By: 25 September 2016
Facing up to social media

Alex Kenny, marketing manager of Fletchers Solicitors, on why law firms working in the personal injury and clinical negligence sectors should be on social media, and how they can use platforms to build a strong voice for their brand

Over the past few years, the way law firms working in personal injury interact with clients and bring in new business has changed significantly.

In particular, the introduction of the Jackson reforms back in 2013 made it harder for firms to rely on third party companies to generate new leads. Meanwhile, continuous advances in technology mean people are communicating in lots of different ways.

As more firms search for new ways to connect with potential clients in today’s digital age, it’s easy for businesses to assume they need to be on social media, especially as social networking sites continue to grow in popularity.

But quite often, little thought is actually given as to why businesses should be on social media, and what messages they should be sending out to their audiences.

Having a social media account is all about purpose. So before signing up and sending out that first Tweet, law firms need to ask themselves what they are looking to achieve by being on social media.

Building a strong voice

As naturally social organisations, law firms rely heavily on the relationships they build with their clients and other legal professionals. Consequently, it’s important to consider how they present themselves in the public eye, as it will have a huge impact on how they are perceived by potential clients. In such a competitive environment, creating a strong brand and generating lasting relationships is key to survival for many law firms – even more so after the introduction of the Jackson reforms.

When it comes to building a brand, social media is a great opportunity for law firms to establish a public facing voice. The tone of that voice will largely depend on the kind of brand the firm wants to develop and how the firm wants to be perceived by its target audience.

For instance, a firm specialising in business services may want to be seen as professional and corporate, whereas a firm offering personal legal services may opt to be a bit more informal so as to appear approachable and friendly.

A firm’s social media account can give a very telling glimpse into what the company is all about and what it stands for. Companies should concentrate on the content they are delivering to their audience and should look to present the business’ brand in a way that allows them to focus on the areas of their practice they would like promote. Therefore, when a potential client does come across the firm on social media, they will be able to relate to its core values and key messages, and will be more likely choose to use its services.

Make sure everything has a purpose

Generally speaking, a company’s social media account should represent the business, and it should be clear to see why every post has been created and how each one relates back to the firm.

However, in order for this to be clear to the audience, the firm itself needs to agree internally on its key messages and values. Firms should spend time deciding on the brand’s tone of voice and how it wants to be portrayed on social media, and from here, a proper communications plan can be put in place.

Then it’s a case of ensuring everything that’s posted from the official company account has a reason and purpose that links back into that plan. If it doesn’t link in, then why post it?

There is nothing wrong with companies sending out content in relation to current social media news and trends – this is often known as news-jacking.

It’s a great way to get involved in popular conversations and to get the company’s voice out there in a timely manner. But firms should only jump on these trends if they are directly related to the business and its communication plan. Otherwise there’s a risk that the brand’s key message will be lost among the noise.

At Fletchers Solicitors, we ourselves often share popular news stories, but only if there is a reason for doing so that links back to how we want to communicate with our followers.

Businesses may sometimes feel the need to post about topical issues currently happening, such as a major sporting event or a celebrity passing away – I’m sure a lot of us felt incredibly sad at the loss of David Bowie at the beginning of the year and thousands of people took to social media to share their condolences.

However, when posts are made from a business’ social media accounts on topics such as this, it may appear that the company is jumping on a bandwagon and it could be seen as opportunistic and irrelevant.

Ensure posts represent the views of the company, not individuals

It’s important to remember that the company account is there to represent the company, not the individual person or people running the firm’s social media from behind the scenes – be that a social media exec or even one of the firm’s partners.

The account should clearly illustrate the voice of that company and content should be phrased in the appropriate way.

The wording of posts should focus around “we” and not “I” in order to reflect the overarching voice, and therefore opinion and tone, of the business and brand as a whole – rather than it feeling like the content is showing just one person’s opinion. Remember that potential clients will assume that everything posted from the firm’s official account is a direct reflection of what that company stands for. So personal opinions should be limited to personal social media accounts.

With millions of people regularly using the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin every day, the opportunity to connect with potential new clients is huge for law firms across all specialities.

But the key to a successful social media strategy comes down to purpose. Firms need to have a clear vision about what they are trying to achieve and why. With the right type of message, expressed in an appropriate tone of voice, social media can be an extremely powerful tool that creates meaningful engagement, and ultimately assists in bringing in new business.