Law firms stand to benefit greatly from having a social media presence. The benefits include brand awareness (in an industry where advertising is highly restricted), authority building, networking, and gaining valuable feedback through comments and likes.
One way of using social media platforms for attorneys in 2020 is through employee social media advocacy. Recently, law firms have recognized the need to leverage the personal social networks that their employees are already using, turning the employees to brand ambassadors. This is called employee advocacy.
Employee advocacy has been a trendy buzzword in marketing, human resources, and sales over the past couple of years. Despite this popularity, most law firms are yet to truly activate all partners, associates, paralegals, and support staff as marketing, recruiting, and sales assets.
Examples of companies that have gotten employee advocacy right, and that you can learn from, including Electronic Arts, Dell, Genesys, Kelly Services, Ciena, HPE, Zappos, Starbucks, and Reeboks.
Who is an Employee Advocate?
In the context of a law firm, an employee advocate is someone who:
- Recommends a law firm’s services to relatives and friends
- Raises awareness and generates positive exposure for a law firm through both online and offline channels
- Has the best interest of the law firm internally and externally
- Is an expert on the services the law firm offers and can be a credible spokesperson
What are the Benefits of Social Media Employee Advocacy?
According to a joint report by Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today titled “Understanding Employee Advocacy on Social Media”, the results showed law firms that have formal employee advocacy programs had a faster growth compared to those that did not. About 31% of the surveyed high-growth law firms had a formal employee advocacy program, which is double the average for the other firms.
The Hinge Research Institute report shows that formal employee advocacy programs help shorten the sales cycle, with 45% of the 588 study participants attributing 45% of new revenue streams to the program and 64% of the businesses crediting the program for attracting and developing new business.
A Smarp report titled “The Definitive Guide to Employee Advocacy” quotes Edelman Trust Barometer that “An average employee advocate is 2 times more trusted than a company CEO.” Other statistics show that brand messaging gets re-shared 24 times more when coming from employees compared to when coming from the brand.
Statistics show that leads from employee advocates are 7 times more likely to lead to conversion and customers that are referred by employee advocates have a retention rate 37% higher than those that come through other means.
Employees will be marketing the law firm and its services to friends, relatives, and acquaintances. According to a Google, Ogilvy, and TNS report, word of mouth remains the top influencer of buying decision at 74%, higher than visits to retailers and stores (69%) which come in second, YouTube product visualization and how-to videos (64%), Twitter (61%), brand/company websites (59%) and Facebook (56%).
Your law firm probably has more followers than your employees, but having employees share law firm-related content allows you to reach hundreds of more connections that may not be following your law firm directly. Given that the average Internet user has 155 friends on Facebook, a firm of 30 staff members has the potential to reach 4,650 people.
You are likely to experience better employee engagement and commitment as well as better internal collaboration when you employ employees to be brand ambassadors. Employees are also more likely to enhance their professional brand, and in so doing they will become thought leaders and better all round employees.
Given that some of your employees will come out as thought-leaders in the process, this is a good way to supplement other marketing efforts. As an example, exemplary employees could run blogs that draw even more people to your law firm (of course for an incentive).
Tips for Effective Social Media Employee Advocacy
- Explain the benefits you intend to get as a law firm from the employee advocacy program to your employees and explain to them how they stand to benefit. Employees may think this is just another boring corporate mandate in disguise if you do not add context to the program. Simply helping the company is not reason enough for employees to share company content on social media – it is important you give employees incentives to participate in employee advocacy. Consider such incentives as:
- Gift incentives like meals and gift cards
- Public recognition of pre-set performance metrics
- Career growth opportunities for employees who use the shared industry-related content on social media and who, in the process, come out like thought leaders.
- Gamifying the employee advocacy program makes it less corporate and more fun.
- Involvement in community outreach events
- Additional benefit incentives like remote work flexibility and paid time off.
- You can use social media to accomplish different things, so you should set goals with KPIs based on exactly what you want. Common goals include improving organic reach, lowering marketing costs, increasing traffic from social media sites, and getting more shares. Your goals help shape the strategy.
- You should have an advocacy liaison. This will be the point person or the face of the program where all suggestions and questions will be directed. This is important in emphasizing that advocacy is part of the law firm and not simply a one-off gimmick. Avoid the common practice of all advocacy program communications coming from firstname.lastname@example.org as this feels generic and impersonal. Other than getting suggestions and questions, the duties of the advocacy liaison should also include:
- Curate content to share
- Spreading the word before and after the launch
- Encouraging the employees to share regularly
- Finding ways how the advocacy can work even better
- Write an email to all employees asking them to participate in the program. Ask interested employees to reply with their willingness to participate. Once you get interested parties, write follow up emails asking the interested parties to like all your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Telegram, beBee, and other social media pages using their personal social media pages.
- You should offer training to increase the sophistication of the employee advocacy program. Employee advocacy tools like Bambu, Buffer, Command Post, Everyone Social, HootSuite, Addvocate, Circulate.it, People Linx, Dynamic Signal, Social Chorus, Voicestorm, Socialook, and Sprinklr require training on how the software works. Advocacy tools are not necessary, but they do help.
- Work on a culture of freedom and trust at the law firm. Trust motivates shares and genuine conversations and it builds confidence in your employees that you trust their judgment. Employees should feel free to do what they feel is best and they should not overly fear punishment when they make a mistake.
- Ask your employees to pay attention to scheduling. The best time to post B2B content is during business hours, where the content performs 16% and during the weekends where it performs 17% better according to statistics from CoSchedule. You could have slots within which employees should share so that you don’t get an influx of shares at 8 AM when employees log in and nothing the rest of the day.
- Keep an eye on the employees who “buy-in” to the program for better planning. Millennials particularly understand that their social media involvement can differentiate them from their peers and that their social media skills are in high demand and can open job opportunities.
- Come up with a firm-wide social media policy that will guide current and future lawyers, paralegals, clerks, support staff, and others who will be posting about your law firm. The policy should set guidelines as well as best practices. This will ensure, as an example, an associate does not divulge sensitive information about a case that may be covered by attorney-client privilege. There is a popular belief that guidelines squelch participation, but this has since been debunked.
- Ensure there is a unifying message so all employees are on the same page as regards branding, the firm’s value proposition, and the right tone to use in the content. To achieve this, start simply by having employees repost relatively “safe” content that the firm is already reposting such as blogs and then expand from there.
- Ensure you have content worth sharing. The easiest way to achieve this is to have a robust website with plenty of content. Blogging forms the greatest source of shareable content for most law firms. Other sources are case studies, opinion pieces, press releases, and relevant news pieces in cases you have won.
- Even as you encourage sharing by your employees, do not overshare. The benefits of the employee advocacy program will be diluted if the employees’ followers are bombarded with messages about the law firm on a daily basis. This could damage the trust and credibility people have on the law firm and even your employees.
- You should measure employee advocacy as this is the only way you will know if your efforts are bearing fruits or you need to re-strategize. Some of the metrics that you can track include employee conversion rate, employee activity, the impact of the advocacy, sentiment change, organic reach, employee influence, and demographics change.
- You should share the results of the performance tracking with employees so that they know how their efforts are impacting the law firm and so they can learn what they need to work on.
Hire a pro for the job
Consider hiring a digital marketing company to assist you to maximize your online presence. We offer different services aimed at making social media employee advocacy a success, among them social media training, blogging, and PR. We understand the practice and ethical standards that law firms have to abide by and we combine these with the realities of social media marketing. Other than social media for attorneys, we also offer other digital marketing services for a truly strong online presence.