Looking Ahead: What’s New for Social Media in 2023
Social media platforms are ideal places for lawyers and potential clients to connect. It’s a low-stakes environment that serves people at every stage of the attorney-search process, from “Can my landlord legally do that?” to “Hmm, I might need a lawyer.”
The more a lawyer puts themselves out there on social media, the more connections they make. Those connections can turn into new clients when the time is right.
If you’re a lawyer looking to build relationships and reach new clients, here’s what you need to know.
Short-Form Vertical Video Will Dominate
In January 2023, four social media experts told Search Engine Journal to expect more short vertical videos in 2023. This trend follows the booming popularity of TikTok, which Americans now watch for an average of 80 minutes per day.
Lawyers can’t afford to dismiss TikTok as “for the kids.” In 2022, eMarketer predicted a 13.4% increase in users ages 65 and older. Working-age adults also use the app to connect with others who share their needs and interests.
As TikTok has expanded, other sites have jumped on the short-form video train. Content creators can also get views via Instagram reels and YouTube shorts.
The potential is unlimited for lawyers in almost all practice areas. Relatable content is critical, as are actionable takeaways that appeal to a specific interest or pain point.
Community Engagement Is Job Number One
According to Hubspot’s 2023 State of Social Media report, 90% of social media marketers are focusing on building a robust online community this year.
When a community is active, its followers feel more inspired to engage. Those engagements increase the value of a business’s social media presence — and, in turn, of the business itself.
For lawyers, social media provides a place where clients and potential clients can share their struggles and receive support. Many people perceive social media as a place where they can safely confide in others, thanks to perceived separation and anonymity. Thus, you can position your firm as a valuable resource by providing a community for your clients. For example:
- A marriage and family attorney can share research into divorce and parenting, asking for responses
- A personal injury attorney can share someone’s story of recovery, encouraging others to share their own
- A product liability attorney can share their thoughts on a highly publicized class action suit
- An elder law attorney can share a family’s success story, prompting good wishes
Always secure written permission before sharing any client’s story on social media. Avoid sharing personally identifiable details and respect any confidentiality requests, such as masking an individual’s face or voice on video.
Social Will Be a Primary Search Tool
HubSpot’s same report also showed that younger consumers use social media to find brands. In fact, 36% of Gen Z and 22% of millennials prefer to search on social platforms instead of using Google. The more complete and search-optimized your profile is, the more likely you are to connect with these potential clients.
To optimize your social media profile for consumer search, you must:
- Fill out every field the platform allows, especially contact details and website links
- Include your practice areas and location
- Add words and phrases people would use to search for you (e.g. “personal injury lawyer in Chicago”)
- Make your username searchable and relevant to your practice (e.g. “smith-and-smith-injury-law”)
It’s also important to actively monitor your profile. When someone finds you on social media, their first action may be to message your account instead of visiting your website. How fast you respond may determine whether they choose you over a competitor.
According to a 2022 McKinsey report, 79% of consumers want brands to respond to requests within 24 hours. For legal clients, whose requests are often both urgent and emotional, that time frame may even be shorter.
Channel-Specific Strategies are Necessary
As the number of U.S. social media users increases, reaching 302.25 million in 2022, it has also become more diversified. Each platform has its own unique brand, and users know what type of experience they can expect on each.
For example, people gravitate to Facebook for in-depth discussions on issues that matter to them. Videos and links to third-party content can do well on Facebook, especially since the platform allows for more in-depth explanations.
Instagram demands more attention-grabbing content from the start. Photos and graphics with text overlays are popular. It’s more difficult to post links on Instagram, so you may want to invite potential clients to send you a direct message (DM) instead.
YouTube and TikTok focus on video content. TikTok is known for short-form “sound byte” videos. It recently expanded to allow 10-minute videos, but viewers who favor Youtube videos may still be more willing to watch longer content.
Choose the channels that seem best suited to your practice and develop a strategy for each. If you decide to use the same piece of content across channels — a promotional video, for example — create a unique introduction for each platform.
Social Media Ad Spending Will Increase
As of 2022, Meta — the company that owns Facebook and Instagram — has 23.7% of global digital ad spending, a 6.3% increase since 2021. Meanwhile, spending on social media advertising is increasing across the board.
Paid advertising makes it easier to reach new audiences. While organic (free-to-post) strategies are best suited for building your existing community, algorithm changes have made it harder for those posts to reach non-followers.
Paid ads expand your reach. Facebook has the best potential for lawyers, partially because it has the largest global user base. Whatever your practice area and wherever you’re located, odds are good that many of your potential clients are on Facebook.
Facebook also makes it easy to send your ads to a particular group of users. For example, if you run a family law practice in Los Angeles, you can tell Facebook to send your ads to parents of minors in that area. Segmenting your ads geographically is a must for most lawyers doing paid social advertising.
A 2022 HubSpot survey showed that Facebook has the highest return on investment (ROI) for ad spending among social media platforms, but YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram are close behind. Given TikTok’s explosive growth, it may overtake Facebook soon.
Whichever platform(s) you choose for your ad strategy, remember to track each ad’s performance. This lets you refine your investments in the future and focus on the best-performing platforms and messages.
Reputation Management Is a Must-Have
Reputation management has always been a major focus in the legal profession. The rise of social media has only increased its importance.
According to a 2022 study by PRWeek and Newswhip:
- 90% of communications professionals believe company actions can cause more reputational harm than they could five years ago
- 88% would invest more in reputation management if they could better understand threats
- 82% are worried about the effects of misinformation on public image
Image plays a major role in a lawyer’s ability to land clients. When choosing a lawyer, 82% of consumers look for positive online reviews and 81% ask for personal recommendations.
Those reviews and recommendations could dry up if negative publicity goes viral on social media. Thus, lawyers should incorporate conversation monitoring in their social media strategies moving forward.
“Edutainment” Will Offer Value
Audiences increasingly turn to social media to educate themselves on complex topics such as finance and law. This presents a unique opportunity for lawyers to engage through relatable, accessible, and valuable content.
The fintech (financial technology) industry has made enormous strides using this approach. In 2022, fintech brands turned to TikTok to engage with an audience hungry for entertaining financial education. Their content met that need while generating interest in their products.
Attorneys are in an ideal position to do the same. Younger audiences can benefit from entertaining and relatable content about legal issues they may encounter in adulthood. Older audiences need to know about topics they hadn’t needed to consider before, such as retirement or elder care law.
You don’t have to be clownish or impersonate a college student for this strategy to succeed. Browse a few lawyer videos on TikTok, such as this one-minute video from Lawyer Mike Mandell.
Where to Focus Your Social Media Marketing in 2023
According to the American Bar Association, LinkedIn and Facebook are the most popular social media platforms among lawyers and law firms. As of 2022, 87% of surveyed firms have a LinkedIn presence, while 62% have a Facebook presence.
Facebook is a useful target for attorneys in any practice area. The user base is so large that odds are good that you’ll connect with someone there.
LinkedIn is more of a professional platform. So, it’s your best bet if you serve business clients or need to build connections with other lawyers.
TikTok is clearly a rising star in the social media world. Savvy attorneys are starting to go viral on the platform, but it’s not too late to get your foot in the door. If one of your priorities is to find mostly untapped audiences, this is the platform to try.
Instagram also has plenty of space for lawyers, particularly those looking to emphasize reliability and personal connection.
Making the Most of Your Social Media Strategy
Your social media strategy is integral to your overall marketing plan. Martindale-Avvo is here to help you create and refine that strategy, connecting you with more than 25 million people who need legal representation. Learn more today, and get your social strategy on the fast track.