I recently stumbled on a stat on one of my favorite legal marketing blogs about social media marketing and law firms that knocked me for a loop.
According to AVVO Chief Marketing Officer Leah McMillan, in 2015, 35% of attorneys said that they acquired clients through their efforts on social media. I have absolutely no doubt that in 2016 that already astounding number will continue to grow. As a team that regularly helps a number of law firms with their web design and strategy, we see too many come up short in this area. If potential clients are seeking you out on social media, it’s no longer optional to stay on top of your firm’s brand and presence — it's required.
So, you might ask, what's the best way to get started? In the spirit of tax season, let us recommend an audit! A social media audit can be a great tool that, if implemented at regular intervals (say every six months?), will keep you on top of your firm's digital brand and help you make informed decisions on where to focus your marketing energies.
To kick things off, you’ll want to locate all of the platforms where your firm currently has accounts. Complement your current knowledge of active accounts with a quick Google search. This way, you should be able to catch anything that a well-meaning summer associate or marketing intern may have created a few years back on the then-hottest new platform (Hello, ‘Ello).
This cursory search will also provide an excellent opportunity to look for any spam accounts or similarly spelled social media handles — both of which we recommend monitoring as a best practice in reputation management. On the off chance that a firm or company with a similar name or social media handle becomes involved in public litigation or a negative national news story, you’ll be on top of that conversation as it’s happening and able to safeguard your firm’s good name.
As you find your accounts, track them in a customized spreadsheet that you can save and update quickly moving forward (we’re pretty partial to using shared Google Docs at NMC -- feel free to check out the sample Law Firm Social Media Audit Template we created).
What information do you need to gather in this spreadsheet? Our advice is to start by getting a high level lay of the land. We typically begin by compiling a list of platforms, their URLs, how recently they've been updated, and the number of followers/fans each has gained over its life.
Tracking these last two elements is vital to the next step, which is to honestly consider both how you currently use social media for your firm and how you want it to work for you in the future. If your last activity on a given account was a long time ago, make note of that and consider the reasons why. If your follower count is low on one platform but extremely high on another, explore the causes and consider doubling down and engaging in that second space more often. Set aside 15 minutes for a brainstorming session and run through a few questions to get going, including:
- How much time do I/we honestly have to devote to this platform?
- What is the goal for utilizing this platform for the firm — is it to be a resource to the public? To drive leads and referrals? To show a more personal facet of our firm?
- How much do I enjoy developing and posting content to this platform?
Most likely, you’ll realize right out of the gate that some social media platforms may not be serving your firm and its mission. That’s okay! Consider this your permission slip: Your firm doesn’t have to be active on every, single platform to be successful on social media. The time has come to get rid of the accounts that don’t provide a return on the time and energy you spend maintaining them, so that you can focus your attention on the ones that do. It is far better to do an outstanding job of engaging on one or two platforms, than to be mediocre on many.
Now, let’s add a few more fields to the spreadsheet and take inventory of the visual and written brand of your firm on social media, shall we?
Spend time on each of your platforms and ask the following questions:
- Is your avatar the same logo for each platform? Did you use a high-resolution, correctly sized logo as your avatar in each instance?
- Are you utilizing the space on each platform for a large custom header image?
- Is your “About” description the same or a shortened version of the About description on your website?
- Is your contact information correctly and completely filled in where appropriate for each platform?
If you’ve answered “no” to any of the above questions, set aside some time on your schedule to update your profiles so that you are communicating a consistent brand across platforms.
Finally, you'll want to close out this audit by setting a few concrete goals for your firm's social media strategy. To start, think back to your earlier brainstorm and consider what benchmarks would equal success for your firm. Don't be afraid of baby steps here, especially if you're just starting out. A great goal can be as general as "Post once per weekday on Twitter" or as specific as "Increase our Facebook organic reach per post by 40%." We've put a few examples of categories you might consider for your goals, along with all of the other fields we've mentioned, in our Law Firm Social Media Audit Template.
Also, we recommend taking the time to become familiar with the native analytics features that come with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Social media scheduling apps like Buffer and Hootsuite can also provide detailed feedback on the success of your posts over an expanded period of time. For more quick hits on Facebook specifically, check out our blog post with tips for managing a law firm Facebook page.
Once you've determined your goals, go ahead and schedule a few hours on your calendar anywhere from 2-6 months in the future to repeat the audit and check your progress. Remember, if you discover that you didn't reach every goal or that you let some platforms slide, don't beat yourself up. It's important to take note of where you succeeded, where you failed, and why in either case. There's likely a story there about your interests and your audience's engagement that should inform your next round of goals.
With time, we think you'll find that regular audits will become a quick and easy way to maintain a comprehensive list of your firm's presence on social media and help light a path to what platforms you should use in the future. Make time in your schedule to run through your spreadsheet on a regular basis, and you'll keep your strategy and the tools you have to implement it reined in and up to date.
What do you think? Have you done a successful social media audit for your firm? Did we leave any vital elements out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.