Before determining the best social media platforms for your law firm it is helpful to know that there are three key categories of social media. The first is social media networking platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Then there are photo sharing platforms like Instagram and Pinterest and then there are the video sharing platforms, and these include YouTube, Snapchat, Vimeo and TikTok (and Instagram falls into this category as well).
For many people making decisions about the marketing direction of a law firm, there is often a great big question mark around which is the best social media platform for a particular firm. There is also concern about whether the use of social media or certain platforms will actually diminish the reputation of their firm, especially when they see established firms with no social media presence at all. And then there is the fact that most decision-makers are overwhelmed with the options and don’t end up doing much on any social platform at all.
In this article, we explore each of the social media platforms to help you choose the best one for your firm.
So, while I’d love to give you a definitive answer, the reality is that each law firm has a different target demographic and if you practice more than one area of law, then you’re likely to have a few key target audiences.
While many people believe that they should have the same audience as their key competitors, it is a worthy exercise to learn where each platform is currently in terms of usage and demographics to help you decide which, if any of the platforms, is going to have the greatest impact for your firm.
While many firms are hesitant to use TikTok for example, the reality is that the numbers show that for specific demographics, it may well be highly beneficial to have a presence on that platform.
Should Lawyers Use Social Media?
As of January 2021, almost 80% of Australians are active social media users. That is significant usage and given that it is a free medium to reach potential clients, it should not be overlooked. So, the answer to the question of ‘should lawyers use social media?’ is an absolute yes. Social media platforms have grown in popularity not just because of their social nature but also because of the ability to post and reach audiences at little to no cost.
So let’s take a look at the key players in social media and the social media landscape for law firms in 2021.
Facebook for Law Firms
Currently, there are 2.7 billion active Facebook users (2021) and it is the most popular social media network worldwide. Regarding organic or unpaid social media marketing for law firms, Facebook is still a really great platform to use across a range of ages and genders. And interestingly, it also has the highest account access by users within the last 30 days as well as usage among other social media platforms.
Out of the active Facebook users, around 18% are males between 25 and 34 years old, followed by males aged 18 to 24. And then the third largest category is females in the 25 to 34 age bracket. Now that’s interesting information given that the popular perception is that the majority of Facebook users are women. In fact, 56.81% are male and it is only in the 55 years and over demographic that females are higher in usage than males.
If you advertise on Facebook and are looking to get a return on ad spend, the stats tell us that of the social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram are the most popular and are best for driving sales. That’s where people are spending their dollars continuously. However, I would bet that these figures and these results are largely attributed to retail businesses rather than service-based businesses.
Online retail stores with an ecommerce component are typically set up with really clear marketing funnels and tracking. This is so the attribution of all traffic sources is immediately clear as they can track right through to a sale. Businesses like law firms can find it harder to track the pathway from socials to sales, mostly because potential clients don’t ‘buy on sight’ like they do in retail. That being said, a continuous presence on the right social media platform can be highly beneficial because it can bring brand awareness and traffic to your website that may never have come to you or your firm, otherwise. So that is your end goal. We know that law firms are needs-based services. Therefore comparing retail with service-based businesses is like comparing apples with oranges. Nevertheless, Facebook has that high usage and it may well prove to be a particularly beneficial avenue for the legal services you offer.
Instagram for Law Firms
Instagram is a visual storytelling social media platform. More recently it has been criticised for trying to ‘be everything to everyone’. In addition to an image sharing platform, it has video components such as Instagram TV, live feeds and more recently Reels, which has been often said to be a copy of TikTok even though there are differences.
In terms of the demographics for Instagram, usage by the highest group of users is women aged 18 to 24. Interestingly males in the 25 to 34 year age range also have quite a high usage. It’s also very popular with teenagers.
Instagram is owned by Facebook and like Facebook, requires advertising to gain a larger reach of new audiences. Law firms that appear with regularity and share content that appeals to their target market (not only legal information) tend to have a real opportunity at developing a connection between their law firm’s brand and the audience.
Lawyers who I’ve observed that use Instagram particularly well are:
Twitter for Law Firms
When it comes to Twitter, it’s far less visual and more conversational. It’s a place to share news and express views. It is very popular for people to comment on trending topics and political or social issues in particular. You can also make announcements and share industry news if you wish to. I believe the platform is particularly helpful for individuals wishing to be vocal about their opinions, sharing what they dislike or disagree with. It is helpful if you are looking to draw focus to a topic or generate discussion.
Certainly, there are the entertaining components to Twitter though I have not seen significant benefits for law firms on Twitter when compared to other platforms. However, if you are looking to build a personal brand it can prove to be highly beneficial. Twitter has been an especially powerful medium for people whose contributions are contrary to popular opinion or if they are the ‘conversation starter’. If this sounds like you, the topic and your supporting message needs to be significant. Alternatively, you can contribute significantly to the discussion with opinions and insights in short message format that are delivered with the tone and voice of your brand and in a way that is also aligned with the values of your law firm.
Twitter is certainly a very popular platform however individuals don’t tend to search for firms and review their content on Twitter as much as they do on other platforms.
TikTok for Law Firms
Don’t be fooled into thinking that TikTok is all about silly dance challenges. While they are in there, this platform is actually full of educational tutorials and tips. There’s a lot of room to grow on this platform because it is a newer platform and as history tells us, early adopters who are consistent with content and encourage engagement get the most traction.
Though you won’t be an early adopter now if you register yourself as a lawyer or your law firm on TikTok, you will still have time to reap the rewards of the platform and to garner a decent following in the field of law. To succeed here you’ll need to remember this platform is a visual one, so create content that is impactful and interesting.
TikTok evolved from being a music inclined video-sharing social network so if you do start on this platform, you too can jump on a particular music trend but in reality it’s often best to have the music in the background and stay focused delivering value by sharing your know-how and law specific messages in your law firm’s persona, tone and voice.
Interestingly, TikTok offers its users a way to monetise their social media. If you are a prolific content creator, have over 100k followers and continue to maintain a hundred thousand views across a 30 day period, you can make an income from the platform. You have to follow their guidelines for content and you can apply for what is called a Creative Fund and generate income from it.
I noticed that there tends to be more criminal lawyers on TikTok than any other practice area. Since TikTok’s target market is very broad, there is an opportunity for other types of lawyers to get high visibility.
Though there are lawyers with more popular accounts than those on my list below, these are the lawyers and law firms that I believe use TikTok particularly well:
On Tik Tok you can educate an audience about any area of law, as long as you do it in 15 second or 1 min increments. As long as you can get people’s attention early and maintain it, then you may well grow a following. This is a longer burn approach for social media. I wouldn’t put all your eggs in this one social media basket, but I definitely can see the benefit if you are looking to build your personal brand.
LinkedIn for Law Firms
60% of LinkedIn users are between 25 and 34 years old. And while we know that LinkedIn has its roots in recruitment and Business to Business (B2B) engagement, it truly is a social networking platform. It is often overlooked by law firms, particularly those that serve the Business to Consumer (B2C) market. The misconception is that their target market might not be LinkedIn users. I would argue that for many law firms, their potential clients are in fact on LinkedIn. Additionally, your professional network is there and within that network, are your referrers. Most often, lawyers are connected with their professional network on LinkedIn more than Facebook, Instagram or any other social platform.
From our experience with our clients, if you are present and contribute to the platform, it can be a very powerful source of referral networks and new clients. If you’re consistent with your presence on LinkedIn, this can be more far reaching and very beneficial in the long-term, especially if you’re publishing articles, generating discussion and contributing to conversations. However, don’t just post and hope others will engage. It is important to be involved within discussions of your network. Reciprocity is powerful on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is also an excellent place for thought leadership. If you are consistent in sharing your thoughts about your industry and don’t neglect to publish content that relates to your target market (not just your peers), then this can be a very fruitful platform.
Across industries people and businesses build brand awareness, trust and authority on these platforms in different ways, every day.
To help you decide which social media platform you or your firm should use, I highly recommend doing this exercise. Get yourself a piece of paper and draw a mind map with a circle in the centre. From the centre’s circle, extend lines out for each of the practice areas you offer. Then out from those practice areas, list each of the services or products you offer in their own circle.
Next, have a look at each of the products or services and determine who your ideal client is for each. This should give you a broad picture of who you are looking to attract from a macro perspective. Identify the area of business you would like to develop and start with the platform that best suits your target market.
Next, select those social platforms that have the audience you want and commit to a plan to market on them with consistency. Start with only one platform rather than attempting to post to multiple platforms. Gain your experience, measure your results and expand from there.