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November 03, 2008

Do You Have A Social Media Strategy? The Good, The Bad and The Time-Sucking

Not too long ago I  wrote a post discussing the term Technoshock. And in it was the following quote:

By way of a blog post from The Great American Lawyer quoting Dennis Kennedy's popular blog comes a very valid statement:

"by the end of 2007, we will be talking about a clear and growing digital divide between technology-forward and technology-backward lawyers and firms and a subtle restructuring of the practice of law." (original post here) 

This post is nearly two years old and it is fair to say this prediction has come true.  If you are a solo who has not embraced technology you are definitely behind and it can be argued you are in a down position in the marketplace as well as financially because of your overhead and because of the demands of your clients.

In my original post, however, I did discuss technology overload, the need one feels to grab every new gadget, then learning and integrating into ones practice. Feeling technology overwhelm..or what is called 'technoshock' is inevitable.  And for good reason.  It is just plain overwhelming and the overwhelm can be both intimidating and debilitating.

Now we are facing shock and overwhelm with the proliferation of social media sites and the push towards becoming social media savvy in order to stay competitive and meet the demands of clients.  Yes, the demands of your clients.

According to Cone Strategy and Communications Agency:

Sixty percent of Americans use social media, and of those, 59 percent interact with companies on social media Web sites. One in four interacts more than once per week.

(All statistics below are discussing the 60 percent who use social media)

“The news here is that Americans are eager to deepen their brand relationships through social media,” explains Mike Hollywood, director of new media for Cone, “it isn’t an intrusion into their lives, but rather a welcome channel for discussion.”

When asked about specific types of interactions, Americans who use social media believe:

  • Companies should use social networks to solve my problems (43%)
  • Companies should solicit feedback on their products and services (41%)
  • Companies should develop new ways for consumers to interact with their brand (37%)
  • Companies should market to consumers (25%)

Hard-to-reach consumers
Men, a much sought-after target in the online space, are twice as likely as women to interact frequently (one or more times per week) with companies via social media (33% to 17%, respectively).

“The ease and efficiency of online conversation is likely a draw for men who historically do not seek out the same level of interaction with companies as women,” says Hollywood.

Likewise, of younger, hard-to-reach users (ages 18-34), one-third believe companies should actively market to them via social networks, and the same is true of the wealthiest households (household income of $75,000+). Two-thirds of the wealthiest households and the largest households (3 or more members) feel stronger connections to brands they interact with online.

It really isn't very hard to extrapolate this data to lawyers and specifically the solo practitioner.  The questions one must ask are:

  • What is my brand? (how do you distinguish yourself)
  • Who is my target client?
  • How do I create a social media strategy which promotes my brand and reaches my target client?

And it's just not as simple as creating a Facebook and LinkedIn profile.

Fortunately, this Thursday we will introduce to you one of the most highly regarded social media experts in this country when with great pleasure we announce her faculty position at Solo Practice University. 

So, stay-tuned. And in my next lengthy post I will discuss some social media strategies to avoid what I call 'time-suck.'

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.


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Comments

Starving Solo

You cite the following:


* Companies should use social networks to solve my problems (43%)
* Companies should solicit feedback on their products and services (41%)
* Companies should develop new ways for consumers to interact with their brand (37%)
* Companies should market to consumers (25%)


In my personal experience, there is another important statistic about these people: Nearly 100% of them are looking for FREE legal services or want the lawyer to work for ridiculously contingent and deferred compensation.

There are some marketing maxims that apply to lawyering, and some that do not. In my experience, internet presence is way overblown. It took a year and a half, more than 600 posts, and who knows how many hours of work on my blog — which has been very favorably cited by other prominent law bloggers and is followed by some prominent layers in my field — to produce its first (and, to date, only) paying client. In the same time, I received dozens, if not scores, of inquiries from people seeking free representation. (Obviously, I am referring to my professional blog, not my anonymous "The Starving Solo" blog.)

People who go online looking for a dentist, a television set, or an accountant expect to pay for those goods or services. But when it comes to lawyers, people (at least individuals, not companies) expect not to put any money up front. Maybe its because legal expenses are usually unexpected and they see so many ads for lawyers advertising "You pay nothing unless we recover money for you" that they figure that applies to any kind of practice.

But then again, I'm starving and bitter.

In any event, I'm looking forward to your posts on how to avoid time-sucking activities. I'm signed up on LinkedIn, LawLink, and Facebook and have joined relevant groups on each of those services, but have not done much else with those accounts because I am afraid of the time suck.

Susan Cartier Liebel

@Starving - First, welcome to the site and thank you for contributing to the discussion.

While I don't know your marketing plan what I can say without even knowing you is just based upon your commitment to your blog and your comment re: other well - regarded professionals have given you favorable recognition, you are not wasting your time.

ROI for investment in blogging is not always measured by direct correlation such as 'saw your website and hired you.'

Your presence on the internet is more than that. Business still derives primarily from referral. However, when you have a significant web presence from a site which is properly optimized and provides quality content, it becomes the calling card your referrals give to others to help them learn about you and make the decision to follow through on meeting with you.

It is just one tool in your marketing arsenal...a very critical one. It does not take away from other marketing efforts you must employ.

In addition, you will always have people contacting you for free legal advice. It is the nature of the beast. However, you have no obligation to deal with these clients and must have a plan to sift through those who are really just seeking free and advice and those who are actually capable of paying but testing you. This is a separate issue involving your screening process and commitment to your business plan.

Your web presence is an important foundational marketing tool. But it is just a tool. It is how you use the tool which makes all the difference.

Starving Solo

Susan,

You make some good points. I'm sure I am missing out on ways to leverage the professional recognition I've received from the blog.

But I got the impression from the statistics you cited (and that I included n my comment) that these people were potential clients. For some, they may be. . . in my case, for the most part, they have not been.

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