How Law Firms Can Use Social Media to Increase Employee Engagement and Advocacy
Law firm use of social media has continually grown over the past six years. As we enter the second phase of social media marketing by law firms, the focus has begun to shift from merely participating on social media to generating some measurable business value and achieving a return on investment.
The use of social media by businesses, including law firms, has evolved significantly. Law firms are competing with other firms in trying to capture the attention of prospects, influencers and clients. There is an abundance of content on social networks today and the ability to stand out and garner attention is getting harder every day.
One of the lessons that businesses and law firms have learned is that when it comes to social media engagement, people tend to engage with other people more readily than they do with brands. Posts by individuals on social media seem more genuine and enable thought leaders to demonstrate their knowledge and experience.
As a result, law firms that are only relying on their marketing professionals to post content on social media, are not achieving the desired engagement with either prospects or influencers. Savvy law firms know that in order to maximize engagement on social media, everyone at their firm needs to participate in one way or another.
This is not only the case with law firms. Corporations that have attained a high level of digital maturity understand the importance of getting all employees to participate on social media and as a result have invested heavily in employee advocacy training and tools that easily enable every employee to participate in social media by sharing the content that their companies are sharing online.
These corporations understand that no matter what role an employee holds at a company, they all at some point engage with customers or potential customers and as a result, it is important for them to understand the brand and messaging of the company. In addition, because you never know where your next customer or client is going to come from, companies want to ensure that employees are actively sharing their content with their own social networks.
This is a concept commonly referred to as employee advocacy. It simply means that companies and firms should enable their employees, all of them, to act as brand advocates and share the wealth and knowledge their firm or company is sharing. After all, who is most familiar with a firm’s people and services than its own employees?
Why is employee advocacy important? Two main reasons. First, it enables firms to amplify their reach on social media. How?
Here is an example. Suppose a law firm with 100 employees and 2000 followers on LinkedIn chose to rely on their firm’s LinkedIn page to share their latest blog post on social media. The maximum number of people this firm could reach would be 2000.
Now suppose that each employee at the firm has 930 connections on LinkedIn (that is the average number of connections per user according to social media expert Jeff Bullas). If the firm relied on their employees to share the blog post with their own connections on LinkedIn, the same blog post would be able to reach 9300 people, a much higher number than the firm would be able to reach on their own.
However, amplifying reach on social media is only one of the benefits of an employee advocacy program. The other benefit is that by sharing the firm’s content on their own social networks, employees become more aware of what the firm is up to and what content the firm is highlighting to be shared with influencers, prospects, and clients.
This is an extremely important component of employee advocacy. Especially if their firm is a large firm or a global firm and most employees are unaware of all the different things going on at the firm.
So how does a firm empower their employees to become advocates on social media?
The first step is to invest in training. Every employee at the firm should be trained on not just how to use the different social networks, but more importantly why? Why should they do it? What is in it for them?
From my experience, one of the main reasons why lawyers and other professionals shy away from social media, is because they don’t understand it business value. They haven’t been properly taught to understand how social media can enhance their thought leadership position; keep them “top of mind” of their networks and help them to strategically grow their networks.
These are the key business benefits of social media for law firms and until every employee at the firm understands this, firms will not be able to achieve the ultimate value of social media.
A good social media training program encourages employees to build their networks and share the accomplishments and content that the firm has authored. The training should also provide employees with tips on what content they should share and what content to avoid sharing.
Employee advocacy programs encourage a firm’s employees to talk up the achievements of their firm on social media. Employees can make exceptional advocates for their employers. They can:
Recommend the firm’s lawyers and services to their friends and family
Learn more about the services the firm offers, because they probably know a lot about them already
Generate positive exposure for a firm
Represent the best interests of their firm
Many companies have realized that employee advocacy is just as relevant to their marketing efforts as content and influencer marketing. Companies that have engaged in successful employee advocacy include Oakley, Dell, IBM, Intel, and Best Buy.
Law firms, on the other hand are just beginning to understand the value of employee advocacy and most do not have an employee advocacy program in place at their firms.
In addition to training, firm’s that are interested in establishing successful employee advocacy programs can leverage software solutions that have been designed specifically to help companies and firms with their employee advocacy programs.
Most of these tools focus on making the employee advocacy process as simple as possible. A firm needs to appoint one or more curators. They search for relevant and suitable content that employees can share on the firm’s behalf.
When a curator finds an item, they add the story’s URL to the board, making it available for employees to share. They can also add stories from RSS feeds and a range of other sources.
Some of these tools enable curators to create original content for the board. They can write custom social media messages, ready for employees to share. In addition, some of these tools like PostBeyond allow employees to make suggestions on content that they think should be shared by the entire firm.
All of these tools enable employees to easily read, schedule and share the stories via their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.
Law firms that equip their employees with the tools and training they need to share firm content can reap great rewards. Here are some additional tips to help foster sharing:
Make it easy to share by using an employee advocacy platform.
Empower employees to represent the firm’s brand in interactions with prospects and clients and on social media by setting sharing guidelines.
Foster confidence by providing education on how sharing impacts employees’ professional brands.
Fostering employee advocacy benefits employees, clients, and the firm. Its effects are far-reaching and can be measured in concrete terms such as increased reach, higher engagement, and increased social media followers.
Law firms who are interested in taking their social media to the next level need to consider developing an employee advocacy program at their firm in order to maximize their reach and generate real business results from their digital marketing efforts.