by Heather Hale
Social media is increasingly recognized as an acceptable component of your marketing strategy in a professional context. The American Bar Association reports that ninety six (96) percent of lawyers are using LinkedIn and thirty eight (38) percent of lawyers are using Facebook for career development and networking. Where once these sites were reserved only for sharing baby pictures and commenting on that latte you just had, now Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Twitter can be used as powerful tools to turbo charge your practice. And best of all, it can all happen amazingly close to real time with social media apps for a range of devices, including iPad of course.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when deciding which form of social media to use for each task you hope to accomplish is to know your audience. Let’s start with the platform that each of you are most likely already on – Facebook. Now I can’t emphasize this enough: if you are going to use Facebook in a professional capacity, keep your posts professional, or at least “safe for work.” All of them. Typically Facebook marketing will target two groups: friends/family and clients. Friends and family can be some of your best referrals, so I encourage you to be shameless when dropping hints about your practice (think Garth Brooks here, not Snooki). Update your status on the go using the Facebook app for iPad saying something like “Off to court to finalize my fifth adoption this month. Could you or someone you know be the sixth?” Take photos at your next CLE or section luncheon and upload them directly using your iPad camera to showcase all the great professional endeavors you are pursuing. You can even make a dedicated Facebook Page for your firm, separate from your Facebook Profile, and maintain it with the Pages* for Facebook app.
LinkedIn is incredibly popular among a variety of professionals, which is why connecting with colleagues should be your aim with this platform. Given the ABA statistics above, you are probably already familiar with LinkedIn to some degree. But did you know that LinkedIn has a companion app for smart phones called Card Munch? This app allows you to snap a photo of a business card, one you received at a networking event or conference for example, and upload that photo in the app. Using tech magic the app recognizes the pertinent information from the card (name, company or firm, and email address) and gives the option to connect with that person on LinkedIn directly from there. Its a great time saver and a no brainer for following up with new contacts, but unfortunately Card Munch is only available for smart phones right now. I also use the LinkedIn iPad app to brush up on information about a new colleague’s firm or practice areas prior to meeting with them for the first time to avoid any faux pas. You can view their profile picture as well in case you’ve connected through peers without having met in person.
The last platform I’ll cover is Twitter, my personal favorite. One of the best things about Twitter is that you have a lot of creative control in terms of who you’d like to target and what sort of information you’d like to include. Each post must be brief (140 characters or less), so you can get a lot of information in a short amount of time when reading tweets by others. I personally use Twitter as a form of thought leadership in my practice areas geared toward other attorneys as well as current and potential clients who made need an advocate in those areas. Most often I’ll tweet blog posts, news articles, or event information to help others stay on top of new developments in the law and demonstrate that I am doing the same. The Twitter iPad app is a great way to do that and more while you’re waiting in line at Starbucks, in between appointments, or if you arrive early to a meeting.
Social media should be fun and easy, but the reason I hear most consistently from other attorneys who don’t use social media in their practice is that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Well, I have a solution for that too! HootSuite is a social media dashboard app that allows you to view updates across each platform I’ve mentioned all in one place. Perhaps the most useful feature of HootSuite is the option to schedule social media posts ahead of time. Take a few minutes at the end of the week to scan all those listserv emails you undoubtedly get and choose a few interesting articles to tweet next week, setting a date and time for them to go out. Have a great seminar to attend in a few days? Schedule a status update about it now and eliminate the stress of remembering later. Thanks to iPad and with these tips and tricks your firm will be seriously social in no time.
Are you social? Then connect with Heather online:
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/heatherhalelaw
- LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/heatherhalelaw
- Twitter: @heatherhalelaw