Written by Chris Hunter, rhw Solicitors LLP
Some partners in law firms may hide behind the “well we never needed it in the old days” response to social media proposals, but when examined more closely there are usually more complex reasons driving the unwillingness to embrace.
Partners in law firms tend to be cautious types and the whiff of uncontrolled and potentially contentious comment often sends them running to the hills. Partners also tend to like the tried and tested options for business development. Word of mouth recommendations and professional networking are seen as proven conduits to new business. Partners may have specific concerns over lack of control over content, the potential for negative feedback from dissatisfied former clients or individuals the practice may have taken action against in the past etc and damage to the business image. Throw in the difficulty in tracking and proving the business value of social media in detail, and you are left with a veritable wall of resistance to overcome.
The Counter Arguments
So what are the wider counter arguments available to the marketing manager? On a micro level within the business itself, the ‘lack of control’ issue can be dealt with by persuading the partners themselves to take control and use social media via an individual account, ensuring that their own business voice is heard loud and clear. If they have a preference for a third party to run the platform, then ensure that agreed guidelines are put in place beforehand, so partners can have confidence in the message going out to the world.
On the macro level the case for social media involvement is huge. Sell the scale of the whole potential target audience. Nothing has happened like this before in the history of humanity in terms of so many people being reachable by business so easily. Just look at the numbers for the three best known social media providers:
1. LinkedIn. 465+ million members (May 2017). Pure B2B audience. Great for brand visibility. As well as a massive reservoir of potential clients LinkedIn can provide the partners with easy and cheaper access to employees and new contacts.
2. Twitter. 328 million active users (Q1 2017). Huge reservoir of potential marketing targets, information and easy to promote messages.
3. Facebook. 1.86 billion members (March 2017). Admittedly potentially a problematic platform for those businesses involved in potentially contentious areas of business unless managed properly.
Consumers and businesses have massively increased their use of the internet and all types of social media platforms over the last few years. Individual engagement with law firms (and companies overall) is evolving in a very different way to how it did in the past.
Other businesses looking for information or help from others now choose the internet as the search tool of preference. Yes, a website is essential but if you want to influence the experience of others online and get different messages out every day in an easily manageable way, social media is vital. If a law firms ignores the adoption of social media it risks being seen as ‘old fashioned’ or ‘out of step’ with social change. Partners rarely want to risk being over taken by technology and left high and dry. Try citing the example of HMV from a few years ago. Decide to ignore a new way of selling what you do or produce at your peril! Others are always willing to fill the gap.
To read the rest of this article, please contact Chris Hunter.
Chris Hunter has been involved with Marketing, PR and Business Development in the Legal Sector for the 15 years having previously worked in the City and West End of London for a variety of Commercial Property Companies. His current position is as the Head of Business Development for rhw Solicitors LLP based in Guildford, Surrey. 07/17.