35% of all adults age 65 and over are now using social media. This per Business Insider citing a report last month by the Pew Research Center.

This is three times what was reported in 2010, when only 11% of seniors said they were social media users. Let alone 2005 when only 2% of adults 65 and over were using social media.

The numbers jump to 50% for Americans age 50 to 64. And to 75% for those 40 to 45,

Older law clients social media

In addition to sharing links and photos, the Pew report found that seniors use social media to get news and information as well as to share information with their growing network of contacts.

The take away for as a lawyer should be obvious. You need to be using social media to network, share your insight and stay connected with clients, prospective clients and referral sources.

Sadly, speaking to lawyers there’s a sense of bravado from lawyers who tell me they don’t use social media. Many tell me they don’t have the time. Some say they don’t understand social media. Others talk of ethical and liability limitations. And some think it’s childish.

Fact is social media has become part of the fabric of our society. Social media moves news and information, including articles and blog posts by lawyers, as well enables Americans to network with their growing number of contacts – contacts that should include you as a lawyer,

Image courtesy of Flickr by The Elite Ayrshire Business

 

If you are looking to have your blog posts shared on social media, you best provide mobile viewers an exceptional user experience.

A new Forrester survey of 37,000 consumers found that mobile users are more likely to share a branded post than desktop users. While 28% of desktop users share branded posts that rises to 40% of tablet users and 36% of smartphone users.

In addition, almost half (49%) of tablet and 46% of smartphone users engage with corporate content via likes, shares or comments, compared with just 37% of desktop social users.

Helen Leggatt (@eBizReporter), my source for the report, picks up on another key point for lawyers and law firms.

…[M]obile users are more positive about their interactions with brands on social sites – for example by thinking it’s cool to be associated with a brand on social media and viewing a “like” as a way to show support for a company.

Having folks out sharing your insight and passion across social media so as to extend your brand as an authority is a wonderful experience. They’ll share your blog posts as well as other items you share.

To get the job done today means delivering on mobile. That means getting your blogs on responsive design/development and personally using mobile regularly.

Responsive alone is not enough, get professional design and development help from people who know mobile. Way too many lawyers want to lead with their brand and photo’s even though it makes their blogs look lame and handicaps the experience for mobile users.

You need to use mobile to get the mobile experience. Get an iPad and use it all the time for consuming, sharing, and commenting. Use your iPhone or Android smartphone to do the same.

Make note of the sites you like most on mobile. For me, they’re Mashable, GigaOm, TheNextWeb, and ReadWriteWeb.

You’ll see changes to my blog soon to reflect mobile first, desktop second. For consumption. And for publishing.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Mike Coghlan

If you’re looking for social media to generate traffic to your law blogs and law firm websites, you ought be thinking Facebook.

According the latest report from Shareaholic, Facebook accounted for 23.39 percent of social referrals to websites in the second quarter of 2014. This represents a 10 percent gain since March and an incredible 150 percent gain from a year ago.

Twitter and LinkedIn, social networks often looked to by law firms for social referrals, generated 1.14 percent and .04 percent (last of the social networks measured) of social referrals, respectively.

Facebook was the only one of the eight social networks Shareaholic analyzed to drive a greater share of traffic at the end of the second quarter than it did at the end of the previous quarter. Pinterest and StumbleUpon were the only networks to show gains year over year.

Facebook’s quirkiness, informality, and community appears to be driving the referrals. From David Cohen, publisher of AllFacebook, my source:

A social network is only as good as the connections it fosters and supports. Fortunately, for Facebook, users depend on the ubiquitous social network to communicate individually and wholesale with friends. In fact, 64 percent of Facebook users visit the site on a daily basis, according to Pew Research.

Users are always plugged into their News Feeds and, without realizing, tend to be highly invested in frequent check-ins and lightweight touch points with their connections. Simply put, Facebook is winning the referrals war because users can’t seem to get enough of content shared by close friends and relatable acquaintances.

Facebook’s rich and somewhat unpredictable feed promises anything but monotony. Multi-form media (short posts, long rants, link previews, unformatted links without previews, etc.) offers inconsistency, which makes it impossible to scroll far without at least a handful of posts catching your eye.

What’s it all mean for you guys?

You cannot ignore Facebook. No matter that you don’t mix business and personal. No matter that you don’t like Facebook’s privacy rules. And no matter that you don’t have the time to figure it out.

Facebook will likely prove to be as important to Americans as a cell phone and a newspaper. It’s how we stay connected. It’s how we receive news and information.

Like it or not, Facebook is now a very big deal as far as building relationships and a reputation as a lawyer.

More so, per a report (pdf) from Hinge Research Institute on how purchasers check out professional services firms before hiring one.

Before the Internet, things were pretty simple, buyers of professional services, including legal services, turned to colleagues and references. Buyers talked to individuals they trusted or others in the industry for information on a professional’s strengths and weaknesses.

Buyers of professional services still use referrals and references, but the amount of information available online means buyers now have options in evaluating professionals.

Hinge surveyed 1,028 buyers of six types professional services, including accounting and legal, to find out how buyers were checking out sellers today.

Online resources dominated with websites (first), Googling the professional (second), and social media (fourth). Asking friends or colleagues (third) and talking to a reference (fifth) no longer dominated, and arguably took a backseat.

What does this mean for you as a lawyer or law firm? First, it’s imperative that you get with it in creating an internet identity that’s at least the equal of your offline identity.

Second, a website alone is not enough, buyers of legal services are checking you out with what they can find on Google and social media.

They’re not necessarily looking for dirt, they’re looking for evidence of your skill, passion, and reputation. Can they see your writings via blogging? Can they see others sharing and citing what you’re saying (blogging)? Do they see that you regularly speak at conferences and are quoted by the media?

Third, remember that when prospective clients turn to a colleague or a reference, as they did in the past and still do, those folks are in turn influenced by your Internet identity. No one lives in a vacuum uninfluenced by the Internet.

A combination of skepticism, laziness, and comfort with the legal industry’s slowness to adapt has held lawyers and law firms back in the use of social media.

Reports like this one from Hinge ought to serve as a wake up call that social media is no longer a option for lawyers and law firms.

Americans are increasingly getting their news via social media according to the latest study from the Pew Research Journalism Project.

The percentage of a respective social network’s users who get news from the network varies dramatically with Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook leading the way.

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You also need to look at the percentage of Americans using each social network to appreciate the network’s impact on news delivery.

Facebook is by far the largest social networking site (64% of U.S. adults). With half using the network to receive news, this means 30% of the general population receive news via Facebook.

YouTube is next in terms of usage, at 51% of U.S. adults. Though only a fifth of its users receives news there, this amounts to 10% of the population.

Twitter reaches only 16% of the adult population, but with half using it for news this results in 8% of adult Americans receiving news via Twitter.

Only 2% of the population use Reddit for news. Though 62% of Reddit users use the network for news, only 3% of adults use the network.

LinkedIn, along with Twitter being of keen interest to law firms, has only 3% of its users using the site for news. With only 19% of adults using LinkedIn, you have less than a percent of Americans using LinkedIn for news. Admittedly law firms may still find this heavily business dominated audience attractive.

Of particular note for law firms is the demographic of U.S. Adults receiving news via social. It trends towards the higher educated, higher income, and 30 to 64 year olds. We’re not talking kids.

We’re talking the audience law firms and lawyers ought to be establishing a reputation for and relationships with.

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U.S. Adults receiving news via social networks still use traditional media for news, television and newspapers included. In fact, the study found those getting news via social are more apt to get news everywhere – others are passing on news altogether.

Bottom line though Americans are shifting in how they receive news. Their news is coming via someone they trust via social networks.

Why is this good news for lawyers and law firms that blog? Blogs move in large part through social networks. Blogs cover niches, in some cases ultra niches, whose posts are shared via social by a strong following of readers with a keen interest in the niche.

Articles, newsletters, white papers, and the like, though they could be shared socially do not get the traction of blogs when it comes to being shared across social networks. The content is not as timely. Influencers are not getting them via RSS feeds, from which a post can be shared in second. Such content is not being curated into ultra popular news applications such as Zite and Flipboard, again which content can be shared socially immediately.

Perhaps most importantly, blogs grow influence. Influential lawyers get their content shared.

A law blogger sharing insight, commentary, and opinion on a niche builds a reputation as a trusted and reliable authority. That influence has always grown by word of mouth. Now we’re having that influence measured by Google via Google authorship and Google+.

Ten years ago no one could have imagined a society where news and information would move via social networks. It’s happened.

As a result, good law bloggers are going to become the equal of, or surpass, traditional legal publishers in news distribution.

20131102-221453.jpg Per a study released by LinkedIn, over three quarters of businesses using content marketing are publishing with blogs.

No surprise that short form social media, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, at 87%, lead the way in tactics used by content marketers. It takes a minute or two to share something on short form social media.

Articles on websites (81%) and email newsletters (80%) are just ahead of blogs. Pretty amazing in that businesses laughed off blogs as a serious business development and marketing tool only six or seven years ago.

Where are law firms compared to businesses in general? They’re just ahead, using the Am Law 200 as a guide. 78% of those firms (alll of which use some form of content to market) are publishing blogs. This from the LexBlog Network’s State of the Am Law 200 Blogosphere released earlier this year.

Why are law firms increasingly selecting blogs as their publishing platform of record? Any number of reasons.

  • Ease of use and time savings. Having marketing professionals get content on websites and distribute email newsletters takes time and is not always easy. Lawyers can log in and publish to blogs directly. The first large law firms publishing with the LexBlog Network did so because they wished to get away from the headaches of email newsletters.
  • Blogs are looked at as more credible sources for news, insight, and information. Just look at how blogs are cited by the media and other blogs. And even read by clerks in our federal court system – even Supreme Court clerks.
  • Blogs are more apt to be shared socially.
  • Blogs do exceedingly well on search.
  • Lawyers and law firms are getting business and growing revenues as a result of blogging.
  • Use of dissemination and reading on mobile.

Don’t be surprised in the coming year to see blogs the preferred publishing platform of record for marketers, law firms included.

Image courtesy of Flickr by mkhmarketing.

Mashable’s Taylor Casti (@thecoppergirl) reports that one in five Americans can’t access Facebook at work – at least through their networked computer.

Facebook is not the only social network employers are blocking block in an attempt to boost productivity. Twitter is a close second, with 15.1% reportedly blocking the site. One in ten employers even block access to LinkedIn.

Here’s a Statista/Mashable graph showing the findings of a survey of over a 1,000 employers. 20130925-185748.jpg Are there any law firms that attempt to block access to social networks? I say attempt as every employee has independent access to social networks via their smart phone or tablet.

In 2009, I blogged about reports that over 50% of law firms were blocking various social media, including blogs (not sure how they did it), Facebook, and Twitter. Some firms even bragged about doing so.

I’d like to think firms have stopped blocking access to social networks and blogging for any number of reasons, most of all for increased productivity and revenue. Firms pick up a greater knowledge network through their employees personal networks. Reputations are enhanced and relationships nurtured in an accelerated fashion.

Not all law firms breed trust though. I can think of more than one lawyer I worked with who would have presumed everyone using social networks was wasting the firm’s time.

What are you seeing? Are there law firms who still try to block access to social networks?.

Social Most important for Google rankings
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Social is now the most important Google search ranking factor, per online marketing specialist, Jeff Woelker (@jeffwoelker).

Woelker cites an in-depth study by Search Metrics which found Seven of the top eight factors associated with high search rankings social in nature.

I know, it sounds counterintuitive to what we’ve been hearing for years. From keywords, to page titles, to link building, the emphasis has been on everything but social. Now, however, a major groundswell is happening that is forcing search marketers to rethink the way they have been approaching search for years. As more and more search marketers were gaming the system and creating content only geared towards bots and crawlers, the web and Google were becoming a vast wasteland of unusable content farms and link pollution, some of which still remains today.

With Google’s ranking algorithm changes, the company is incorporating more human elements and vetting within the machine and using social as a way to signal what’s important and what is not. And Google only continues to move in this direction. Many marketers have dismissed or pushed aside Google+ as a second-rate social network only meant for niche audiences. As you can see in the chart, however, Google is going to be taking content shared at Google+ much more seriously and forcing marketers to pay attention by any means necessary.

It is not just Google+ impacting search. Facebook mentions, shares, and likes are three of the top 10 factors effecting search. Tweets referencing your content, at ten, is also viewed as more important than factors which we historically placed emphasis on for search performance.

What should lawyers and lawyers take from the study?

  • You need to get your target audience sharing your blog content. Thought leaders in your area of practice; regional bloggers and reporters (assuming your practice is metro or state oriented); associations comprised of clients and prospective clients; and clients and prospective clients themselves.
  • As Woelker says, you need to publish blog posts which your target audience enjoys reading and looks forward to sharing with others. You need to be interesting, compelling, and honest. What differentiates your posts from others? It’s not a summary of a case or legislation, alone, which other lawyers have reported.
  • Your ‘pushing’ your own content onto social networks or hiring distribution services to do so will not work. It will not grow your influence, build trust, or improve your search results. You need to share others’ compelling content on social to build ‘social media equity’ and trust. Your target audience, seeing you truly wish to provide value to them, will in return share, like, and comment upon your content.

Perhaps most important to realize is that we are not going back to the days of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) gaming tactics. The days of hiring a company to produce content, do on-site title tag and meta tag work, and garner links from other legal content, often the company’s own content, are numbered.

Of course basic nuts and bolts search and local search work will remain relevant to rankings and visibility. But we’re moving on to a time where social networking, influence, thought leadership, and who trusts you is more important.

This is good news for lawyers inclined to rely on relationships and reputation to garner business. Perhaps not as good news for those lawyers who look at Google as a way to advertise their existence through organic search results which results are going to disappear for them.

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72% of a business’ followers on Twitter are more likely to purchase from that business pursuant to a Market Probe survey released this week.

From Tim Perzyk (@tperzyk), Manager, Twitter Ads Research, who shared the results on Twitter’s blog:

  • 72 percent of those who follow a business are more likely to make a purchase afterward from that business.
  • 82 percent of followers are more likely to recommend your product or service to friends and family.
  • 85 percent say they feel a closer connection to the business after they follow them.
  • 86% are likely to visit a business they follow if a friend recommends them.
  • 85% feel more connected to a business after following them.

Makes all the sense in the world. We buy from and do business with the people and businesses we trust.

By and large, people follow on Twitter those they find to be a trusted source or brand. In the case of consumer businesses, people may follow brands for specials or new products.

In the case of professional services, people and companies follow us because we are a trusted source of news, information, and commentary. Establishing this relationship of trust puts you a step away from getting hired, or at least considered, when the need arises.

The key for you in getting these followers on Twitter is not to betray this trust. Lawyers hawking their wares and sharing their contact info just chase people away. Sharing only news of yourself or blog posts of your own does much the same.

You need to share items of value to your audience to build up this level of trust – and the resulting business.

20130710-221248.jpg Have lawyers or other professionals in your law firm who are unconvinced when it comes to the value of blogging?

Kari Rippetoe (@KariRippetoe), Content Manager for Search Mojo, has put together one heck of a list of a statistics supporting the merits of blogging for business development.

Many of these statistics are so darn compelling, it’s really hard to imagine why anyone would not want to begin forming their blogging strategy right now. So, if you’re still not convinced about blogging, here are 10 statistics that may well get you on the blogging bandwagon.

Rippetoe’s list:

  • 43% of marketers generated a customer from their blog this year. Hubspot 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report
  • Blogging requires roughly 9% of marketers’ total full-time staff dedications and only 7% of their budgets. Hubspot 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report
  • Marketers spend 55% more time on their budgets than on blogging. Hubspot 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report
  • 79% of companies who have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing this year, compared with just 20% of those companies that do not have a blog. Hubspot 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report
  • 82% of marketers who blog on a daily basis acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who just blog monthly. Hubspot 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report
  • 59% of B2B marketers believe blogs are effective at achieving their business goals. 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends
  • 86% of B2B small business marketers favor blogs as their most effective content marketing tactic. B2B Small Business Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America
  • 69% of B2C marketers are using blogs as a part of their content marketing strategy. 2013 B2C Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends
  • 66% of marketers plan to increase their use of blogs this year. 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report
  • 59% of SEO professionals rate blogging as one of their top inbound marketing activities, and have subsequently created a blog or increased their blogging efforts. Moz 2012 SEO Industry Survey

As I’ve written before, most lawyers are in denial about the need to blog and use social media. Even these statistics won’t change their minds. That’s okay if you’re not worried about losing clients to competitors and building your book of business.

Note: If you’re catching this post in time, Rippetoe and Todd Wickersty (@toddwickersty) of Storyware are hosting a Webinar at 2 ET on Thursday on Blogging’s Biggest Challenges and How to Overcome Them.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Elliot Brown.