Social Media

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Posted on April 7, 2010. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Different Strokes for Different Folks”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Different Strokes for Different Folks

During the last week of March, I was privileged to speak at one of my favorite legal conferences, ABA TechShow.

My two presentations focused on educating lawyers about how to create an effective online presence: “Creating Your Online Presence” and “Managing Your Online Presence: The Care and Feeding of the Online You.”

While at TechShow, my new book, “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier” debuted and my co- author, Carolyn Elefant, and I participated in a “meet the authors” session and hosted two “Taste of TechShow” dinners with conference attendees.

An interesting theme became apparent throughout all of the events, both in the form of the audiences’ comments and questions during my presentations, and during conversations over dinner or with attendees who stopped me in the hall to discuss social media. The overarching theme — one that didn’t surprise me — was that different social media plat- forms have had varying levels of effectiveness for different lawyers.

Some find Facebook pages to be extremely effective, while others found them useless. Some claim to have obtained nearly all of their clients via their blogs, while others stopped blogging because they deemed the task a waste of time.
Some say Twitter is a very useful platform, while others long ago abandoned it as a pointless time-suck.

During each of my interactions, I attempted to flesh out the reasons for the varying levels of success with the different forms of social media. It became obvious that success in using social media depends on any number of factors, including the lawyers’ goals, areas of practice and locations.

As I mentioned, the “theme” didn’t surprise me. In fact, it is one of the central premises of our book. As we explain in the introduction: “[L]awyers should use a practical, goal-cen- tric approach to social media, which … enable[s] lawyers to (1) identify social media platforms and tools that fit their practices and (2) implement them easily, efficiently, and ethically.”

In other words, before diving into social media, lawyers first should determine their goals, then make intelligent, informed choices regarding the online platforms that will help them to achieve those goals.

Many goals can be achieved through the use of social media and we devote a chapter to each goal in our book — networking and building relationships; locating information to support areas of practice; gain competitive intelligence and customer feedback; showcase your expertise; brand yourself and your law practice and increase search engine optimization and improve quality of leads.

Once you’ve identified your goals, the next step is to determine what social media platforms are the best fit for your goals, practice areas, location and, most importantly, your personality and comfort level with the platform. If you are uncomfortable with a platform, then your social media efforts likely are doomed to fail from the very start.

Those who find writing a chore most likely will find that blogging is not for them. A video blog, podcast or a completely different type of social media plat- form might be a better choice.

If the informality of Twitter puts you off, then perhaps writing a blog or participating in LinkedIn groups might be a better fit. In some cases, a very basic online presence, including a Web site and online attorney directories, may be the only online platforms you wish to use. There’s nothing wrong with that approach. The bottom line is that there is no right way for a lawyer or law firm to use social media effectively. It’s not a “one size fits all” approach, nor is it possible to throw together quickly a compelling social media presence.

Instead, creating and maintaining an effective online presence is a matter of learning about the platforms available and implementing a tailored, well-thought out social media plan.



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Webinar: Preview of my New Book “Social Media for Lawyers” at 4/6 1pm EST

Posted on April 5, 2010. Filed under: Social Media |

Book cover copy Tomorrow, Tuesday April 6th at 1 pm EST Avvo is hosting a preview webinar of “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier,” my new book co-authored with Carolyn Elefant that will be published later this month by the American Bar Association.

You can pre-order a copy of the book here.

You can learn more about the webinar here.

You can sign up for free here.

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Are blogs vital to a law firm’s online presence?

Posted on March 23, 2010. Filed under: Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Are blogs vital to a law firm’s online presence?”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

*****

Are blogs vital to a law firm’s online presence?

One of the most effective ways to establish an online presence and showcase your legal knowledge is to start a blog.

Many who advise lawyers about creating an effective Web presence consider blogs to be the cornerstone of a law firm’s successful online presence, and for good reason. Blogs are an unparalleled tool for educating clients, indulging in intellectual discourse with colleagues, or staying on top of information.

However, in my opinion, if the very idea of maintaining a legal blog makes you groan, then it’s entirely possible that blogging is not compatible with your interests or your personality. That’s perfectly fine — there are, then, other forms of social networking that may be a better fit for you and your law practice.

In the past, when I’ve expressed such an opinion during online discussions, I’ve been met with vehement disagreement. Many assert that a law blog is a law firm’s “home base” and that an online presence is wholly ineffective without it.

I disagree for two reasons. First, there is a glut of law blogs in the online marketplace now that lawyers are finally, and quite belatedly, realizing the potential marketing value of a “successful” blog. The sheer number of new law blogs flooding the Web is overwhelming, and, as Scott Greenfield aptly explains at his very popular law blog, Simple Justice, only the best and most interesting will endure:

Only the fittest will survive, not because the others are awful necessarily, but because we would be deluged with far more than we could absorb if every blawg that came down the pike was a winner. There still would be a natural vetting process, and peo- ple would still read only the few that capture their interest best… There is a saturation point. There are diminishing returns. There is survival of the fittest.

In other words, there’s simply too much competition. New bloggers face an uphill battle for readers, and only those with a true passion for their subject matter will be able to maintain long-term interest in their blog.

Second, the importance of blogs as a firm’s online presence has decreased quite a bit due to the recent explosion of social media and the vast increase in the number of platforms from which attorneys can participate and share their legal work product. The online landscape is changing rapidly, and while blogs are still an important tool, there are others that are just as effective.

Lawyers can connect with other attorneys and potential clients on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other law-specific platforms such as Martindale-Hubbell Connected. Similarly, lawyers now have available many other means through which they can disseminate and share content via social media. Articles, pleadings and newsletters can be uploaded to JDSupra, Avvo or docstoc — all of which are well-traveled platforms that weren’t in existence just a few short years ago.

That same content then can be showcased and connected to social media profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook, as discussed more fully in my soon-to-be-released “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier,” set to be published by the American Bar Association this spring. (You can view an excerpt of the book here and soon you will be able to pre-order the book here–just enter product code 5110710.)

The bottom line is this: An online presence is vital to success in the 21st century; however, there is no right way to create an effective online presence for a law firm. Instead, determine your goals for online interactions, then determine which platforms best forward those goals, and best fit your personality. You may find that blogging is the ideal platform for your firm. If not, don’t despair. You can create an effective online presence nonetheless.

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Is 2010 the year lawyers will enter the 21st century?

Posted on December 21, 2009. Filed under: Cloud computing, Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Uncategorized, Web 2.0 |

Drlogo11This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Is 2010 the year lawyers enter the 21st Century?”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Is 2010 the year lawyers enter the 21st Century?

We’re probably about five years into a 30-year cycle of trans- formation. … But there is simply no doubt that 25 years from now, when people reflect on the seminal changes of the early days of the century we are about to begin, the impact of networked com- puting will stand in relief.

— Lou Gerstner

Many members of the legal profession simply are ignoring Internet technologies and writing them off as a fad. In doing so, they are refusing to acknowledge a fundamental cultural shift has occurred.

Those lawyers, quite simply, are living in another century. Their failure to acknowledge and learn about the radical changes taking place ultimately will lead to their downfall, as more tech-savvy lawyers take advantage of the cost-effective and time-saving opportunities the new medium provides.

Two of the most important Internet technologies affecting the legal profession in 2010 and beyond are social media or, as I like to call it, “intermedia,” and cloud computing. All lawyers with an interest in keeping their businesses afloat in the coming year would be wise to learn about and selectively use those two tech- nologies in their law practice.

In 2009, “social media” became a household term. Social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter saw an explosive growth as more and more businesses realized the connection between networking online and business profits.

Not surprisingly, the legal field was not immune from the phenomenon. A good percentage of lawyers in the past year attempted to engage in intermedia in one form or another for the first time, as evidenced by a recent study of online networking in the profession.

The 2009 Networks for Counsel Study —available online here —was conducted by Leader Networks on behalf of LexisNexis Martindale Hubbell. Some key findings include:

  • Networking remains critical to the legal industry, yet resource constraints make it more difficult than ever.
  • The use of social networking sites has grown significantly over the past year, with three quarters of all counsel now reporting they are members of a social or professional network.
  • While some counsel take a “wait and see” attitude about the strategic value of the networks they’ve already joined, there is general belief online networking will change the business and practice of law over the next five years.

Like online networking, cloud computing —where applications, software and data are hosted by the cloud computing provider, offsite —also is gaining greater acceptance in the legal field. According to the Am Law Tech Survey 2009, 84 percent of responding law firms now use SaaS, a form of cloud computing, in some capacity. Most are using it for e-discovery or ancillary functions such as human resources, with only 7 percent use it to manage confidential client data.

As the concept becomes more familiar, however, more firms will use cloud computing for services such as document management or law practice management. I predict those numbers will increase exponentially over the next few years as cloud computing providers adapt their products to respond to attorneys’ concerns about the confidentiality and security of their data.

The bottom line is this: Intermedia and cloud computing, once emerging technologies, are being accepted slowly by our profession. Lawyers who choose to ignore them, take heed: You do so at your own risk.

The writing is on the wall; the choice is yours. Learn about emerging technologies and adapt, or your profits will slowly, but surely, disappear.

We’re nearing the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Whenever you’re ready, you’re welcome to join the rest of us in this century —the sooner, the better. We’ll be waiting.

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The evolution of intermedia

Posted on December 15, 2009. Filed under: Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 |


Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “The evolution of intermedia.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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For many lawyers, one of the greatest deterrents to interacting online is a mistaken impression that online networking is a purely “social” endeavor.

After all, as a profession, lawyers tend to take themselves very seriously, and socializing most certainly is a waste of their time —especially since attorneys tend to carefully track and bill each and every moment of the work day.

Our profession’s misapprehension regarding the interactions forming the very basis of Web 2.0 platforms is understandable. After all, online interaction is referred to commonly as “social media,” a name that implies the vast majority of online interaction consists of gossip and inane conversation. That, simply, is an inaccurate characterization. Online interaction runs the gamut, of course, but an increasingly large segment of interaction involves business and professional endeavors.

It is for that reason so many influential people in the online space are increasingly expressing displeasure with the term “social media,” a limiting, simplistic and inaccurate term. Web 2.0 platforms with built-in interactivity such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn are being used more widely to conduct business, in promotional efforts, advertising and networking as well as hiring.

Accordingly, “social media” is much too shallow of a term. It fails to encompass the depth of online professional interaction and the sheer number of business transactions that occur on the “social” Web on a daily basis, as evidenced by recent
statistics regarding the increasing use of “social media” platforms by companies and consumers:

  • Social Media has overtaken porn as the top ranked activity on the Web.
  • 80 percent of companies are using LinkedIn as a primary tool to find employees.
  • 25 percent of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content.
  • More than 1.5 million pieces of content (Web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared on Facebook daily.
  • There are more than 200 million blogs online.
  • 34 percent of bloggers post opinions about products and brands.
  • 78 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations.
  • Only 14 percent of consumers trust advertisements.

Sources for those statistics can be found at the Socialnomics blog.

The statistics support the premise of the following quote, one of my favorites, from a February article published by Business Week “Debunking Six Social Media Myths”:

For companies, resistance to social media is futile. Millions of people are creating content for the social Web. Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time. If your business isn’t putting itself out there, it ought to be.

Of course, as I’ve already pointed out, lawyers continue to resist online engagement, in part because the perceived “social” aspect of online interaction seems silly and superfluous. For that reason, I propose that in the future the term “intermedia” be used, instead of “social media.” It is a more serious, palatable term — one that lawyers and other professionals resistant to emerging technologies more likely would accept.

Intermedia also better encompasses the depth and breadth of online interactions. It is another word for “interactive media,” which I view as the next —or, perhaps, current —stage of the Internet. Intermedia is where the world interacts, interconnects, interfaces, interweaves, intervenes and intersects. It is intergenerational, the intermediate, or next step, between what was and what will be. “Inter” means “put to rest” —and intermedia effectively has “put to rest” or
ended old school, one-way broadcast media.

The language used to describe new concepts is important because it shapes our dialogue and perceptions. The terms used to discuss the Internet and online interactions should evolve as quickly as the medium itself. Otherwise, the adoption of emerging technologies will be delayed —especially in fields like the legal profession, which traditionally are skeptical and suspicious of new technologies and therefore are slow to adapt.

The terminology used to discuss the phenomenon of online interaction must change, and quickly. The use of “intermedia” or a similar term in place of “social media” is the first, and most important step, in that evolution.

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Change is good

Posted on November 24, 2009. Filed under: Cloud computing, Collaboration, Portability, Practice Management, Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 |

Drlogo11This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Is cloud computing really less secure than the status quo?”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Change is good

Last week I attended on a press pass the Canadian Bar Association’s “Law Firm Leadership Conference.”

The conference’s theme was “Change Management” and, accordingly, the focus was on ways in which law firms can innovate, and thereby alter, the course of theprofession.

One of my all-time favorite legal scholars, Richard Susskind, spoke at the conference, one of the main reasons I chose to attend it. I’m very glad that I did. All in all it was an enjoyable and educational conference, and I left Toronto with a number of thought provoking issues to ponder.

First, should the leaders in our field be benevolent custodians or jealous guardians of the profession? When phrased that way, the answer seems obvious: Of course we want to be benevolent custodians with only the best intentions, carefully making choices that will improve our profession for the generations that inherit it.

The reality, however, is just the opposite. Lawyers tend to carefully guard the profession and are reluctant make changes that might alter the way things have always been done. We revere precedent and distrust change. As a result, we cling to the past, making decisions about technological changes and innovation that ultimately harm our profession in the long run.

That is a mistake since, as Susskind aptly noted, any lawyer who takes the time to research emerging technologies would wholeheartedly agree that these new platforms fundamentally change the practice of law. Attorneys who deny that fact are reacting emotionally, rather than intellectually.

New technologies have the potential to radically alter the ways in which legal services are delivered to consumers. Forward thinking attorneys are embracing virtual law offices, law practice management cloud computing platforms, social media and collaboration tools. Innovative practitioners understand the importance of using knowledge management to alter the consumer experience first, and the law firm’s systems second.

There has been much talk in recent years about pricing legal services differently, including the death of the billable hour and the increase of flat fee services. As Susskind stressed, however, the key to change is to deliver legal services effectively and efficiently. Ultimately, it boils down to delivering value to legal consumers by working differently, rather than through pricing services differently.

The key to working differently is the use of emerging technologies. To do so, the legal profession as a whole must embrace technological change. Attorneys must make it a priority to learn about and understand new technologies, then incorporate them into their practices.

As another conference speaker, Patrick Lamb, noted, law firms must change their culture. That’s not simply a matter of using one or two new technologies, but a matter of changing attitudes. He emphasized that law firms’ youngest members are the key to accomplishing the attitude makeover required.

Generation Y attorneys are less attached to the status quo. They are part of the connected generation and grew up with the Internet. For them, it’s not business as usual: They understand how to use the new technologies and are not averse to change. These attorneys are the future and the inheritors of the profession. Law firms should be generous benefactors and give their younger attorneys the opportunity to lead the charge to change.

Because, as we all must understand —change is good.

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Tricks for efficient online interaction

Posted on November 2, 2009. Filed under: Internet 101, Productivity, Social Media, Web 2.0 |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Tricks for efficient online interaction”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Tricks for efficient online interaction

Many lawyers understand the importance of networking, but let’s face it — running a law practice takes time and no one ever seems to have enough of it. In fact, the lack of time is one of the main reasons lawyers offer as an excuse to avoid online networking.

If you use the right timesaving tools, however, you will be able to streamline your online networking experience, so that the time you spend online will be more effective and efficient.

The first thing you need to do is use Firefox as your default Web browser. The tools you can add to the browser bar will make your life online much simpler.

My first add-on recommendation? Ditch Google Reader as the RSS feed reader and switch to Feedly (www.feedly.com). Feedly pulls the feeds you subscribe to using Google Reader and presents them to you in a far more user-friendly interface. Feeds appear in a magazine-like view that is much easier on the eyes and sorting through new items is simple and intuitive.

Feedly doesn’t stop there, however. It also allows blogs posts and articles appearing in your feed to be shared quickly and easily. Choose the appropriate button in the tool bar appearing at the top of each item in your feed and, with the click of a button, you can share content on Twitter or Facebook. Feedly automatically creates the body of the post and shortens the link for you. E-mail the content to a client or colleague to whom it might be of interest, add it to your delicious bookmarks or clip it to Evernote.
Feedly also has a new experiment called “Karma,” which allows tracking of the links you’ve shared on Twitter. You can see which links are most popular, how many times people have re-tweeted your links and how many times people clicked through to the content.

Finally, Feedly allows content to be shared quickly via e-mail or Twitter as pages are viewed on the Web via a mini-tool bar appearing at the very bottom left corner of each Web page.
Another favorite tool is Shareaholic (www.shareaholic.com),also a Firefox browser toolbar add-on. Like Feedly, Shareaholic automatically generates the body of each post and shortens links, allowing you to quickly share content on different Web platforms. One of the benefits of Shareaholic is the breadth of networking sites it supports, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendfeed, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Evernote, delicious, Diigo and Twine.

Should you decide to test the waters and begin interacting on Twitter, a number of platforms and tools are available to make your Twitter experience far more pleasant.
Three very popular desktop Twitter platforms are Tweetdeck(www.tweetdeck.com), Seesmic (www.seesmic.com) and Tweetie (www.ate bits.com/tweetie-mac). The platforms offer different features that simplify your Twitter user experience. Tweetree (www.tweet ree.com) and Tweetvisor (www.tweet visor.com) are two online Web interfaces that accomplish the same goal.

Another really useful Firefox add-on is Mr. Tweet (https://addons.mozilla.org/enUS/firefox/addon/12647), which once installed automatically provides useful information about your followers on Twitter, in turn allowing you to efficiently sort through and maintain your relationships there.
Microsoft Outlook users should be aware of Twinbox (www.techhit.com/TwInbox/twitter_plugin_outlook.html), an add-in that seamlessly integrates Twitter and Outlook, making it easy for you to manage a Twitter account directly from Outlook.

Twitter applications can be used on your smartphone to keep up with the conversation stream. Popular iPhone Twitter applications include Tweetie (www.tweetie.com), Tweetdeck (www.tweetdeck.com) and Twitterific (www.twitterific.com).
Arguably, the most popular BlackBerry applicationis Twitterberry (www.twitter berry.com). Other Black-Berry applications to consider are Twibble (www.twibble.com) and Tiny Tweeter (www.tinytweeter.com). If the Palm Pre is your smart phone of choice, Tweed (http://tweed.pivotallabs.com/) is a good Twitter application to consider.

Finally, Social Mention (www.socialmention.com) is a great, free resource that allows real-time searches of online social networking sites for mentions of you, your business, your competitors, key words relevant to an area of practice or other topics. Search results can be filtered to locate mentions from certain types of sites, such as Twitter, blogs, or video sites such as YouTube. Search results also provide interesting data about the results, including whether the sentiment expressed is positive or  negative.
Online networking does not need to be an overwhelming experience. With the proper tools, online interactions can be made more efficient, and more streamlined than you ever dreamed possible. Put these tools to use and make online networking work for your law practice.

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Creating an effective online presence for lawyers, Part 2

Posted on September 29, 2009. Filed under: Networking, Social Media, Web 2.0 |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Creating an effective online presence for lawyers, Part 2.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Creating an effective online presence for lawyers, Part 2

Last week I spoke at an Incisive Media conference in New York City, “Social Media Risks and Rewards.”

It was an extremely interesting conference, attended primarily by general counsel of large corporations. The topics discussed varied, but focused on the use of social media to promote brand names and products, and the legal issues encountered when doing so.

As I listened to the speakers discuss large-scale social media campaigns, it occurred to me that using social media to promote a law practice is fundamentally different from promoting goods, online products or Web sites.

Lawyers seek to promote their professional services and increase the strength of their online presence whereas the underlying goal for most product promotions is to gain a large scale following of evangelists who will spread the word organically about your product. Lawyers, accordingly, need to approach social media with specific goals in mind.

The first step to creating an effective presence online is to set up profiles at online directories and social media platforms, as I explained in last week’s column.

The next step is to determine your goals, so that you may participate in social media in a targeted, efficient manner.

Blogs are one of the best ways to target your efforts, as long as you enjoy the process of writing. Blogs can showcase an attorney’s expertise and increase his or her rankings in search engine results.

Search engines seek out and rank higher Web pages that provide relevant content and are  linked frequently to by other Web sites, and updated regularly. Blogs satisfy all of those requirements.

Naturally the writer would use relevant key words when focusing on subjects relevant to his or her areas of practice, recent events, news items and posts from other blogs or cases. When the blog is linked to other bloggers’ content, those bloggers likely will return the favor.

A blog can be set up rather easily through the use of services such as Typepad.com or WordPress.com, but assistance from a company that sets up and designs legal blogs, such as G2webmedia.com or Lexblog.com, also can be sought. Blog posts
can be publicized on the attorney’s other social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Those who aren’t comfortable with the idea of blogging can still participate in social media by using online legal forums to expand a professional network and/or obtain information relevant to specific areas of practice. A large variety of practice area groups are active on both Facebook and LinkedIn.

Another option is to join online networking sites devoted to the legal field, such as Lawlink (lawlink.com), Martindale-Hubbell’s “Connected”(martindale.com/connected) and the American Bar Association’s legal network, “Legally Minded” (legallyminded.com).

An online presence can be expanded by distributing content and showcasing work product by uploading documents to JDSupra.com. Filings, decisions, articles, newsletters, blog entries, presentations and media coverage all can be uploaded.

After that, JDSupra makes it easy to distribute the content to any profiles you’ve already set up on LinkedIn, Facebook and, if applicable, Twitter.

Twitter can be a useful social media platform for some attorneys, depending on their goals. For those with a national client base, Twitter is ideal. If your potential client base is local and you live in a large metropolitan area, Twitter also may work for you.

Twitter is a great place to increase a professional network and obtain cutting-edge information relevant to a law practice or other areas of interest. Attorneys on Twitter can interact with other attorneys worldwide, CEOs of major companies, innovators and thought leaders in all professions, as well as editors and journalists for major publications.

The key to Twitter success —or success with any other social media platform —is to set aside a small block of time each day to participate. When you do interact, be genuine, honest, kind and generous. Don’t be afraid to share your personal interests, such as sports, food and wine or any other hobbies. Doing so makes you more personable and approachable.

It’s not difficult to create an effective online presence for a law practice. Although an attorney’s strategies may differ from those used to promote national brands or products, targeted social media interaction can be a very effective way to network and promote a practice.

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Creating an effective online presence for lawyers, Part 1

Posted on September 23, 2009. Filed under: Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 |

Drlogo11
This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Creating an effective online presence for lawyers, Part 1.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

******

I’m going to be speaking about lawyers and social media at a number of conferences over the next few months in Rochester, New York City and Los Angeles.

For that reason, this topic has been on my mind recently. From past speaking engagements, I’ve learned lawyers are becoming increasingly curious about social media, but know very little about it. Most law firms understand the importance of having an online presence, but are wary of “social networking” and, as a result, have only a static Web page for their law firm.

I want to share how a firm can expand its online presence by using free Web directories and networking sites. Next week I plan to tackle how to determine whether it makes sense for a firm’s attorneys to participate in social and professional networking sites and forums, and which ones will help to achieve specific goals.

Lawyers with a static Web site as their online presence are missing out. In just a few hours they could easily increase their reach online by taking advantage of many effective and free online resources, directories and social and professional networks.

The first step is to create profiles for every lawyer in the firm at a number of leading, free online lawyer directories.

The profiles simply are online resumes. By creating online profiles, a firm can piggyback on the larger Web site’s SEO (search engine optimization), and thereby appear higher in search engine results, all at no cost to the firm.

The three most prominent directories are Avvo (http://www.avvo.com), the Justia and Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School legal directory (https://lawyers.justia.com/signup and Findlaw’s attorney directory (http://flcas.find law.com/rpu).

I regularly receive client inquiries as a result of having an attorney profile on those Web sites. It’s free to create a profile and only takes a few minutes to do so. Every lawyer at the firm should be listed at those sites.

Firms also should encourage every lawyer to create and maintain profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook is a global social networking site that allows anyone to join. Individual lawyers can connect with people they know, including those with whom they have lost contact. In other words, after creating a simple profile in a matter of minutes, a lawyer can connect with everyone from his or her past, including former classmates, long lost relatives —you name it. The platform also is quite good at locating people whom you might know based on the people with whom you already have a connection.

Why is that a good thing for lawyers? Because they have a long lost network that spans the globe! People who know you but have lost track of you over time now will
know you’re an attorney. You will receive messages from old friends and from relatives seeking legal counsel — either for themselves or on behalf of a friend in your town.

Breathing life into those lost connections is priceless, and Facebook is a unique platform that makes it possible. Do not pass up the opportunity.

All lawyers in the firm also should have a LinkedIn profile, simply an online resume that takes only a few minutes to create. The platform then assists in locating professional contacts

Even if nothing else is done with this platform, a LinkedIn profile is a worthwhile addition to a firm’s online presence. Each attorney’s profile appears near the top of search engine results because of LinkedIn’s excellent SEO.

There are several networking aspects to Facebook, LinkedIn and other online platforms, if that is deemed a worthwhile use of time.

Next week I’ll share how to determine just what types of online participation will be most beneficial to achieving goals set for you and your law firm

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Promote Legal Conferences With Social Media

Posted on September 1, 2009. Filed under: Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Promote Legal Conferences With Social Media.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Promote Legal Conferences With Social Media

Attendance has been down this year for many legal conferences, in large part due to budget cuts at law firms due to the economic recession.

Legal conference planners need not despair: Individual lawyers can be convinced to cough up their own money to attend upcoming conferences. That can be accomplished by thinking outside of the box, and delivering highly-targeted, effective promotions directly to lawyers through non-traditional media.

Specifically, conference organizers must utilize social media to reach lawyers. Many have started to do so by using their organization’s social media presence.

The strategy is not particularly effective, however, since attorneys who are following an organization likely are already planning to attend the conference. You are preaching to the choir when you disseminate information about the conference to those attorneys.

A more forward-thinking approach that will pay off in the long-run —both for this year’s conference and for future years’ events —is to set aside a small portion of your advertising budget to engage the promotional services of a handful of legal professionals with a strong online presence and following.

Just offering such an influential group a free pass to the conference isn’t enough to convince them to attend.

A few legal organizations have taken that approach over the last year, and met with minimal success.

The vast majority of legal influencers online already have free access to many conferences, either because they’re speaking or are eligible for press passes as a result of their online, and offline, reporting. To ensure this group’s attendance at, and promotion of, your conference, you need to offer to pay for, at the very least, their transportation and hotel expenses.

In return, you can expect them to promote the conference in the weeks preceding it, cover the conference via their blogs and Twitter, and publish articles and blog posts about the conference after it ends.

The benefit of engaging the promotional services of this group of online leaders is priceless: They already have large followings in the legal community because people find them to be interesting and thought-provoking. Many are influencers in the legal field and people read their tweets, blogs, articles and books for the latest, cutting edge assessment of legal issues and trends.

Their followers listen to them, respect them, like them and, most importantly, are receptive to them.

When lawyers with a strong online presence promote and attend a conference, their followers are more likely to attend the same conference and also will help to spread the word about the conference. You should request that the handful of lawyers you’ve retained for this purpose promote the conference in tandem, months ahead of the conference, thereby reaching an even larger audience of potential attendees.

The online buzz that can be created by online legal influencers is unparalleled, especially if you ensure that a few of the people whom you retain have a strong Twitter following in the legal community. (A list of can be found at http://legalbirds.justia.com/birds/all/all/cc/list).

Their tweets about the conference will be re-tweeted multiple times, increasing the likelihood that the conference hashtag will become a trending topic on Twitter.

As any good conference organizer also knows, legal conferences are about more than just learning. Attendees also expect to network with their peers, and have fun.

Lawyers with strong online followings facilitate the social aspect of conferences in ways never possible before social media became popular.

They can create buzz by organizing after-hours events via social media. Such gatherings allow people who have followed the online influencers the opportunity to get to know them better, and to interact with other attendees with similar interests. Such events tend to have large turnouts and continue on well into the evening. Social barriers are overcome quickly due to people’s familiarity with one another through social media, and a good time, always, is had by all.

The bottom line? If you’re able to secure the attendance of a handful of online legal influencers at your conference, you will reap the benefits many times over.

Make your conference the place to be. Be creative, mix things up a little and use social media to your advantage. If you do it correctly, your conference will be the one no one will want to miss.

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