Many of us have a pretty good idea of what social media entails; over 25 million Canadians use social networking websites, so you’re probably a social user too. However, even avid users can have trouble anticipating the return for professional firms on social. And if you’re running a B2B firm, the reasons for your firm to use socials are even more opaque. But with the right management strategy, social media can be a cornerstone of your marketing mix.
Social Media for Client Acquisition
The most obvious way that companies look for ROI in social is through new client acquisition. If you’re a consumer-facing business like a personal injury lawyer, using social media for client acquisition is pretty straightforward. You can engage your target audience directly.
But what if you’re business-facing, or you have an audience that can’t be directly engaged?
While working with a client that practices criminal defence, we debated the merits of using social media. While the firm’s potential clients were assuredly on these platforms, we didn’t anticipate clients following the firm before (or after) being charged with a crime. There’s too much discretion required for this category. But once we implemented a solid strategy, they found that clients did discretely reach out on the platforms to engage with them. Clients were already comfortable with the platforms and felt it was a confidential way to contact the firm. So while the strategy didn’t translate into a large following, it did lead to new business.
…Eventually, they started receiving most of their work as referrals from lawyers in the area who didn’t practise personal injury law.
A small firm with a specialty in family law used social media to build its professional network. We created a multi-year plan and content that highlighted the unique challenges present in family law. We targeted other lawyers in their area — we worked to establish this firm as the top choice for family law amongst their colleagues. Social networks let them develop their brand with their peers; eventually, they started receiving most of their work as referrals from lawyers in the area who didn’t practise personal injury law.
Typically businesses work to stay apolitical. It makes good sense too — why risk alienating a large segment of your audience? But sometimes, there are specific issues that are relevant to your business. It could be an issue that impacts your business, or it could be something that your firm is uniquely qualified to offer an opinion on. In these cases, your firm can use social media to communicate an official position and make an argument to the public or other stakeholders.
Search Engine Optimization
Whether or not Google picks up links you share on social media (there’s some debate on the issue), social media accounts are still an essential part of most SEO strategies. Your profiles on social media can influence search engine results. In fact, your social media profile is likely to be near the top of the results for searches on your brand name. And when we’re talking about local search (e.g., “lawyers near me” or “tax lawyer Calgary”), a key signalling factor is the presence and use of social media.
Recruiting on Social Media
Professional firms are only as good as the talent on their teams. A frequently overlooked use of social media is as a recruiting tool. These platforms can be used to network with your industry, raising your profile amongst your peers. Additionally, you can use socials to reach new grads (who are much more likely to use these platforms). Your account will paint a picture of life at your firm and the kind of people you work with. A vibrant and engaging profile can be a powerful asset when recruiting your choice of new grads.
A well-considered brand strategy should incorporate potential hires as one of the brand’s stakeholders. Potential hires aren’t just looking at job postings when planning their career. They’re considering what they already know about the firm, along with what they’re able to learn about the firm publicly. Social media is a great channel to connect with potential recruits while they’re still in school; build your brand with that audience early.
What’s being said about you online? Many platforms have built-in review features that allow users to review businesses. Your firm’s profile will also enable you to take an active role in conversations your brand is a part of. For example, if your firm is a contributor to a charity event, the charity recognizes and engages its sponsors on social media; having an active profile lets you be part of that in an official capacity. You only have the option of being part of (and managing) conversations about your brand if you’re there. Otherwise, it’s happening without you.