Are Ads Worth It?

By Jordan Couch.  

I get asked this question a lot. Are ads on social media worth it? The short answer is yes. Social media is a widely untapped and powerful market in the legal world and it is substantially cheaper than most people realize. For example in next year’s marketing budget at Palace Law we are doing a large increase in our spending on social media and yet that large increase will still only total 6% of what we plan to spend on radio and video advertising. In our latest yearly metrics,  social media advertising hadn’t brought us a lot of cases but the cost per case exceeded all of our other paid advertising avenues. But before you go dumping money into whatever social media company asks for it there are a long list of caveats to the general idea that social media ads are worth the money. Below we’ll cover some broad general considerations as well as discuss the pros and cons of specific platforms.

In General

Don’t go out and join every social media platform and start spending money. The first and most important question to ask yourself is whether you should use a particular social media platform at all. Thankfully I wrote a previous article all about assessing new social media (link). If you (or someone on your team) don’t enjoy using a particular social media platform then you won’t be good at it and no amount of money will make your ads on that platform worthwhile.

The next thing to consider is the demographics you are targeting in your marketing. This is true of any marketing push but especially true when considering where to spend your social media money. If you are a wills and trusts lawyer TikTok ads likely won’t be as valuable to you as Facebook ads because Facebook has an estimated 25% of users over the age of fifty compared to Tiktok’s 10%. Even if you really like Tiktok, if your clients aren’t on there paying to boost your content won’t help that much.

That said, one strong advantage of social media advertising is the ability to target your message to a particular demographic of users. Radio, TV, billboards, yellow pages, people who use these can try to make decisions to get their ads in front of the right people, but social media companies track exactly who is seeing their content and because of that they can target your ads to the people you want to see them. This is part of why the cost is less. Not every eyeball on an advertisement has the same value to your company and where radio and TV are undiscerning, social media is very particular about who sees what.

With those considerations laid out, should you pay for ads on…

Facebook

Yes. There are plenty of reasons not to like Facebook but it can’t be denied that they create incredible opportunities for business at very low prices. Facebook has three billion monthly active users. For comparison the Superbowl gets about 110 million viewers each year. Unlike the Superbowl, boosting posts on Facebook can cost as little as a penny per like. Facebook also has an incredibly demographic base of users so you have the opportunity to get out in front of whatever clientele you are trying to track. Perhaps most importantly, Facebook has become a place where people expect to see ads and where people regularly go shopping and get recommendations for services or goods. This is somewhat unique to Facebook in that people aren’t often shopping on Youtube or Twitter. The audience you get in front of on Facebook is primed to purchase/hire.

Instagram

Yes. Instagram is now owned by and connected to Facebook but it’s worth discussing separately because the marketing options and demographics are different. Instagram has two primary options for advertising, boosted posts and story ads. Boosting posts is just taking your regular content and pushing it to a wider audience (similar to Facebook). Story ads pop up as a person is scrolling through their stories and it enables the viewer to click through to the advertiser’s site. These options mean that no matter how users are on Instagram, you as the advertiser have the ability to get in front of your clientele. While Instagram’s demographics skew younger it still includes a large number of users who are potential legal consumers. Best of all, Instagram is growing as a place to buy things. Over 50% of Instagram users report having made a purchase right after seeing something on the app.

Twitter

No. People don’t go shopping on Twitter. More generally Twitter operates in a very unique space for social media. It is incredibly important to a small group of users (a mere 10% of the daily active users Facebook has) but does not have the mass market appeal that is so easily monetized. People go to Twitter primarily for news and they spend about 3% as much time on Twitter as they do on Facebook. All in all, even at low prices Twitter probably isn’t worth your money. I’ll give you one exception though. If you find you get a lot of work from referrals through relationships built on Twitter and you want to grow your following and thereby that network, boosting some tweets might help you.

LinkedIn

Yes but mostly for job postings. LinkedIn once again is not a place people go to shop even for professional services. LinkedIn is best used for networking. Promoting posts and ads might expand your network but it’s unlikely to directly drive clients to you except for some narrow professional clients. That said, there aren’t many better places to post job openings. Paying the money to promote your job postings on LinkedIn and get better candidates is a great way to ensure you’re hiring the best people.

TikTok

Maybe. Honestly it’s hard to tell/ TikTok is incredibly opaque about everything they do. Even more so than other social media companies. TikTok is also very new and only recently has created a viable advertising system for users. By appearances TikTok seems to offer advertising options similar to boosted ads on other sites but it’s unclear still how effective the advertising is. TikTok’s unique algorithm means that any content can go viral if people like it but at the same time even people with big followings won’t necessarily have their content seen. The risk you take paying to boost something is that if people don’t like it, it still might not get seen much and good content that isn’t boosted might do even better.

YouTube

Yes. I don’t know why more people aren’t doing this yet. As popular as lawyer TV ads were and are YouTube combines the broad reach and video capabilities of TV and combines it with the demographic targeting of Facebook. YouTube is the priciest of the options discussed but it’s still much cheaper than TV ads. YouTube also has the numbers to back it up. 75% of US adults watch YouTube and almost 95% of people who watch streaming services on TV watch YouTube. There’s a lot for a marketer to get excited about there.

What Should I Boost?

The temptation among many lawyers I see on social media is to take what would have been their billboard or yellow pages ad and promote that on social media. Don’t do that. If you track your analytics on social media you’ll likely find that those posts perform much worse than the posts where you are genuine about who you are and give valuable advice and guidance. The posts you should boost are not the ones you want to be high performers but the ones that actually are high performers. Did a post of yours on Facebook get more engagement than expected? Boost that and let your paid advertising campaign piggyback on that authentic attention. They might not be the best for specific call-to-action purposes but they will drive traffic to you and your page where you can explain in more detail what you do and place the call to action.

How Much Should I Spend?

The answer to this question will be different for every firm and practice area. Social media should be treated like any other marketing campaign you launch; track your leads and assess value based on leads per dollar. When I mentioned the numbers from Palace Law above I was only able to give those because we religiously track where our clients and calls come from. Without that information you won’t be able to properly assess how your social media spending is going and the effect of increases and decreases in that spend. If you don’t currently have any paid marketing campaigns in your office you can compare social media to the amount of billable hours you spend networking to get the referrals you currently rely on. Either way I suspect you’ll find that the right social media comes in cheaper than your current marketing costs. That low price is one of the best things about social media right now. Even the most hesitant firms can dip their toes in the water and see what happens when they spend $100 or $500 on boosting some post on your favorite office social media page.

How much should you spend? Depends, but track it. Watch what happens, which posts get the best hits. And be sure to compare it to your other marketing. And if you say you don’t market or are all referrals, think about how much time you spend doing networking activities and your billable hour rate.

 

Jordan L. Couch is an attorney and cultural ambassador at Palace Law where his practice focuses on plaintiff’s side workers’ compensation litigation. In his spare time, Jordan seeks out new ways to build a more modern, client-centric law practice. Contact him at jordan@palacelaw.com or on social media @jordanlcouch.