The 5 Phases of Law Firm Social Media Grief

Getting social media right in a law firm is much like the grieving process – but some firms seem to get stuck in the early stages… and never make it out. With social media now a critical part of your firm's marketing efforts, you need to reconsider your attitude.

Denial – The Head in the Sand Stage

Social media is a passing fad. It will never catch on and we shouldn't waste time or money on it.

Lawyers shouldn't use any social media for their marketingit's not professional.

Our policies prevent our staff from using social media at work – and ideally at home too. There are just too many horror stories we've heard about where some lawyer did something bad on social media and ruined their career.

Thankfully, most lawyers are now past the ostrich stage in their social media maturity.

Unfortunately, many lawyers seem to be stuck in stage 2 of social media grieving – which I call:

The Do Everything Badly Stage

Once we embrace social media as a necessary element of our legal marketing, we fling ourselves into it with a passion.

By which I mean: we force our staff to write blog articles, and ask our marketing team to broadcast them to every social media channel we can think of.

Alas, this is more a form of coping, then a true sense of empowerment.

Our forced blogging efforts are sporadic, and rarely produce articles with enough pizzazz to get a flea to jump, let along prompt a client to hire us.

Importantly though – all social media is controlled by our marketing team. We can't just let people go posting work related stuff willy nilly, right?

They're a bit busy, so other than autoposting we don't engage with comments or really understand the platforms at all. We measure our success by the reports marketing gives us about “views”, “clicks” and “likes”.

We certainly don't post natively to a platform – that's too time consuming.

And we regularly wonder: what's the big deal with social media?

Realisation – The Dawn of Social Media Mastery

Recognising we have a problem is always the best place to start – and realisation is it.

Realisation is where we confront WHY our social media efforts aren't working. Everyone knows that they should expect more, but nobody knows where to start.

Sometimes, often unfairly, fingers are pointed and blame is laid. People blame platforms, algorithms, staff, stock photos and everything else.

We start researching, regularly asking the wrong questions along the way like “what's the best time of day to post” and “how many likes is a good number”.

Sometimes this phase involves contraction and expansion – experiments, rules, parameters, and training. Some of it is wasted, and some wrong – but it's an important part of the process.

Eventually, we realise the truth: there is no spoon the problem lies in our entire mindset about social media. It lies in our approach, and it lies in our lack of mastery.

Refinement – The Firm, But Not the People

As the firm starts to ask the right questions, find the right answers, and implement the right changes – something starts to happen: people start to see results.

A partner gets an enquiry for a new matter from an unknown client off the back of an article.

A senior associate engages in LinkedIn messages with a connection, and gets a referral as a result.

Stories start to circulate. People start to see what works, and what doesn't. You start experimenting with content types like video, or native posting.

Generally it's top down. Perhaps the firm hires a social media manager who takes the reins. Perhaps the partners are encouraged to “do more” on LinkedIn, or given premium accounts and a little training on how to use them.

Comments increase. Engagement increases. Awareness increases.

Feedback comes in – “we like this”, “we don't like that”. It's measured, accounted for, discussed and used as part of ongoing refinement.

Some platforms are eliminated – they're not working, and we're not good enough at them. But we master those that remain. We automate some aspects and use others natively.

It's a good period of creativity, growth and awareness – but it's sporadic, unpredictable and limited to certain individuals.

Acceptance and Empowerment – The Social Media Juggernaut

Empowerment involves all of your staff (or at least all of your professional staff). It takes the skills, lessons and mastery obtained through the refinement process and expands it to your entire firm.

This is where:

  • you accept that social media, done right, will build your business
  • you have internal expertise and mastery in social media
  • you are actively training your new and existing staff
  • your staff are empowered to engage on social media with a view to making connections and building business
  • you monitor and give positive feedback and criticism designed
  • you trust your people, and shred your social media policies (yep – I said it).

Your social media presence becomes authentic, consistent, powerful and effective.

Your reputation grows. Your visibility increases. Your enquiries increase and your work grows.

You become the renowned expert/s in your field/s.

Your staff are regarded as friendly, expert lawyers – even by people who haven't met them.

So Where are You?

Which phase are you in? Which phase is your firm in (they might be different)?

And how are working towards the next stage?

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