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6 Reasons Your Law Firm Needs a Social Media Manager

social media managerSocial Media.

Just like “Law Practice Management,” the term “social media” itself is enough to make most attorneys bury their heads in their desks. Like many aspects of business management, getting the most out of social media requires experience, practice, and patience. Unfortunately, most law firms don’t give social media the attention it deserves.

However, in 2015, being active on social media is essential. With more and more people turning to the internet to find attorneys, an effective social media strategy – as part of an overall marketing plan – creates the best opportunity to secure new clients. But it’s not easy.

Here are 6 reasons your law firm needs a social media manager.

A Social Media Manager

Before I dive into the 6 reasons discussed above, first allow me to describe what I mean when I say “Social Media Manager.” I don’t mean your teenage son/daughter. I don’t mean a part-time, $10/hour college kid who has no other affiliation with your firm.

A social media manager can have other duties, but it has to be someone the firm trusts. A social media manager must have intimate knowledge of the firm’s overall marketing strategy, with the power to modify approaches when needed. A social media manager must be able to post on social media without violating the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Mostly, a social media manager must know, or be open to learning, how to use the various social media platforms included in the firm’s marketing strategy. Here’s why your law firm needs a social manager in 2015:

1) Effective social media requires being social.

In order to achieve anything out of your social media plan, other than letting people know you exist and (may) be alive, you have to be engaged. In order for your social media strategy to have any impact outside of your office, your engagement requires two essential components: frequency and interaction.

Being social requires posting frequently. Posts have a limited effective life span, which varies between different platforms. Once that time is up, it’s unlikely that anyone other than your co-workers or family will see it. Nothing says “leave me alone” like a social media profile with one post every six months.

Your social media also needs to be interactive. Your followers might be interested in the content you share, but what will they do if they have questions? Sure, one in 50 might call your office. However, it’s more likely that they’ll simply add you to the list of companies who ignored them.

Why you need a Social Media Manager:

A Social Media Manager’s main job is to ensure that your firm is posting to social media regularly throughout the day, depending on the platform. When a follower asks a question, its your social media manager’s job to answer if they’re able, or direct the follower to someone who can help (preferably within your firm or your personal referral network).

2) Social media “Best Practices” vary widely.

Do you know the best word length for a Facebook post to guarantee it gets read? Did you know that the ideal Tweet is only 100 of the 140 characters? More importantly, do you know why? Do you know how many times per week you should post to LinkedIn?

Did you know that the answers to each of those questions vary from platform to platform? Did you know certain social media platforms are better for different things? Instagram is good for pictures, but so is Pinterest. Which do you post to?

Why you need a Social Media Manager:

Your Social Media Manager will put together and implement “best practices” for each platform. Your posts will be the right mix of quotes, images, videos, links, questions, surveys, and more. Additionally, they will be composed appropriately for each platform – with the best length and frequency per platform.

Your Social Media Manager knows that while Instagram and Pinterest are both platforms for sharing images, if your audience is under 40, Instagram is your ideal platform.

3) The social media landscape is rapidly evolving.

Facebook has been around for a while, but what happened to MySpace? Everyone knows about Twitter and LinkedIn, but how active are you on Pinterest and Instagram. Do you Vine? How familiar are you with SnapChat?

The rise of new platforms is only part of the picture. Established social media channels are frequently adapting their systems. How familiar are you with Facebook’s recent changes to their advertising systems? Are you ready to start buying video ads on Twitter and SnapChat?

Why you need a Social Media Manager:

These new platforms and platform changes aren’t minor. Facebook has dramatically changed the way branded posts reach (or, more likely, don’t reach) users. A Social Media Manager’s job includes keeping updated on these changes to make sure your social media campaign is always optimized to best take advantage of any changes.

4) Meaningful engagement on social media requires long-term planning and rapid response.

Effective social media strategy keeps posting engaging content on a regular basis. Consistent content also highlights your practice areas and promotes all of your attorneys equally. But social media is also a conversation. People using social media expect immediate responses to questions and comments. Failure to respond promptly is likely to leave a potential client with the impression that their question wasn’t important to you.

Why you need a Social Media Manager:

Do you have time to write daily, weekly, and monthly social media calendars? Are you freely available at short notice to respond to questions on social media?

A Social Media Manager’s job is your social media. They put together a social media calendar that is engaging and aligns with your marketing goals. Content calendars make sure that each of your firm’s practice areas are evenly highlighted, avoiding saturation.

A Social Media Manager is also constantly monitoring your social media channels. Using any of a number of tools, they are in a position to respond or act appropriately to anything from your followers. They also need the authority and the skill to respond to negative criticism.

5) Effective social media requires the skill of a marketer…

In order to get the most out of social media, your posts can’t just be free-form thought. You don’t just share random items that come across your desk. There’s a science to effective social media, and it’s the science of marketing.

Why does one post go viral, seen by millions, while another doesn’t? What kinds of things make it more likely that my posts will get read? You really need people to see your posts for your social media to be effective.

Additionally, while there may be basic information on your social media accounts, it would be helpful to know what they meant. You have a lot of followers, but what return are you getting? You know that your content has been retweeted. However, you don’t know what that means.

Why you need a Social Media Manager:

A good Social Media Manager understands the power of the words in a social media post. Rhetorical skill is essential – knowing what words or phrases are more likely to be shared is critical. Your Social Media Manager has the tools to research keywords, hashtags, and effective copywriting formulas.

Your Social Media Manager also knows what tools provide reliable analysis of your social media posts. They can track your conversions and engagements, and provide analysis on effect.

6) … and the patience, creativity and nuance of a networking expert.

However, social media is not a hard sell. Nobody wants to see a digital copy of your billboard advertisements on your social media posts. Rather, social media is a conversation. Or, put differently, social media is a giant networking event. The success of a networking event isn’t measured by immediate returns, but rather by long-term return on relationships.

Why you need a Social Media Manager:

Your Social Media Manager spends time identifying the key influencers important to your firm, follows their social pages, and shares their information. Your Social Media Manager makes sure that only a very small number of the firm’s posts are actual advertisements. Rather, the posts are geared towards the potential clients’ problems.

A good Social Media Manager knows that the most important goal for social media is to create leads. Leads that eventually become clients. (If you’re actually signing up clients via social media, there are probably a few ethics rules you need to be aware of!)

In the end…

Getting the most out of your law firm’s social media strategy requires a lot. It takes planning, vigilance, experience, training, and practice. Too often, the busy life of an attorney prevents us from giving our social media the attention it requires. Beyond that, too many attorneys don’t understand how to evaluate the effectiveness of social media, and give up quickly when results aren’t apparent.

Employing a Social Media Manager can help you get the most out of your social media. Whether part time at a small firm, or a full team in BigLaw, a Social Media Manager is essential in 2015.