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The form of marketing that is most likely to drive sales is word of mouth. Yet law firms and other professional services providers are often skeptical or outright dismissive about making WOMM (Word Of Mouth Marketing) an integral part of their inbound lead generation strategy. 
As consumers we constantly share opinions and experiences with our social circle. Particularly so through social media channels.  Most of us trust these opinions. In fact 68% of consumers do. It is the third most trusted source of information (Source: Nielsen).
So it makes sense for partnerships to have a law firm marketing plan that incorporates WOMM activities and social media. However, many are still on the fence. Let's have a look at why many lawyers remain unconvinced. 

1. Social Media is for personal use only. It's not for lawyers.

This is one comment we continue to hear from professional services providers. Not just lawyers actually. The research suggests that people in general (not just millenials) expect businesses to have a presence on social media platforms. According to Hubspot survey respondents in the 45 to 60 age bracket, expected businesses to be on 3 social networks.
I would argue that, at a minimum, law firms should maintain an active presence on LinkedIn. It is the ultimate social platform for professionals. At the time of writing it has 433 Million users and 2 new users are signing up every second

The benefits of lawyers being active on LinkedIn 

It is a great way to build  your authority and position yourself as a subject matter expert.
Being active on LinkedIn can take many forms. The key here is to engage with what others share by appropriately commenting and generally being helpful, relevant and generous with what you offer. Besides commenting and sharing content you can also use the platform to publish your own articles. This is a great way to build your authority and position yourself as an subject matter expert.

2. Why should I worry about it now. My professional network is my number one source of referrals.

Research does indeed confirm that lawyers' professional networks continue to be a strong source for new business. The question is at what rate you can convert those referrals into billable opportunities. Today's buyers are increasingly self directed and pro-actively involved in making the decision as to which professional they will work with. Even if they were referred to you, they will in all likelihood go online and enter your name in a search engine and do their own buyer research. If they find your content online (and it resonates with them) it can help these referrals take the step of contacting and eventually retaining you.
Building visibility on digital channels is imperative for any business and law firms are no exception. If anything, lawyers should be even more motivated to get online. Those who do, tend to have stronger personal branding and are seen to be more approachable. People are generally reluctant to reach out to a lawyer, even when they know they need one. Provided you strike the right tone, your followers will feel like they know you and will be less intimidated to reach out to you through their preferred social network. 

Still skeptical? 

A 2014 report by ABA Legal Technology fount that 24% of lawyers surveyed said they had been retained by a client as a direct result of them being active on social channels. 

3. Legal clients don't rate social media comments and online reviews

This is probably the biggest misconception out there. Most people, in fact 88%, say they trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts (BrightLocal). Online testimonials are a bit like WOMM on steroids and carry a number of benefits for lawyers. Jon Tobin in a recent article summed them up:
  • they add trustworthiness
  • they provide more details
  • they ease hesitation
  • they help a potential client confirm a referral. 

The last point relates to what I suggested earlier, that even someone who is referred to you is highly likely to look you and your firm up online. 

Start with a plan and to see results faster

As tempting as it is to get started, I would recommend you engage a social media or word of mouth marketing expert before jumping in. At the core of any digital marketing strategy is your ideal client. A knowledgeable digital marketer can help you build your ideal customer profile and map a content plan that reflects your ideal client's needs at each stage of their decision making journey. This is an essential starting point for any professional service provider.


Wendy Coombes

Written by Wendy Coombes

I help small business and independent professionals get started with digital marketing and marketing automation, so they can attract and close more of their ideal customers.