Find out what tools you need at each stage of your social media marketing efforts to make them more efficient for your law practice.
In one of my previous tech columns entitled You’ve Got a Website, Now What?, I wrote about digital marketing beyond merely developing a website; this includes tackling social media.
Whether you like or not, social media has become an essential marketing tool, helping to generate clients for many law firms. Social media is effective because it is yet another way to “touch” prospective clients and referral sources, keeping you “top of mind” when they need to hire an attorney. Plus, a presence on social media can demonstrate your credibility and strengthen your reputation. But this all requires time. Time you already don’t have. Below I’ll give you some tips to make your social media marketing more efficient and effective.
First, social media revolves around sharing and engagement. So in order be effective on social media, you first need to have content to share. We live in an age where there is certainly no lack of content, rather quite the opposite: too much content. This can be overwhelming. A few sources you might turn to for content include the American Bar Association’s Blawg Directory and its Top 100 Blawgs; JDSupra for expert analysis and commentary from law firms; and Jurist Legal News for substantive daily legal news stories. Sharing content, in particular, from other attorneys is a great way to engage with other attorneys for referral marketing purposes. Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Apple also all have news aggregation sites and apps. For example, rather than read only the New York Times and Boston Globe, you can use Apple’s new News app on your iPhone to aggregate a bunch of sources of interest, including NYT and the Globe. The News app also allows you to save stories and share to social media directly from the app. Content doesn’t only come in the way of reading, there are thousands of excellent podcasts such as NYT’s The Daily which provides a daily twenty-minute in-depth report on top news, as well as a variety of law-related shows available on the Legal Talk Network.
Once you’ve found the content, you need a way to manage and store it for review, reference, and sharing. A great way to subscribe to multiple content sources is through a source aggregator such as Feedly, Netvibes, or Reeder. Say you like the ABA Journal, a certain NYTimes columnist, the SCOTUS blog, and a practice area-specific blog; checking all those sources each day is extraordinarily consuming. Instead, you can add those “feeds” to your Feedly et al., check only Feedly on a daily basis, and use its integrated tools to share to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. You can also use your source aggregator to group sources according to category, create a must read list of your favorite sources, and save sources for reading later.
Speaking of reading later, in addition to all those web sources you want to review on a regular basis, you also receive content by way of email (i.e. newsletters) or you might find yourself landing at a webpage with an article you want to read later. You need a way to capture that content. That’s why “read later” services exist. Instapaper and Pocket are two popular read later services. With a unique email address from the service, you can forward content into your Instapaper et al. account and with the web browser extension save any webpage you’d like for later. If you want to take this to the next level, create a rule for email newsletters you receive thus bypassing your inbox and forwarding directly to your Instapaper account. Just like the source aggregators above, these applications also allow you to share directly from the service. For content that you’ve reviewed and wish to store away for reference later, try Evernote as a central repository for all those resources. Evernote’s robust search capabilities, tagging system, and synchronization in the cloud make it an excellent choice for collecting and organizing resources. Most of the aggregators and read later services above integrate with Evernote, which makes moving content into Evernote a breeze.
Streamlining your social media marketing means cutting down on the time spent reviewing and posting to social media. Of course, there are technological tools for that. Hootsuite (free with premium options) allows you to connect multiple social media accounts to display in one central dashboard. You can then review and post to multiple accounts at once. Hootsuite also allows you to schedule posts. Another similar option is Buffer (free with premium options), which allows you to schedule social media posts to multiple accounts and integrates with a number of other services such as source aggregators, news aggregators, and read later services. Furthermore, services such as dlvr.it automate your social media posting enabling you to connect your blog – each time you post to your blog, dlvr.it will automatically post to your social media accounts. This is just one example of workflow automation; for further and more sophisticated automation, try IFTTT (If This Then That) or Zapier, two services that connect multiple applications to automate workflows.
Finally, even if you implement all the tools and suggestions above, if you don’t set aside time every day for your social marketing these tools will not lead to more effective marketing. Start out by scheduling twenty minutes per day to devote to reviewing your source and news aggregators and social media feeds, selecting content, and scheduling posts. If you are having trouble finding the time, schedule it in your calendar every day for thirty days. The goal is to make it a habit. If during the thirty days you stop, don’t worry, it’s ok to be imperfect (yes, I mean that and I know you don’t hear that often), just start again. Don’t wait until you “have the time”, because we all know that’s a losing battle. You must make the time!