The Key to Social Media Marketing for Lawyers is Understanding the Context of the Platform

I often preach to lawyers who produce marketing and thought leadership content that the best source of material for their blogs and newsletters derives not from what theythink is important and relevant, but rather from the issues and topics that their clients are talking about. I definitely try to take my own medicine on this one, as most of the content I write about on this blog is inspired by real questions I receive from lawyers about marketing and business development.

One of the questions that comes up over and over relates to social media marketing. Specifically, many lawyers and legal marketing professionals ask: “What platforms should we be on?”.

It’s no surprise that this is a hot topic. Several years ago mobile Internet usage exceeded desktop Internet usage for the first time, and mobile has continued to grow as the Internet environment of choice. And more than 50% of mobile user Internet surfing is done on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. At the same time, email marketing has become more challenging, as email open and click-through rates have continued to decline.

Mobile, and specifically social media on mobile, is where people are spending their time and focusing their attention. As social media expert and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk likes to say, the smartphone is the remote control of our lives.

We tend to write off evidence of this phenomenon despite the fact that by doing so we ignore our own behavior and the behaviors of those around us. Most of us are on our phones for hours every day, but we dismiss the idea – out of willful ignorance or romantic notions of how we’d like the world to be – that everyone else is too.

With all this in mind, back to the question at hand: “What platforms should lawyers be on to market their services, their personal brands, and aid their business development efforts?”.

The answer – as is often the case when the question relates to marketing – is: It depends.

It depends on a lot of things. Who is the audience? What are you trying to communicate? What are you trying to accomplish?

Generally speaking, lawyers should be platform agnostic. There’s no one platform that is right for everyone. What’s most important is that lawyers start by creating content that is valuable and relevant, and then figure out how to distribute that content on social media.

Every platform is different, attracts different audiences, and offers opportunities for lawyers to build their personal brands. The key is to understand the context of each platform in order to leverage it for results.

For example, by default many lawyers only distribute their content on LinkedIn based on the notion that LinkedIn is the social network for B2B communication. That may be true, but that doesn’t mean that the same content, repurposed to take into the account the context of the way people use and consume on other networks, can’t have the same impact on Facebook. The content can live and thrive on both networks, but the way the content is introduced should be tweaked to explain its relevance to the audience on each network.

In other words, like everything else worth doing in business and life, effective social media marketing takes smart strategy and hard work. Looking to just “post it and forget it”? My advice would be to spend time elsewhere in a more productive manner. The world’s too noisy. “Winning” at social media requires a tremendous amount of effort, and it’s the long game.

It’s incumbent upon lawyers, therefore, to be self aware enough to recognize if social media is the right ecosystem to be participating in. To answer the question posed at the beginning of this post directly: You don’t have to be on any of the social media platforms to be successful. But if you do decide to play in this arena, understand that you can successfully share content and make connections on all platforms, as long as you understand the context of each platform.