As we begin a new decade, there are more social media options available for lawyers today than anytime since the dawn of the Internet Era. Yet far too few lawyers use social media effectively.
The following primer is just that – a high level overview of how each social medium works, the pros and cons of each, and whether it’s worth your time to become active on the platform.
Here are the top social media platforms for lawyers for 2020:
How it Works: Twitter is a microblogging and social media platform. You post limited-character messages on Twitter and engage with others who have posted.
Pros: Twitter is versatile and remains a superb platform for you to share your expertise through the vehicle of tweets. While Twitter is probably past its prime and has been fairly accused as being a platform replete with inauthentic political news, there is still an overwhelming sense that we can come to Twitter for news, opinion, and expertise. While this may change in the next year or so, there is still no social platform as powerful and broad for communicating the value proposition of your legal practice.
Cons: Twitter is an angry tire fire. It has increasingly become an unpleasant place to spend time.
Worth it?: Yes.
How it Works: Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social network. You post images and videos which can either be made available
Pros: Instagram is massive and easy to use. It is a perfect medium to engage in a genuine way with your audience and you can absolutely build a following of users here that are in the market for legal services. It will be a surprise to most to see Instagram ranked right behind Twitter here as a critically important social medium for lawyers. But never forget that a picture is worth a thousand words. Instagram is the perfect point of intersection between images and words. Used well together, lawyers can attract clients using Instagram.
Cons: The percentage of people with private Instagram accounts is far greater than with Twitter. This means that while everyone can see your content if you allow them to, engaging with others can be more challenging. And while Instagram is an excellent place to build relationships, it’s not as transactional as other media, so you shouldn’t expect to set up a presence and quickly find people clicking through to hire you.
Worth it?: Absolutely. If you aren’t on Instagram and are willing to invest the time and effort on one new platform, this is it.
How it Works: YouTube is a massive video-sharing platform, where anyone can post a video for public viewing.
Pros: YouTube results appear first in practically every video search. YouTube is easy to use in that you simply need to take a video of any length and upload it through your phone or laptop. With no time limitations, you can do a true deep dive into a subject on YouTube.
Cons: There is practically infinite content on YouTube. Being found there is increasingly difficult. To begin, you will be a legal needle in a digital haystack on YouTube.
Worth it?: Yes. YouTube remains a great place to share expertise. Establish a presence there as an expert and this may convert into clients.
How it Works: Facebook is a massive social networking website.
Pros: The age demographic is high, as is net income. If you’re looking for your current clients, they’re almost certainly on Facebook. There is a fine point to be made here. Two years ago, just the size of the Facebook audience would have made Facebook the most valuable social medium.
Cons: Will your next generation of clients be on Facebook? It’s looking increasingly doubtful. For socio-political reasons, Facebook may have hit its apex. While platform size remains an important consideration, what’s more important is understanding your key demographics and how to engage your users and convert them into clients.
Worth it?: The best path here is to maintain your Facebook presence, but spend more and more time on other media.
How it Works: A home for your professional profile. LinkedIn allows you to find people and be found, share professional updates, thought-leadership posts and much more.
Pros: Yes, LinkedIn is becoming a social medium.There is an opportunity to be seized here as LinkedIn seems to have lost the thread. While LinkedIn searches for its own identity, the scope of what is and is not acceptable content on LinkedIn seems to be becoming more elastic. This has created an opportunity for lawyers to define their work on LinkedIn in non-traditional ways.
Cons: In so many ways LinkedIn has become a truly awful platform. The UX is confusing and counterintuitive, the experience uneven depending upon what device you use. It may be the least present social medium on which to spend time.
Worth it?: Probably.
How it Works: TikTok is the home of millions of short-term videos. The app is based on the virality gamble, that something you post may quickly develop a huge audience.
Pros: Early adoption. It’s that simple. Sure, it will take some creativity to leverage TikTok as an app you use as a lawyer, but it can be done (shameless plug: We at Esquire Digital can help with a Tik Tok strategy).
Cons: TikTok is currently highly controversial as it is a Chinese app. Do a quick google search and you’ll see that the app has been politicised. Whether it is an app that people will discontinue using before it has a chance to become even more massive is something to be seen.
Worth it?: Probably not, but far be it for us to slow down any legal social media pioneers out there. Honestly, though, we would put your TikTok time into Instagram.
How it Works: Pinterest is an image-based platform that allows you to discover and save information. You can find everything from fashion, home decor, and recipes.
Pros: Pinterest seems to appear today in many more search results than it did even a year ago. While it may seem counterintuitive, more lawyers should have a pinterest presence. Pinterest is definitely a medium where you don’t want to be in sales mode. Like instagram, it’s a great place to share, for example, your #LawyerStyle in how you dress, how you design your workspace, and more. Unlike Instagram, Pinterest is far more suited to adding random images to your collection, So instead of just highlighting the clothes you like to wear to court, you can “pin” many outfits that you like from ads, shops, and more, and share these with others.
Cons: There’s not going to be a fast return on your time investment here, as no one goes to Pinterest looking for a lawyer. Your bet is that they will gravitate towards the content on your pin boards and realize that you are a lawyer who offers a service they might need today or in the future.
Worth it?: Why not? A great place to explore your creativity if you have an angle such as fashion or design that plays well on Pinterest.
How it Works: Snapchat allows you to capture moments on your phone and share them with friends. Snapchat stories can reach a wide audience once you build a base of friends on the app.
Pros: It’s a fast and easy way to share moments to your audience. A celebrity lawyer would have a huge natural audience from other media that may also be on snapchat. This is an example of a medium made popular and populated by young people. While these aren’t your clients today, maybe they will be tomorrow.
Cons: Your initial audience is zero. You’re essentially snapping into the aether. Snapchat also tends to have quite a young demographic, so the vast majority of your clients aren’t spending a lot of time on Snapchat if they use it at all.
Worth it?: Not in late 2019. Two years ago, maybe, but not today. A few times in its history, Snapchat looked like it was about to eat the world, but it didn’t. It’s simply not as much in the conversation about hot social media today that it had been.
The most important lesson about deciding which social media to use to promote your work as a lawyer and your legal practice is that you should always be flexible and stay on the right side of the trends. I always suggest thinking of your time and effort investment in social media as a pie chart. Largest pieces of the pie should be social media where you can quantify your ROI. Simply out, where you can see effort in, client conversion out. But it is just as important to remain fresh and able to identify new trends in social communication that you can leverage with just a little bit of time and effort.
If you have questions, feel free to contact us for answers.