I am a big believer that social media is predominantly about people connecting with other people. Even the world’s largest brands are using their people to form stronger relationships with their customers and prospects.
It’s no longer sufficient to hide behind a brand. And I don’t believe that’s ever really been the case in the professional services world.
Professional services firms have always been about the skills and expertise of their people, and the relationships they build.
Which is why social networks are ideal platforms for lawyers, accountants, engineers and other professionals.
However, there are things that you could (and should) do at a firm (or corporate level).
1. Monitoring social networks
Listening to what others are saying about your firm, your people and the subjects and industries in which you’re involved or that interest you is vital.
It allows you to make a call about whether and, if so how, to respond to any comments (positive or negative) about your firm and your people, it gives you ideas for content you could develop to address real issues people have, and it helps you find the people you want to meet and the conversations you want to have.
There’s no excuse for not responding to Twitter enquiries or starting a discussion on LinkedIn only to never check back in and converse with those who have commented.
It’s easy to monitor social networks and there are a whole host of tools to help you, ranging from free to paid. Because new tools are constantly being developed and what works for one firm won’t necessarily work for another, I recommend you check out Ken Burbury’s Social Media Monitoring Wiki. It provides a complete list (or as near to complete as you’re going to get), with links to the websites and tells you in which country each tool is available.
For those in law firms, I recommend you take a look at Manzama, a business intelligence tool, developed specifically for law firms.
Many of these tools will also enable you to monitor your team’s activity too.
2. Setting up, optimising and maintaining your company profiles
This needs to be done on all social networks on which your firm is present. There will be clients, business partners, suppliers, referrers, prospects, staff and would be employees who will choose to follow your firm on various social networks so it’s important that these do a good job of positioning you.
Make sure you optimise your profiles by including keywords and by using all available features. For example, on LinkedIn take advantage of the roving spotlight feature to direct people to tailored landing pages or pages on your website relating to a specific initiative such as downloading a free guide, signing up for an event etc. Include a short video on your services pages and consider setting up specific profiles for different audiences – e.g. those from different countries or for a specific job title such as CEO’s. While you can’t totally replicate your profile in another language there is still a lot you CAN do…check out this video I put together that shows you exactly what’s possible.
Use your firm pages/profiles to share content that will be relevant to your followers (including third party content), have conversations and seek feedback. Some organisations have tried to build communities beyond their products and services – think about what you could do in this area.
Answer any enquiries promptly. Share content your staff and clients have put out. Do a little and often. Look for ways to bring your staff through your firm profiles and activity such as including the Twitter Handles of those who Tweet for your firm in your firm’s bio or including people’s initials at the end of each Tweet. On Facebook you could include photos of your staff etc.
3. Help with setting up and running Google+ Communities and LinkedIn Groups
Running a LinkedIn Group or a Google+ Community is a great way of building a ‘tribe’. It gives you the opportunity to gather together in one place people with a common interest and to deliver a great experience and value.
Sadly, it’s so easy to set these up that an overwhelming number of them are a waste of time. But, with some planning and ongoing care and attention they can be invaluable…and there are so many group owners who generate a good amount of work from their groups and communities without actively ‘selling’.
At a firm level you can determine the nature of the group(s) you will set up, use your allocation of managers/moderators (in the case of LinkedIn Groups) to best advantage by sharing the responsibility and workload, and help source content to share.
4. Sourcing relevant third party content and helping come up with ideas for future content
I don’t believe this should solely be the responsibility of BD or the firm’s social media person/team. Individuals and teams need to take responsibility for their own social media activity rather than delegating it.
However, if you’re responsible for social media monitoring you’ll probably come across blog posts, videos, pod-casts etc that will be of interest to some of your teams’ clients and prospects and that will help to position them in their area of practice.
It doesn’t take much to flick this content to them for them to share. Whether they do or not is up to them!
You’ll also likely read/watch/listen to content that your firm could build on via taking a particular angle on it or responding to it. Again, you can bring this to the relevant people’s attention.
5. Coordinating the firm, practice and industry accounts with individual accounts
It’s vital that there’s a mechanism for people within your firm who want to share something via the firm’s accounts to do so and vice versa. You need a way to get relevant content out to your people to share with their networks.
The ideal platform would be an internal social network but, in the absence of this, email will likely do an okay job.
By focusing your efforts in the above areas you’ll ensure your firm responds to enquiries in a timely manner, shares relevant content (rather than 6 weeks after it was topical!), thanks those who shared it, has conversations, and is clearly positioned.
Does your firm (and you) do this well? What advice would you give to other professionals to help them connect with other people?
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