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News

Law Office Management

Jul. 2, 2015

How to Use Facebook to Market Your Law Practice

Some social-media marketing tips for lawyers.

Facebook boasts more than 890 million daily active users. Across the entire Internet, one in five page views is a visit to a Facebook page. And statistics on users reveal that Facebook is not just for teens and young college students: It has become the single most powerful marketing tool available for free, and virtually every major business and organization has established a presence there.

Attorneys in particular should make Facebook a central component of their online marketing efforts. These suggestions can help you attract more followers, without using pay-per-click tools.

Be friendly. Don't forget that the goal of a Facebook page is to make "friends," not simply attract one-time visitors. Think of your landing page as a storefront. It should be as welcoming as possible to engage newcomers.

Offer eye candy. The image at the top of your page will help you establish a Facebook identity that reflects your law firm's niche and offers a dynamic supplement to your firm's much more static main website.

Come alive. The key is interesting content. It does not matter how many visitors you attract if you don't capture their attention. Since few attorneys have time to spend writing updates, this is generally the hardest part of Facebook marketing. But with a little effort and patience, you will enjoy these benefits:

  • Your business will be more discoverable when potential clients search for you online.
  • You will be able to hold conversations with individual clients through messaging.
  • You can broadcast announcements to a wide audience through posts.
  • Facebook's Insights analytics will show you the results of your efforts.

Spread the word. Once you have laid the foundation for your Facebook page, you will want to start inviting people to visit. These contacts can then help get the word out about your page through "likes" and "shares." In this way, you will quickly develop credibility, and you may even get some referrals right away. But use caution (see next tip).

Stick with your friends. Attorneys should make direct "friend requests" only to other lawyers, family members, or those with whom they have a close personal or professional relationship. (See Formal Opinion No. 2012-186 issued by the State Bar's Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility, as well as American Bar Association Model Rule 7.3 (discussing solicitation of business).) Also, attorneys should not establish friendships on Facebook with judges, so as to avoid creating an apparent conflict of interest.

Be social. Facebook has become popular not because it is a good advertising platform but because it is an easy way to keep in touch. Strive to make your page fun as well as useful to visitors by sharing photos, videos, insights, or links to current events (see below).

Picture it. Imagery can be a powerful tool. However, pictures of your staff get old quickly, and using protected images can be a legal problem. Fortunately, Facebook provides another, legitimate, way of generating images. Follow these three easy steps: (1) Find a good article in an online magazine or journal. (2) Copy the article's URL, then paste it on your Facebook page in the box where it says, "What have you been up to?" An image from the article should then appear on your page. (3) Because viewers will now be able to jump to the article by clicking on this auto-generated image, you can erase the URL you pasted and type a comment instead.

Calendar events. Facebook makes it easy to let your clients and others know about your upcoming activities (seminars, podcasts, parties, and so forth) with its Events button. This feature allows you to draw special attention to your more important happenings. And remember, you can select different audiences for your posts by adjusting your privacy settings.

Popularity brings visibility. Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm uses a ranking system that is based largely on popularity. The more people visit and interact with your site with clicks, comments, and likes, the more prominence your posts will gain, and the more your friends and followers will see your updates.

Act, react, interact. Most people will not take time to comment on a boring post. Try mentioning an interesting current event and then ask for comments on it. Facebook makes this easy to do.

Be a good friend. Probably the best way to get people to follow or like your site is to do the same for others. If you take time to engage other people's Facebook pages, they may well reward you by returning the favor. Visit a random page, leave a nice comment like "Great page!" and then see what happens.

Make it to go, please. To attract the widest audience, post through Facebook's mobile app. This generally means cutting excess verbiage. Once you've created a post, it's wise to use your own mobile device to see how it actually looks. Fortunately, most smartphones can now easily load images and videos.

Don't forget ethics! As noted above, both the State Bar and the ABA have begun to address social media issues. Attorneys marketing in cyberspace should heed the published guidance.

Rebecca Bellow practices with WHGC PLC in Newport Beach. She focuses on general civil litigation as well as intellectual property disputes.

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Donna Mallard

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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