Monthly Archives: January 2014

Law firm social media success story: case study

Michael Denmead is a solicitor at Barr Ellison Solicitors in Cambridge, UK.

He is an active social media user who runs both the social media for solicitors group on LinkedIn and the community of the same name on Google+. He also looks after his firm’s social media presence.

I talked to him about:

  • which social networks he uses,
  • why he uses them,
  • what’s worked well for him and his firm, and
  • what tips he’d give to lawyers wanting to build their practices using social media.

Why should lawyers and law firms use social media?

I believe the conservative approach needs to be dropped. If lawyers and firms can determine how they want to communicate their brand via social media and stick to this then they’d be mad not to use these networks. You have the opportunity to be in front of your target market and to clearly communicate your messages. If you have the necessary resources then you’ve got to use these networks in order to be visible to your target market.

Which social networks do you use and how?

On Twitter we RT (retweet) everything to do with our local market and community and initiate conversations with other Cambridge-based businesses and people. It’s really easy to connect with others using Twitter. I’ve even had one client set up a meeting with me via Twitter and then DM (private message using Twitter) me to tell me she was going to be late. She knows I’m on there and it’s her communication tool of choice.

Google+ is another tool that makes it easy to connect to others. Using Google+ is about being visible. It’s still underused in the UK market so getting traction has been slow but other businesses are now starting to use the platform.

All our 25 lawyers have a professional profile (completed to a minimum standard) on LinkedIn.We expect them to connect with their clients and key referrers to help them stay visible to these people. It is difficult to have one to one conversations on LinkedIn and it’s hard work, but we need to be there and to be seen.

I’ve connected all our accounts to our company page and use Socialoomph to push out our content. Socialoomph allows me to post information to relevant lawyers’ accounts. For example, if we write a blog post on a commercial property issue, I will go into Socialoomph and schedule a LinkedIn post to go out from each of the commercial property team members’ accounts at different times. It means we don’t have to rely on them putting out this info themselves. They can concentrate on doing their jobs.

Socialoomph automatically distributes content according to your instruction. It’s irritatingly difficult to get to grips with when you first use it, but now it takes me 10 minutes max to set everything up. It has an automatic workaround for Twitter to ensure you don’t post the same Tweet twice. The only network it doesn’t work with is Google+. At Barr Ellison we practise in 7 areas of law so I have set up 7 queues of content in Socialoomph.

Each of our seven practice areas is expected to blog once a month (sometimes one post will cover two areas so there are months when we have less than 7 posts going out). Teams can share the responsibility of compiling a post to prevent it from becoming too onerous.

What successes have you seen as a result of your social media activity?

We were recently asked to bid for some work for a large business in Cambridge. That business is a big user of social media and our social media presence helped to put us in the frame.

On the whole successes are hard to quantify because we’ve always been committed to marketing and social media is simply another set of tools we’re using to communicate with our target audience. Things we can say are:

  • We measure revenue and know that roughly 20% of our revenue comes from the web. 
  • We recently tested the effectiveness of Google Adwords by making a deliberate decision to drop it for 4 months. We saw a substantial drop off in web visits and revenue. We know that for every pound we spend on Adwords we get back between £4 and £7 in revenue.

Our aim is to be on page 1 using a combination of Adwords, Google Places and SEO. We include long tail keywords in our blog posts and blog in the local paper too.

What’s worked well for you?

Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, blogging and Adwords are all working well for us. It’s a matter of repeat, repeat, repeat as this is vital to get noticed.

Our new WordPress website is also working well. We know that revenue has increased since its launch. It allows us to produce better content, display video (not yet launched) etc. and because of that our social media activity is a lot more confident.

Having a good website is really important if you’re doing social media, as is getting out content regularly. It’s hard though so you have to make it an easy process for people. Our team members need to write and own their content (they can dictate it) but once they’ve drafted it I’ll make sure that everything else is done for them, including putting in the image, coming up with a headline, building in SEO, posting and distributing it via their accounts.

What hasn’t worked so well?

Facebook is hard work for law firms. It has been slow to get traction. It seems to be the general interest posts that people want to see – for example, we do a Charity Run at Christmas and posted some photos. We got a lot of likes and comments on that! I’d say we’re getting there slowly!

What advice would you give to other lawyers and law firms wanting to leverage social media?

Take your time and do it carefully as you need to look good and polished. If you’re starting out, adopt a listening strategy focusing on your target market as this will inform your activity. Everything you do and say needs to communicate to your key market and have your key market in mind.

Then never lose that focus. Remember not to express a political or religious opinion because you WILL offend one of your clients.

Lastly, be consistently active. 

What other tips would you add to Michael’s? 

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10 tips for lawyers and accountants to avoid being pigeon-holed

“Clients don’t know what we do” 

Does this sound familiar?

It’s a common complaint I hear from those in law firms, accounting firms and other professional services firms.

But why should clients know what you do?

Or care for that matter?

They only care about how you can help them.

It’s very easy to get pigeon-holed (I know I have been – lots of times). You help a client out in a specific area. They see you as someone who specialises in that area but they don’t automatically know how else you can assist.

Sending them a credential statement, a brochure or having a single conversation with them won’t cut it.

Understanding their needs (ask probing questions if you don’t already know) and then regularly sharing helpful content that helps to address these needs and, at the same time positions you, will. It’s a bit like subliminal advertising (only it’s legal) in that you share information about tax often enough, people are going to start associating you with tax. And when they have a need, you’re more likely to be top of mind than your competitors who haven’t been as proactive.

Of course you want to be front of mind should your clients have a need in a particular area that falls within your expertise and be looking for help. In order to be in their choice set you need to use the full range of tools/channels available consistently over time…and gradually perceptions will change. I’ve really focused on this with one client in particular and have recently got work in an area they would never previously have considered me for.

How can you change perceptions and let clients know how else you might be able to help? Here are 10 ideas. On their own they don’t amount to much, but collectively they will make a difference.

  1. Hold an annual planning meeting with key clients designed to uncover their key issues and focus over the coming year and to showcase your expertise by providing them with some initial advice/tips/guidance that they will find valuable.
  2. Call your top 5 clients when issues arise that they need to know about. Let them know how these issues may impact them and offer to talk to their staff about this. Better still, call them when you become aware of issues to give them a heads up. Be the person to put an issue on their radar.
  3. Keep close to your clients. Catch up with them regularly (on the phone or over coffee) and ask how things are going and what they’re doing. Follow their social media accounts and share, comment on or like their posts where appropriate. If you can position yourself as a sounding board and someone who adds value they’ll likely come to you before engaging others anyway.
  4. Go and visit your client’s office/site. Really get to know their business. You may come away with some ideas to help them that you can then sound them out about.
  5. Put together an Infographic setting out the full range of your services and linking it back to specific problems you can help address…or produce a series of Infographics on topics/issues that will be of interest to your clients and share these with them.
  6. Compile and share case studies about how you’ve helped others in the past. Don’t forget to say how these are relevant to other clients. You can post these to your website (both in relevant expertise sections and your bio in written, video or audio format or a combination of these), upload to LinkedIn, include one in each of your newsletters etc. Rotate these so that you deal with a different area each time and keep coming back to them.
  7. Put together blog posts and videos on topical issues or frequently asked questions in each of the areas in which you work and share these on your website, via social networks, via email, in your newsalerts or newsletter etc.
  8. Share third party posts and videos on topical issues related to the areas in which you work. Make yourself a ‘go to’ source of information by doing people’s reading for them.
  9. Consider if you can include the areas in which you can help clients in your email signoff, on the back of your business cards etc. This will depend on your brand guidelines and needs to be done consistently across your firm or your brand look will be inconsistent.
  10. Think about whether there is a way to convey how you can help your clients that will be visible on their desks – e.g. do they have/need a pen holder, a calendar or something infinitely more exciting but still as useful!

The point I am trying to make is that ‘clients understanding exactly what you do’ doesn’t occur overnight. You need to communicate consistently over time, in a variety of ways if you want your clients to truly understand how you can help them. Ultimately, if you can position yourself as someone who can point them in the right direction when they do have an issue, you’ll likely hear about the opportunities first.

What’s your view? 

What other tips would you share? 

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net