When I first began offering digital strategy and social media to Melbourne’s business community, there were many nay-sayers. Those who thought Facebook was just a fad which would soon fade away, something only used by teenagers.

I did some hard yards, driving hours from Melbourne to deliver presentations to dubious audiences about the benefits of communicating to local audiences via the power of social media platforms. I was convinced social media was going to be a thing. And this was eight years ago, when Facebook Business pages didn’t even exist. New to independent business, I was fortunate in the early days of Ruby Assembly to have a few visionary businesses take up our offering – those who were ready to invest in quality blog content and ongoing conversation via social media platforms. These early adopters were from hard business categories, such as real estate and finance. I’m pleased to say that many of these early clients are still part of our client family.
More recently, the value and importance of social media strategy and a digital presence has become self-evident. Those early skeptics from the categories of real estate and finance who dismissed the value of online targeted audience communication are now very interested in beginning meaningful conversations online with their customers. Which is exciting for Ruby Assembly, because we have the opportunity to apply our hard-won knowledge in the arcane field of social media and digital strategy to a forward-thinking array of businesses who understand the legitimacy social media offers their businesses.
There’s one profession, however, who remain late in coming to the social media table in Australia – and they’re lawyers. And whenever an industry is dragging its feet, their lassitude presents an incredible opportunity for early adopter businesses to lift their game and begin client communications in earnest. To get a head start, as it were. Ruby Assembly already represent clients in the legal category, and we can attest that their audiences and referrers are both delighted and surprised by their considered, thoughtful and intelligent digital strategy. In the vast cavern of digital silence from the legal category, these social-loving lawyers are making it easier for their clients to relate to their brand, to remember them and to connect with them.
After having recently spoken on digital strategy at the Law and Courts in an Online World Conference, I thought I’d share three reasons why legal practices – big or small – need to start using social media to build their brands.
1. Social Media is Legitimising
Social media allows you to create – for want of a better expression – a cult around your identity. Whether your brand is that of an individual thought-leader lawyer or a legal business, social media places you in front of your existing community of clients and their networks, allowing you to become an authority in your category of expertise by contributing thoughtfully and regularly to their digital experience. This is the time to begin a discussion across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn- before your competitors wake up to the fact that a regular social media presence is as much as a non-negotiable as a website. Get ahead of the bell curve and fill the massive online void left by the legal industry in Australia.
2. Social Media Combines Client Care and Prospecting
Are you putting together a slightly soggy newsletter once a quarter or twice a year? Full of content about your practice and legal matters? Whilst this might have cut the cheese 15 years ago, you and I both know it’s no longer impressing anyone. And – more importantly – it’s not winning you business, or keeping your clients engaged. Well-curated newsletters are valuable, but the relative irregularity and often questionable newsworthiness of most practice’s missives make them more of a supporting piece of your digital identity than the main course.
Many lawyers drop the ball when it comes to client care, with few instituting real prospecting schedules. They often struggle with ways to remind clients of their businesses, outside of cursory Christmas cards and the aforementioned newsletter. Social media is client care on a daily basis. By appearing in your clients’ social media feeds regularly, they’re reminded of who you are and what you do in an non-invasive, (hopefully!) entertaining and valuable manner. Executed properly, considered social media will improve your client referral and repeat business ratio by keeping you top-of-mind. It’s a passive form of prospecting which supports your traditional prospecting and networking activities – which should take a weight off your shoulders, allowing you to get back to the matter at hand. (Geddit? The matter?)
3. Social Media is Surprising and Delighting
When if comes to the expectations that the public have of lawyers in the digital space, it’s fair to say they’re pretty low. The legal industry is more regularly associated with scary litigious action than it is with community contribution and education. Let alone humour and personality. Social media gives your business the chance to subvert expectations by doing a great job of entertaining and educatingIn short, you have the opportunity to surprise and delight your community with a genuine conversation that is one part business values marketing, one part legal-category education and one part a sharing of useful, educative or entertaining material will have you appearing as an outstanding brand. A person who might be a lawyer, but is also a pretty good egg, too. How often does a lawyer have the opportunity to delight?
I thought so. Here’s your chance.
Want to learn more about the perfect social media content mix for legal practices? Attend our upcoming Social Media for Lawyers Workshop, or  click here to find out more about collaborating with Ruby Assembly.
Photography: Breeana Dunbar