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The future is shared experiences

24 September 2015
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Emma Maule, Law Society social media officer, considers some of the key takeaways from Social Media Week London and provides top tips for firms to enhance their online presence.


Last week I attended Social Media Week London, an international conference on all things social media-related for which I was lucky enough to win a free ticket. It provided extremely useful insights as well as the weird and wonderful - from 'emotional ROI' to considering why the unicorn is such a popular emoji*.

The main point from this year's conference, as explained by BBC presenter LJ Rich, is that the future isn't products or services - it is shared experiences. These will take place in real time and will probably be in video or augmented reality format.

Here are some of the key insights that could help your firm with social media:

Video isn't the next big thing, it is already here

If you're not using video, you're already behind the curve. As well as the most obvious - YouTube - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all support video, and live streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat are increasing in popularity. Facebook in particular has had great success with this - last August, it surpassed YouTube for number of video views in the States.

Video now dominates the market. Recruitment using video was discussed during a panel session on millennials, with the rise of the video-based CV. During LJ Rich's session on digital influence, she got the audience to do a Mexican wave that was live streamed to Periscope because another Periscope user had requested it a few seconds before - an example of using live-streamed video to interact with your audience in real time.

At the Law Society, solicitor Gary Ryan answers questions live using Periscope during our #SolicitorHour Twitter chat. Watch Gary's first video, which we've uploaded to YouTube.

There are challenges presented by this medium, such as formatting for different platforms, as well as production costs and the need to train staff.

Things to consider about video:

  • Nine of the top 10 most-viewed videos are pop or celebrity culture
  • YouTube has more than one billion users and half of YouTube views are on mobile devices
  • Two million people use Periscope everyday
  • Different audiences require different mediums, for example Instagram users tend to be aspirational, while YouTube acts as the second biggest search engine (after Google) and is the site people visit to learn new skills
  • Interestingly, less polished video that has a 'filmed on an iPhone' feel is more popular than glossy movie set-ups

Mobile is king

Mobile devices now account for over half of internet time and this number is only going to grow. 80 per cent of Twitter users and 44 per cent of Facebook users access these networks from a mobile.

People are starting to expect to access the world through their smartphones and tablets - this is going to apply to anything your firm does online. The Google update in April now ranks responsive websites higher in mobile search. So make sure your website is responsively designed, and consider creating an app. At the Law Society, we are in the process of making our website compatible with mobile devices. For your social media output, make sure you're catering for the people who will be viewing it on their smartphones, and tailor the content accordingly. For example, you will need to create different image sizes for different social media platforms.

Be human

No one cares about your brand - they care about what it can do for them. And people want to have conversations with other people, not with a branded corporation.

On social media, try to shift from broadcast (one-way messages promoting your firm, such as press releases) to engagement by gathering information about your audience in order to use conversations you haven't started. Comment on content that interests them - this will grow numbers. For example, we have been using social media to discuss our draft strategy with our members.

However, don't be too downhearted if you're not seeing the engagement you expected - remember the 99 to 1 rule. On any social media platform:

  • 90 per cent will watch
  • Nine per cent will respond if nudged
  • One per cent will proactively engage

Your focus should be on grabbing that one per cent to keep them loyal and turning the nine per cent into proactive engagers.

Plan for a crisis

Consider the following scenarios.

As part of your crisis planning, you will need:

  • a strategy that you have worked out well in advance
  • the ability to gather intelligence on the crisis at hand - social media management tools are vital
  • access to or knowledge of employment law in relation to social media

It's also best to have training and guidance in place to minimise or prevent such occurrences, and a plan to rebuild your reputation once things start to settle down. Read our protecting your online reputation practice note.

Data monitoring is essential

Business use of social media, and the data it provides, is moving from a fad to an essential part of an organisation's strategy. It's no longer enough to simply 'listen' to chatter about your brand - organisations have moved to monitoring data for real-time interaction with customers. Make use of a social media management tool to help you gather analytics so you can monitor data - there are plenty out there. Examples include Sysomos, Sotrender, Meltwater, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social.

*Emoji: small digital icons used in texts, emails and social media. Here is a unicorn emoji: Unicorn emoji

Quick wins

Long term

  • Invest in a social media management tool.
  • Consider having a dedicated individual or team handling your social media.
  • Keep watching this space - the way people use social media evolves fast, and can change suddenly.

Tags: strategy | brand | social media

About the author

Emma Maule is social media officer at the Law Society, helping our members and other interested parties stay abreast of what's happening in the legal world.
Follow Emma on Twitter

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