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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Image courtesy ddpavumba at Freedigitalphotos.net

Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant