Category Archives: Social Media

Does Your Social Media Serve You?

Larry Bodine recently observed that lawyers who expend a lot of energy on social media must ensure that their efforts yield a reasonable return.

That is sage advice. You’ve probably noticed that social media can be extremely demanding and distracting. Sometimes it can also be inconsequential. A bunch of (say) Twitter followers might look nice and feel good, but the reality is that if they don’t help grow your business, you’re playing games.

However, this is not to say (as Bodine does) that you should necessarily spend most of your time on LinkedIn or on any other channel. The optimal platform for your practice will be determined by the clients you serve.

Consider John Strouss, a local personal injury attorney who specializes in representing bike accident victims. He has a great market. The SF Bay Area is home to a very lively bicycle culture; the streets teem with commuting cyclists during rush hour, and accidents are an unfortunate but regular part of life. Do you think that most bike accident victims focus upon LinkedIn when they decide to seek counsel? Probably not.

If you take a look at how Strouss uses social media, you’ll quickly see how he has positioned himself. He maintains a LinkedIn profile, but his bike issues blog and Yelp profile do most of the work to fix his name among bicyclists. Local cyclists read the blog when they don’t have a problem because they share Strouss’ enthusiasm, but when they do run into a problem, his name comes to mind.

Of course, a blog and Yelp may not serve your business. That’s just it; there’s no magic bullet. But we can offer one useful proposition: identify your client base, discover its place on the Internet and break into the conversation.

How to Avoid Having Your Law Firm Contest Contested When It’s Run Through Social Media

Though I’m not sure about their long-term effectiveness for attracting clients, most law firm contests are undeniably fun as well as a way for a firm to give back to the community. A recent sampling of contests that I culled from the news included a contest for high school students to create videos about the importance of bike safety, a contest celebrating March Madness with give-away of two free Jazz basketball tickets and a contest for best business pitch. Of course, some contests seems a bit tacky, such as the Valentine’s Day divorce contest run by a West Virginia firm (it’s not the divorce that’s tacky, in my view – just the contest’s timing).

As more firms adopt social media, expect contests to proliferate, for a couple of reasons. First, there’s nothing like social media — either a Facebook Fan Page or a Twitter stream to build buzz and enthusiasm about a law firm contest. Second, many law firms may view contests as a way to generate more friends and followers by making prize eligibility contingent on “liking” the firm’s Facebook page or following it on Twitter.

Regardless of their reasons for sponsoring a contest, when law firms use social media as a platform to conduct or publicize their contest, they must comply with three categories of rules: (1) Bar advertising rules (which I won’t discuss here; suffice it to say, read your jurisdiction’s rules in advance or contact bar counsel with questions), (2) laws governing sweepstakes and games of chance and and (3) platform-specific regulations regarding contests.

Laws on Online Contests Because online contests have been around for more than a decade, the basic legal principles are fairly well established. An excellent summary is available in this excellent online compliance guide for online contests and sweepstakes by Antone Johnson of Bottom Line Law.

As described in the guide, companies must avoid operating an illegal lottery which generally involves payment of an entry fee, a winner chosen by random chance and prize awarded. However, companies can run sweepstakes, which is a drawing for a prize by chance alone or contests which requires some kind of skill and judging and an entry fee is permissible. Contests must have official rules that specify eligibility requirements and disclose restrictions on receiving the prize.

Platform-Specific Rules But contests conducted on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter include an added twist. Not only must companies holding contests comply with the general rules just discussed, they must also adhere to the social media platform’s contest policies. Failure to comply with these policies can result in removal of promotion materials or disabling of an account.

Twitter’s contest guidelines are fairly simple and straightforward:Contest sponsors should encourage entrants to use Twitter conventions (@ sign to signify a reply and a hashtag(#) showing a subject) to communicate with each other, and discourage them from tweeting multiple entries. Finally, both the contest sponsor and participants are expected to abide by Twitter’s use guidelines.

Facebook’s contest rules are subject to frequent revision (the last revision was December 1, 2010) and are far more complicated. Facebook users are prohibited from using their wall or other pages to create a contest; instead, they must set it up through an application on the Facebook platform. Users can enter the promotion only via the application or a tab created on the Facebook page. The promotion must include certain disclosures.

Facebook also sets rules on what contest sponsors can ask of entrants. A sponsor can ask an entrant to like a page as a condition of entry, but cannot require any other action such as uploading a photo or writing a post or comment. (As an aside, seems that this contest, which required a wall post may have run afoul of Facebook’s rules).

Many firms may be tempted to hand off administration of contests on social media to PR reps or marketing gurus. Don’t. It’s you or your firm that will wind up with the suspended account on Twitter or Facebook if the contest isn’t run properly – and further, many face the embarrassment of e-shaming if competitors learn of your missteps.

Law firm contests can be a fun, as well as a way for a firm to show its appreciation for clients and the surrounding community. But having someone contest your firm’s contest because you didn’t follow the rules will take the fun right out of it.

Free Webinar – Social Media for Lawyers

Are you wondering how to use social media in your professional life? Confused about how it’s supposed to earn you more money as an attorney? Or what resources are out there specifically designed for attorneys? Then you’re invited to our latest webinar, Social Media for Lawyers. In this webinar, presented by lawyer, SEO expert, and founder of Justia, Tim Stanley, we’ll show you how to successfully apply social media to your law firm and practice.

Register now: Social Media for Lawyers

Social media has exploded in the past couple of years. It’s now become essential for businesses and companies: over 65% of attorneys are using social media to grow their firms. They’ve discovered their web presence needs to move beyond their firm’s website. Sign up for Social Media for Lawyers and you’ll learn:

  • How social networking applies to legal professionals
  • Strategies for participating on social media, with an emphasis on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter
  • Which tools will maximize professional benefits
  • Best practices for legal professionals

This webinar is ideal for:

  • Solo practitioners
  • Principal attorneys at small law firms
  • Marketing professionals at small law firms

 

Meet Your Presenter
Tim Stanley is a computer programmer, lawyer, and CEO of Justia. Prior to starting Justia, Mr. Stanley co-founded FindLaw and served as FindLaw’s CEO and Chairman. He is a member of the State Bar of California, the American Association for Justice, American Bar Association, American Civil Liberties Union, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Meet the Organizer
Nolo is passionate about making the law accessible to everyone. Since 1971, our high-quality books, software, legal forms, and online lawyer directory have helped millions of people find answers to their everyday legal and business questions. Nolo’s online lawyer directory is a unique tool for attorneys at small firms to demonstrate their expertise online. To learn more about being listed in Nolo’s lawyer directory, visit Nolo.com.

Webinar Details
When: February 17, 2011, 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM (Pacific Standard Time)
Where: Via computer and/or phone
Cost: Free

Space is limited so register today. There will be a 10-minute question and answer opportunity at the end of the webinar.

Please note: CLE credit is not available. Please join us for this exciting event!

Register now to attend this free event!

Round Up Post: Social Media

OK, it’s time for another legal marketing round-up, where I update earlier posts with new information and developments.  First up, on the social media front, I came across a great case study at Marketing Profs describing how Florida-based law firm Roberts & Durkee used social media to spread the word about the problems with Chinese drywall. First, the firm quickly got out in front with minimal investment by purchasing a unique URL, chinesedrywallproblem.com. Next, the firm created a blog that provided a constant source of updates on new developments and cases. In turn, the site helped attract media and as traffic increased, so too did the site’s SEO. Finally, the firm reinforced its presence by using Twitter and Facebook to disseminate links to the blog. End result? The firm now attracts half of its leads on Chinese drywall from its website and blog. It’s a strategy that any firm can replicate.

If the experience of Roberts & Durkee has inspired you to move forward with social media, Top Rank Blog has a comprehensive checklist that will guide you through the process. These include: 

Definine your objectives. What do you want to achieve with your social media plan? Is your goal to establish presence in a niche and attract clients like Roberts & Durkee? To improve service to existing clients? Your objectives will inform your social media strategy.

Understand your target audience. Do you want to reach consumers? Lawyer colleagues? Business CEOs? Your target audience will also determine which platforms you choose.

Set up the strategy. Roberts & Durkee had a defined strategy – the URL, the blog, the media and reinforcement through Twitter and Facebook. That’s a formula that can work pretty well for any social media campaign, but there are dozens of other iterations as well. Take some time to plot a course that will work for your firm.

Define metrics for evaluating success. Though social media doesn’t cost much, it still involves an investment of time. So you’ll want to constantly re-evaluate to determine whether your social media plan is meeting your goals.

Are you ready to get started?