Social Media Videos and the Future of Lawyer Marketing: A Lawyer’s Perspective
For years we have watched as the effectiveness of TV advertising has steadily declined.
Online advertising, often through traditional social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram as well as YouTube advertisements piggybacking on other people’s more interesting videos, has gradually become a popular way of reaching potential clients. All this points toward the future of advertising moving more and more into social media. But social media is changing.
There is an entire generation of kids who don’t have Facebook accounts. The generation below them doesn’t have Instagram either. They are watching TikTok videos. TikTok videos often last only a few seconds–shorter than any video advertisement runs. This leaves no space to piggyback an advertisement. Even if you added an advertisement on the end, viewers would simply swipe past it to the next video. When this generation grows up, sites like Facebook and Instagram will likely be left to collect virtual dust like Myspace.
How Do You Reach Consumers on TikTok?
Many attorneys with an eye to the future have realized that if they want to be seen by the next generation, they must be on TikTok. Unlike YouTube and other long-form video platforms, there is no way on TikTok to make consumers watch a brief commercial before viewing a video. Even if there were, they would just swipe past it. To reach consumers on TikTok, you must stop advertising and instead produce and educational or entertaining video.
The Three C’s of TikTok Marketing: Content, Content, Content
It is no secret that the videos that are shown on TikTok are controlled by an algorithm. Your video gets given a few hundred views. If it performs well, it gets more. Video performance is determined by several factors. Once such factor is the viewer retention rate. If users tend to watch a few seconds and then swipe to the next without finishing the video, your video is going to get limited views. If people watch the whole thing, you will get more. User interaction is the next piece of the puzzle. If users like, comment, and share your video, the algorithm will reward you with more viewers. Reposts and shares by viewers mean that their friends will see it in their suggested feed. The last big piece of the puzzle is the frequency with which you create and post new videos. You will get rewarded for constantly posting videos. So, you need quality content, engaging content, and a quantity of content.
Engaging the Consumer
When is the last time you saw a lawyer tv advertisement that you thought was engaging? It is hard to create one, much less one per day. So how do lawyers engage the consumer? You either entertain or educate, or you do both. The key to marketing on TikTok is not to market yourself. Several lawyers have managed to build a following by providing educational videos on the law or entertaining videos that may or may not relate to legal issues.
One such example is @LawByMike. Attorney Mike Mandell has built a huge following making high quality entertaining videos that deal with unique aspects of the law in all fields. His videos are always in their feeds—keeping his brand in front of them. This following then can turn to him when they find themselves in need of a lawyer.
My law firm has also moved into the TikTok world with our brand: @simmonsandfletcher. Our firm, Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., Injury and Accident Lawyers, is a group of 3 attorneys who each shoot their own style of videos. Attorney Christopher Fletcher has a very matter-of-fact style of discussing legal issues and quirks that people may not be aware of. I use AI to make entertaining videos where I give advice on the law, business, and other topics but may have a funny or strange twist. (Spoiler Alert: I even turn into a skeleton in one!) Sharon-Simmons Cantrell shoots videos offering helpful life tips as well as reviewing Bible verses and how they apply in life.
Entertainment Not Advertising
The one thing you do not find in any of these videos is a call to action. They are entertaining and education only. This is important not only because people are not likely to follow someone who posts a bunch of advertisements, but also because attorney advertising is highly regulated. Every tv advertisement by a lawyer has to be approved by their State Bar. Videos that are simply entertaining and/or educational do not have to be submitted for approval. In an age where constant creation of content is king to algorithms, you don’t have 45 days to wait for bar approval between videos.
Influencer vs Advertiser
In short, your goal on TikTok is to build followers while establishing brand awareness and your expertise in the legal arena. The idea is that if you have enough people following you, they are eventually going to need a lawyer and you are the one they know and trust.
About the Author:
Paul H. Cannon is a Shareholder and Managing Partner at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., Injury & Accident Lawyers in Houston, Texas. He is the Marketing Manager and a Litigation Attorney at the firm. Paul H. Cannon graduated from South Texas College of Law and passed the Bar in 1995. He became Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial law in 2005. In the early 200s he recognized the future of marketing was in learning internet marketing and became involved in online marketing for the firm. He is currently in charge of the firm’s online marketing strategy.