"I'm a pilot." This phrase can be used by a 12-year-old that operates a drone purchased from the shopping mall for $14.99 or it can be used by the individuals who make up the elite Blue Angels acrobatic F/A-18 fighter jets. Both are pilots, but with a Grand Canyon worth of experience and effectiveness separating them. Just as "I'm a pilot" doesn't tell the whole story for those aspiring to fly, "We use social media for marketing" may not tell the whole story either. There are five levels of social media use by firms, which do you fall into?
Level 5: General Corporate accounts—lights are on, but nobody is home.
"We share to all the social networks."
This phrase makes my skin crawl just a little. Firms think that by blasting every piece of news, charity, thought leadership, or award received to the firm's Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, (and heck let's blast it to Instagram and Snapchat while we are at it) they've checked off the social media boxes of their marketing plan and believe the delusion that "we are being social!"
Problem: Most of these accounts have no real audience. They're being followed only by current members of the firm, students looking for jobs, and, if they are lucky, one or two local reporters. The real issue? Nobody wakes up in the morning and asks "I wonder what Firm X is sharing on their company Facebook page today?"
Level 4: Specialized Corporate Accounts
Firms that understand social media's use for a strategic purpose will focus the right social media accounts on the right industries. Let's take a new hot topic like blockchain as an example. (Blockchain is the system of shared ledgers that make bitcoin possible, and it's a very hot topic in legal tech right now.) Blockchain is being discussed everywhere, and sites like Twitter are blockchain central with dozens of new articles being shared hourly about this new phenomenon that has the potential to threaten our existing monetary system.
Level 4 firms might create a Twitter account called "@blockchaintrain" that covers all the latest news and legal impact of blockchain. This would be a highly specialized account that would attract all parties interested in blockchain and help build a firm's reputation in this area.
Problem: Corporate accounts don't help build personal relationships. Nobody wants to chat with a corporate blockchain account, so firms are missing the chance to bring in business through their account.
Level 3: Specialized Lawyer Accounts
Level 3 firms skip right over the specialized corporate accounts and instead create law firm ambassadors in the form of attorneys who will be the face of blockchain news. These Twitter accounts are professionals profiles of the lawyer or lawyers that seek to be recognized as industry experts in blockchain. The Twitter account is just one small piece of their strategy. In addition to tweeting about important news regarding blockchain, they will also create a blog, attend conferences about blockchain, speak at events about blockchain, and seek to make the shortlist of national experts on the topic.
Level 2: Specialized Lawyer Accounts Combined with Firm Web Strategy
Level 2 firms have not only developed specialized lawyer accounts, but they have also built out all of the digital marketing infrastructure necessary to support them. They will specifically build landing pages onto their website to deliver white papers or drive sign-ups for webinars on the topic. Their Twitter use will drive traffic to the landing pages, the landing pages will drive sign-ups for their email list, and the email marketing will be used to grow deeper relationships with those on the list. As members of that list convert into paying customers, the firm will be able to identify a clear ROI from their social media efforts.
Level 1: All Hands On Deck
Level 1 firms recognize that social media isn't just for those two tech-savvy lawyers, it's necessary for the entire team. If the firm has three or four strategic areas for growth in the next year, they will enlist the help of every lawyer in the organization to share the content that has been created out to each lawyer's individual social networks. They will use tools like ClearView Social (or some other employee advocacy tool) to prompt this internal sharing, and they will reward those who participate. In my experience, fewer than five percent of all law firms have arrived at Level 1.
Now that we've laid out the five levels of social media use, let me ask: if you were a potential blockchain client, would a firm using social media at Level 5 ever get your attention? Never. You wouldn't even know they existed. So why are the vast majority of law firms still using social media at Level 5? Their claim to using social media falls as flat as the $14.99 drone ten minutes into its first flight. Social media can be as powerful as the F/A-18 fighter jet, so let's stop going through the motions and add jet fuel needed by our firms to really make social take flight.