THE BEST SOCIAL NETWORK FOR LAWYERS, OR ANYONE, IS…..

Nancy Myrland All Posts, Marketing Strategy, Social Media 17 Comments

An interesting question was posed on a legal marketing forum of which I am a member.  The question had to do with a recommendation for the most effective online social network for lawyers.

I will share my answer with you here in case you are working through the same thought process.

This is an interesting and important question.  I’ve spent the past 2 years studying the Social Web in depth, even going through Certification last year because of my passion for this area.

I suspect many of my blog visitors will appreciate the following answer because of all the years you’ve spent in strategic marketing, sales and rainmaking.

My answer: “It depends.”

As with any marketing tactic, networking on the Social Web is just another set of tactics that either fit or don’t fit within a marketing plan.  What does the answer depend on?

  • It depends on the firm.
  • It depends on the individual lawyer.
  • It depends on the goals the firm and attorneys have identified because of going through a thorough process of strategic marketing planning.
  • It depends on the target audiences that have been identified in that plan.
  • It depends on the messages that need to be communicated to those audiences.
  • It depends on where those target audiences spend their time.
  • It depends on where lawyers as strategic business advisors anticipate these audiences will spend their time in the future.
  • It depends on the personality of the lawyer and firm as to what media are the best fit.
  • It depends on much more…..

I can go on, but I’m sure it’s obvious to you that these are same principles that go in to traditional strategic marketing and business planning.  Once these factors are taken in to consideration, there will be different tools for different lawyers, even within the same firm, or even for the same lawyer from year to year as goals and tools change.

  • Perhaps the Government Affairs Team decides to utilize mobile marketing in order to keep its clients abreast of critical developments while the legislature is in session.
  • Perhaps there are certain lawyers or industry groups that would be great bloggers, and that are good educators, and great at replying to all comments on blogs, thus building relationships.
  • Perhaps you have lawyers or marketers who are comfortable on video, or could be with some training.
  • Perhaps you have lawyers who have searched and can find clients and referral sources on Twitter, and who are, or can become, comfortable with relationship-building that is critical in this medium.
  • Perhaps the Firm decides it is innovative, interactive and educational enough to build and host an active Business (Fan) Page on Facebook.
  • Perhaps the Firm’s goals call for every lawyer having a profile on LinkedIn.
  • Perhaps these LinkedIn lawyers then decide to find, join or start LinkedIn groups that make sense to the marketing planning and identification process I mentioned before, and will then spend time interacting with others in these groups.
  • Perhaps the Plan calls for all lawyers to have Martindale-Hubbell Connected profiles.
  • Etc.

As you can see, there is no cookie-cutter approach, and no one medium I can honestly say is the “right” or “best” before knowing what the firm is up to.

I’m happy to help any way I can going forward.

Nancy Myrland, Certified Social Media Consultant, Speaker & Trainer

Professional Marketing Advisor

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15 comments
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Legalmatters
Legalmatters

Great article and I like Gerry's comment. We are all trying to learn the ins and outs of social media to generate new business. In my experience, it can take a minimum of 2 years to see any real results from social media so long term is the mentality to have when looking at Sm as a tool to bring in new clients. I just got an email today for this new service that launched. It seems like an easy way to generate new business now while other things develop. The site is www.simplyprospects.com, I just signed up today so don't have any real feedback yet but I like it so far.

Gerry Oginski
Gerry Oginski

Hi Nancy, I just came across your blog post today. The question shouldn't be what is the best social network for you as an attorney. Instead the question should be what is the best social media available to market yourself?

That's the goal, isn't it? That's why we spend so much time blogging and tweeting and being on Facebook? We all know that social media is King online. It used to be that plain old text and content was King online. Now it's all social media. Well, guess what is king of all social media?

The answer is video. Video allows the viewer to see you, hear you, and a viewer can begin to trust you before they ever walk into your door.

I know there were comments above that talked about off-line social networking as well as online networking. The key is to use all of them to improve the chances that the people in your network will recognize you as an expert and contact you to help them solve their legal problems.

If an attorney is deciding among many different social networks, and you pose your question, the answer, in my opinion should be: video; although I suppose that does not technically fall within a "social network."

Best regards,

Gerry

Jay S. Fleischman
Jay S. Fleischman

Nancy, you hit the nail on the head with one exception - you're presupposing that the only social networks available are online. That's a reductionist view because "social" means more than online. If you want to be social, you need to actually ... well, be social in the old-school sense of the word. Make a phone call to a client for absolutely no reason. Say hi, see how things are going, and leave it at that. Making the connection are the core ideas behind "social media," (yes, I'm using quotation marks on purpose there) and those core ideas run through our entire lives.

Your clients and colleagues are your greatest mouthpieces, and maintaining a connection - be it online or offline - is critical to long-term success. Twitter may disappear tomorrow, and Facebook may go the way of MySpace (who?). The platform is just that - a platform and nothing more. The tools we use to manage our participation in those platforms are inconsequential, and a matter of taste and affinity.

The goal, of course, is to connect with people with whom you have a shared interest and/or common goal. Maintain those connections in any way you see fit, but it is critical to maintain them.

Jayne Navarre
Jayne Navarre

Before I get to "it depends," I give the lawyers I counsel an initial assessment based on potential ROI. It is a tactical assessment of each site measured by global objectives and it gets you past the touchy feely part that lawyers don't respond well to in my experience. (Thanks to @heathermilligan for the inspiration behind this strategy.) Here's what I do.

I lay out a grid. I put potential sites and services that have proven some effectiveness down the left side, i.e. Twitter, FB, LI and YouTube, Open Forum, Connected, Legal OnRamp, JDSupra. I also add more geeky sites like Delicious, Yahoo buzz, reddit, Slideshare, and maybe digg or even flickr. (Which seem to drop below the radar for most legal marketing consultants and in-house folks, but can definitely add value. With the right analytics in place those sites can give you some numbers that may be meaningful.) I put global objectives across the top. The global objectives must have some general degree of ROI in the social media space. They include stuff like brand exposure, client communication, SEO, driving traffic to the firm website, or thought leadership. Then I assess each site or service's strength or weakness in relation to the objective. Then assign a ranking -- good, decent, marginal. poor, or don't waste your time -- in regard to how that site or service meets the particular objective. Volia! You have an objective, tactical road map from which you can build a working plan. Of course at that point, "it depends."

My forthcoming book, social.lawyer, will be published by West Publishing in mid-summer 2010 and I will go into this strategy with more detail. Meanwhile, if you like the idea and use it and it works for you, let me know!
Jayne

Paramjit L. Mahli
Paramjit L. Mahli

Nancy your paragraph beginning with "It Depends...." is brilliant. Legal folks really do need to think about strategy rather than jumping on the latest fads. Don't get me wrong, SM has to be incorporated in business development....but, its the old story of making a carrot cake some us will like a lot more sugar, preferably organic, others will prefer a ton of icing on it. Bottom-line it all works as long the message fits the market and the right vehicles of delivery are utilized. Cheers, P

Maria
Maria

I recommend Hootsuite over Tweetdeck. It has a much better interface and its easier to use, plus it has stats on your tweets and accounts, like a mini Google Analytics for tweets. Also, it's great for people with multiple Tweeter accounts (like a personal one plus one for your blog). The search feature is much better for finding people than the one Tweetdeck uses and its a lot easier to keep track of who's following your tweets and who you're following.

Adrian Dayton
Adrian Dayton

Great post Nancy, you are absolutely right that it always depends.

For example, if you are a corporate lawyer, than a site like LinkedIN is a great fit. If you practice something more cutting edge like IP/Trademark Law, Entertainment Law, or Employment law- than a platform like Twitter makes a ton of sense.

While many lawyers shy away from Facebook for business development, if you are practicing retail law: family law, personal injury law, employment law etc - than Facebook is a great place to engage with individuals talking about what you do.

These are all just different communities and different tools, so you need to make sure you find the right tool for the job.

Mike Reed
Mike Reed

My recommendation? Get a facebook page and a twitter address, and then use an app called "Tweetdeck" - this enables you to monitor "tweets" and facebook comments. I use it and love it. But I also have a LinkedIn page...so I would have to concur with the author...it depends! LOL

Thanks,
Mike

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Hi Gerry...welcome, and thanks for stopping by! Yes, video plays a huge part in what we should all consider as a valid marketing vehicle to help communicate our message. Not everyone will feel comfortable with video, or any of the other tools that are social in nature and allow for feedback, but that's okay. The right tools are right for that person, or that firm, or company based on their goals, what they like to do, what they can learn to do, and what attracts the right clients or referral sources to them. Thanks for joining the conversation. I hope you'll come back often!

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Thanks for your comments Jay. Actually, I was not presupposing that social networks are only online, but just sharing with you my answer to someone who specifically asked about the best "online social network." At the time, we were not discussing face-to-face networking. I agree with you that offline social networking in the traditional sense of the word is the gold that we all strive to find. To be able to look at someone's face in person, to be able to read their body language, see what their eyes are communicating as well as their words, and to be able to talk and smile IRL, in real life, is an experience more valuable than words can express.

Thanks again for stopping by, and for sharing your valuable thoughts!

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Thanks Paramjit. I appreciate your input. Strategy in law firms, and all businesses, should be paid attention to if serious growth and retention is the expectation. We are all working very hard in this economy, so it makes sense to be as strategic as possible so we understand the direction we are heading, as well as setting realistic expectations for ROI. Again, thanks so much for stopping by.

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Thanks Maria. I, too, use Hootsuite for certain tasks. We are lucky to be living in a time when there are more tools than we have time for, meaning we can pick from those that fit our needs, or a combination of several. Thanks for stopping by.

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Thanks Adrian. You've provided even more examples of the varied needs and solutions that are completely dependent on one's practice. I appreciate your comment!

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Thanks Mike! I agree with you about TweetDeck. It is a great Twitter 3rd-party application that helps all of us monitor and prioritize the discussions taking place in social media. I build columns of types of Followers so that I can watch over different groups at different times in order to make sure I don't miss their activity. Thanks again for your comment Mike!

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