps you prefer the advice of lawyer-marketing gurus who disdain social media.

For sure, don’t listen to gurus who bloviate about “engagement.” The question isn’t: how do you engage people flitting about on Internet?

Can you be thoughtful and approachable? That’s a better question to ask.

That’s the key to finding better clients—ones who trust you and are willing to share the key information you need to help them with their legal problems.

So if you’re interested in testing social media, then what? Do you have any familiarity with LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter?

Focus one of those, whichever one you know best, and are most comfortable with (I recommend Twitter if you have a blog). Figure out how to post interesting tidbits that reveal your personality and worldview. Learn to post things quickly, or you’ll wind up down a time-wasting rabbit hole. Speaking of which…

Pay no attention whatsoever to Instagram or Pinterest.

  • Sampson Greenovich

    Lawyers are good people to have a connection with. They can give you legal advice, they can help you when you get tickets. My lawyer friends are really helpful in my life.
    http://www.shdlawyers.ca/en/about_us.html

  • thebigkahuna2009

    My concern with social media for attorneys isn’t that it can’t ever be useful, or that it’s impossible for them to accrue a benefit from doing it. Rather, the problem is that social media has a far detachment from putting an attorney in front of a highly qualified prospect who is ready to buy or will likely buy soon. How is posting Facebook photos going to help you get more clients? It’s too abstract to say “well maybe someday someone will see your post, love it, and give you a call”…what makes more sense to me, rather, is to focus on marketing that brings maximum results in the simplest and easiest manner…and social media is certainly not that method.

    • http://www.ernietheattorney.net Ernie Svenson

      Absolutely agree that social media is not the front line in marketing. The front line is (1) doing excellent work, (2) meeting people in person and engaging with them in a way that signals you have expertise, trustworthiness and likability. IF you do that, then social media makes sense. It’s a way to help those that have engaged with you stay aware of you, assuming they use social media.

      But these days its a safe bet to assume that most people use social media. Many people waste time with it, but they still use it. So, if you know how to use it strategically, and where it fits into the overall scheme of things as far as marketing goes, then you’ll be okay.

      So, I assume we agree that social media has a place. Just not a front line position.