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Leveraging LinkedIn for Lawyers – Personal Injury Marketing Minute #2

Katie Briel is a Digital Marketing Manager at the international law firm Womble Bond Dickinson. She joins us for Episode #2 of the Personal Injury Marketing Minute to discuss how attorneys and law firms can use LinkedIn to promote content and build connections.

In this episode, Katie describes how some firms reach their target audience on LinkedIn and how LinkedIn differs from Facebook. She also discusses how content promotion works, effective features such as paid promotion and custom audience targeting, thought leadership, hashtags, topic scouting, making connections, landing speaking engagements and credentialing.

Katie has interesting strategies attorneys in many different areas of practice could utilize to increase engagement and reach of their content on LinkedIn.

Posting sponsored content with audience targeting is a strategy Katie has used in the past with great success.

A tool larger firms with multiple employees may wish to take advantage of is employee notifications. Employee notifications allow company page admins to notify employees of new updates posted to the company page, encouraging them to like, comment or share the update with their network of LinkedIn connections, essentially turning employees into company advocates.

Transcript:

Lindsey:

Welcome to the Personal Injury Marketing Minute, where we quickly cover the hot topics in the legal marketing world. I’m your host, Lindsey Busfield, with Optimize My Firm. Today, we’ll be discussing the do’s and don’ts of LinkedIn with Womble Bond Dickinson’s digital marketing manager, Katie Breall. If you’re a lawyer and don’t have a LinkedIn account, you are definitely behind the times. Many incorrectly assume that LinkedIn is no different than Facebook. However, LinkedIn is truly built for professional networking and has several features that are highly effective for professionals in the legal field. Katie Breall manages the social media platforms, including LinkedIn for Womble Bond Dickinson, an international law firm with an award-winning digital marketing presence. Welcome Katie. Thank you for taking some time to join us today.

Katie:

Thanks, Lindsey. Happy to be here.

Sharing Experience on LinkedIn:

Lindsey:

Great. So what can you tell me about LinkedIn and how you incorporate it into your digital marketing portfolio?

Katie:

Well, LinkedIn for us is the main social media driver for our social media strategy. That’s where we reach most of our target audience and we’re allowed to really showcase our firm, our depth of knowledge and our experience. So it gives us a lot of opportunity to reach the right people at the right time consistently.

Lindsey:

And so, how do you use LinkedIn differently than you would use Facebook? I know that there are a lot of distinctions, but can you walk me through what makes LinkedIn the preferable choice for you?

Katie:

Well, in general, I think attorneys should always make sure that they have a good digital presence. Relevant topics show that they’re active and consistently using social media. And that’s going to speak to any potential clients who are researching them as a law firm or as individuals. So for Facebook, I think of it more as a part of making a personal connection, think more warm and fuzzy. And people aren’t typically going there to read long legal articles, they’re really trying to make a connection. And so Facebook is used more to tap into that personal connection with people. Most attorneys don’t connect business on their personal pages, and if they do have a standalone business page or a page for their firm itself, I would recommend you stick to brand and community type involvement content, events, awards, recognitions.

Katie:

Things that show your experience in the industry, but aren’t going too in-depth on legal type content. And that would also speak to your ads as well. So tapping into how people are reacting to emotional time or personal injury specifically can go a long way on Facebook. For LinkedIn, it’s more business or professional. And you hear that a lot, but it’s more professionally centered. In recent years though, you’ve seen a shift. We’ve seen a shift from posting all business type content to posting more about community involvement, some personal stories. But by and large, those personal stories tie back to career obstacles or success. And having that ability to put a face with a name and see some form of credentialing along with content helps build a sense of trust with viewers. And it’s more than you would find on most third party publications, if you’re just publishing content. So you get to see that person, you see their network, you get a feel for them. You feel like you know them a little bit.

Getting Engagement on LinkedIn:

Lindsey:

Absolutely. And it’s definitely coming down to whether it’s on LinkedIn or on your website, having good content and the appropriate content to reach the type of audience that you are intending to target. But that brings up another question is, you can have the best content in the world, but how do you find people? How do you find followers? How do you find engagement? How do you connect your content with the right people?

Katie:

Yeah. For us, I mean, at Womble Bond Dickinson, consistency has been a big, big thing for us, for social media. Building that presence consistently, putting out content and getting in front of people that are following us and also the quality of the content, like you’ve mentioned. So we’ve really focused a lot on thought-leadership. But from a basic feature standpoint on LinkedIn, posts and sponsored content really do well. So the more frequently that you’re posting, you’re posting relevant content, you’ll start to see more and more engagement with that as you’re spending time thinking about how that content is presented. Adding in something a little more than a headline, but an actual hook on LinkedIn to draw people in and understand why that content is relevant to them, experiment a little bit with images, those types of things.

LinkedIn’s Most Effective Features:

Lindsey:

So what are the most effective features that you use on LinkedIn?

Katie:

Well, LinkedIn has varieties of features, but basic features, posts and sponsored content all day long. I mean, we typically post at least three times a day and we’ve seen great success and engagement on our posts with the audience targeting we can achieve on LinkedIn with paid promotion of the content. So we’re typically trying to reach decision-makers. So we spend a lot of time thinking about the types of topics that would benefit them so that they will invest their time in that content, and we’re very thought-leadership focused. So we spend a lot of time planning that type of content out, and the images associated with that, that might draw someone in. And then we sprinkle in a little variety of other content to keep the feed fresh and present us as a well-rounded company. So some community involvement or activity, some general more personable content or people-centric content, and obviously hugely important diversity and inclusion type content.

Hashtags:

Katie:

The other thing that we use is hashtags. So we use and follow hashtags to group that content together. It also helps us with topic scouting and trends. And then we can go from there and look at our competitors and see what they’re writing about. So hashtags are really useful on LinkedIn, and the ability to now follow them and have that content come up in your feed is great. From a company page perspective, one thing that I’ve really enjoyed is the notify employees feature that they’ve recently introduced. So if you’re running a page for your law firm, it gives you the ability to notify the individual employees that are following your page about specific pieces of content. So they get a little notification and it encourages them to share that content right then when they get the notification. So we’re encouraging them in a lot of different ways to share on social media, but this is an extra motivating factor. So those features have worked great for us.

Building your LinkedIn Profile:

Lindsey:

That’s great. Especially if you have so many people who are collaborating on thought-leadership projects, or all of the collaboration that you guys do internally. I’m sure people are eager to share those big announcements and the big success stories that you guys constantly have. I think that’s great. So for some of our users who have never built a LinkedIn profile, either for themselves as a professional or for their organization, what tips would you have for them to focus on as they are starting to build their profiles?

Katie:

Well, LinkedIn does a great job of walking you through building out your profile. And it’ll actually give you statistics on, if you add a photo, if you add a headline, what percentage of people will be more likely to see and click on your profile. So that’s great, and that will lead you in through the process. But just right off the bat, I would say, you definitely want to think about your headline. So sometimes people think of it just more or less as their title or position at a firm, but you want to make sure that you’re using keywords that people would actually search for. So this is one that I talk to lawyers about quite frequently. Is somebody actually going to go online and look up partner at Womble Bond Dickinson? Maybe, but more likely they’re going to think about searching for personal injury attorney at such and such law firm, or just personal injury attorney in their area.

Katie:

So Raleigh, North Carolina, something like that. So you want to use keywords that are actually relevant to search, that will make it more likely for people to find you. So that’s a big thing with headline. I would recommend that you add an image. Some people just don’t want to do that, it feels too personal to them. But they want to put that face with the name, with your credentials and they want to feel like they’re getting a sense of who you are as a person. And then also, when they meet you, it breaks the ice for you already. So I would recommend adding an image. We’ve already talked about headline. I would say the about section is also really important because it gives you the opportunity to add in more of those keywords about your experience, who you are as a person, and paint that picture for them.

Katie:

So think of it a lot like a resume, a digital resume, but with a little bit more of a direct, these are my experiences, these are the types of clients that I’ve had. Rather than, Tim does this, I have done this. So first person, talk about your experiences and use that as an opportunity for keywords to come up more frequently in search. And then I would just keep the rest of it simple. You don’t need a huge amount of bullet points in your experience and things like that if you’ve included that information in your about section, and people are less likely to scroll down that far anyway. So keep it higher up on the page if you can, make sure you include a link to your website or web page that displays more of your bio information if you have one, to give your website that extra linkback and gives your viewer an opportunity to read more about you.

Building Connections:

Lindsey:

That’s great. So once you have established your profile and have it looking good, you’ll notice a lot of lawyers out there who have 500 plus connections, 1000 plus connections. What are some of the most effective ways to grow your connection network?

Katie:

I think that’s a great job. And again, LinkedIn tries to make this really easy for people by suggesting people that you should follow. And it’s going to try to connect you with anyone that’s already associated with your firm or if you list a university or things like that, it’s going to try to recommend those people. So that’s an easy one. And then to expand beyond that, if you’re following hashtags about a topic that you work in specifically, people that are posting content about it, connect with them. That’s a great entry point and conversation starter, hey, I saw your article, I’m really interested in this. Or, great job, I like this perspective, things like that. So you can grow your network that way. Joining groups is another way you can expand your network.

LinkedIn Groups:

Katie:

So currently I’m in 12 different groups. And they range from, you could join groups from your university, from your specific type of law that you practice, from other marketing organizations, legal marketing organizations. I mean, you name it, there is a group for it. And this gives you an opportunity to, similar to hashtags, see relevant content that you might be interested in. But also, who those people are that are posting and have more of a one-to-one conversation or connection with those people than you would just generally reading content on the internet.

Connecting with People You Don’t Know:

Lindsey:

So coming from a socially awkward person who somehow landed a podcast, what are the social protocols when it comes to connecting with somebody that you don’t know?

Katie:

Yeah. So if you don’t have a lot of direct connections with them, I definitely say you should include some introduction texts there, if you’re trying to connect with them on LinkedIn. If they work at the same farm as you, sometimes that’s a little easier. You can send them a request to connect, and it makes sense. But if you don’t know them directly, you’re not employed at the same firm as them, I’d say, just introduce yourself. And I mentioned the content being an icebreaker, but maybe you’ve attended the same event, or you’re a part of the same group, or you went to the same school. And I would say, just introduce yourself like you would in any other conversation if you have a lot of similar connections. You could say, I see that you know such and such, and I think it would be great to have you in my network, I’d love to connect, something like that. You can keep it really simple, but be personable.

Lindsey:

Okay. That’s helpful. Because I mean, for me personally, going up to a random stranger and be like, hey, I like your hat, is a daunting experience. But having something that you can really connect over, I really enjoyed this article, I think that’s definitely a helpful introductory tool. And so when, let’s say that you’re wildly successful and everybody that you ask to connect with wants to connect with you, and now you have 1000 people in your network, how do you manage those relationships? So if I have 1000 people that I know on an acquaintanceship level, and I know that somewhere I have somebody who’s in the marketing field but I don’t remember who it is. How do you manage those relationships? Is there a tool to do that?

Katie:

Well, I mean, I think as a good rule of thumb, you want to like, comment, share on content that appears in your feed every day. So if you spend 10 to 15 minutes a day, you can cover a lot of people, I mean, a lot of ground on that. I mean, a lot of times, attorneys don’t spend that long, but I would recommend at least three times a week going in there, like, comment, share content at least. But if you need to look for somebody specifically, if you just do a keyword search, so you wanted to find somebody in marketing and you do keyword searches, LinkedIn is going to give you several different ways to filter those results, and your connections are going to come up first. So if you are connected to them, you should see that information readily available when you do a keyword search. And then they have advanced search options that you can do a lot of different filtering and narrow down that search to find the right person.

Connections to Clients – Getting New Business:

Lindsey:

Okay. That’s helpful. So here is the million dollar question, is, how can using LinkedIn help you convert new business?

Katie:

I think that’s a really good question, and one that comes up quite frequently. I know for a lot of our attorneys, posting on LinkedIn, being seen as a thought-leader, not only provides credentialing, it makes you easier to find. And when people, again, I think I mentioned this at the beginning, can find your profile, they can compare the work that you’ve done and the content you’ve written, it builds a sense of trust. And so, again, being easily findable on the internet is a huge plus in what we want to do. So that leads to new work. But also, I’ve found that people who share more frequently are asked to speak in more engagements, so they build a name for themselves there. And the more speaking engagements, the more content that you’re creating around a specific topic area, leads to, again, more trust, more credentialing, and you stand out in people’s mind.

Katie:

So the whole trick with LinkedIn is making sure that you’re getting in front of people, they’re remembering who you are, they’re seeing that you are invested in the specific industry or topic or specific type of practice, and that you’re the go-to person. And so in a sea of other attorneys, that’s going to help you stand out if you’re consistently doing that and posting relevant, interesting content. Yeah, you want to be findable on the internet. It’s a big deal.

Lindsey:

That’s right. Thank you so much for your time today. I’ve really enjoyed learning a little bit more about LinkedIn and how to best leverage that for your success and for the success of your business and to help clients find you online. So thank you so much. Have a great day.

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