Twitter and Facebook are the new golf course – law firms urged to take online marketing initiative

Social media: build an online brand, firms told

Law firms will have to adopt a more forceful marketing model if they are to survive in the post-alternative business structure (ABS) marketplace, a specialist in growing online businesses has urged.

To win legal business against ABS competitors who are already skilled retailers, lawyers will have become expert in such things as “networking, selling, social media, internet marketing, branding”, internet marketing consultants Moore Legal Technology (MLT) predict.

In a report, Generating business online, MLT argues that successful firms will have to move from a “passive marketing model to a more forceful one… The traditional model of opening an office and generating business through the golf club, old school contacts or clients wandering in through the door will no longer suffice…

“Law firms will have to embrace technology… As modern, dynamic firms engage more with technology and import expertise from other industry sectors, traditional law firms will have to embrace the internet for marketing purposes and automate those parts of their work which they can.”

Firms should accommodate new behaviours by consumers, who first attempt to solve a legal problem themselves before shopping around for someone else who might help them, MLT advised: “This is where the ‘conversation’ happens. Consumers look for peer review, advertisements, useful information, news sources, blogs and other online sources to influence their decisions. Being a part of this conversation is important – perhaps even vital – to the success of law firms post-ABS.”

An internet search for a law firm is equivalent to a telephone enquiry in the old paradigm. “If you don’t appear with useful information, advice or a means for them to actually buy from you, you aren’t answering that call.”

In place of simple websites, firms must make use of sophisticated marketing techniques, including search engine optimisation (SEO) to drive internet traffic and attract customers with content such as blogs, videos, podcasts, articles and news items – the object is to build an online brand.

Converting web traffic to purchasing of services is key, MLT said, which means having a website that is compatible not just with PCs but also the mobile phones and tablet computers that people are increasingly using when they conduct research into potential providers. Web traffic from tablets almost quadrupled in the year between the first quarters of 2011 and 2012 and having “responsive” web design can help firms “capture this nascent section of the market”.

Law firms should encourage employees to use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and increasingly Google’s network, Google+, in their personal and working life. Twitter in particular is frequently used to exchange information and views on products and services, MLT observed.

“Social media facilitates conversations and connections. In this way, Twitter and Facebook are the new golf course… Your name, your firm’s name and your brand are passed on to others who may potentially become clients.”

However, engagement with social media should be part of an overall strategy, and to avoid possible reputational damage its use by employees should be subject to a policy that defines acceptable limits.



    Readers Comments

  • Contrary to popular opinion there are some lawyers out there blazing a trail in social media. There’s a good little video here that has some case studies of how a number of lawyers are using social media and their return from it. Well worth 15 minutes of your time.

  • An excellent piece! I couldn’t agree more MLT and Mark 🙂 Thanks for sharing and updating.

    As we know, some lawyers and law firms have been trailblazing for a good few years already in many geographic areas across the globe in relation to online networking, selling, social media, internet marketing, branding (both personal and firm). Other reports back in 2010/11 also add weight to the MLT recent report. Speaking of which, where can I get a hold of the MLT report? I’d welcome a heads-up so that I can mention it to delegates / clients.

    Warmest as ever

    Chrissie Lightfoot
    The Entrepreneur Lawyer
    Author of “The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How To Market, Brand & Sell YOU!”

  • While I agree that there are some in the legal field who are blazing a trail in the social media environment, most have very little idea of how to use social media to their advantage. I have regular discussions with lawyers who are using social media but have had little to no roi or impact.

  • I agree Vic. That’s because social media is like sex. Some are better at it than others. And this is why. It goes something like this:

    Why and how we approach the two activities are pretty much the same. It’s all about confidence, seduction, performance, delivery and follow-on. Whether a lawyer is a poor or extraordinary (trailblazer) social media user / networker will depend on the lawyer’s thoughts, feelings and actions.

    Poor social networking is like unfulfilling sex – at least for one of the parties involved. Don’t really care what the other person thinks or feels; haven’t got a clue what you’re doing; no real effort or interest. The whole experience is over in a jiffy. And it’s all about pure self-interest.

    Good social networking is pretty much like good sex. It’s not the tools that matter, it’s what you do with them that counts – a bit like identifying a good bottle of champagne not by the size of the bottle, but by the size of the cork. That is: focus, quality and application.

    Great social networking – like great sex – involves spending lots of time exploring, researching and thinking about what you could do next to delight. And by being attentive whilst adventuring and pleasuring and doing lots of giving, giving and giving some more.

    Extraordinary social networking involves continual mind focus, continual nurturing, continual stimulation, continual discovery, continual delivery, continual follow on, continual improvement, continual innovation, continual research and development. The outcome inevitably is that both parties, client and lawyer, are more than satisfied.

    In essence, to achieve a bottom line hit using social media and social networks effectively, ROI no longer stands for Return On Investment. It’s all about Return On Involvement.

    Chrissie Lightfoot
    The Entrepreneur Lawyer
    Author of “The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell YOU!”

  • Lucy Stanistreet says:

    I completely agree with Chrissie. I have noticed a stark difference in the use of Social Media with the Legal field in comparison to the Recruitment industry in which I previously worked. Law firms need to utilise the “free” marketing opportunities Social Media provides but in order to do effectively Social Media training should be implemented across a firm to ensure a consistent message. If not employing a Social Media marketing specialist to completely manage this area for you, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

    Lucy Stanistreet – Law Student

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