Many law firms have a presence across major platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. However, they struggle to figure out how to harness the power of social media to grow their practice. Creating shareable, interesting content is only half the battle. The challenge lies in convincing readers to actually share it.
One way law firms can boost engagement is by adding social sharing buttons to their website. This provides site visitors with an easy way to share a page, blog post or article on their preferred social network.
There are many different social media icons that law firms can choose to add via plugins or external services like Buffer, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube. Share buttons play an important role in expanding a site’s social reach and building an audience. More shares and mentions on social networks translates into brand awareness of your law firm among people who might need your legal services.
Another benefit of social sharing buttons is that they can help law firms improve their Google search rankings. While an algorithm is responsible for determining page rankings, the search engine also takes social media into account when deciding which sources provide the best, most useful information to searchers. If a site’s blog posts and other content receive a lot of shares, Google is likely to recognize the law firm as an authority in the legal field and reward it with a higher ranking among search results.
Simply having social sharing buttons on a website is not enough. Along with fitting into the site’s existing design, they need to be strategically placed in areas that will yield maximum visitor engagement.
Displaying social sharing buttons above or below posts is a popular way to encourage engagement. Websites like The Verge, BuzzFeed and many others use this placement. If readers are consistently reaching the bottom of your content, chances are they enjoyed reading it and are likely to share it. On the other hand, because people have so many things competing for their attention, some website visitors do not stay on a page long enough to scroll all the way down. As a result, they may not see the sharing buttons if they are located at the bottom.
Another option is to install a plugin that adds a floating sidebar to the site. The floating bar remains in a visible area of the screen as the reader scrolls up and down the page. An advantage of this placement is that the social sharing buttons will always be visible and easily accessible.
Law firms can also choose to include social sharing buttons halfway within their actual content to target more interested readers. HubSpot has an example of an effective, user-friendly social sharing approach that allows readers to share an entire post or even a specific section of it. When readers highlight text, a social sharing bar pops up and displays Facebook, Twitter and other icons.
Ultimately, social sharing buttons should be placed in a prominent position where website visitors are most likely to see them. While the icons should be eye-catching and easy to find, they should not overshadow the actual content. The bottom line is that if a reader likes the content, they will want to share it.
How to add sharing buttons
Lawyers can choose from a number of free or paid plugins on the market such as Social Warfare and Monarch. However, not all sharing buttons are created equal. When choosing which ones to use, consider their pros and cons in accordance with your law firm’s needs. Some plugins can slow websites down if they are outdated or have poor usability.
Lawyers should also be aware of the consequences of negative social proof. Avoid displaying share counters at the top of content until it accumulates a substantial number of shares. There are plugins available that show cumulative shares once they have reached a certain threshold.
Low shares can hurt engagement, especially for law firms that lack brand awareness. If website visitors see very few shares, they may click away and doubt your firm’s authority or trustworthiness. Conversely, content that has been widely shared can reap the benefits of social proof by having its share count displayed.
As with many other aspects of law firm marketing, the placement of social sharing buttons requires testing to determine the most effective option for encouraging social media engagement and shares. For example, law firms can try placing share buttons at the top of a blog post and compare their performance with a floating sidebar. Each law firm website has different requirements based on the type of content it shares, site design and reader behavior. Use analytics for insight into what works and what does not.