By Kevin O'Keefe

Facebook a rising client development tool for law firms

facebook lawyer business development“Wee Willie” Keeler, one of baseball’s most prolific hitters, when asked about his success, said “I keep my eyes clear and I hit ’em where they ain’t.”

For lawyers the key to client development success is going where the people are. The people preferably being your target audience of clients, prospective clients, referral sources, and the influencers of those three.

Today those people are flocking to Facebook in huge numbers. This from an article on Facebook growth in Thursday’s Greensboro Business Journal.

Facebook picked up nearly 1.5 million U.S. users in January, dethroning Yahoo as the second most visited web site in the country, according to Compete.com.

Facebook traffic grew from 132.1 million to 133.6 million, while Yahoo’s fell by 100,000 to 132 million……The average time users spent using Facebook per month, however, grew nearly 10 percent to about seven hours, far above the roughly two hours that Yahoo.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world.

I have the enviable job of playing in the Web 2.0/social media sandbox so I can advise lawyers what’s real and what’s a waste of time when it comes to business development. Through the end of the last year, I advised sticking with the big three of blogging, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

I labeled Facebook as an ‘up and comer.’ Something to keep your eye on, but not something I’d be spending significant client development time on. I thought Facebook more social in nature (not that that’s a bad thing for business development) than professional business oriented. No longer.

Facebook is getting too big to ignore. More people are hanging out on Facebook than any other place on the net. And they’re not all kids. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is women over 55. Why? They want to stay in touch with their grandkids.

Ignore the staying in touch with grandkids thing. Focus not on why people are drawn to Facebook, focus on the fact that people are drawn to Facebook. Facebook is no longer a community for college kids and recent grads (couldn’t get in without college email address a few years ago).

Facebook, like AOL was when I came to the Internet in 1996, is where everyone is going when they come to the Internet. Go ahead, dismiss Facebook because the leaders in your law firm are ignoring it. My partners thought the Internet and AOL were goofy and a fad when I started using AOL for business development in 1996.

I enjoyed a recent Knicks’ game with Steve Rubel, a leader in social media/marketing/communications and SVP, Director of Insights for Edelman Digital. I asked Steve what he sees as the most important social media tool for business development and marketing. “Facebook.” He agreed with me that Facebook is apt to become, if it’s not already, the operating system for social interaction on the Internet.

Sure Facebook is short quips passed back and forth. But as social media author and speaker, Shel Israel, once told me “Small talk leads to big things.”

Business development is all about relationships. Lawyers build relationships by engaging their target audience, even if the engagement is through social conversation.

When our 12 year old Lab, Newman, was dying last Saturday night, I posted a picture of him on Facebook. I just felt the need to express how hard it was a to lose one of our family’s best buds. Nine heartfelt comments were posted by the next morning. Nine business professionals who took the time to care. That’s true engagement, even if not a business exchange.

That’s just one of the experiences I’ve had in my Facebook experiment of commenting on people’s posts, pictures, or fan pages on Facebook over the last couple months. I’m far from an expert in knowing how to use Facebook for business development. But there’s something here and I plan to keep on experimenting.

I’m not sure I have any other choice. With the world going to Facebook, how can I ignore it and survive as a successful business leader?

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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