How to…get started with social media in estate planning

24 March 2011

Social media is important. Millions of users from around the world are involved in a constant stream of information about millions of subjects every second of every day. But for many trust and estate practitioners, getting started with social media can seem a daunting prospect and some may view it with suspicion.

This needn’t be the case. Think of it as being offered a cost-effective way to publicise your intellectual property and expertise – and bring in more clients – the potential for coverage and clients can be worth a fortune.

The first thing to establish is what you want to get out of social media. Dealing with trusts and estate, often world wide – you need to ask – is this for marketing, PR or customer services? Or all three? From here, make sure you have a dedicated social media policy in place and then decide who should be in charge of it.

Two big sites used by the legal world as well as your clients are Twitter and Facebook. Twitter allows you to share an online post of 140 characters or less to which your ‘followers’ can ‘re-tweet’ (re-post) on their own pages, or respond directly to things you post. Another popular site is LinkedIn, which allows companies or individuals within it to have their own pages and discussion groups, while individuals can post an online CV and use it as a networking tool.

Some interesting statistics for LinkedIn show that it has over 60 million members in over 200 countries (half in the US). Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members. The average age of a LinkedIn member is 41 and 64% are male. 53.5% have a household income of around £50k. 80% are graduates and 49% describe themselves as business decision makers. If you think that could be your audience you need to get started as soon as you can….

STEP itself has a number of linked in pages including the official STEP page and a Philanthropy sub-group.

Facebook allows you to share images, events and detailed information with your online followers. Many companies have both sites and link between the two. The advantage of Facebook is it allows you to share more information, but Twitter is regarded as having a more immediate impact. You can easily sign up with both websites at: and

Above all, ensure you engage meaningfully with people via social media. Try not to see it as a massive sales pitch to offer cut-price wills – and try to maintain authenticity. You can do this by engaging directly with your followers. A quick, honest and straightforward approach is the most successful one. Be helpful and you will go far.

Social media as a means of communication for the legal world is becoming increasingly more essential and it will eventually become fully integrated in all marketing communications as part of the new landscape. As a forward thinking trust and estate practitioner, you should think long term but bear in mind that technology and social trends are forever evolving. Keep abreast of the social media Zeitgeist and you won’t go far wrong.

Melissa Davis is MD of MD Communications – a bespoke communication agency set up to help professional advisory firms    communicate effectively. Melissa was Head of Media and PR for the Law Society of England & Wales for five years until 2010.   If you need help – either with setting up your social media policy or would like a training day to set objectives and get started please get in touch with [email protected].


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