Here’s a thought for lawyers looking to attract clients using social media…
Your social web (i.e. the set of social relations that link you to your prospects, clients and peers through the Internet) means that increasingly, your reputation will be determined by the interactions everyone in your social web has with each other.
Various stakeholders within your social web will use different social media platforms or channels to discuss issues such such as the move from billable hours to value-based pricing models, legal service delivery strategies, the value of outsourcing certain non-core activities, integration with other legal experts and, more importantly, the value you provide and services that result from working with you compared to your competitors.
Your reputation will not be based primarily on what you say you do or how good you think you are, but on the perceptions people have of you which, more importantly, they share with others within THEIR social webs.
Malorie Lucich, a spokesperson from Facebook, says “People share, read and generally engage more with any type of content when it’s surfaced through friends & people they know and trust.”
In the good old days, you could get away with a one-way communication strategy via your website or offline communications. Now, social media requires you to do more than that. You have to find out where your prospects look for information and the various channels / platforms they use to ask questions or share content. You then have to have conversations with them – participating in discussions, commenting on other people’s observations and allowing others to review your contributions.
Your credibility will increasingly come from the ratings associated with the information you share and perceptions clients have of the engagement you have with others, on top of the results that come from working with you.
Given this, everything you do is… MARKETING!
You need to take on the mindset that everything you do, both online and offline, has an impact on your brand. Marketing is not a seperate activity you simply turn on and off – it happens all the time…from the moment someone calls you and leaves a message to the content you post on your website, Twitter handle, blog or Facebook page.
This change in mindset requires a radical change in the way many law firms operate. Everybody – partners, legal specialists, secretaries, bid managers and sales people – has to understand this before they can build powerful contact experiences that attract more clients seamlessly.
Some people have talked about the Law Firm Of The Future, primarily focusing on the move away from billable hours to value-based pricing. Such firms will use the power of the Internet, and the various social media platforms available, to build positions of authority within target niches. Their online engagement with others, based on the provision of content they know others are actively looking for so that they can improve their lives, will fit seamlessly into the various other activities carried out within the firm.
For many lawyers, this means a level of engagement with various stakeholders in their social webs that they might not be comfortable with. It also means you need to invest time and resources to get this right as it is a continuous process.
Ultimately, engaging others through social media should result in more clients and should not be something you just tick off your list. You are running a business, and you need to measure the impact it has on your bottom line and on the relationships it has with others in your social web.
Disclaimer: This article originally appeared on http://eriaodhuba.com in July 2011