Facebook for law firms is a no-brainer. The stats alone make it impossible to ignore: over a billion users, with 128 million people logging on every day in the U.S. It’s got an incredibly broad user base, but delivers highly targeted and direct results that no other platform can match. But finding clients and making connections on Facebook isn’t always a straightforward proposition.
Get more than Likes
People hire lawyers based on trust. That means they have been referred to an attorney or believe a law firm has the exact expertise and experience they need to win their case. Thousands of law firms have started a Facebook page in order to convey a sense of trust and authority. Sadly, almost as many have failed to find much value in it.
Many law firms have a “Like Us on Facebook” button on their webpage or make efforts to get clients to follow their pages. That kind of engagement is fine, but Likes are not what’s important. Engagement is what you’re trying to earn. Here are a few ways law firms can make the Facebook profile a lively and useful tool for law firm marketing.
1. Are you willing to pay for it?
The not-so-secret secret of Facebook is that they are trying to make money off of your content. That means the company is more interested in showing users ads than user-generated content. Even if you have an important, wonderful post on Facebook, many of your followers will not see it in their newsfeed.
Don’t believe me? Check the stats on any post on your Facebook page. For many posts, only a third of your Facebook friends may see a particular post in their feed. However, if you promote a posts, the post is often seen by three times the number of people who have liked your page. Unfortunately, in order to get the maximum effect for your Facebook efforts, you may have to pay for it. Promoting a post isn’t expensive, but it is an additional expense.
After writing a post, users can choose to “boost” a post, which increases the number of people who will see a post. Choose how much you want to spend, and the boost will go to people who are your Facebook friends and fans.
You can also choose to sponsor a status update, setting a daily or weekly budget, time period, and set your target demographic. A boost is most useful for getting information to your fans, an paid update helps reach new, potential clients.
2. Images, images, images
It may seem obvious that Facebook is a visual medium. Unfortunately, lawyers are not always visual people. Find out who in the firm is good with pictures and make sure they can help illustrate upcoming posts.
For example, it’s a good idea to publish posts about important rulings in your jurisdiction or practice area, but no one is going to read a detailed post without an image to draw them in. Put the defendant’s mug shot, a picture of the parties involved, or even a cartoon of a person in handcuffs – anything to liven up the subject.
For that matter, illustrations for the sake of illustration are a good strategy. Personalize the page with pictures of your team, their pets, or silly videos. Crowdsource the work with a caption contest for your images. Or share inspiring or funny quotes that will appeal to your client base. You can also find images for illustrations in Wikipedia Commons or stock photo websites include www.istockphoto.com and www.shutterstock.com.
3. #Hashtags Are for Facebook, Too
Use Facebook’s hashtag function to get posts into the conversation beyond your immediate followers. By using common terms with the # symbol, like #socialmedia, your posts will get picked up in other newsfeeds. For example, beauty supplier Sephora uses the hashtag #OneQuickQuestion to open up engagement to get their campaign distributed beyond the reach of their current fans.
In addition to hashtags, many sites use fill-in-the-blank posts as a two-pronged engagement tactic. You get to interact with your online community and get to know them better for future marketing campaigns.
4. Invite Friends In
Look for the little gear icon at the top right of your Facebook page. This useful drop-down menu has many advanced features, including the ability to post content to other people’s pages. Depending on the privacy settings of other people and profiles, you can set posts to appear on their pages, exposing your content to lots of new people.
You should also familiarize yourself with the Admin Panel in the same corner. Be clicking the “Build Audience” button, a drop-down menu will pop up that will allow you to choose several ways to invite people you know to like your page. It’s an easy way to start building your audience with people who already like you, and are inclined to help you.
5. Post early and often
What you write and share on your Facebook page does take place online, but it is still subject to the same rules and standards your jurisdiction has in place on advertising. Be thoughtful before you post. Don’t make a joke about judges or lawyers that might upset your colleagues.
But remember that your audience is potential clients, not other lawyers. Include your face, your direct contact, and evidence of your personality. And post content that matters to them. If you are an employment lawyer, remember that your users will not be interested in arcane changes to the law. But if you see an interesting article about a local man winning a judgement against his employer, be the first to post the news. You want others to see it on your page first.
Posting to Facebook is easier than many social media sites. But remember that Facebook you will want to post the entire URL into the body of your status update. Facebook will then create a link preview, including a headline, any available image, and a short synopsis of whatever is available at the link you’re posting.
Another way to periodically write longer posts without starting your own blog is to utilize Facebook Notes. This will work best for you if you’re already using Facebook professionally – if your firm has a business page. To add notes to your Facebook page, click on “Apps” on the left side of your home page and then click “Notes.” Then click “Write a Note” and follow the instructions to write your note.
Of course, there are thousands of useful guides online, and we encourage you to make use of as many as possible. There are a billion people on Facebook, but it is possible to stand out.