I was reading a very interesting post on what local businesses should be doing on Facebook, only to realise that the majority of the tips were not applicable to solicitors. So what exactly does that mean? Is Facebook for Solicitors or should you keep your social networking strictly to LinkedIn?
Well there are about 26 million Facebook users in the UK, a large number of whom will need a solicitor at some point. But is the Facebook platform and the promotional features it offers suitable for promoting your practice?
Facebook Offers may be hugely successful for coffee shops and hairdressers to bring new customers to their stores but solicitors don't want to be seen to be discounting their services - it doesn't give out the right professional image at all. Find out how lawyers could possibly use Offers in a different way in this post.
Facebook Checkins also work extremely well for many local businesses but many clients visiting your Practice will be there for something sensitive and will not want to announce the fact to the world - even if you offer them some form of incentive.
Read on to find out how solicitors can use Facebook promotional features to find new clients? And find out how the correct set up of your page is the key to finding clients in Facebook.
Whilst they may be the most well-known features, Offers and CheckIns are not the only functions on Facebook.
Creating a Facebook Event
Your firm could run an event and use the Facebook events feature to publicise it to your existing email list and potential new customers via targeted Facebook ads..
What sort of event? It could be an educational training workshop, an information evening or it could just be an entertainment.
We attended a World Cup Party where the firm screened England's third game from the recent World Cup on the massive screen in their reception which normally runs their own ads promoting their services.
The fact that England had already been eliminated meant that there was a lot more networking done than might otherwise have been the case.
A solicitor who is local to us runs a regular Film Night and invites representatives of local businesses - after all, who knows when they may need legal advice of some form in the future? It's an opportunity to network without the focus being on self-promotion.
This is a chance to get like-minded individuals to gather together to watch a favourite movie. Building and maintaining relationships about a mutual interest.
Find out more about how solicitors can use Facebook Events here
Using Facebook Groups
Again, most customers are not going to want to join a group to discuss their legal requirements - even if it is a closed or secret group. However, you could have a secret group for your staff members and use it to bounce ideas for getting new clients and also for producing content for your blog or Facebook page.
Your receptionists know the questions that people most often ask via telephone. Your legal staff know what areas of the business clients frequently struggle to understand. Your partners will know which areas they would like to target.
Making the most of Reviews on Facebook
If you have set up your Facebook page correctly, there will be a tab where happy customers can leave Reviews. Some fans will not even notice this feature and will leave their positive comments as posts. These can be found in the Posts To Your Page section in the left hand column of your Facebook business page.
You could take screenshots of both these types of review and upload them direct to your Page as a photo in a status update. Ideally, you should pretty them up in PhotoShop or Canva so that they stand out. Always make sure that you add some Company branding to any images that you upload to Facebook. You might even want to add some form of call to action with a phone number.
You could send an email to customers on your list and ask them to leave you a review on Facebook or even write a personal testimonial via letter. These too can be scanned and made pretty for uploading to Facebook.
Learn more about how solicitors could use Reviews on Facebook in this post
Posting regular content
The one thing you should be doing on a regular basis is posting up content. Status updates about your latest informational literature, reviews from happy clients, photos and information about local events and legal news that everyone should be aware of.
The golden rule is 80/20. For every 10 status updates that you post, eight should be educational, informational and entertaining and just two should be selling your services.
Check your insights to see which types of post get the most engagement in terms of likes, comments and shares. Dig deeper to see whether this engagement has come from a particular gender or age group so you can make notes for your Facebook ad campaigns in the future.
It's all about finding what works for your fans and doing more of the same. But to find that out, you've got to start posting. You can get some great tips on using the platform here.
Can Facebook Competitions be effective at generating leads?
Yes, providing you set them up correctly. You will see many businesses offering a prize to people who like a post or comment on it. This is the least effective method of running a Facebook competition. Find out more here.
Potential Issues For Solicitors on Facebook
Obviously there are going to be rules about what you can and cannot publish and any strategy should be agreed at the highest levels first. However, to be too tightly constrained by fear of sanction could be to kill your Facebook chances before you start.
Define your social media policy in terms of content posted and comments that may be made in line with guidance from The Law Society. In this article, specific warnings are given about the dangers of making friends with clients/potential clients on Facebook in terms of your ethical obligations.
However, they make clear that having and using a Facebook business page in itself is acceptable because Pages cannot friend individuals.
The Law Society article also discusses the potential for breaches of confidentiality in commenting and checking in on Facebook where a solicitor might inadvertently reveal involvement in a case.
You are advised to read the SRA Code of Conduct and, in particular, Chapter 8 which deals with marketing and advertising.
So, there you have it. A successful Facebook presence can be achieved for the modern practice and it is vital that firms who deal with more personal issues have high visibility for their local customers on a platform that has over 1.2 billion users.
But to make the most of Facebook, your business Page has to be set up correctly so that it is easy to find and easy to use.
What many people don't realise is that their Facebook business page can rank on the front page of Google for local search terms. It even has the ability to outrank the websites of some competing businesses in your town!
Need help? Download our Facebook checklist to make sure you've done everything possible to make that happen. Simply click the image below
A couple of years ago, we wrote a post called Welcome To Facebook which will give you some great hints and tips on using the platform as a business. It ranks at #12 of 902,000,000 results, beating out some pretty heavy hitters, so Google rather likes it.