Attorneys who use social media as a part of their marketing efforts face challenges that are exclusive to the legal industry. Professional services marketing in and of itself is very different from product marketing. Added to this are restrictions on what attorneys may or may not be able to say according to ethical guidelines, which can vary from state to state.
Since it is not efficient for attorneys to use social media in the same way as product based businesses – primarily to offer sales and deals – and because online attorney communications are limited in some ways, it is critical that lawyer social media messaging to be on the mark. Attorneys must match their social media activity to user intent and expectations.
People expect different things from their social media interactions depending on the type of connection (friend, relative or business) and on the specific network. But across the board, people tend to engage primarily on an emotional level. The UK based group Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, which studies the effectiveness of marketing practices, has released a chart that emphasizes the need to connect emotionally with social media users.
Based on these numbers, it is apparent that attorneys will benefit by finding some way to appeal to social media users through a story they can relate to personally. Campaigns that evoke emotions are twice as likely to produce results. People are not primarily rational actors. Simply presenting them with facts about your firm and expecting them to make a logical decision is not an effective strategy. Attorneys who are able to harness this information and fulfill prospects’ needs for entertainment, information, personal connection and trust will have more success with social media.
In order to best target users of different social networks, it is also important to understand what people expect from social versus professional sites. Consumers of personal social media, like Facebook, experience emotions based primarily around entertainment and the desire to socialize or share information about themselves. People expect to see things that are relevant to their own personal interests, even in branded communications.
Users of professional networks, like LinedIn, experience emotions in a different way. Here, people connect to a sense of ambition and aspiration, things that they believe will help them improve professionally. They look for information that may affect their careers and and for information about current events. Attorneys commenting on a case relevant to a person’s career interests or sharing advice on how they have met their own professional goals for growth will likely generate the most buzz.
On all platforms, remember to stay involved to help build personal connections and establish authority and trust. Make comments, ask questions and recognize friends and colleagues who have done good work. But beyond simply being engaged, it is important to target your posts according to the emotional expectations of users of different types of social media. Attorneys do not have time to waste on ineffective marketing.
You can download a report on user mindset here. Study sponsored by LinkedIn.
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