I have been involved in social media almost since its inception. Initially, when I was asked to help firms it was often for training in terms of basic awareness of the main tools and helping people set up appropriate profiles. There was little appetite for using social media to support marketing, selling and relationship management in a more sophisticated way. Things have moved on considerable since then. There are numerous “commodity” training courses – increasingly delivered through e-learning – that address the basics.
I now train and coach professionals from both commercial and private client disciplines to use social media as an integrated part of the marketing, selling and relationship management activities – whether they are beginners wanting to learn the basics and use social media to listen to the market and monitor the activities of key clients and prospects or more advanced users who have already established a social media profile, niche and on-line community and wish to use the tools more effectively to increase lead generation, active dialogues and conversion rates.
These are the most frequent topics of interest for advanced social media use amongst lawyers, accountants and surveyors.
Familiarity and safe guards
Often, management teams will want help to understand both the opportunities and threats of social media and to develop the internal systems, policies, training and communications programmes to ensure their entry into the social space in conducted professionally and with minimal risk. This might also include tackling such issues as how to set up firm and individual accounts, how to monitor time, use and results and how the firm’s web site integrates with both firm-wide and individual lawyer social media activities. It might also be a review of the tools that enable them to transition with reduced risk – so validation and verification processes might be important.
Basics The two main platforms used by lawyers are LinkedIn and Twitter and they sometimes need help in learning the basics to set up appropriate profiles, connect to their existing clients and contacts and obtain and provide recommendations and endorsements in a particular context. They often need help in how to integrate their use of these tools into their day-to-day profile raising, lead generation and relationship management activities.
Other Some firms also request training in other platforms such as Google+ and Tumblr (although I don’t generally recommend Facebook for professional firms). Some need help in developing strategies and content for YouTube and for wikis. Some are interested in managing their reputation in referral sites such as Yelp. Many want to know how best to integrate and co-ordinate activity with existing campaigns, CRM systems and databases.
Blogging As part of an integrated communications and sales programme, I am often asked to help with the development of a digital strategy, the identification of suitable topics and content, editorial schedules, writing skills to prepare interesting blogs, distributing and promoting these blogs through social and traditional media. On occasions, I have assisted with ghost writing blogs and managing their distribution to get a lawyer or accountant with a specific area of expertise “up and running”. Blogging is usually conducted as part of a thought leadership or niche campaign.
Improved internal communications Some firms restrict their use of external social media but encourage their professionals to use social media tools such as Yammer and wikis to improve internal communication, reduce internal email traffic and support key client teams and sector group activity. This can be an important part in organisational learning in terms of transitioning to more relaxed use of social media.
Developing commercial insight With commercial clients demanding more from their professionals, social media can be used to increase the effectiveness of listening to markets and gaining insights into market, sector and client developments. Establishing alerts and following appropriate media, organisations and individuals is a time efficient way for professionals to do this as well as through participation in relevant groups. Sometimes help is needed in developing a broader understanding of how to use such information and insights in business development and sales processes.
Crafting a thought leadership or other campaign Where teams or individuals have only just identified a key market or issue, sometimes help is required to develop the “big idea” on which to hang a host of traditional and social media business development activities. Sometimes this leads to the development of major thought leadership campaigns and at other times to more modest personal pipeline campaigns.
Building an online community More advanced users want help in extending their network of contacts amongst existing and new clients, improving their rankings in searches within LinkedIn and for SEO, joining and participating in relevant groups, answering questions, creating and moderating their own groups and integrating blogs, LinkedIn and Twitter so that they are regularly communicating in a low key and time efficient way with their online communities.
Enhanced events Some use social media to improve their effectiveness when attending events by allowing them to connect with delegates before, during and after events and liveblogging and tweeting their attendance. Some firms look at using social media to improve the effectiveness of their own traditional and online events.
Selling and relationship management I was co-author (with Econsultancy) of a model which takes lawyers through the various stages of the sales process with social media – participation, engagement, relating, developing and integrating – and I continue to provide coaching in this area. See http://kimtasso.com/white-paper-on-social-media-in-selling-for-lawyers-accountants-and-surveyors – see the diagram
Client service management Some organisations see the value in social media for monitoring client satisfaction, promoting positive experiences and reports and picking up and addressing negative reactions. This extends the traditional role of online reputation management to the more proactive outreach and engagement programmes where traditional methods of communication are used to avert damaging online disputes.
Integrating with CRM and digital marketing Advanced users will be keen to integrate their social media use with existing CRM systems or the new breed of social CRM systems such as CubeSocial. Many firms will see the benefit in having integrated digital marketing strategies so that material produced and obtained on social media is “recycled” for use through e-newsletter and e-alert programmes. Systems such as Concep and Vuture can support this and there are recent blogs on these systems.
There are many other areas where social media is being used by professional firms – including collaboration and lobbying. However, most firms are still getting to grips with how to use social media in a time efficient and professional way as part of their day to day legal work and client relationship management.