Facebook and Instagram are two huge social media platforms with millions of users worldwide. They offer the opportunity to present products and services to a large circle of users, basically free of charge. In Part 1 of our series on legal marketing on Facebook and Instagram, we explain how law firms can make good use of these platforms and what needs to be considered.
Facebook and Instagram as social media platforms with a gigantic number of users are well suited to share posts with many people and thus achieve a large reach. By way of introduction, it can therefore be stated:
Law firm audiences are also flocking to Facebook and Instagram.
For law firms, the platforms therefore offer the opportunity to share their company, employees, content and events with others online. This allows them to increase their level of awareness and create trust. Furthermore, they can improve their public reputation through qualitative contributions. Through the function of sharing and rating posts, the common word of mouth can be transferred to the platforms more effortlessly and efficiently. Through the short articles and links of essays, users can also be directed very quickly to reliable information on the law firm websites.
An active engagement on both platforms also has an effect on the Google ranking. Thus, you are more likely to be rated and displayed higher by the search engine if you also maintain your presence on social media. The two platforms are therefore a good tool for law firms to be remembered by their target group. Due to the fact that only very few law firms in Switzerland use Facebook or Instagram, you stand out even more if you use the platforms for marketing purposes.
The advantages already mentioned apply to almost every social media network. However, due to their own character, the different platforms also have their own advantages to offer. So which one should you choose? It is important to take a look at the target group.
On Facebook, you compete for attention with friends, family, news, funny cat videos and other advertisers. Age-wise, Facebook has a wide range to offer. Teenagers, adults and even older people use Facebook. The platform has now become a large hodgepodge of content. The prospect of a large reach has led to a scramble for attention. The following therefore applies on Facebook: If you want to reach your target groups, you have to communicate clearly and proceed in a structured manner. To do this, Facebook provides law firms with a large number of post formats in image, video and text. As a law firm, you could make good use of Facebook to communicate current information and developments and to provide tips on legal issues.
Instagram, on the other hand, is a very visual platform. It's more about aesthetic photos than posts with a lot of text. The platform's target group is largely geared towards under-35s. Instagram is well suited to giving an insight into the daily life of a law firm or sharing short infos. Through the various media elements, such as stories, story highlights, reels, videos and images that can be used on Instagram, the platform also offers many visual possibilities.
This section was written in consideration of and by consulting the essay by Mr. Lukas Bühlmann and Mr. Adrian Süess on the topic of "Lawyers and Social Media".
The first question that quickly arises: Is marketing via Facebook or Instagram even compatible with the law of attorneys?
First of all, it is certain that social media platforms are not a law-free zone. Basic rules that apply to offline communication should also be observed online. The obligation to provide an imprint, respect for the attorney-client privilege, personal rights and copyrights must be observed urgently when using them, especially as a law firm.
It is questionable whether all actions on a social media platform are considered advertising. According to the doctrine, advertising is to be understood as communication which, according to plan, aims at the use of the offered service of a law firm. Now, a social media page will usually be designed in such a way that the entirety of the posts will serve as advertising. The posts will be coordinated to make the page as attractive and interesting as possible to third parties. In my opinion, judging each individual post as advertising goes too far. Rather, it is the whole impression of all contributions and the page itself which should lead users to use the services of the law firm.
Advertising for lawyers is not possible without any limits. However, the Federal Act on the Free Movement of Lawyers (FLAA) expressly permits the advertising of the legal profession, as long as the advertising remains objective and meets the public's need for information(Art. 12 lit. d FLAA). In principle, advertising refers to communication which, according to plan, is aimed at convincing potential new clients to use the services offered by a lawyer or law firm. This also includes advertising one's own services or communicating with new potential clients via social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram.
According to the Federal Supreme Court, Art. 12 lit. d BGFA requires a certain restraint and objectivity in the advertising of lawyers. Accordingly, in the sense of the objectivity of advertising, it should be considered that one's own advertising for the law firm or a lawyer is not carried out according to lurid, obtrusive or market-shouting methods. Furthermore, it should be restrained in form as well as in content. In addition, according to Art. 12 lit. d BGFA, advertising must also meet the public's need for information. The public's interest in information mainly covers information about the existence of the law firm, its fields of activity and contact details. In the Federal Supreme Court decision 2C_259/2014 10.11.2014, a case is used to illustrate when an information interest of the public is rejected. The decision dealt with a case in which a billboard advertising a lawyer was shown during a hockey game, which had the lawyer appear approximately eight times during the course of the game and, in addition to his contact details, also featured an advertising slogan for him.
Through popular social media platforms, lawyers are provided with various opportunities to attract attention. Given that social media platforms allow you to subscribe to someone in order to see their posts, it is likely that the information disseminated will be appreciated and found helpful. Otherwise, one could still block or stop subscribing to the page. The posts will not only meet the subscribers' need for information, they will fulfill it.
Facebook and Instagram offer a way to share posts with users in different ways. Posts can be made available to the public or only to a limited group of people. Another alternative is to promote the distribution of a post through payment (so-called "paid ads"). This makes specific contributions visible to a target audience in return for payment. However, the information needs of this limited public, concerning legal services, are rather difficult to discern. It is clear, however, that the possibility of advertising via social media aims to reach people who may well be interested in the content provided by a law firm and that the posts will then probably correspond to the addressees' interest in information. Algorithms are often used for this purpose. If the contributions as a whole are also factually correct, appropriate and rather restrained in form and content, they should be permissible.
If you are a law firm and decide to market yourself on Facebook or Instagram, it is advisable to follow some principles to make your marketing more successful.
To humanize a business, a first step is to include law firm info, such as address, phone number, and email. On Facebook as well as on Instagram, the possibility of direct messaging as a communication channel can also be allowed for third parties through the right adjustments to the settings. In this way, you present yourself as an open interlocutor who listens and can give helpful tips. The personal approach and contact with interested users create a basis of trust between potential clients and law firms. Pictures from the everyday life of the law firm also leave an impression of humanity and arouse sympathy. This in turn strengthens the bond with the users. It is also important for the production and selection of the image material that the law firm thinks about the target groups.
Those who meet the taste and interests of the target groups with their images have a much higher success rate.
However, it is important not to slip completely into the private sphere. A serious and authentic appearance should persist despite the humanization.
It is important to only share posts that bring something valuable to the users. Here, too, the focus should be on the target group. Which posts interest my target group? If the law firm is more concerned with employee marketing, then content that presents the law firm as an attractive, open and interesting employer is interesting. For example, you could create posts for this target group that show pictures of the team excursion, posts about exciting employee events, or impressions of everyday life at the law firm. If you are aiming more at customer acquisition, short information on legal topics relevant to the target groups or interesting general knowledge in a legal field are suitable.
Further suitable for contributions are also references to won cases, which are relevant for a broader majority. References to articles (understandable for the target group) and links to other legal articles are valuable. Specialist articles for a legal audience (e.g. the target group of corporate lawyers) can then be written in a more complicated way than articles that are intended to be understandable for private individuals.
To loosen up and maintain sympathy, it is even desirable to share interesting news and news about the company and its employees.
However, the firm must ask itself whether the target groups are represented on the platforms at all and whether they want to deal with this content there.
For more detail on employee marketing and client communications, check back soon for posts on Parts 2 and 3 of the series on Legal Marketing on Facebook and Instagram.
Regarding the frequency of posts, it should be noted that you should share posts regularly in order not to be forgotten. However, you should not overwhelm your users with non-stop posts. Furthermore, building a fan base takes time. If you want to gain popularity, you should be patient and try out what goes down well.
To make the posts and the profile more interesting, visual aspects should also be included. Those who include images and videos between text posts ensure variety and attractiveness of the profile. The use of appropriate colors (consider company branding) ensures the increased desire to explore a profile.
On Facebook and Instagram, there are media elements such as reels, stories, story highlights, etc., which you should definitely use. This makes you appear more often to various users. Such a technical affinity through the use of such media elements is impressive. However, one should not overdo it and not lose the content focus. On Instagram, only shorter information should be included in posts or other media elements. Longer ones are not suitable for this.
Below we provide a few examples of law firms that effectively market themselves on Facebook and Instagram. It is important that these strategies are not copied blindly, but rather work for these law firms and their strategies or target groups.
A good example of the use of media elements is the Instagram page of the German law firm Wilde Beuger Solmecke, which also won the Mandatum Social Media Award in the category best law firm website in 2016. Their posts consist of legal briefs and personal pictures from the firm and events. The posts are entertaining and varied. This doesn't fit all law firms, but it is coherent with WBS's overall strategy and target audience. For example, the law firm used story highlights to create a Q&A in which the most frequently asked questions about the law firm were briefly answered or a lawyer answered questions from users directly via a short video. These were saved under the story highlights and are therefore always available. Another story highlight under "Team" was the introduction of each employee in a short video and a story highlight for news.
A good example with video elements and images on Facebook would be Fragomen Worldwide, a large law firm for immigration law in the USA. The page mainly contains posts about the firm, references to events, interviews or podcasts in which an employee of the firm participated, with respective links. In addition, there are congratulations on holidays of all religions and cultures. This is a big plus, as it appeals to exactly the different target groups that the law firm wants to acquire as clients. This creates a certain sympathy and a relationship of trust with a large number of potential clients. Personal photos of team outings can also be found. The law firm also shows pictures of its social commitment in various countries. Such content is also perfect for a law firm in the immigration field. A lot of different images, different colors and also different fonts are used. This provides (visual) variety and appeal on the page. Overall, the site is very appealing and professionally designed.
The second example of good marketing is the KGR Law Firm Facebook page. The page has many posts with accompanying pictures. The texts are each short, but explain helpful legal tips in an understandable way.
Furthermore, attention is drawn to exciting events or interviews with employees. In addition, different colours are used in the articles to also appeal visually.
Not all posts receive positive reactions. Where there is a mutual and basically public exchange, negative reactions to a post can also follow. This will probably not happen often at law firms, but it is important to know how to deal with it. In general, any negative reaction is always an opportunity to earn a lot of sympathy points from the commenter or the community following the discussion with good communication. So what is the best way to react to such negative criticism on a social media platform? You should distinguish between constructive and non-constructive criticism. If you receive a rather constructive criticism or a suggestion, you should see this primarily as an opportunity. This allows you to get to know a client or potential client better and to satisfy them. One should listen to the experiences and concerns and find a solution together. If the criticism is not constructive or even insulting, you should remain objective and point out the "Nettiquette" (rules for respectful communication on the Internet) to the users. If necessary, such comments can be deleted or reported to the platform operator. As a further option, the comment function of a post can also be switched off completely. However, these options should only be used as a last resort.
Approaching criticism and finding factual solutions shows flexibility and professionalism and can also be a form of positive marketing.
Thus, Instagram and Facebook as social media platforms can be a great way to market a law firm and reach a lot of people in the process. However, they also require some work and thought behind the posts. To truly create an attractive page for the desired audience, creativity as well as empathy is required. Certain points about the content, frequency and nature of the posts need to be considered to ensure that the marketing is successful. The posts should be useful and targeted to the desired audience. It is important to have patience and to be serious and competent even in case of possible negative reactions. If you follow these points and invest time and work, marketing via Facebook and Instagram makes a lot of sense in my opinion!
Are you thinking about marketing your law firm via Facebook and/or Instagram? You want to understand the needs and interests of your target groups better and be perceived as an expert on social media platforms through a professional appearance? You want to generate more visibility for your services through a Facebook and/or Instagram profile, but don't have the right strategy yet? Are you still lacking ideas on how to design posts on social media for your target group?
For the development of marketing strategies as well as for training and workshops for your team on the topic of social media marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.): firstname.lastname@example.org