Lawyers and law firm marketing professionals are always asking me how do I measure the ROI on social media.

“I want to believe in social media, but I need a tool to measure its success before I put my butt on the line at my law firm and make the case for social media as a business development tool.”

With the Internet, law firms have come to rely on click throughs, search engine rankings, and traffic to our website as measurements of success. But are such measurements really indicative of success or failure when it comes to developing business as a lawyer or law firm?

Author and marketing consultant, Chris Brogan, has a good post this morning on why measuring success using social media isn’t always so cut and dried.

The reason, per Brogan, is that relationships are a non-measurable event.

…[H]ow will you track your relationship-building efforts? (Hint: you can, but it might feel weird). Instead of going onto Twitter and just randomly hitting the retweet button a few times and posting a few ads for your business, start thinking of this tool as another part of your relationship management efforts. And every time I say “Twitter,” replace that with Google+, Facebook, and maybe LinkedIn, depending on your industry and whether they’re especially active in updating.

After reading Brogan’s post, I discovered, via Twitter, an article by New York City Attorney Bill Ferreira in the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s Law Practice Today entitled ‘Developing Your Personal Brand, One Personal Relationship at a Time.’

Personal relationships are what drive our profession. Whether it’s making contact with a prospective client, receiving a referral from another attorney or simply meeting a new colleague, it’s all about developing the personal relationship and establishing a certain level of trust.

Despite the emphasis being placed on developing a lawyer’s online presence and connecting via social media, Ferreira says it still comes down to connections and relationships.

…[U]nless you have the basic interpersonal skills and techniques associated with traditional networking and business development, then even the best online presence and all the online contacts in the world won’t help you translate that into additional business.

There should be no disconnect when the principals of personal relationships and trust are carried to the online universe, per Ferreira.

  • Be a great listener.
  • Understand The Needs of Those You Are Trying to Connect With
  • Be Yourself
  • Work Towards Developing Solid Relationships, Not Sales Pitches
  • Get Involved

Sure, measure the amount of time you as a lawyer and law firm spend on social media. You already account for your time in business development efforts offline.

But measure the ROI of social media in a real and meaningful way. Base it on developing relationships and trust.