By: John D. Barber, Marketing Coordinator, White and Williams LLP
On July 17, 2014, the Legal Marketing Association – Philadelphia Metro Chapter met to discuss “Strategies and Best Practices for Blogging – How Do Marketers Help Lawyers Maximize their Use of Blogs and Social Media Tools". The featured speaker was Kevin O’Keefe, CEO and Publisher of LexBlog, Inc. Kevin spoke and discussed how lawyers can use blogging and social media to grow their business through meaningful relationship and reputation building. Kevin reviewed several key points that he believes lawyers should keep in mind when trying to maximize their business development efforts via blogs and social media.
The Internet has not changed how lawyers get their work. Personal relationships with clients and prospects is still the primary source of business. Blogs and social media have created spaces where the creation and management of those relationships has been accelerated, but building those relationships still takes energy and engagement. Kevin discussed the high percentage of people using social media and the influence it is having on decision making. Lawyers still need to have the personal relationships to realize that influence, but social media is making those relationships easier to form and strengthen.
The benefits of blogging are clear. According to LexBlog, 84% of corporate counsel find blogs credible, 70% of law firms blog, and 40% of law firm blogs report getting clients from their blogs. After seeing these statistics, many firms are jumping into blogging as quickly as they can, aiming to get their content in front of as many eyes as possible. But blogging is not a numbers game, it’s an audience and content game. Having a clearly defined purpose for why the blog exists should be the first step in creating one and a way to start mapping out how the blog will engage the right people. Are you creating content to add value for current clients? Are you using it to promote a niche practice that you think you can expand? Who are the clients you are targeting and what are you looking to get from them? You have to begin with the end goal in mind and everything done with the blog should reflect that goal.
Find the right medium. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all communities where relationships with potential clients can be formed and existing relationships strengthened. Trying to jump in and gain familiarity with the norms of each network, plus using blogs in conjunction with them, can be overwhelming for someone just starting to use them for professional purposes. Attorneys should make a habit of using one social media platform on a daily basis and start having conversations. Building relationships and reputation through blogs and social media is about conversations and authentic engagement. Having meaningful conversations is not only about those attorneys are directly interacting with because while some participate in conversations, many more operate as silent observers and attorneys should be mindful of both.
According to Kevin, in order for lawyers to maximize the value of blogs and social media, they need to focus on "real authentic engagement." This means forming relationships through having meaningful conversations on a medium that they are comfortable using. One frequently overlooked aspect of legal blogging is that the lawyer should be genuinely interested in the topic they are blogging about and discussing on social media. Keeping up to date on all the latest developments on a topic, writing about that topic, and discussing that topic has to be an enjoyable hobby for the lawyer or they are unlikely to devote the time and energy that is necessary to be successful. But, if they are genuinely passionate about a topic, that passion will come through in their writing and conversations, and they will start to build a reputation as a go-to resource on that topic, gaining value from their blog and their social media engagement they are unlikely to get by any other means.