By Gina F. Rubel
Special to the Legal
In a conversation among various legal marketers, we discussed whether or not any law firms are “hitting the proverbial social media ball out of the park.”
We all agreed that there are lots of law firms using social media, some more effectively than others. Many have “branded” their channels. Some are pushing search-engine-optimized content. And some have implemented social media policies. In fact, most Am Law firms have dedicated social media staff. Yet, the majority of them are slow to the mound.
Jayne Navarre of LawGravity said, “I can think of a few firms who appear to be doing the right things, but whether or not they are having success in marketing, business development, competitive intelligence or other uses of social media is hard to tell from the outside looking in.”
Here is a small sample of well-done, strategic social media engagement by law firms:
- Littler Mendelson and Fox Rothschild for their attorney-written blogs on specific niche legal topics;
- Henderson Franklin for its LinkedIn engagement and niche blogs;
- Morrison & Foster for its MoFo Tech blog;
- Troutman Sanders for its blogs, micro-sites and branded Facebook page with blog tabs;
- Fulbright & Jaworski for its quality Twitter activity; and
- Latham and Watkins for its professional and humanized Facebook page where it shares its very well-executed blogs along with other strategic content.
According to Gail Lamarche, the director of marketing for Henderson Franklin , the firm started out with a LinkedIn push in 2007 and now has more than 70 percent of its attorneys with profiles and 90 percent of them engaging. Collectively, they have more than 10,000 connections. The firm then started blogging (it took a year to approve the tactic), and can attribute new business and a positive ROI to the niche blogs. The law firm also uses a social media dashboard to track and measure the results of its efforts.
According to Kevin McKeown, president of LexBlog, “Latham and Watkins is taking a great angle on their Facebook page – it is casual and informal, while still professional. It's mostly firm updates and they’re doing a nice job of humanizing such a big firm.”
With regard to tracking and measuring Twitter engagement, Navarre pointed out that “Fulbright & Jowarski has almost 3,000 followers and a quick look at who the followers are reveals that the list generally contains a targeted population.” She then went to posit that “35,000 tweets times 3,000 followers equals over a million potential impressions.” The question remains whether or not there is a calculable ROI on the Twitter engagement.
For corporate law firms, Navarre said, “The most important thing that law firms can do is to understand how their corporate clients are defending their reputations on social media everyday — proactively and reactively. To do this involves experiencing the medium first-hand because almost every corporation, including local businesses, has some connection to social media.”
For law firms that reach a general consumer audience, including personal injury, family and matrimonial, criminal defense, real estate, employment, workers’ compensation, and wills, trusts and estates, it is important to understand how the use of social media by clients can affect the outcome of legal matters. Turning a blind eye to social media usage by clients is akin to legal malpractice.
Navarre went on to say, “A fundamental aspect of social media is missing for most law firms and prevents them from playing in the big league. Most, if not all, have yet to understand that social media is not just a marketing channel, it’s a communication ecosystem. Why law firms are not willing to open up their blogs or Facebook pages to comments from visitors is beyond me. It’s the equivalent of responding to an email with a fax. As to Twitter, it is rare that a law firm injects ‘conversation’ into their stream, preferring to simply ‘push’ corporate messages. Until law firms face the realities that their corporate cousins face daily, being subject to the social conversation, they will not, in the purest social media sense, ever hit it out of the park.”
Gina F. Rubel is the owner of Furia Rubel Communications, a strategic marketing and public relations agency with a niche in legal marketing. A former trial attorney, she is the author of Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers. Rubel and her agency have won many awards for legal communications, PR, media relations, website and graphic design, strategic planning, corporate philanthropy and leadership. She maintains a blog, is a contributor to National Law Review, The Legal Intelligencer Blog, AVVO Lawyernomics and The Huffington Post. You can find her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter. For more information, go to www.FuriaRubel.com.