A frequent question I get is, “How do you make time to write blog posts and be active on social media?” My only response is to say, “I make time for the things that are important to me.”
I've been practicing law since January 2012, when I opened a law practice right out of law school. I built my firm from the ground up, primarily marketing myself through social media. I’m currently active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Periscope, and I write for four blogs, including the one for my firm. That said, about half of my new clients find me through the internet when they do a search related to a problem they are having and it leads them to one of my blog posts or YouTube videos.
Treat social media like what it is: networking.
Half the job of being a lawyer with a solo practice in an eat-what-you-kill position is to keep new clients coming in the door while simultaneously working on current clients’ projects. I probably spend at least half my time each work day dedicated to interacting with others online and writing posts. It’s as important to me to be active online as it is to attend networking events, especially considering that social media is an excellent way to supplement the in-person networking you do. It helps keep you top of mind and demonstrates to potential clients that you are knowledgeable, accessible, and helpful.
The easiest way to fail at social media is to make it all about you.
You should never treat your social media like a digital billboard. The purpose of social media is to interact with people, not to talk at them. With print ads and billboards, it’s a one-way communication whereas, online, you get to be part of a rich community. With digital marketing, you can say so much more than, “Have legal problems? Call me!” Instead, you get to talk with people (including prospective clients) about local issues, current events, and topics related to your practice areas. These interactions allow you to be more of a real person instead of just a persona. Given that people hire people, you can use your online interaction to form and maintain relationships with others so they will be more likely to think of you when they, or someone they know, has legal issues.
Start small and go where your audience is.
Did I start out being active on six social media platforms? Absolutely not. I started with one and I’ve been continuously building my social media presence of the past six years. If you only have time to do one thing, at least to start, write a weekly blog about a legal issue related to your practice. Moreover, make writing that blog post a priority – no matter what. Maintaining a blog shows that you are active online, can speak to your audience’s needs, and if you set it up properly, it will help with your search engine results. It’s not hard to learn, but you do have to be diligent for it to be effective.
The more time and effort you put into your social media, the more you’ll get out of it.
Prior to the internet and social media marketing, most lawyers likely viewed promotional activities as one-and-done events: they sponsored an event or they bought an ad in the yellow pages or newspaper and waited for the phone to ring. These events didn’t require time or energy on an ongoing basis. With social media marketing, lawyers must be active on a regular basis; it may be less expensive in terms of money, but in terms of time, its a much greater investment. Granted, at the end of the day, social media marketing comes with a strong pay-off for those who do it well.
Yes, you do have the time.
I love Gary Vaynerchuk’s video on “hustle,” the most important word for entrepreneurs. (Warning: this video contains profanity so it may not be appropriate in the workplace or around children unless you have ear buds.) In this video, he reminds the audience that everyone has time; your just priorities dictate how you use it. If you think that you don’t have time to be active on social media, take a look at where you are spending your time. If you’re watching 3 hours of TV every night or if you have time to go drinking with your buddies, maybe you should redirect some of that time in order to interact with your contacts.