Social media is not simply a way to connect with friends and family.  For lawyers, it can also be a powerful and cost-effective marketing tool that has the capacity to reach many.  Knowing where to begin with using social media can, however, be daunting.  The following five tips provide a roadmap for successful marketing through the use of social media.

DETERMINE YOUR GOAL  

Like with any marketing plan, it is important to determine your goal before you haphazardly start using a variety of social media sites.  If attracting new clients is the goal, you may want to think about disseminating information such as interesting articles or your own personal writings that highlight your specific area of practice and would prove useful to someone seeking specific legal services.  If you want to build your brand, you may want to focus on posts that promote your achievements and accomplishments to differentiate you from the competition.  Most importantly, once you formulate your goal, you can create a productive plan for using social media.

CHOOSE YOUR PLATFORM

There are a variety of social media sites from which one can choose.  All of them offer something slightly different.  In fact, it is a great idea to use a variety of sites to achieve the broadest reach.  For example, a site such as LinkedIn is geared toward business, and it may be the easiest place to start for building a network of business and professional contacts.  Twitter is for those who like to post often and and can do so succinctly.  Facebook may be best for those who may want to mix business with personal use as it is a bit more casual than LinkedIn.  The best way to figure out which sites will further your marketing goal is to experiment with a few of them and choose the one which is most comfortable and easy for you to use.  It also helps if you actually enjoy using it as well.

REMAIN PROFESSIONAL

The casualness and ease of use of social media can cause an attorney to forget that they are a professional first, not a social media star.  Before posting for the first time, you should understand your jurisdiction’s ethical rules regarding posting or attorney advertising.  Many law firms also have their own guidelines about what their employees can and cannot post.  Some attorneys choose to keep certain social media sites solely for professional use and some for only personal use.  If so, make sure your privacy settings are set accordingly.  Nonetheless, you can never go wrong if you always keep in mind that potential clients, employers, judges and other lawyers can see your posts.  As such, you should not post anything which could be offensive or inappropriate or that would adversely affect your reputation as an attorney.

USE IT OR LOSE IT

The old adage “use it or lose it” aptly applies to using social media for marketing.  Because social media sites by their nature are constantly being updated, to keep your profile fresh you need to regularly post. Posting frequently, however, does not mean doing so without thought or reason just for the sake of being heard. Moreover, if you post too frequently, followers may be annoyed. Posting a few times a week is more than sufficient to maintain a presence and also maintain a practice.

CAREFULLY CULTIVATE YOUR FOLLOWERS

While everyone enjoys feeling adored, it is a misconception that the more followers one has, the more successful they are. Choosing your followers carefully and strategically can help further your marketing goals more efficiently. For example, before you agree to allow someone to follow you, ask yourself if you even know them or do you know why they have reached out to you.  If you don’t know, then perhaps ask them before you agree to allow them to follow you.  To use social media to successfully market, you want to create a network of people who are positive and who will help spread your marketing message.

Social media allows you to become your own personal publicist.  There is no other medium that allows you to distribute content to so many people in such a quick, easy and inexpensive way.  Thus, it is worthwhile to spend some time learning to use social media properly and to let it help you expand your marketing strategy.

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