Social Media for Criminal Defense Law Firms: Tips and Best Practices

social media for criminal law firmSocial media represents a huge opportunity to market your criminal defense law firm.

Did you know that:

Privacy, ethics, and confidentiality concerns have perhaps restricted its use by many criminal defense attorneys, which is unfortunate. Like most forms of digital marketing, it delivers results when it’s done well.

The following social media tips for criminal defense law firms have been compiled from the latest information around the web from firms that have enjoyed success on social media platforms for years.

You’ll discover:

  • How other law firms are using social media
  • Why criminal law firms should use social media
  • Tips on which social media platforms to invest time and energy into
  • How to develop effective social media campaigns
  • …and more

Let’s begin.



How are law firms using social media?

Let’s start with a few interesting insights into how law firms are using social media.

law firm social media usage

And here are a few other interesting stats.

  • Around one-third of lawyers (31 percent) said a client retained their legal services from social media.
  • Only 30 percent of firms have a blog — three percent post daily, 18 percent weekly, 56 percent monthly, and 21 percent have stopped posting.
  • Half of all legal bloggers (49 percent) said a client retained their services because of their blog.

Why should criminal law firms use social media?

Criminal law firms target the general public as their clients. They have traditionally used word of mouth and referrals to attract business.

Word of mouth now spreads on social media more than anywhere else. People also search for legal information online and through social media — and if you’ve been charged with a crime, this search often becomes desperate.

When building your criminal law practice, you can use social media presence to reach out to your target audience, build a brand, establish yourself as a thought leader, and ultimately generate leads and new clients.

There are three main reasons to grow your social media presence as a criminal defense lawyer:


Connect with and win new clients

With over half of the world on social media, you don’t need to look too far to connect with your target audience.

Remember, around one-third of lawyers (31 percent) have had a client retain their legal services from social media.

Social media sits at the top of the sales funnel, where you inform potential clients and answer their questions. It usually goes something like this:

law firm marketing funnel

A simple informational blog post can be a powerful catalyst for new clients to sign up for your services.


Demonstrate thought leadership and establish your brand

You’re good at what you do. Demonstrate it through social media.

Social media can help you establish a credible and authoritative voice. Your brand is who you are, what you stand for, and the values you believe in — and this shapes how prospective clients view you and your business.

It’s important to control the narrative through your website, social media, and other marketing channels before somebody else does.

As you’ve seen above, central to your social media efforts is your content. It all starts with a blog post like this:

criminal defense law firm blog post

If you share original, well-written, thought-provoking content that answers the main questions in your target audience’s minds, you start to earn credibility. You become an authoritative voice on criminal defense. People will come back for more — or even pick up the phone there and then.

Your content can also communicate your brand’s values in a subtle and impactful way.


Connect with peers

Communities of like-minded criminal defense attorneys, lawyers in other fields, and other professionals all use social media.

Criminal defense lawyer groups on LinkedIn can help you connect with other professionals in your field, build your network, and stay up to date with developments in criminal justice.

criminal lawyer groups LinkedIn

Using LinkedIn, you can also connect with professionals whose assistance you may need on criminal cases, such as family lawyers, accountants, psychologists, and medical professionals.


Why do blogging and social media go hand-in-hand?

Only 30 percent of law firms have a blog, and this number is likely lower for criminal defense firms.

Why do law firms blog?

Criminal law firm blogs

We encourage our clients to start and regularly contribute to a company blog, as it’s the natural starting point for many lucrative marketing campaigns.

The Wasatch Defense Lawyers Facebook page is a good example of how to feature articles that answer important questions in your target audience’s mind.

law firm facebook post

As well as sharing on Facebook, these articles can form the basis of your presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other major social media platforms. Informative articles should also form the foundation for content on your law firm’s website, in email campaigns, and more.


Which social media platforms are worth a criminal defense lawyer’s time?

Let’s take a look at some tips for the main social media platforms and how they might benefit criminal defense law firms.


LinkedIn for lawyers

LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for lawyers (76 percent have a presence there, followed by 60 percent on Facebook).

Of these, around 43 percent are active on the LinkedIn platform, though this number may be slightly lower for criminal defense firms.

As the only social media platform built entirely for professionals, you need an optimized LinkedIn profile. It can be used to connect with your peers and other professionals and get you referrals.

There are two types of profiles to focus on. Firstly, the company page, where your firm outlines its credentials, like this one from Oykhman Criminal Defence in Canada.

Oykhman-Criminal-Defence-LinkedIn
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Secondly, you need a personal profile as a criminal defense lawyer. Every lawyer at your firm should have a dedicated LinkedIn page, like this one from Michael Oykhman, a partner in the firm mentioned above.

Michael-Oykhman-Criminal-Defence-Lawyer-LinkedIn
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A complete profile has a concise headline, professional images/videos, and all the relevant details and sections filled in. Try to talk in the language of your target audience and explain how you can help rather than using legal jargon or making it read like a CV.

Optimizing your LinkedIn profiles and posting informative content on your feed will help you promote your thought leadership and build your professional persona on the platform. Ultimately, this will lead to more referrals from other professionals.

If need be, get your profiles professionally written.


Facebook for lawyers

Facebook is underused by criminal defense law firms.

While statistics for criminal defense law firms on Facebook are hard to come by, we do know:

The 60-percent figure is down from two years ago, according to the ABA’s 2018 Legal Technology Survey Report. Facebook is apparently becoming less popular for lawyers.

This may be because law firms have found it a waste of time — which usually means that they didn’t get the expected results.

It could also reflect the challenges of making your firm visible in the crowded and competitive Facebook feeds of your target audience.

But with so much of your target audience using Facebook, ignoring the platform could be costly. It’s quick and easy to create a profile and employ a Facebook Messenger chatbot as a first step in engaging with potential clients.

Facebook Live can also be an excellent forum for conducting Q&A sessions with your target audience.

criminal defense facebook page
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Facebook is also a great place to gather and display reviews.

Criminal defense lawyers have some unique privacy and confidentiality challenges with protecting the identity of people accused of a crime. But that hasn’t prevented Trey Porter Law in San Antonio from gathering a healthy number of Facebook reviews (see above).

Facebook groups can also be a useful way to connect with peers and clients, like this private Facebook community of criminal lawyers numbering almost 3,000 members.

criminal lawyer group facebook
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Facebook marketing best practices

Here are a few quick tips for criminal defense law firms using Facebook:

  • Share original, informative content about trending legal topics — either created by you or from other sources (as long as they’re useful to your target audience)
  • Post updates/images/videos about your firm — it shows the human side of your business
  • Use plain and relatable language – no legal jargon
  • Set a posting schedule and stick to it using social media tools (e.g., Hootsuite)
  • Follow up with comments and questions — they may be from prospective clients
  • Measure the number of click-throughs to your website, completed forms, and calls generated via Facebook

Can criminal defense lawyers use Facebook Ads?

Facebook advertising is not just for personal injury, immigration, or estate planning lawyers. Criminal defense lawyers can use Facebook ads too.

The great thing about Facebook ads is that they’re highly targeted toward specific audiences and generally have a lower cost-per-click than Google Ads. You can set your ads to appear based on certain demographics, locations, interests, and behavior patterns. You can also build custom and lookalike audiences.

Here’s a good example from The Law Office of Ramos & Del Cueto PLLC in Texas.

facebook ad criminal defense

Facebook ads have fewer restrictions than Google Ads, which prevent certain practice areas from advertising (including criminal lawyers). Facebook will generally allow your ads.


Twitter for lawyers

Twitter is currently used by just over one-third of law firms. For reaching out to your audience quickly and concisely, nothing beats it.

Twitter is all about microblogging. The platform limits your tweets to 280 characters so you’re forced to be succinct.

Here’s a good example from NYC criminal defense lawyer Mark Cohen.

criminal defense twitter
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Other benefits of Twitter for criminal defense firms are:

  • Twitter is a powerful way to reach your target audience — the platform boasts 206 million daily active users worldwide with 25 percent of them based in the US
  • You can quickly and easily cover a wide range of criminal law topics for your target audience — helping you establish your personal brand and become a thought leader
  • It’s easy to catch up on the latest headlines and developments in criminal defense from your own Twitter feed
  • You can quickly share news and updates about your firm
  • It’s practically real-time — updates are almost instantaneous and news may be reported on Twitter before other news media
  • You can easily follow influential people in criminal law and connect with their audiences, broadening the reach of your firm

If you’re struggling to see how you can use Twitter, take a look at these examples, like this one from Samantha Greene Law, a criminal defense firm in San Diego.

criminal defense lawyer twitter
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Samantha Greene uses her Twitter feed to inform her audience with regular updates and for sharing relevant blog articles, photos, and videos. She also promotes her standing in the legal community with this “pinned” Tweet.

criminal defense attorney twitter
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Instagram for lawyers

It’s fair to say that very few criminal defense law firms use Instagram. That is, however, changing as law firms become more creative to stand out from the crowd.

Instagram boasts around one billion monthly active users with over two-thirds of its total audience aged 34 years and younger.

It’s getting harder to differentiate your firm on social media. If your target audience is younger people accused of a crime, Instagram can help you reach out, educate them, and let them know that help is around the corner. The Shelley Law Firm in Atlanta does this well.

criminal law firm instagram
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You may also want to use Instagram to attract upcoming legal talent from its youthful audience.

Instagram is owned by Facebook and is more image-and video-centric than its parent platform, which puts some lawyers off.

However, let’s face it, many law firms are downright intimidating for the average Joe on the street. Pictures and video can help you humanize your firm and make it more approachable.

This criminal defense firm in New York even raises a few laughs from its audience with posts like this.

criminal law funny instagram
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A few Instagram marketing tips for criminal defense lawyers:

  • Successful Instagram campaigns master the use of hashtags — they make your content searchable on the platform (see sample posts above)
  • You can also use location tagging to improve searchability
  • Avoid shoddy photography or images — keep it slick and professional
  • Post about any community work you do
  • Try to keep posts as light as possible
  • If you post behind-the-scenes images, always keep in mind the ethical obligations of law firms, especially regarding client confidentiality (i.e., don’t have a particular client’s file visible)

TikTok for lawyers

TikTok is a popular video-centric social network rarely used by criminal defense law firms. We don’t see that changing anytime soon, but with over 138 million active users in the U.S., it’s becoming hard to ignore for businesses.

Despite the jokey and entertaining nature of most videos on TikTok, there is potential for criminal law firms to use very short videos to quickly explain how to tackle legal matters in a digestible format— especially to a young, mobile-based audience. It could be an important differentiator in the future.

This criminal defense and litigation attorney in Miami is targeting a young audience with his posts.

tiktok for lawyers
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TikTok won’t be right for many criminal defense law firms, but it’s here to stay.


General tips for effective criminal defense social media campaigns

You now know a little about the available social media platforms for criminal defense lawyers along with some tips for using them.

Now some more general tips on best-practice social media strategies across the spectrum of platforms…


Understand the rules

As already mentioned, criminal defense lawyers have some unique responsibilities that other businesses on social media don’t have to contend with.

Social media users can fall victim to an “anything goes” type of mentality. That simply won’t do for lawyers who are understandably held to very high standards.

Nobody needs reminding that legal matters can profoundly affect people’s lives. Matters like client confidentiality, conflict of interest, jurisdiction, and marketing responsibilities should be taken seriously.

Make sure you understand and follow the rules and regulations for social media use before you set up a profile and start posting.


Identify specific and defined goals

Do you want more clients, greater brand awareness, or more website traffic from your social media campaigns?

Like with any form of marketing, social media marketing should be measurable. You can only measure what you have identified as a specific goal.

Outline SMART goals for your social media campaigns. These are:

law firm smart goals

You can read more about this in our law firm marketing strategy guide.

A good example of a SMART goal is:

criminal law firm smart goal

Note how it ticks each of the five SMART goal elements.


Research target clients and competitors

Be clear on who you’ll be targeting with your social media campaigns. That’s the only way to create social media posts that are relevant and engaging.

Complete a client persona profile so that you know who your ideal client is. It will be slightly different for every criminal defense firm in terms of age, gender, location, and so on.

This summarizes the considerations well.

law firm client persona

Next, research your main competitors. There’s a lot to learn from other criminal defense firms that are doing well on social media.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Emulate the best performers and give it your own “spin.” Strive to improve on what your competitors are doing (they all have weaknesses) and you will start to attract leads from your campaigns.

Researching your main competitors should be relatively easy. Simply search Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for law firms in your area.

criminal defense law firms on google

Check out each of their social media presences, making notes on what they do well and not so well.


Plan, write, and schedule engaging content

As you know, informative, original, and engaging content is the key to success on social media.

Most of the content you write will be informational rather than promotional. Probably 50-75 percent should answer criminal justice questions like this from The Maine Criminal Defense Group.

lawyer website blog
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Also cover news, current affairs, and other legal topics like this example from Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyer Cory Wilson.

law firm website blog post
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Promotional content and reviews can make up 10-20 percent of posts, like this post from Stahl Criminal Defense Lawyers in New Jersey.

lawyer blog post
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Content from your blog can be repurposed for social media. You can also share links and content from other sources if they are relevant to your target audience and provide value, like this Facebook post from New York criminal defense lawyer Troy A. Smith.

criminal defense facebook post
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For the content you need to write, it’s best to create a monthly or quarterly content plan so that you stay on schedule for posting new articles.

Then, to review and schedule the content you write, use the Hootsuite tool outlined in the next section. You can review the content to ensure that it meets your ethical responsibilities and set up the posts to automatically publish at the allotted time.


Measure performance

You set SMART goals before starting the campaign so the job is not complete until you track, measure and evaluate the results. The relevant metrics should be clear from the goal(s) you created and most of the platforms have built-in analytics to help you.

Facebook provides its Business Suite, Creator Studio and Facebook Insights analytics tools. Here’s what the Facebook Business Suite panel looks like, for instance:

facebook business suite

Let’s remind ourselves of the SMART goal example that we used above,

“I want to get six new clients from social media within the next three months. To do that, I will need to post 2 engaging articles on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram once a week for the next three months, increase my following on each platform by 25 percent, and generate five click-throughs from leads to my website from each piece of content.”

So, to check how close we came to achieving this goal, we would need to track the following metrics from the last three months:

  • Number of articles posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Increase in the number of followers
  • Number of click-throughs to the website from social media
  • Number of new clients originating from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Revisit your goals, and if you haven’t achieved them, try adjusting your strategy for the next campaign.


4 tools to help you use social media more productively

Much of the legwork can be taken out of social media marketing by using automation tools for scheduling, design, and video creation. Social media is never entirely “hands-free” but the following tools will speed up and automate much of the work.


Hootsuite

hootsuite
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Hootsuite remains one of the best tools around for:

  • Scheduling your social media posts in advance
  • Viewing multiple social media streams from a single dashboard
  • Accessing in-depth analytics to see which posts work best

Later

later
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The Later tool helps you to:

  • Manage multiple social media profiles at once
  • Master posts on Instagram
  • Measure the success of Instagram posts, hashtags, etc.
  • Schedule posts using a drag and drop tool

Canva

canva
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Canva helps you elevate the design element of your posts without hiring a graphic design artist. You can create professional-looking social media posts from hundreds of free templates.


Animoto

animoto
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Animoto can help lawyers create professional-looking videos without it costing a fortune — great for smaller firms or solo attorneys with limited budgets.


What criminal defense lawyers should avoid doing on social media

Finally, a quick checklist of what not to do on social media as a criminal defense attorney:

  • Ignore the ethics rules for lawyers
  • Only post when you feel like it
  • Take on too much and end up with a diluted and ineffective presence on multiple channels
  • Be overly promotional with your content
  • Be too general or untargeted with your content — keep it specific for your topic/audience
  • Ignore comments, likes, messages, requests, or questions

It’s negligent to ignore social media

Too many criminal defense lawyers have given social media a hard pass.

If the prospect of sending tweets, liking comments, and posting content are enough to turn your blood cold, try following the social media tips for criminal defense law firms above.

You’ll get in front of more prospective clients, increase awareness and build your brand, and generate leads and a steady flow of new clients from these platforms.

You would be guilty of negligence to ignore that.