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Lawyers and social media : It’s the big 3

Social media and social networking is the all the buzz in the lawyer marketing world. Every place I presented this year on ‘Social Networking for Law Firms’ told me they had the largest attendance, or close to the largest, they’ve ever had. And it’s not my looks.

At the first few presentations I tried to cover a mindmap of social networking tools. I talk fast and that just got me talking faster. Covering 20 different social networking mediums is not the best use of an hour. And when I was catching my breath, a smart attendee would ask, ‘If you were me, what 2 or 3 things would you make use of today and go to a law firm with?’

Good question. Obvious answer for me. Blogs. Twitter. LinkedIn. Use those three effectively and you can take over the world.

In the world of a lawyer that means doing the type of work you love and for the types of clients you enjoy doing it for. If not becoming a rock star in your field, then at least becoming a lawyer’s lawyer. You know, the person you call from time to time as a mentor who always has lots of good work and charges more for time than you could ever imagine charging.

Blogs? Got to have one. How else can you develop a central place where clients, prospective clients, and the influencers (bloggers, media, and social media hounds) pick up on your passion, philosophy, reasoning, and skill? How do you get seen when people search for info? You think I’m picking a pig in the poke by reading a lawyer profile on a website or Martindale? That’s nuts.

Twitter? Single biggest learning, brand building, network expanding, and reputation enhancing tool for me this year. Twitter’s influence is what took me off this blog so much in the last couple months. Twitter is no longer an experiment for me. Like Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble, I’d rather go without my cell phone for a week than Twitter.

Some people will tell you Twitter is a waste of time. Ignore them. Twitter, like everything I’ve discovered on the Internet in this crazy last 13 years, was confusing as all get out when I first tried it. You get less confused by playing with something. Playing for a lot of people is called a waste of time. But you don’t grow by not goofing around. Ask Google.

If you haven’t watched the brief Scoble video interviewing Kawasaki, do so. Guy talks about other things, but Twitter is what amazes him. ‘I think Twitter is, arguably, the most powerful branding mechanism since television.’ Guy says that Alltop would be nothing without Twitter.

LinkedIn? LinkedIn has won the professional social networking/directory space. The race is over. I get invites from professionals inviting me to join their network elsewhere. Other than LinkedIn and Facebook I ignore them.

Lawyers can get into esoteric discussions about the features they like in Plaxo. You can be build gated communities only allowing approved legal professionals ala Legal Onramp or Martindale-Hubbell Connected (first social community trying to create buzz without even launching). They may have some great features, but they do not have 900,000 professionals joining a week. 50 million professionals in hundreds of industries that can easily be met and networked with is way too good to pass up.

People will tell you they have joined LinkedIn and not gotten any new business. Ignore them. Some lawyers wouldn’t know how to take someone out for lunch or a beer. Using LinkedIn effectively (connecting, answers, discussions, groups) is a gift that keeps on giving.

First thing I do when I get a lawyer’s name is Google their name + LinkedIn. A LinkedIn profile tells me more about that lawyer than their law firm profile ever will. I don’t want marketing spin from your copy person.

If your LinkedIn profile has hardly any info and a few connections, that tells me more. That you’re not very innovative, you don’t grasp new technology, that you use less effective ways of networking and client development. If I’m a go getting client with an innovative business I’m passing on you.

New years resolutions? You could do worse than saying I am going to blog, Tweet, and network on LinkedIn.

  • David

    Good post. I’ve been on Twitter heavily for last week [@DavidWms]- came originally for the Mad Men character play – following you and other lawyer/brand guys. Fascinated, I see the power but still pondering how it will translate for most lawyers, specially mainstream litigators.
    But you’ve convinced me I need to complete my LinkedIn profile that is woefully incomplete.

  • http://www.litigationandtrial.com Max Kennerly

    I just don’t know about Twitter. I’m sure it works wonders for Guy and Scoble — the primary business for both of them is to exert influence over the most wired 0.1% of the country, all of whom are on twitter. The perception that they are always on top, always on the bleeding edge, is very important to their business.
    Not so important to my business nor, I believe, to most lawyers. They need (1) a good reputation among clients and lawyers and (2) to be noticed by potential clients.
    I don’t see how Twitter provides any paradigm-shifting benefits to either. It helps you connect in a near-real-time, highly personable manner to maybe a couple dozen people. For most people, it’s microblogging, which is like blogging except without the benefit of showing any sort of expertise or ability, just endlessly links and pithy comments.
    I can see the merits, but, well, I don’t see it as a major part of a lawyer’s marketing strategy.

  • http://www.neocleous.com Stelios Antoniou

    Very interesting article i will research and find more about Twitter. I also believe that social websites are importand. The question is that will this Twitter be helpful to my colleagues.

  • John Corcoran

    This blog posting has convinced me to (finally) give Twitter a shot. I just signed up and am going to see how I like it. I also have a blog at greenlegal.blogspot.com and may be calling on you someday to fancy it up and make a decent blog of it. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • http://kevin.lexblog.com Kevin OKeefe

    Thanks for comments. Twitter is tough to see uses at first and is certainly something than an individual needs to get a feel how they could best use.
    Few thoughts responding to questions/concerns.
    Twitter expands my influence way, way beyond those who twitter. 95% of the people in this country are influenced by 5% in their purchasing and decision making process. No question the info I share and word of me gets passed to people who do not use twitter from the people who do.
    Business lawyers are getting business from meeting people on twitter. That’s fact, not just rumor. One Milwaukee lawyer got 5 business clients in 6 weeks off twitter.
    Twitter allows to meet with and network with lawyers and other business associates. I see a ton of personal and professional development taking place via discussions taking place on twitter.
    In case on Bill Marler, a plaintiff’s trial lawyer who does foodborne illness work, getting on Twitter, he had experts and government officials connecting with him on twitter within a day of when he started. He sees upside in that.
    If I were still practicing, I would be sharing info and links to spread my brand as an authority in a niche and as a way to build a community of like minded people – clients, prospective clients, and influencers of those 2 groups.

  • http://kmspace.blogspot.com Doug Cornelius

    Kevin -
    Great summary. You know I am a big fan of Twitter. My one concern is its business model (or lack of one). They do not have any revenue and I have not heard of any model for generating revenue.
    At some point in the near future, Twitter will change. I am on the ride for now.
    As for ignoring other sites, I am more open than you. In part because a year ago I thought it was two modes: blogs and facebook. Twitter was less useful and LinkedIn was less dynamic. A year from now, our lists of top sites will probably be different again. (Except for blogs)

  • http://reverbconsulting.com Jamie Baker

    Enjoyed your post. The info was good, practical and good to hear you experience with the tools. I am surprised and a little skeptical that lawyers are interested, though. Not to be prejudiced toward lawyers.

  • Viceroy

    What’s Alltop?

  • http://www.litigationandtrial.com/2009/04/articles/the-business-of-law/the-long-view/linkedins-terms-of-use-we-own-all-content-exusers-agree-to-update-our-database-forever/index.html Litigation and Trial – Max Kennerly

    LinkedIn’s Terms of Use: We Own All Content, Ex-Users Agree To Update Our Database Forever

    You can’t click two links on a law practice website these days without getting a good dose of how important it is that lawyers get up to speed with social media. Kevin O’Keefe, head of LexBlog (which hosts this site),…

  • Angie Barbour

    Just wanted to say thanks for the great post. I am currently assisting a couple of smaller law firms with their online image and this was very helpful. Lawyers like to hear lawyers recommend before they themselves become adopters. Thanks!

  • Rafi Arbel

    Kevin,
    I enjoyed meeting and hearing you speak at the Get a Life conference in Chicago.
    With regard to your position that 5% of the people influence the buying habits of the other 95%, I couldn’t agree with you more. That pattern is what Malcolm Gladwell discusses in The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference. Specifically, he explains why word-of-mouth is so powerful an influence.
    Many argue that the thought leaders across a wide range of disciplines are now using twitter to communicate and establish their reputation as a subject-matter expert.
    Determining a metric to measure the ROI of social media may be difficult at this embryonic stage in its development. That said, few who make the necessary investment question its commercial value in establishing a professional on-line presence and creating a personal brand for their practice.