Social media just won’t go away. I remember sitting in an Australian Legal Practice Management Association conference some years ago now and hearing about these ‘cutting edge’ firms that were using Twitter and Facebook to bolster their brand and engage with potential employees. At the time I must say I had no idea how to ‘tweet’ let alone any understanding of why you would want to!
Fast forward 5 years and here I am spending a few minutes each day on a variety of social media channels. Social media strategy is a now a core part of my business success. Gone are the days of social media being a ‘fad’. We are well into the days of social media being a mainstay of most professional marketing strategies.
The use of Facebook is a central part of my marketing strategy. It is a platform I was comfortable using in my non-business life and so it made sense to start there when it came to my business strategy. Over the past few years I have used a fair bit of ‘trial and error’ with Facebook marketing and (fingers crossed) I think I have finally worked out a successful formula. It goes something like this-
- Know your sandpit
- Have a strategy
- Somersault right in!
1. Know your Sandpit-
‘Marketing’ (thanks to Wikipedia) is of course the process of communicating the value of your product or service to your customers. That notion is not difficult to understand and therefore marketing is something you are doing every single day, at all hours of the day when you run a business.
But the trick with any form of marketing is to understand the medium you are playing with- I like to call this your ‘sandpit’. Let’s take television- if you had the budget to put together a television advertisement you would no doubt hire professionals, engage script writers, design a campaign and consider carefully your market. You would receive piles of statistics from the television station about the demographics of their viewers, their interests and viewing habits and you would design your campaign to suit.
Social media is no different and yet this is where we are seeing so many firms get it wrong. They don’t investigate their sandpit before they jump in. Most know that the sandpit is there but they dance around the edges and occasionally dip their little toe in, hoping that it will be enough to show that their firm is ‘moving forward’ and embracing the modern world. Perhaps worse still some jump in for a day or two, set up a presence and then jump out again- leaving their sandpit empty and vacant with no nice castles or toys for the other kids to play with.
If you are going to play in the ‘sandpit’ that is Facebook you have to stop, look around and create a clear strategy before you jump in but you must jump, dive and even somersault in with some style!
2. Have a strategy
Facebook was, until a few years ago, a platform for friends. You shared photos, updates and information about your day to day life, with those you knew, for fun. The more extreme or entertaining you were willing to be, the more engagement you were likely to receive from your friends. Facebook has managed to tap into the voyeur in all of us and continues to be a social media platform that is taking over the world!
It is estimated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics that as at January 2016 there were 15 million daily users of Facebook in Australia. That is more than 65% of our population. Save for television, I am not sure that there has ever before been a form of media that has so readily touched so many of our customers at any one time.
So when it comes to business marketing, it is no surprise that with that number of active ‘friends’ on one easy to use platform, we are embracing Facebook and all that it has to offer.
The challenge for Lawyers and other professional service firms is first to decide whether to brave this bold new world of social media at all. Many firms are choosing to avoid the dreaded Facebook. This seems to be more out of fear and a lack of understanding of how to use the platform to best assist their business.
But then there are the others. Those firms that are embracing social media as they see the advantages in being able to directly speak to their clients in the safety of their friendship groups. These businesses are willing to share enough about themselves and their business to spread a genuine and authentic brand message. They understand their sandpit and have a clear strategy on how to play in it.
3. Don’t dive, Somersault right in!
To succeed on social media, particularly on Facebook, the challenge for lawyers is to get down and play in the sandpit and build a sandcastle that is different to the rest. What do I mean by this? We have to remember what Facebook is- a platform developed to share information about yourself with those who are close to you. In our cluttered newsfeeds today we are bombarded with advertising messages. I don’t mind this, but I do mind when there has been no thought put into the ad message- when it may as well have been placed in the Sydney Morning Herald as on my Facebook feed.
To be successful you must be willing to share with your Facebook following the authentic you and you need to do this with some style. Your business must let people in- we are voyeurs and Facebook is a voyeuristic platform if ever there was one.
I follow a large number of legal pages on Facebook (it is the voyeur in me)! I enjoy seeing what my industry is doing particularly with so much change happening around us. We remain one of the most conservative and stagnant professions and so disruption is inevitable. Social media is just one small part of the change that is already occurring.
Where so many are getting it wrong is that they are not sharing their true and authentic self and they are certainly not doing it with any style. They are tip toeing through the sandpit without even trying to build a sandcastle.
I see Facebook pages full of long legal papers, links to recent decisions and status updates about the firms new products. But I can find this stuff anywhere- give me something else. Show me something that I did not know about you, your brand and most importantly your people. Let me learn a little about you all and I will very quickly become a brand ambassador or even a raving brand fan.
Friends to ‘Raving Fans’
In our changing marketplace, clients are buying relationships more than ever before. But key to the formation of that relationship is authenticity. I don’t want to ‘buy’ a pretend relationship, constructed by a marketing guru at a weekend retreat, I want to buy ‘YOU’. You- the human being that spends your weekends surfing, playing with your kids and reading books. In fact, I would even like to hear about those books, see pictures of you reading them and hear your thoughts on why you chose them. I am not particularly interested in the case law you read today, but I am interested in the practical jokes your secretary played on the boss.
Facebook pages for business should be a place where you can grow a family of brand ambassadors- a group for people who are true raving ‘fans’. These fans will share your messages, grow your brand awareness and even provide you with valuable comment and feedback if you ask for it. They will help you find employees, share their knowledge and will, over time, send you business.
It is no different to developing a new business relationship with a new acquaintance- you take the time to understand them and their clients while letting them know a little about you. If you do this right you will, over time you become trusted friends, referring work and sharing experiences.
There are 15 million potential new friends of your business sitting in a sandpit that is right in front of you right now. Do you think it’s time you jumped in and started playing too? I say investigate the sandpit that is Facebook. Look around, dig a little and be ready to somersault your way in! (Or if you can’t, find someone aged 25 or less who can do it for you!)
Clarissa is the Director of Brisbane Family Law Centre and the Author of ‘The Happy Family Lawyer’ Blog. She is a self confessed Facebook for business addict. You can find her facebook pages and join her in the sandpit at-
The Happy Family Lawyer Facebook Page
Happy Lawyer Happy Life Facebook Page
Brisbane Family Law Centre Facebook Page
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