So reluctantly you’ve decided to take the plunge and set your firm up on social media as part of your accounting or law firm marketing strategy. You’re excited at the promise of opening your firm up to a range of new clients and networks, but nothing is happening. It’s frustrating but before you decide to close down your account consider whether you’ve made any of these common mistakes that legal and accounting firms make when implementing a social media strategy.
Forgetting to be social
This is by far the most common social media mistake that I see firms practicing. You post all your firm’s publications and announcements diligently but no one seems to like, comment or share them. This not only shows a lack of engagement with your content but also may mean less people see your content, depending on the platform you’re on. For example, Facebook will show your post to more people the other people like or engage with your post.
The real issue here is that many forget that digital marketing is about being social. It’s about talking to real people, engaging with what they’re saying and building networks. If you’re just pushing your own content, or simply posting links without any commentary at all, then you’re not really being social.
How to fix it:
There are several ways that you can remedy this situation easily, for example:
- Check who you’re following: If your firm’s Twitter handle isn’t following anyone except your own staff, how do you expect other’s to know you exist? Seek out people you want to notice you and follow them. It’s the easiest way for them to see you.
- Amplify: When someone shares your posts they amplify them to their audience. One of the easiest ways to get someone to share what you post is to share what they post. If there’s an academic who writes some insightful papers on the finer points of personal injury law, then share their work on social media if you think your target audience would be interested in it. They may just check out your social media page and share something of yours that’s interesting. It may not happen immediately, but the more influencers that you build a “relationship” with online, the more you’ll be seen.
- Like and comment: Most social media platforms allow you to like or comment on what someone has posted. Even if you have nothing to say, by just liking something you’re letting someone know that you appreciated what they had to say. Commenting lets you jump into the conversation and start building a relationship. It can also be a way to demonstrate your expertise and get someone’s attention.
Taking a scattergun approach
In all your enthusiasm you decided to set up social media accounts everywhere so your firm is represented on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat. That’s great if you have endless time and energy to keep each of these platforms updated, but it’s actually not really necessary and can even negatively impact your social media strategy.
Your firm only needs to be on the social media platforms where your target audience is likely to be. This will obviously depend on your legal marketing strategy, who your target audience (or your buyer personas) is and how you plan on using the social media platform. For example, if you want to share detailed updates on taxation law with in-house tax advisors, then you’re more likely to reach them on a platform like LinkedIn or Twitter that is used by many businesses and professionals. Whereas Instagram or Pinterest may not really be suitable because they’re better suited to content that is highly visual like photographs, memes and infographics.
If you’re trying to manage several social media platforms it can be very time consuming. While you can use tools to schedule posts to several platforms at the same time, they often aren’t able to post them optimally to every platform. For example, Twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet while LinkedIn let’s you post up to 700 characters in an update. If you write a message that automatically posts to both of these platforms then one of them probably won’t be optimal. If it’s too long for Twitter, only part of your message will appear in your tweet. If it’s too short, it might not have the depth that your LinkedIn audience wants to see. In addition, if your post has an image it may not appear correctly on one or both platforms. Now that would be a real pity when you consider the additional engagement that images can generate, for example tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without images.
How to fix it:
- Select your platform: Work out which platforms are most appropriate for your target audience and focus on those. This means you can devote more resources to getting the best social media platforms right rather than spreading yourself too thin.
- Post separately: To make the most of your social media posts it’s best to post to each individual platform separately so you ensure your post is formatted in a way that optimises the way it appears.
So you’ve posted a few updates on social media but nothing happened so you’ve lost interest and just stopped posting. While this isn’t fatal, it’s not great for the future potential of your firm’s digital marketing. Think of it this way, have you ever gone to a business’ Facebook or LinkedIn page only to see that they posted a couple of times a few months ago but have been silent ever since? The page looks dead, right.
If you start using social media and then disappear completely it can appear as if you have gone out of business, or simply lost interest. Now imagine how that would look to a potential client.
How to fix it:
- Be regular: Even if you only have time to post once a week, put in place a process where you keep your social media pages alive so it looks like you’re still very much in business.
Expecting too much
Social media is a long-term firm marketing strategy. It’s not going to produce new clients or networks instantly, because just like in real life, building relationships takes time. The real benefits of social media strategies may be very different then what you initially expected. For example, if you’re targeting business clients it’s unlikely that you’ll pick up them up directly through social media, but you may meet a new network of influencers or referrers through social media that help build your circle of influence.
How to fix it:
- Set realistic goals: It’s important to set goals, but when you’re getting started it’s best to keep them realistic. Perhaps set goals for new followers, level of engagement (likes, comments, shares etc) or impressions (how many people see your posts) for the first six months. You can always revisit your goals once you’ve got the hang of how to use social media and can see what benefits you’re getting from it.
Social media can be a rewarding way to meet new people and get your firm’s brand seen. Rather than approaching it with the sole expectation of generating new business, take some time to jump into the conversation and just explore how it can benefit you and your firm.
Rakhee graduated from the University of Melbourne with Honours and began her career practising taxation law. While working for blue chip companies like ANZ, Foster’s and General Motors she developed a flair for writing. She’s been featured in The Australian, Forbes and BBC publications, and enjoys creating content that leverages her knowledge of the law and business. Her expertise includes taxation, migration, financial services, corporate and employment law.
Rakhee is based in Melbourne. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on +61 409 418 297.