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5 Major Social Media Trends for Lawyers in 2014

social media trends 1For many firms, social media is already a major part of advertising their services to potential clients. Yet for others, it’s a mere afterthought (if it exists at all). When used poorly, its value is limited, if not downright negative. When used effectively, as part of an overall marketing strategy, social media can be a tremendous benefit to any firm.

Whether you’re skeptical about its uses or not, nobody can argue with the fact that the world of social media moves quickly. Keeping up with social media trends can be tough for anyone. With that in mind, here are 5 Major Social Media Trends for Lawyers in 2014:

1) Take advantage of new options to improve your firm’s social media pages.

One of the most important things that any company can do is use all available opportunities to educate potential clients. This education must begin with your company’s basic biographical information. On social media sites, that means a complete company bio page. Failing to take advantage of social media by leaving portions of your firm bio blank is unacceptable.

In 2014, there are two new tools that law firms can utilize to increase the amount of information potential clients can get from their social media pages: LinkedIn Showcase Pages and the Twitter Profile Pages (currently in beta testing).

LinkedIn Showcase Pages are essentially “highlight” pages for your LinkedIn Company Page. For my guide on improving your LinkedIn Company Page, click here. Designed to allow your company to emphasize certain aspects of your business, LinkedIn Showcase pages are perfect for highlighting your firm’s top practice areas.

Twitter’s new profile pages, while not yet released, promise to add to the overall functionality and ease-of-use for your firm’s Twitter account. Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog believes that by making Twitter more visually-based, lawyers who have had difficulty using Twitter will find it much more approachable. Use is much more intuitive, and the new pages offer considerably more space for including biographical information, which should be utilized to its fullest!

2) Video! Video! Video!

You can read nearly any report on important social media trends for 2014, and they invariably discuss video. (For example, here, here, here and here). As Google VP Robert Kyncl discussed at the YouTube Upfronts show in NYC, video is able to accomplish conversation and engagement that cannot be matched by printed text.

Video can improve a law firm’s social media in many valuable ways (as I discuss in greater detail here). It personalizes you to your prospective clients, and is a very engaging method of promoting your firm.

In addition to including video on your firm’s website, consider creating Facebook and Twitter ads that include video. Moreover, many experts suggest that the “breakout” social media network of 2014 will likely be the video network Vine. Interested in being a trailblazer? Try out Vine and share your success/failure stories in the comments!

3) If you’re not regularly using images in your social media posts, start now!

Even if you’re not yet ready to regularly use video, using images is an absolute must. The numbers are staggering: Tweets with images received 150% more retweets than those without, for Facebook posts, it’s 139%. Using images encourages followers to share your posts, the best form of free advertising available (particularly when success advertising on social media without buying ads is becoming much harder).

However, always make sure that your images match your social media strategy. There’s no point using images that have nothing to do with your post, and there will be plenty of posts that just do not lend themselves to using an image. Also, use images formatted to work effectively on the platform you’ve chosen. For the image dimensions for the different networks, check out this cool Infographic, and check out these tools to help make your images perfect.

4) Utilize your attorneys and staff as social media ambassadors.

Of the most interesting predictions about social media trends in 2014 was this: “more employees will be active on social media for their company.” As someone who has tried to create more interesting social media for my law firm and for my blog, it’s a no-brainer how valuable this can be.

As more law firms take to social media, you need an ethical way to stand out. That’s where your firm’s attorneys and staff come in to play. By sharing your firm’s updates with their social network, your firm gets free advertising and exponentially greater exposure.

Your attorneys and staff likely already have the skills necessary to serve as your company’s social media ambassadors. Why not take advantage of those skills?

5) Several brand new tools are available for advertising on social media. USE THEM!

Twitter recently announced that their “Tailored Ads” program, in testing since this past summer, has been put into full operation. Tailored Ads allows businesses to advertise promoted tweets only to users whose browsing history indicates they’d be interested (dramatically increasing the likelihood that your ad will be clicked). Additionally, Twitter now allows you to target your ads by geography – hugely important for law firms with a local footprint.

Additionally, both Twitter and Facebook both have new tools to help track the effectiveness of your ads. Facebook’s new tools make their previous “partners-only” tracking analytics available to all. By sharing data with Facebook, you’re able to utilize Facebook’s internal tracking information to measure conversions from your ad. Twitter recently opened up the ability to track online conversions to everyone, giving you a complete analysis of how your promoted tweets performed.

Remember…

The best way to make sure that your firm performs its best in 2014 is to begin with an effective strategy that utilizes these social media trends as part of an overall marketing strategy. These tips will help you get a head start on most of your competition, but without planning, it’s useless.

In future posts, I will go into much greater detail on these social media trends, including advice on how to most successfully incorporate them into your firm’s marketing.