Making A Case For Social Media For Lawyers

It’s very strange that in 2012, the age of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, one has to still explain why lawyers need to be involved in social media.  Yet it still has to be done.  So, I thought I would illustrate by sharing a conversation I had with a lawyer last Friday.

I had a personal reason to inquire of a personal injury lawyer.  Ironically, I’m not litigious by nature even though I am an attorney who used to litigate dissolutions.  However, this time I needed a PI lawyer for myself.  I was rather stumped how to start.  I refuse to use a directory because I prefer a recommendation at the very least.  So, I thought long and hard who I knew in my state.  Recently, through my connection on Facebook, I had learned that a local lawyer (who I just like a lot ) had left his firm and opened up his practice with two others.  They haven’t even had their grand opening yet!  Strangely, I didn’t know what type of law he was practicing so I sent him a private message on Facebook (we’re friends on FB) and asked what type of law he was practicing.

At this point in the story let me skip back a couple of years.  When I first started blogging I happened upon his blog which was very well written and talked about a myriad of topics.  He was in my home state of Connecticut.  He was also on Twitter so I connected with him there, too.  Eventually, a bunch of people from Connecticut who happened to Tweet decided to create a Tweetup and we met.  We all had a blast.  After that we stayed connected on Twitter and Facebook.  We had another Tweetup.  I had the occasion to run into him at a conference where I was invited to participate in a social media CLE (because I met the organizer at our Tweetup).  We then just stayed connected through social media.

When I was looking for a lawyer, I thought of him because I had been following him all these years.  I didn’t send him a traditional email, either.  I sent him a private message on Facebook and asked what kind of law he was now practicing in his new firm. (Why did I reach out through Facebook?  Because I really couldn’t be bothered finding his website then finding his professional email address and then sending an email and hoping it wouldn’t end up in the spam folder.  I knew he’d get it on Facebook.)  He told me his practice areas.   I asked him (all through Facebook) if he was interested in a small case.  He said yes. We arranged to talk on the phone and we did all this through Facebook private messaging. When I spoke with him I confessed that when I realized I needed a lawyer I was actually stymied on how to start even though I clearly know a lot of lawyers!.  I knew I wasn’t going to use any type of directory to find one as I mentioned before.  That’s when I thought about who I knew through social media.  Since we were connected this way, I also knew he was in the process of opening a new firm because he blogged about the process.  I then reached out to him.  We met for lunch last Friday and he brought his new (and very delightful and savvy) partners.  They both knew of me and felt they knew me because of my social media presence and it felt very comfortable all around.

While we were having lunch we talked about social media and his recent experiences speaking on the topic of ‘social media’ for his local bar.  He was simply mortified that all attorneys wanted to know about was blogging and video. The organizers said they weren’t interested in teaching a CLE on ‘social media’, just blogging and video (you caught the irony there, right?) Blogging, in his mind, ’is so over’. Yet, they wanted to know how often to write and what the ROI (Return On Investment) was and could they use a ghostwriter.  He was both stunned and appalled that people still don’t get what social media is about and that it is virtually impossible to truly measure ROI.  In so many ways, you just KNOW when it’s working. (I know that’s hard to wrap ones head around as you want to see all kinds of stats to justify your time.)

He also confessed to me that if he had to give up all social media but one platform, the platform he would keep without question is Facebook. (And he has a very highly trafficked blog). He said he gets most of his business from connecting on Facebook on his individual page, not his business page.  And wouldn’t you know, just as he said this his smart phone let him know he had a message on Facebook.  It was a probate court clerk asking him in a private message whether he would be interested in an appointment.  Yes, the court clerk is friends with him on Facebook and rather than try to find his email address on his website just sent him a quick message.  He responded just as quickly with a ‘yes’.

But if anecdotal isn’t enough for you because you need facts, here is a boatload of Facebook facts:

  • Facebook has 845 million monthly active users globally (December 2011). Half of them logging on daily.
  • Facebook has 483 million daily users globally (December 2011) – a 48% increase from the previous year.
  • Mobile accounts for half of Facebook’s user base, with 425 million active monthly users (December 2011).
  • Mobile monthly active users grew 21% over the last four months.
  • People that use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice as active on Facebook than non-mobile users.
  • Globally, 1 in 13 people are on Facebook.
  • People aged 35+ represent more than 30% of the entire user base.
  • 57% of users are female.
  • In 20 minutes: 1,000,000 links are shared on Facebook, 1,484,000 event invites are posted, 1,323,000 photos are tagged, 1.972 million friend requests are accepted, 2,716,000 photos are uploaded,  2,716,000 messages are sent.
  • 48% of young Americans find out about news through Facebook.
  • 48% of people aged 18 to 34 check Facebook as soon as they wake up.
  • The average user has 130 friends.
  • There are more than 100 billion friend connections on Facebook (December 2011).
  • Facebook is the most popular photo-sharing service. Over 250 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day.
  • 2.7 billion ‘likes’ and comments per day (Q4 of 2011).
  • There are over 37 million pages with ten or more ‘likes’.
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.
  • An average time of 20 minutes is spent per visit to Facebook.
  • The average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events.
  • The average user creates 90 pieces of content each month.

Late last night he sent me a private message on Facebook asking me which email address he should send the retainer agreement and release forms. (probably because on Facebook you can’t send an attachment!)

He gets social media and this is why social media works so well for him.

(UPDATE: After the law firm read this post they said they’d be proud to be named because they love their use of social media, and their complete and total Mac office, and the fact every single thing they do is digitized and available on their smart phone!  So, here’s your plug FreedMcKeen, Meghan Freed and Ryan McKeen)

What do you think? Where do you spend your social media time? Which platforms do you prefer?


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5 comments on “Making A Case For Social Media For Lawyers

  • When I get push-back about social media from lawyers, I ask them the following question: “What have you always heard is the best form of advertising?” Most correctly answer, “Word of mouth.” I reply, “Social media is (or are) word of mouth in cyberspace. And it’s free.” Why in the world would anyone ignore or resist that?

    • Great point, Mark. It’s because in many existing practices they see social media as an ‘add on’ to what they are already doing, another ‘time suck’. New(er) lawyers see it as part of the foundational building blocks of their practice and it is integrated from the beginning permeating all areas of the business of law and the practice of law from how they deliver services, manage their cases, how they connect with clients to how they determine pricing structures, collect client feedback, and so much more. They get it. I don’t know which movie this came from but, ‘resistance is futile.’

  • Susan,
    You outlined in your story the exact reason why every lawyer needs to be involved in social media. It’s a great example.

    As Mark knows so well, people connect with you because they know, like and trust you. When you talk to them about THEIR problems and are genuinely interested in others, it makes it so easy to reach out and connect.

    P.S. I like the fact that they all want to know about blogging AND video!

  • It merely shows that Facebook is one of the top social media platforms that every law firm has to adopt. They should be building their own pages and collect some likes to be able to get into the social media world. At first, this might take some of your time. Even so, it will be all worth a wait once you have build your brand in there.

  • Susan, you make some great points here. The problem is time. For me I have a blog, website, Linkedin presence, answer questions at Avvo and sometimes other cites and I actually practice tax law. Now we have Google + to throw in the mix along with Facebook. I have an individual and PC profile at Facebook and I link my postings from my blog and questions answered at Avvo. To be truthful I just do not have the time to be active on Facebook, but your post may alter that thinking. But the time factor to me is totally daunting.

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