John Bowie, LawFuel – Using LinkedIn properly can provide lawyers with a source of new business that can produce results more effectively than most other marketing tools available.
The ability to use large scale ad budgets for browing a law business is out of reach for most firms. But if you use LinkedIn properly you can do it for nothing, apart from time. And while time is money, the potential rewards make this one of the most cost effective marketing tools available to lawyers.
Here are three ways you can immediately start to use LinkedIn to grow your practice and obtain qualified leads.
Any social media site that receives almost 190 million unique users – mostly business and professional users – is a site that no one can afford to ignore. It is the third largest social media network in the US after Facebook and Twitter but in many ways better than both of those because of its audience and their receptiveness to professional news and messaging.
It is also a network that lets you position yourself as an authority figure. You can, for instance, request recommendations from colleagues and others and gather as many as you can (without painfully overstating your expertise) so that your credibility and network is spread across your area(s) of expertise.
Why is LinkedIn Ideal for Lawyers?
A number of factors make LinkedIn an ideal platform for lawyers’ marketing.
Importantly, this is not a network for flippant photos and quirky news and updates. It’s not recipes and travel pix. Rather its about professional and business news and updates for and about people seeking to develop their businesses and professional brands.
That makes it ideal for law firms.
The ability to develop leads and referrals is far higher than other social networks, including Facebook. It accounts for 64 per cent of referral traffic to businesses from social media sites, compared to just 17 per cent for Facebook.
More significantly still, it has a far higher conversion rate than Facebook, which Hubspot has estimated at 2.74 per cent, compared to 0.77 per cent for Facebook.
>> It permits your marketing online to be organic which provides a natural lead-in for potential clients. Check the names of key individuals and see the number of “LinkedIn” front page links displayed.
>> It provides a free status update on the number of connections or followers you can reach, rather than using the paid systems of networks like Facebook where you must pay to reach your followers. That is a huge advantage.
This situation has developed to limit the reach as more content is developed,making the content of less value.
As Facebook has reduced the content reaching ‘friends’ and others severely, perhaps as few as 3 per cent of Facebook’s reach in 2015 is achieved. Facebook’s ‘organic’ reach has severely declined.
>> Twitter lets you reach more followers – as many as 10 per cent, although the actual reach might be nearly the Facebook 3 percent figure. And engagement via such tweets is generally low.
>> Instagram permits a far higher reach – as much as 20 per cent, mainly due to the fact that it is an image-based social media platform.
What About LinkedIn’s Reach?
Notwithstanding LinkedIn’s content-based material, it still permits a reach of around 20 per cent of your network. Combined with the right content and approach you can maximize that result and reach, as well as engagement, by following some key rules which I’ll explain.
How to use LinkedIn
Use LinkedIn Pulse to generate more traffic for less effort.
Articles published on LinkedIn will not automatically go to Pulse, which picks up trending articles that are gaining popularity, which is something you can do (as explained below).
Having content published on Pulse is like having your content published on a major blog in your area of speciality. A single article can generate huge traffic, signups to your newsletter and other engagement that is almost unobtainable elsewhere (short of paid traffic).
How posting on LinkedIn works
That first Pulse feature is really important because that’s how you really start to increase your follower count. Once you build up a decent number of followers that are interested in your niche, it will be a lot easier to hit the quality score threshold in the future and get picked up by Pulse.
When you publish a post, all of your followers get notified. Not all of them will be interested in the content but a good number will. Your ‘score’ will depend upon how many comments, likes and shares your post receives.
It goes without saying that quality content, well signposted with a good headline will help achieve the necessary success with Pulse. You can then increase your visitor count in your niche and your conversions.
Here are some ways to increase your LinkedIn success.
1. How to maximize your chances of being featured on the Pulse channel
Content on LinkedIn should be practical and relevant to your industry. It can be a thought provoking piece too, but remember it’s not Facebook.
Your ‘signposting’ via an enticing headline can be achieved by using a tool like BuzzSumo Explorer to check which items in your niche are attracting high attention on the network via shares. List the 5 to 10 best and then continue your research by checking related keywords on the tool.
You’ll wind up with a range of topics that are popular on LinkedIn and you need to then work on your ‘take’ on the topic. The variation on the articles can ber vast, ranging from more expansive detail, more data, more instructive and so forth.
There are plenty of good articles online with sites like Copyblogger or Jeff Bullas that can help with the writing process, but lawyers are good with words and the issue is orchestrating your topic to make it as appealing as possible.
Using a tool like Buzzsumo let’s you see which articles are being actively shared on the network and upon which you can then provide your individual take on the particular issue or topic.
2. Which Posts Most Appeal on LinkedIn?
Among the post types that have success on LinkedIn are lists or numbered points, ‘how to’ articles and those with images and subheads to make them more appealing, attractive and useful.
Article length should be at least 1500 words, which is a reasonable length for blog posts and longer than most, but therein lies both the chances of success and the value.
Of course your article may not be picked up by Pulse but it will still create value for your audience, increase the chances of better rankings (particularly if its sent to other social networks too) and it will place you in the right space to provide similar content in future, too.
3. The Importance of Images
Choosing images is vital too. Your featured images is, like your headline, a key part of achieving success with your content. It is what readers see when choosing to read your article and it should be appropriately appealing.
Ideally the use of a face will achieve more attention than an abstract or ‘mechanical’ type image that fails to have the necessary human element that will attract readers.
4. Ask For a Response
You should also be active in your ending. Ask your readers for comments and a response to what you’ve written, or to share or like the article.
It is basic advice, but also good advice that is frequently ignored. People who learn something or want to add something to an article will help create the necessary interest to garner more readers and attention.
By simply asking readers to click through to another page on your site for more information, an updated report, newsletter or other information can vastly increase conversions. You are leveraging your quality article to create interest and action – and new clients.
How To Publish the Article
To publish your article you need to click the link at the personal LinkedIn feed and format it there. The process is intuitive and simple.
You can now either save or publish the article. Timing of publication is important as work hours publication will give you a better chance of having Pulse pick uup the article. However monitor and record the response to articles for views and engagement to determine which times are best.
Don’t despair if the post is not picked up for the first few, quality pieces. The key is consistency and to ensure you’re producing quality material that is going to give you the best shot at reaching Pulse. You’ll do it.
5. Target Your Audience
You need to locate good LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your niche. You have millions of groups to choose from and legal groups abound in every niche imaginable. Similarly, for clients seeking advice in specific areas there are groups. Find them and target them with your content.
There are bad groups and heavily self-promoting posts that you need to avoid. A good moderator will remove spammy content from groups, but they exist and you should avoid them.
When searching for groups use the ‘groups’ filter in the search bar and be specific enough to ensure you’ve targeted your target audience.
You want to be in groups where there are frequent posts and engagement, which provides the activity that will help generate the interaction you want.
You can keep a list of relevant groups in a tool like Evernote or on a spreadsheet and you will frequently need to request membership, which is not a problem for legitimate posters.
6. Participate in Your Group
You should comment on and share and like other posts in the group, particularly initially. The last thing you want to appear to be is a spammer promoting only your own services.
When sharing content start off by sharing the content of others, ensuring it is genuinely useful and helpful. You can link to your own blog or site later but create useful links to good content.
But when you post a link don’t do so and leavve. Have a good description and even try and commence a discussion.
If others like your comments, then respond.
7. Sharing is Caring
Sharing is one of the keys to gaining traction with LinkedIn. You should look at sharing others’ content more than your own.
Every post you put up should be balanced by 2-4 shared posts produced by others. This includes re-sharing posts by others in the group.
8. Growing Your LinkedIn network
While you want to develop your LinkedIn connections, you don’t want to overdo it by connecting with those who may have no interest in your firm or posts. It’s great connecting with friends and family, but if you know they’re not going to have an interest in your posts then your LinkedIn quality score can be affected.
You can connect with people in groups, who after all are your target audience. You will then receive a notification when you publish on the network. Just ensure they are active members so that you receive the notifications
When anyone comments or shares content you can click ‘connect’ by hovering over their name. Send them a message as either a ‘friend’ or as an ‘I don’t know you’ contact, openly asking if you can add them to your growing network and thanking them for their comment. You should also say you’re a lawyer who has expertise in a particular area.
Just be wary of making too many such connections as declined contacts will also affect your account status.
In terms of helping your new contact, you can share and like their content, or you can endorse their skills or recommend a resource, for instance.
9. Sharing Content
LinkedIn permits content to achieve organic reach so that a good number of your expanding network will see your posts.
Like Facebook there is a LinkedIn feed and your contacts can see content that has been shared. To share you need to click on ‘Home’ in the top bar and ‘share an update’.
At that point you can enter a link, text or image and by doing so you enhance your authority in your niche and help your network focus more on your posts.
The ability for lawyers to achieve enhanced credibility and profile by being an authority in specific niches can generate potential clients and profile in the niche in which you operate.
If you are linking to useful content people will pay more attention to both that content and the original content you post yourself.
Where to From Here?
LinkedIn’s professional, content-driven audience is made for professional services and LinkedIn’s high growth, which is aiming at 3 billion users, is a massive potential market for lawyers for little cost.
Employing these tactics can help accelerate online profile and client engagement in a manner that will provide a ready way for any firm to place themselves before potential clients effectively.