How to Leverage Social Media During a Crisis
Whether your law practice is a social media success story or your firm doesn’t even have its own Facebook page, now is the time to up your social media game. Keeping in touch with clients and maintaining a strong online presence can help your practice survive during a crisis and tee it up for future success.
Experts agree that even during economic downturns and pandemics, marketing is still a critical tool for law firms to maintain or grow their client base. Now is not the time to cut back on marketing your practice; it’s just that in the time of COVID-19, most of that effort will necessarily be digital. Here’s how you can use social media to connect during the pandemic.
Communicate the Essentials First
Before you start brainstorming Facebook posts, make sure you have communicated your availability and current circumstances to your clients and anyone who calls your office or visits your website. If you can, add a COVID-19 banner to your website with updated status–whether the office is open, updated hours, slower response times, etc. Use your email list to update clients about your hours, availability of virtual appointments or meetings, or reminders that your staff is available should they need anything. You can also share any news that may impact your area.
Conduct an online inventory of everywhere your practice appears or has a listing, including Facebook, legal directories, Yelp, LinkedIn, and Google Business Profile. Make sure that information is up to date and consistent across all platforms. Where possible, update notices with current status, including if your office reopened after a period of closure or if you are scheduling in-person client visits.
Make Your Message Right for the Moment
Posting something you wrote a month ago may not be appropriate during a time of crisis. Tone and topic matter. A personal injury blog post on theme park accidents is not going to resonate if pandemic conditions persist and parks remain closed. When reviewing something that was written months ago, consider whether the tone matches the moment and how a reader who has recently lost a job or a loved one might react.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Many businesses are finding creative ways to provide more content to audiences who are craving it and seeking it online now more than ever. A post picturing your staff working from home, favorite pets, or local landmarks during quarantine (or coming out of it) can be a nice break from the more serious fare. Just be sensitive to others experiencing hardship. A bankruptcy practice probably shouldn’t post a photo of a partner posing with her $70,000 sports car, as just one example.
Create Content That Your Audience Is Seeking
Think about what clients and new leads are asking about during this difficult time. You have probably been getting calls and emails that in some way relate to COVID-19, whether it’s employers asking about labor laws, individuals and businesses asking about bankruptcy or federal and state aid, or tenants asking about their rights.
If you have noticed a theme around what clients or prospects have been asking you, mine that source of post ideas. You could create a new page devoted to the pandemic and create an FAQ, such as “Frequently Asked Questions About Chapter 11 During Coronavirus.” You could repurpose your FAQ content by expanding each of your answers in a series of blog posts — which you can also post on Facebook (and then link back to your site’s FAQ page). If you feel comfortable on video, try producing brief videos, such as “What are your tenant rights in Michigan” that summarize key points that people want to learn more about. You don’t need to write a white paper (although if you have time, this is another great piece of content you can then break up into smaller social media posts). A video could be three minutes long and point to useful resources or address one frequently asked question.
Post on Topics That Help Your Community
You can offer your services in some way that helps your local community, which also helps establish your practice as an active community participant and thought leader. If you have a business law practice, consider soliciting questions in advance for a future YouTube live stream in which you address common issues without giving specific legal advice.
In addition to volunteering your time to interact with your neighbors, remember that sharing resources is also a valuable service. You could post information about local courts, such as which are open or those that are conducting virtual hearings or accepting digital signatures. Some states have made temporary changes, such as rules around child visitation. Federal courts have made changes to bankruptcy procedures. You know these details better than those outside your area of practice or your region, and that information is valuable to existing clients and community members who will think of you in the future when they look to hire an attorney.
Don’t Just Talk, Listen
The idea is to contribute and listen. You can gain a lot of information just by keeping up with local discussions, following your area of the law in Facebook posts and news articles. Whether you’re a patent lawyer or a divorce practice, a quick search on social media or the larger internet landscape will turn up pandemic-related topics. Check LinkedIn and devote a few hours every week to online networking.
You may have found that your firm is saving on other costs during the pandemic, such as travel or printing. Using those savings to increase or maintain your marketing budget will help keep your practice front of mind for current and future clients. While you may not have as many clients knocking on your door as you did six months ago, eventually things will turn around and all your virtual efforts will pay off.