In the current market climate, it’s more important than ever for organisations to find methods of building a two-way relationship with their audiences via social media. As the technology and user trends continue to evolve, many firms are keen to stay one step ahead.
One of the most common questions to come up in conversations while attending this year’s Legal Marketing Association Conference in Atlanta, was ‘what social platforms will law firms be using in the future?’ It’s a fair question for someone who consults on digital strategy, but in many ways an impossible one to answer with any certainty.
Most recently ‘Twitter alternatives’ such as Parler and Gab have emerged on the scene, but there is no way of knowing whether these new platforms will become a fixture for social media users or end up lost in the internet history books like MySpace and Google Plus. It’s all well and good keeping an eye on the future, but the most important thing professional services firms can do is make sure they are using the social media platforms of today properly.
It would be interesting to know how many people reading this blog honestly believe that their firm is getting the most value possible out of their social media channels. My guess would be very few. The truth is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to engaging with your target audience on digital platforms. Even when operating in similar sectors and markets, each firm’s audience is unique and the content they respond to will differ. They way audiences engage with brands on social media is constantly in flux and evolving, meaning that an approach that worked for your firm in the past may not work now or be even less likely to work in the future.
Firms that use social media to its fullest potential adopt a malleable strategy by constantly experimenting with new ideas, content forms and platforms as the landscape changes. The only certainty with networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is that their algorithms will change continuously and the content that users favour on these platforms is not set in stone. It is vital that professional services firms regularly monitor their campaign metrics and get to know their audience inside and out. Regular content performance reviews will help firms tailor their approach and make the most out of their social channels. Find out which campaigns have resonated most with followers and give them more of the content they want until their appetite changes.
One trend that is likely to remain, at least for the foreseeable future, is the decreasing appetite to engage with brands over social networks. Recent studies have shown that public trust in corporations on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook is eroding rapidly. If professional services firms are going to take advantage of the direct exposure social media offers, they will have to address this issue.
The pendulum has swung firmly back in favour of the individual, after big brands had dominated the space and demanded our attention for so long. This can be an issue for many professional services firms who now have to find ways of empowering their key stakeholders across these platforms.
Many big corporate organisations have found a way of helping their thought leaders generate content that balances authenticity and a sense of personal touch, with the firm’s key messaging and branding. However, this is still a major sticking point with a large number of professional services firms.
Studies show that employees are more than twice as trusted as a CEO or senior executive, while Cisco notes that employees’ social posts generate eight times more engagement than posts from their employers. People are 16 times more likely to read a post from a friend about a brand than from the brand itself.
Employing your stakeholders as the firm’s mouthpiece can be just as effective for small businesses as for large corporations. An employee post has more chance of creating publicity and attracting the eye of a journalist for a news story or interview opportunity.
Social media user trends are incredibly difficult to predict and the emerging platforms that manage to stay the course can be difficult to spot. However, it’s clear that the firms best placed to enjoy the greatest success on these networks will be finding ways to empower their stakeholders in a holistic way that benefits both parties.
Jamie Obertelli is Infinite Global’s Digital Strategy Leader, based in London. A digital content strategist with a background in journalism and PR, he provides clients with strategies that drive engagement and tell their stories to audiences more effectively. Jamie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Need help with your firm’s social media or digital content? Infinite Global can help you develop a bespoke strategy to suit the needs of your firm and empower your individual stakeholders.