December 4, 2022

Volume XII, Number 338

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December 02, 2022

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Social Media, Content Management & Networking with Stefanie Marrone [PODCAST]

The pandemic forced the legal industry to rely on social media. So, where do you start? Rachel and Jessica discuss the best practices with Stefanie Marrone, Founder and CEO of Stefanie Marrone Consulting/The Social Media Butterfly. Be sure to also check out her "Women Who Wow" series.

Read on below for a transcript of our conversation, transcribed by AI:

 

Rachel

In this episode, we're excited to talk to Stefanie Marrone, founder and CEO of Stefanie Marrone Consulting and the Social Media Butterfly. Stefanie, would you like to introduce yourself to our listeners?

 

Stefanie

Yeah, sure. Thanks, guys for having me on. I'm Stefanie Marrone. I have worked with law firms and at law firms for over 20 years. And then about two years ago, I went and started my own business where I'm a consultant to law firms and other companies in the legal industry. And I help them with everything under the sun marketing related and then also with a focus on social media. And I live in New York with my two French bulldog puppies, who will definitely make an appearance today, as I warned you guys before we started recording.

 

Rachel

Great, we're excited to get more of your insights here on social media and content creation. So one of the main topics that we want to focus on today, and it's been sort of a through line in our whole first season here is sort of trends in the legal industry and adjusting to COVID-19. So I was wondering if you could start off by talking a little bit about the trends you're currently seeing in the legal market today.

 

Stefanie

What they're talking about the entire world right now is the great resignation. There are lots of people leaving their jobs and going to work other places where there is more flexibility, where there's more work life balance, and that has created a huge problem for law firms of every single size. So I guess it's a lot of different things, right, the industry was forced to innovate as a result of COVID. They were innovating when it came to how they did business with their clients, and technology became front and center. The work was sort of stagnant for a little bit, and people are nervous to hire, but now they're back in full swing. And they're having a lot of trouble. I'm actually working with a number of law firms on recruiting marketing strategies, for the first time in a very long time. Again, because it's a candidates market, there's so much content out there. But then they saw it as an opportunity later on. Any lawyer who said I'm just going to take my clients to golf or go out to dinner, or you're still going to have trouble doing that, because a lot of people are not ready. It's basically we're in a new frontier we are talking about the last two years have been like pivoting every single thing you thought you knew and that you were doing, you had to like make a sharp, right, and then a sharp left right afterward, and you went off the grid because the GPS didn't even have those roads on the map. Right. So it's been a crazy time over the last 18 months and firms that don't get it are behind the times. Any firm is requiring you to go back to the office every day is going to have a really tough time getting their people to be excited about working.

 

Rachel

Right. And yeah, I think one of the interesting things that we've heard so far in doing these interviews is the COVID-19 pandemic was like a catalyst to get law firms to change and do a lot of the things that people probably wanted for a really long time, specifically remote work, probably a better work life balance, things like that. You mentioned briefly like working with law firms to come up with sort of recruiting marketing. What does that look like? Like how are firms trying to differentiate themselves and really stand out compared to others right now.

 

Stefanie

My very first job in legal marketing was working at always Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison and my job was to start their alumni relations program and to help them with recruiting marketing, one of the programs we did was to interview lawyers and find out why we're getting a candidate in the door, but we're not closing the deal, or they're choosing another firm. And what we found was it was a lot of things, it was behavioral issues in terms of interviewing, it was making the candidates feel important. It was the way they were selling the firm, so to speak, you know, communicating what it's like to work here, full circle. 20 years later. Now I'm getting asked by law firms to help them do exactly what I did 20 years ago, which was to help them tell the story of their firm why of recruits to join the firm, how to promote their wins without sounding too boastful, which is something I tell people all the time you know, you don't want to put all of your awards everywhere. Candidates don't care about that. They don't care about the work. They care about the mentoring, they care about the work life balance, and not everybody wants to make partner anymore. The other one is millennials, I learned so much from millennials. Because I, I grew up in a different generation and their needs and wants are different. So one of the things I'm doing is looking at the materials on the website crafting language that speaks to recruits directly instead of legalese. One of the things I'm working on is like a Glassdoor strategy for one firm, where, you know, we’re saying that listen, employees now have a voice, you can't just treat everyone poorly and expect that no one's gonna find out about it, we have checks and balances now, and people are more empowered than they've ever been before. So making sure you know, your Glassdoor is okay. And that, you know, it's not just Glassdoor, there's obviously Indeed there's Chambers and there's other places, but making sure that you're putting your best foot forward everywhere, and that you're thinking strategically about how to market yourself to these different audiences. And so I hope that helps, but it's not enough to have that great name on the door anymore. If people know you to not be a great place to work or not have a great culture, you're going to have to work harder to get those people to either want to come work for you or stay. Because a lot of firms are losing a lot of their lawyers right now, in this great resignation time and they're going to where the grass is greener. The firms have to actually spend time retaining their talent. And that's another thing that I work on in terms of helping them come up with strategies for development for associates and development for other people who may be in danger of leaving. It's a whole new world, guys.

 

Rachel

Right. And I think that's really interesting. You bring up sites like Glassdoor, and Indeed because, like, if you are in the job market, you're looking to apply a place that already has terrible reviews, that's people getting turned away before they even apply.

 

Stefanie

Gone are the days when all that was out there was what the what the firm was saying about themselves or the organization. But now, you have to actually stand by what you say you are, you have to be that kind of place. People only write reviews when they're really, really happy or really, really, really angry. I work on our alumni relations programs, which is like that full lifecycle of an associate from the time, you know, from recruiting to the time they're there to then they leave. And so many law firms don't have a very strong alumni relations program, or they don't think about it, even people who they've  let go or ask to find another job, it doesn't always work out, it's okay. But don't exclude them from the Alumni Program, include them, you want them to be part of the community, you never know who's going to be a potential recruit of client return to you or bad mouth you out there. So you know, we want to leave people with a feeling of respect even when it doesn't work out.

 

Rachel

Right. And that sort of plays into what I want to ask next is sort of like that overarching idea of a firm's marketing efforts, like their branding, things like that, and how that's been sort of impacted by COVID 19. So how can attorneys and firms really keep up with their marketing during this time? Like, how can they launch like these, you know, efforts to build their alumni relations and things like that?

 

Stefanie

Yeah, so one of the things I was seeing in the beginning when COVID had just hit was every firm was doing the exact same thing. They launched a Coronavirus Resource Center, I think I actually counted, it was like 30, something law firms had the exact same name for their resource section. And most of them were using the same stock images. It was that, you know, red and black photo of the COVID cell structure. And they would put that on their website, and then all their materials. And all that did was scare the crap out of everybody. Right? So and you see that same image online as well. So I was just say, I was saying to firms, like, differentiate yourself, be different. Be pivot, be understanding, be empathetic to your clients, and your recruits. And anybody who's out there, let's not rely on email. I don't know about you guys. But I never used Zoom before COVID and I grew up in a law firm environment. And tech was not necessarily always like yet the front and center. So it required us to all adapt and innovate. And there were a lot of people who fought it tooth and nail, but still did it. So I guess my  thought was that COVID change everything. It forced us to be more human. I think we shed a lot of the formalities. I think we needed to innovate, we were forced to do it. I think the firms that are still putting out content without thinking that habits have changed. We’re on our mobile devices more, and law firms have to pivot to that. If you're not using LinkedIn, you're way behind the times and you need to use it now. So social is such a big part of your strategy as a lawyer and then also as a firm. One thing that happened a lot During COVID, where people were doing webinars, and they realized that they didn't necessarily have to give CLE credit or be accredited to do it, the people just wanted to get together and learn about different issues. So I see firms doing that, and I'm so happy they're doing it, but I don't see them maximizing their webinars. So they'll do a webinar one, they won't take the recording from the webinar, and then have that transcribed and then it becomes a client alert, or, you know, an article that they can place in a third party publication. They don't use it for social media posts. It's what I call one and done and they it just goes into like, disappears into thin air. So I guess I still see law firms need help in terms of maximizing their content assets and using them more efficiently and more effectively.

And I think, you know, it's sort of like work smarter, not harder. Why not repurpose it, you know, make your content work harder and smarter for you is something I literally say once a day.

 

Jess

Yeah, so you sort of touched upon just how much COVID has changed everything. And you spoke a little bit about webinars, and that was a way for people to sort of stay connected. Are there any other ways that attorneys and law firms in general can build their brands of business as well?  Social distancing is still on people's minds.

 

Stefanie

LinkedIn is so important. I think for the majority of lawyers and law firms, it's going to be LinkedIn where 750 plus million people gather for Business Networking and Information. So if you're not on LinkedIn, you should get on LinkedIn, you should build a strong profile. The profile should have keywords that describe what you do, how you do, and for whom you do it. So I say there are three building blocks of LinkedIn. One is your profile. So get that completely done and optimize the bio, don't put like Mr. Smith is, blah, blah, blah, and don't brag about all your awards. Number two are your connections, a lot of people just sit and wait for people to come to them and connect with them. And it's a two way street. So you should be actively thinking about who you know, from different walks of life from your path, the more people in your network, the stronger your network will be for when you want to do number three, which is post content. And that's where I find most lawyers fall short, they don't know what to do or how to do it. And it makes a huge difference. There's only 1% of people globally using LinkedIn who actively create content. So there's a huge opportunity. And lawyers aren't, in my opinion taking advantage of it, or when they do they sound just like everybody else. So I want to encourage them to do more of that. And if they don't know what to share, they could go to their company page and share from there, there are a lot of lawyers in the world to anything you can do to remain top of mind with touch points that are useful, that are authentic, and that are, you know, meaningful is important. So that's why content helps. So I tell people all the time, you know, they'll ask me, you know, how do I get better ranked in Google? And how do I build my brand? Start writing. You guys know this because of what you guys do. But most people don't follow your blog, you have to push out the content to people, most people don't follow your client alerts. This is why we have social media, email marketing, content, syndicators, like what you guys do, and a whole host of other tools that most lawyers don't realize, like what's going on behind the scenes. So you can write a great piece of content. But if you don't promote it effectively and efficiently, it doesn't matter, no one will see it. You know, if you're thinking about going back to quote unquote, normal, you're thinking about it all wrong. Firms, like get that and use content and use webinars. And then, of course, meet with your clients in person. There's no substitution for that. But this world is not going back to the way it was we will be using social we will be using content marketing more. And I hope that lawyers realize that and firms realize it and then firms do more to promote those things and encourage their people to do those things.

 

Jess

So you've got all this experience in the legal industry, so many years trying to get people all the tools they need with social media content. Can you tell me about Women Who Wow, and why you started that?

 

Stefanie

So Women Who Wow is a group that I started, it's actually just supposed to be for women's history month in March 2020. And I started it before the pandemic and then the pandemic happened, I kept getting recommendations for other women and the series took on a life of its own and so, Women Who Wow became an ongoing series featuring women mostly in the legal industry, giving their ideas and their thoughts and advice on their careers and how they've gotten to where they are advice that they would give their younger selves. You know, I really felt like there was a void in the industry for something like this. I thought we needed something where women could spotlighted and celebrated without expecting anything in return. I have over 100 people so far profiled, and it keeps going. And then that sort of started, you know, from the series, then we created events, and they're all free. And they are various events, learning from women. So it's various different advice from career advice, to even just kind of finding more balance in your life. And everyone and anyone is welcome. And so it's been great to build community at a time when I felt so isolated. I think no matter where you are in your career, there's something for you. It's just a great way to network. I love this series. And it's meant a lot to me to find community and to support other women.

 

Jess

And I think that's so great, because the legal industry on its head seems to be more maybe male dominated as an industry. So bringing women together for different professional topics, I think could be really beneficial. Is that similar to why you started it? Like kind of your thinking behind it?

 

Stefanie

Yeah, absolutely. So when you work at a law firm, there's a lot of class differentials, right. There's staff, people like me, the marketing person, and then there's the attorneys. And very often there are benefits given to the attorneys that aren't necessarily always given to the staff, and there still is a hierarchy at law firms. I also know that there's a lot of disparity between women in law making partner than men, it is harder for women to make law of make partner from the day they step into the door of a law firm, they are automatically at a disadvantage. And research backs me up. I spoke on a panel on this recently. And essentially, it's for a number of reasons. They're not part of the old boys club, there are more men, and it is harder for women to adjust it to balance everything because the sometimes very often the onus of childcare and all that stuff, falls on women. And so they wind up leaving, they don't make partner they go and they go in house to go to smaller firms, or they leave the industry entirely completely sort of like discouraged by what happened. And so, yes, and my idea was that women can learn so much from each other. So in terms of like talking about, you know, how you find balance, or how you've made it work, or to not be so hard on yourself, or what are your success tips. That is what I wanted people to be able to share with each other.

 

Jess

And I think that was perfect timing on your part, building a community like that, when that pandemic started, we were already feeling very isolated. And then, you know, I'm sure there are, you know, just like women and other groups of people probably always have that sense of slight isolation in like an industry that they work in. So I like that that's, you know, why brought them together and showcased a lot of people who have knowledge to share, what would you say to people who maybe don't have that support, or would like that same support?

 

Stefanie

So I would say build a community, right? So I was missing it, I needed it, I created it. And I wanted to learn from these women. Join the Women Who Wow, it’s open to everybody. It's free. Like I said, and I would say, you know, if you're at a firm, surround yourself with people, either in person or online, who are supporters and your cheerleaders and find a mentor, and sometimes it's not organic, sometimes you need to go actively find one. Sometimes it's not just one mentor. Sometimes it's multiple people who provide advice to you in different areas, but they’re people love to give advice. They love to be asked of like, what would you do in this situation? Or tell me about your career? I think a lot of people are afraid to ask for things, ask for advice, ask for help. Don't be afraid to admit that maybe there are some times where you get in your own way or you need help. And I think I would just say we are all works in progress, and we need to be just a little kinder to ourselves, too.

 

 

Rachel

That's a really great sort of segue into our next topic, which is social media and content strategy. We spoke a little bit about LinkedIn. And we definitely think you know, lawyers should be on that platform. How can lawyers really use LinkedIn to their benefit?

 

Stefanie

I went over the three fundamentals before in terms of profile connections and then utilization of the platform, which is where most people fall flat. The other thing I see people do is promote themselves on social. I'm seeing all these Super Lawyers rankings being posted. And they literally start the same way. I'm honored to be ranked, or I'm humbled to be ranked, or even worse, I'm honored and humbled to be ranked. It doesn't make you sound honored or humbled when you write it like that. And so I tell people think about it differently. Tell a story. Why did you become a lawyer? Why did you join your firm? Who helped you on these matters? How did you get to where you are, flip it around, thank your clients, thank the team that was in the office making those copies that got that deal done. It's all about being humble. People like to celebrate your successes, but they don't want you to sound like you're patting yourself too hard on the back. So it's just telling a story. And I tell people show versus tell with everything. One of my other big pet peeves is if I write an article, or I have a client alert, the lawyers will often publish it or share it without any introductory text. And that is like the worst thing you can do on social because you're basically letting other people try to figure it out. And it doesn't rank well with your SEO which LinkedIn has SEO too, by the way. So I tell people write a synopsis. In the beginning, tell people why you wrote this, why it's interesting. And, you know, I'm sure you guys understand this. But so many lawyers don't necessarily get to the point right off the bat or in the first couple lines. And that is key on LinkedIn. Because what LinkedIn does in the newsfeed is only show you the first two or three lines of a post. So if you don't capture anyone's attention in that time period, they're going to keep moving along the scroll. And so the whole goal of social is to stop the scroll. And if you don't have good content, and you don't have good imagery, they'll keep scrolling. And I guess the other thing I would say is most lawyers don't think about LinkedIn, they think I don't have time for it, I don't need it. I'm good at what I do I have business. Well, here's the thing, your business could dry up tomorrow, your competitors are on LinkedIn, I tell people all the time, you know, do it because you see other people do it because you want to be part of it, and it is effective for them. The other thing is that you can use it for business development. So I call this low hanging fruit. But it's the sections on LinkedIn, where was the notification section, it tells me about people's birthdays, which sounds trivial, but actually, it's a touch point to get back in touch with someone and can open up a dialog. I've seen this time and time again. So birthdays, work anniversaries and new jobs. People don't usually send emails anymore, when they get a new job, it's up to you to do the due diligence to find out where they've gone. And that's a great reason to guys, today, I got three notifications just today on people getting new jobs. So I would send a congratulatory note. And LinkedIn makes it so easy, you just have to hit a button, right. So these are touch points that enable you to get back in the realm of thinking with certain people. And I think it's I've seen it lead to new business. And I've seen people bring in business, I love my personal business comes from my presence on LinkedIn, helping others without the expectation of anything in return, posting content, and learning the tools, the algorithm of LinkedIn, how to use hashtags effectively, when to post and all of those things. So if a lawyer doesn't think it's worth their while, I can show them five examples of how it could be worth their while. And it's certainly not the only thing they should be doing. Just like they shouldn't be relying on spreading articles or taking their clients for a golf game. It's part of the overall multi disciplinary marketing strategy today have a lawyer and a law firm that is necessary to build your brand and your business.

 

Rachel

Right. And that sort of ties into another thing I was hoping to sort of get your thoughts on. We've spoken about LinkedIn, but Twitter and Facebook are also pretty big social media platforms, how can lawyers and firms use those platforms more effectively?

 

Stefanie

Lawyers have a lot of trouble with Twitter, and Facebook and Instagram. And it's not easy to build your brand on any of these platforms. A lot of us post our personal stuff on Facebook, and if there's a way that you can tie personal and professional together, do it. If you worked on a real estate deal, take a picture of the building and say, you know, I'm so proud to live in this city or to have worked on this deal means a lot I've walked by this building a million times Never did I think I would actually work on this. So I always tell people be alert that everybody and anybody can be a potential client or source of new business for employees. So on Facebook, I would say just don't sound boastful. It's not the place to post Super Lawyers. I don't think you should ever post that stuff personally, but but other people would disagree with me. And then on Twitter, so Twitter moves a mile a minute. To be successful on Twitter, you need to post multiple times a day. And if you're not going to do that, then don't bother. But you could use Twitter as a news aggregator which I see a lot of people will do so follow the accounts of your competitor law firms. Follow  other lawyers and use ideas that you get from what they're writing.

To inspire you follow industry publications as well, trade show conferences that are happening, obviously, the major news outlets because news is broken on Twitter, I get a lot of my news from just scrolling on Twitter, the lawyers can use it that way. Lawyers can also use Twitter to build relationships with reporters, and congratulate them on things they've written and retweet them and stay in touch with them. I recommend you have two Instagram profiles, one personal that is private, and one Instagram that is for work. You will not be successful on Instagram if you don't understand how to use the different types of content, and hashtags. That's it. So there's reels and IGTV and regular posts and stories. If you don't know what this means, you should not post it. I would tell law firms and lawyers to claim your name so at least you have the domain but don't post in places also where your clients aren't. Go where your clients are. You don't have to be on TikTok, please actually don't go on TikTok, if you're a lawyer, in my opinion.  You don't need to be on every platform, go where your clients are focused first. And you have to alter the message for the medium. You can't post the same image on Instagram, you have to make it a square and you have to change the text and you have to use the app side differently. And if this doesn't make sense to you, that means you are not ready to do that. It's a jungle.  I would tell you to just go where your clients are. And don't feel pressured to be on every platform.

 

Rachel

Yeah, one of the other sort of overarching themes of our podcast season is like just like there's no one size fits all solution, you have to be adaptable. And remember, the word of the entire 18 months is pivot, right? You have to pivot, sort of like rounding out a discussion on social media, what strategies have really been your tried and true?

 

Stefanie

Yeah, so here's the thing, I never thought I would start my own business and you never know where your life is going to go. And I always worked in house at law firms, and I was always posting on social. Build your brand long before you ever think you need it. I was able to do consulting with law firms very easily because I had the presence on social. My advice is to start using social to post even if you feel like oh, no one cares what I have to say. Why not you? Yes, they do. Certain people will. You won't be everyone's cup of tea. And I'll say, you know, the more successful you get at it, the more naysayers you have/ I talk about Mean Girls quite a bit in the Women Who Wow program because we come across those at all stages of our lives, we just forget about them.  When people are like that, it's usually because something in you brings out something in them that makes them feel inadequate or insecure, or they're jealous about something. So keep going. There's no easy way to download every single LinkedIn post you've ever written, especially since like the dawn of time, you can download your articles, so like the long form ones, and you can download your contacts, but you can't do it with the posts. And so I keep an Excel spreadsheet of all of my posts, and I reuse that. So don't reinvent the wheel every time - you can reuse your content.

 

No one remembers, there's no way to spam anybody on LinkedIn. And even if they saw it, it's reinforcement then. So that's been another key to my success. And then the other one is helping others. It's propping up others. It's promoting others. It's when I see somebody doing something great promoting and mentioning them on social. So for every three posts I do about something of mine, I'm promoting someone else. And that's Women who Wow, for me, it's putting the spotlight on other people. That's how you build really great relationships on social and then people want to do good things for you because you're helping them. So all of these have been part of my strategy, but it's sort of evolved over the years and by the way, my posts sometimes tank completely. And I'll tell you, it gets discouraging, but you just keep going, you show up, you try different things, you keep posting. You look at what worked and what didn't, you look at the time of day, the analytics, all those things and then just be open to pivoting again.  It's not about the number of likes you get on a post. If I've helped five people, that's great. I don't need 1000 likes on a post. it's nice when things do go viral - the things by the way that have gone viral for me are when I post about a challenge.

 

Rachel

That was a great conversation. Thanks again for joining us, Stefanie. We really appreciate it.

 

Stefanie

Thank you guys for having me. 

Rachel Popa and Jessica Scheck contributed to this content.

Copyright ©2022 National Law Forum, LLCNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 321
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