Real estate lawyers: Make a name for yourself with social media
On top of being unfamiliar with the best marketing techniques, many lawyers struggle to find the time for business development activities.
The internet and social media offer real estate lawyers new options for reaching out to existing and potential clients and is a friendly, non-offensive way to interact with them.
Websites, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts all provide avenues lawyers can use to provide clients with information on legal issues that clients should be aware of or prepared to deal with.
When marketing yourself, remember to encourage your clients to contact you before they are in a crisis.
Lawyers need to remind the public of the resources lawyers can provide to address matters in their everyday lives, especially with the fast pace of change we are experiencing.
A friendly discussion and timely pointers when issues first arise would no doubt be preferred and will often be much less costly in the long run than legal remedies to resolve full-blown problems.
Lawyers are the access point to justice for most clients, and especially so for people in rural and remote locations. Lawyers have contacts, resources and knowledge that most members of the public lack, but that could be beneficial to them. We should encourage the public to regularly consult a lawyer, and not only in a crisis situation.
The beauty of social media is the low cost of being an active participant and reaching a wide audience. This equalizes access for large and small firms. Once one incorporates the practice of using social media in their regular routine, it becomes easier.
There are also tools that can be used to facilitate the process. Hootsuite and similar apps allow you to create tweets, LinkedIn posts or Facebook status updates released over a period of time, creating a regular stream of information distribution without having to post on the date and time chosen. This is a great opportunity to enhance your standing as a knowledge guru in one or several areas of law. The regular and informative content you offer will generate followers, and can offer peace of mind for the client when they have a matter troubling them.
We all have knowledge which we could put in writing, but coming up with topics and writing about them is a chore which many busy lawyers simply find difficult to fit into their schedule.
As a good starting point for content, look to your trusted sources. Watch the legal press or online activity and reference an article or issue raised in a publication which would not be broadly distributed to your clients.
Sometimes you can find great content for free. LAWPRO has for a number of years run a public awareness campaign aimed at educating the public about the role of the lawyer. As part of this campaign, we produce matte stories and pitches which are made available to the news media. These stories typically highlight a topical issue for the public and then refer the reader to a lawyer for any legal advice. Why not use one of these stories by adding it to your website, Facebook page, tweet, newsletter or −even in a low-tech suggestion − print copies and have them in your reception area for clients to read?
Don’t restrict yourself to just real estate issues. Here are some suggested topics which could be of interest (and LAWPRO did matte stories on these): rental units, condominium lifestyle, changes to the housing market, fraud, legal check-up, cottage and waterfront properties, what to expect from your real estate lawyer, perils of refinancing, renovations, how to protect the deal, power-of-sale purchases, buying from an estate, running a business from home, downmarket considerations, access concerns, reverse mortgages, power of attorney, building compliance concerns, splitting a lot, home inspections, non-resident sale of a property, building permit issues, buying or selling without an agent, title insurance, condo buyer checklist, secured lines of credit, buying alone or with someone else, inheriting a home, buying a property outside of Ontario, franchising, and “do you have a will?”
Social media participation is a great way to create interest or stimulate inquiries, but you need to be careful. As you can’t guarantee confidentiality, don’t use social media for communicating directly with clients. Sharing information is one thing, however, you do not want to be seen as giving legal advice to phantom clients. Make sure you comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rule 3.01 (Making Legal Services Available), Rule 3.02 (Marketing) and Rule 30.3 (Advertising Nature of Practice).
Look at what you do every day and think of ways you can provide useful information to a broad audience while better marketing your skills.
This article originally appeared in The Lawyers Weekly published by LexisNexis Canada Inc.