Time to open up Evernote and give you a rundown of all the happenings of Day 2 at the 2012 Avvocating Conference. It’s hard to know where to being. The amount of information that was disseminated today will likely take a while to digest. The quality of speakers and presenters at the conference (sans myself) was nothing other than top notch. I am really impressed with the people that Avvo brought in for this particular conference. So, without further adieu, here are some of my notes from today’s proceedings.
Josh King (@joshuamking) is General Counsel for Avvo. Of all the presenters, I think Josh did the most to assuage concerns that lawyers have about using social media as marketing tools. The key take away from Josh’s presentation was “Attorney advertising rules apply to advertising, not to posts or information about attorneys.” Josh pointed out four areas of potential concern: (1) testimonials; (2) client solicitation; (3) promising results; and (4) bureaucratic requirements. Testimonials are in their early stages and various bar organizations are trying to figure out how to deal with them. Bottom line, you really don’t need to worry about them (unless you have a specific bar rule prohibiting them). But client solicitation was an interesting discussion.
Josh and I spoke after his presentation and I agree with him–the in-person solicitation rules are designed to prevent lawyers from pitching clients on the spot–essentially, situations where the potential client has no choice but to respond. Since us crafty and charismatic lawyers work all sorts of magic, obviously in-person solicitation is problematic because no one can resist us. I agree that bar organizations will have a hard time applying these “in-person” solicitation rules to social media discussions. After all, the potential client can simply stop participating in the conversation. Our wily ways don’t work over the Interwebs. A few other tips from a presentation designed to make lawyers more comfortable with social media and the review process:
- State bars can only regulate commercial speech. Definition of commercial speech: “that which does not more than propose a commercial transaction.” Even then, the regulation on commercial speech must be narrowly tailored and advance a government interest.
- Don’t overstate your qualifications. Don’t lie. If you are going to talk about your cases, do it in a way that does not imply future results.
- Always be professional.
Follow these tips and it is unlikely that you will ever have any problem with your local bar. If you do, call Josh (and he’ll solve it haha). Always remember that clients can say whatever they want–a client testimonial is not an advertisement.
Sachia Bhatia (@sachbhat), Director of Product Management at Avvo, discussed four basic things that every Avvo user should do and then identified three new opportunities to take advantage of. First, the four necessities: (1) Keep your profile up to date–there are few things worse than an outdated, stale profile. (2) Solicit reviews from current and past clients–these reviews are important to your Avvo ranking and also have impact in search engine results. (3) Build out your endorsement network. Find attorneys you can legitimately endorse and request legitimate endorsements in return–the “I endorse this lawyer” line simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Endorsements need to be detailed and descriptive. (4) Answer questions to showcase expertise. Again, answering questions on Avvo helps your Avvo score and it also increases your exposure by exponential factors. Not all of us can be level 20 contributors (some of us have to actually bill hours after all–I’m only a level 10 contributor and no, I don’t have an Avvo rating of 10–who can fix that for me?). But answer questions when you can. Subscribe to immediate email updates for questions in your practice areas and your localities so that you can be a first responder. This will be more important as Avvo rolls out some new features.
Sachia also discussed three “new” opportunities that more Avvo lawyers should be using: (1) Avvo on the go–start getting Avvo updates wherever you are (see the discussion above about “immediate” subscriptions to questions); (2) Bring Avvo Home–make sure that all of the work you do on Avvo and other sites, such as answering questions or publishing guides, pushes users back to your Core Web Presence. Use Avvo to help bring your potential clients to your home turf; and (3) Bring answers back to your site. This is something I plan on implementing immediately. When you answer a question on Avvo, publish that question and answer on your own site. Increase your footprint and show the visitors to your homepage the knowledge you have (and hopefully answer some of their questions along the way).
Panel Discussion: Kelly H. Zinser (@kellyzinser), Linda M. Callahan (@DUIAttyCallahan), Peter Gonzalez (linkedin.com/in/peterjgonzales), Rich Sierra (businesslawyer.biz). As was the case yesterday, it was hard to take notes on the panel discussion–to much conversation going back and forth. The panel continued on the theme established by Sachia and discussed how to best use Avvo and how it was working in their respective practices. I hope the panel discussions make their way onto a Avvo / Lawyernomics video post. The information exchanged in the panels was invaluable.
Ari Kaplan (@AriKaplan), President/Owner of Ari Kaplan Advisors. Ari’s presentation was one of my favorites. His creativity in building networks and a working referral base is unmatched. He spent most of his time focusing on how you should be making efforts to help your network increase their personal business and success. For example, Ari scours the web, including sites such as http://www.helpareporterout.com, and then forwards links to those in his network to follow up on. “Self promotion has very little to do with promoting yourself. It really has to do with helping to promote others.” Absolutely brilliant.
He is creating an extremely loyal network by helping his network succeed. His focus is on his connections, not himself. And my personal favorite tip was to do quick video interviews with “important” people as an icebreaker or a way to open that networking door. I was really impressed by this idea. I think it is brilliant. So I went “Ari” on “Ari” and here is the result (it will play upright, I promise):
Thanks for the interview Ari. Hopefully it will be the first of many more. For whatever reason, this really resonated with me. What a great way to build a network, especially with those who otherwise might not give you the time of day. I was so impressed, I got Ari’s book.
Vanessa Fox (@vanessafox) is a search guru. While her presentation was entitled “Marketing in the Age of Google,” it quickly became apparent that the subject de jure was “How do I convince people to hire me.” According to Vanessa, “Search is valuable for figuring out what people really want.” And figuring out what people want is extremely important because these three steps are necessary to convince people to hire you:
- Know who your audience is.
- Know where your audience is.
- Know what your audience wants.
Figure out what your audience is searching for and make sure that you are found there. Speak their language. Enough with the “Environmental Remediation Litigation Specialist.” How about “environmental cleanup lawyer” or some other layman term that might actually get searched. “Remember to talk about things in the same way that your audience talks about them.” Also remember that SEO “is about solving people’s problems.”
Two bits of invaluable advice: (1) Every page of your site is the home page–you never know where a user is going to land so make sure your important information is available on all of your pages; (2) How to rank well in search engines: Have great content that people love.
Mark Kelly (@chair10 / @mkelly7777), President and Founder of Chair 10 Marketing. I am going to be honest here. Mark gave one of the best PPC presentations I have seen (and I have seen a lot). I’ve requested his slides and I am going to do a full post on PPC once I have a chance to distill all that information. If you missed Mark, you missed out. (I was also fortunate to have Mark help critique my “elevator pitch” at the Avvo social hour on Thursday night.) This is one bright, bright guy. A quick tip for now (and plenty to come later): “Make sure your page headings match your PPC or search terms; when someone searches a key phrase, they want to see that key phrase listed in the page’s title so that they know that clicking the link will likely get them the information they want and need.”
Duane Forrester (@duaneforrester / web: http://www.bing.com/webmaster). Look, when your web address is “Bing Webmaster,” I’m pretty sure you are going to have some important things to say. Similar to Mike Blumenthal’s presentation from Day 1, Duane presented explicit details about the Bing algorithm, particularly how Bing includes social media in its search rankings and results. It is too complex for me to describe here but how about some statistics:
- 1/4 searches deliver successful results.
- 42% of sessions require refining.
- 44% of sessions are lasting more than a day.
- 90% ask family / friends before making a decision.
- 80% will delay making a decision online.
- People use friends: 2.5x more of than city guides; 4x more often than online reviews; 10x more than check-in sites.
- 2nd most expensive area in your law firm (after payroll).
- Never ending process.
- Need to continually produce more and more leads.
- #1 reason you’re not getting more referrals is lack of your clients’ education. Failed to educate them what a good referral looks like.
- Explain why you value and depend on referrals.
- Explain what a great referral looks like.
- Explain how to make a referral to your office.
- Lunch appointment?
- Explain how are you going to treat the referral.
- Explain what to tell referrals about you and your firm
- Explain what information they [your clients] can give:
- Business card
- White paper, special report, etc.
- #2 reason you’re not getting more referrals is lack of client communication.
- One tip (very cost effective): newsletter.
- Keeps you connected
- Builds credibility
- Adds fresh content to your website
- Helps cross-market your services
- Generates more referrals
- Works 24/7
- Promote website and blog.
CPL (Cost Per Lead)
- How many leads are produced in a given time frame.
- How much money did the firm invest in marketing during the same time frame?
- Divide $$$ by # needs.
- Compare month v. quarter v. annual
- Running average
- How many clients retained during that time period.
- How much money did you invest in marketing during the same time frame.
- Divide $$$ by # clients.
- Compare month v. quarter v. annual
- Establishing a running average.
How much is each of your clients worth? Does the worth of your client justify the amount of money you are spending on obtaining leads that actually turn into clients? Although there is much, much more to Stephen’s presentations (including a multi-day seminar put on by The Rainmaker Institute), here are some final parting thoughts on lead conversion:
Five stages of conversion:
- Number of leads in the top of the funnel.
- How many leads turn into appointments.
- How many appointments actually show up.
- Number of appointments sign up at the IC.
- Number of appointments who sign up later.
- Cloud Drives – Dropbox, Skydrive, GoogleDrive, Box
- Ultrabook – Samsung Series 9
- iAnnotate App
- Tripit.com – consolidate itineraries into one.
- Dragon Dictation
- Bloomberg Law
- Pico Projector – small, battery powered projector
- Kindle Fire
- Instapaper App
- ithoughts App (mind-mapping app)
- fastcase (legal research)
- Ruby Receptionists
- Penultimate App
- Rocket Matter / Clio
- Jelly Fish Art
Wow. Great article over at the ALM Press Room today: 4 in 10 Law Firms Report landing New Clients by Using Social Media, According to ALM Legal Intelligence Special Report.”
According to the ALM Legal Intelligence survey, 49% of U.S. law firms report that blogging and social media have resulted in lead generation and, even more surprising, 41% report that blogging and social media have helped them land actual work. That is a pretty good conversion / closing ratio if you ask me.
The survey was conducted in December 2011 and January 2012 with a sample of “180 law firm partners, marketing professionals and administrators.” Granted, the sample size could have been bigger and there may be some inherent bias in the reports from the marketing professionals, but the results are still impressive.
According to Kevin Iredell, Vice President of Research and Continuing Education at ALM:
The skepticism of a decade ago has given way to a growing appreciation for the ways that blogs and various other social media and networking tools can be deployed to help build the reputation of individual lawyers and practice groups, as well as enhance law firms’ overall marketing efforts.
Hear, hear Mr. Iredell. Hear hear! I have long been a champion of using blogs and social media to help lawyers establish credibility, hone their skills and expertise, and network with other professionals. It is great to see some objective data supporting the idea that blogging and social media engagement is netting positive results (for the record, I don’t consider blogging to be “social media” — blogging doesn’t involve interaction the same way social media does — blogging is like publishing a newsletter, only faster and easier). I always figured the results would start showing up; now they are.
If I were to guess, I would say that the “new work” is likely coming from blogs or LinkedIn. I still don’t see Twitter or Facebook as particularly good business development tools (although they are great for reputation management, keeping up on legal issues, creating a professional following, and spreading your name across the Interwebs). Many “big” firms have branched out and have practice-area specific blogs these days–by publicly displaying their expertise and knowledge, the firm essentially creates a scenario where potential clients come to the table knowing that the firm can fulfill their needs.
Another couple of interesting points:
- Almost 85 percent of law firms now make use of social media and networking tools, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Just over 60 percent said their firms now maintain one or more blogs.
- More than 40 percent said that blogs and social media networks have helped to increase the number of calls their firms receive from journalists in traditional and new media. Likewise, roughly the same number said their presence in the blogosphere and on social media networks had also increased the number of speaking invitations their lawyers receive.
Don’t underestimate the value of this last point. The value of having your name show up in the local newspaper (in a good way) or in a trade magazine cannot be measured. But trust me, it is high. Your credibility skyrockets in the community as the community begins to recognize your name and expertise in particular fields.
I recommend that all lawyers parlay their online social and blogging efforts into other arenas, whether it is the newspaper, industry blogs, seminars or webinars, or what have you. It reminds of an experience I had at my former firm. I had been interviewed for an article in Risk & Insurance about, obviously, social media risks. A week or two after the issue came out, one of the partners came down to my office and said, “How did you get quoted in Risk & Insurance–all insurance defense and insurance coverage lawyers read this.” I told him that I regularly write and tweet on the subject (he had no idea what a tweet was) and that I had done several interviews. He was impressed. Hopefully other subscribers were too.
Hopefully the ALM survey results will hit home. Legal consumers are savvier these days. They are looking up information about you, your practice, and your success. They have hundreds of options to choose from. Are you using blogs and social media to set yourself apart from the competition? If not, now is probably a good time to start.
Oh, and if you ever have an interview request, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (I’m willing to risk all the spam I will receive from email address harvesters because I know that doing interviews and presentations is mutually beneficial for those involved and extends the exposure of your online presence.)
A recent survey published by SelectMinds.com found that 72% of companies are currently using some form of social media to recruit job candidates. ” The survey asked 216 executives at US firms with 3,000 or more employees to share the details of their corporate social media initiatives.”
Highlights of the survey include:
- 72 % of companies are using social media for recruitment / talent acquisition. This percentage is higher than any other recruiting approaches (such as marketing or corporate communications / PR).
- 65% of HR departments maintain a company LinkedIn page and 63% have dedicated career-related Facebook pages.
- 63% of those responding to the survey use corporate social networks for existing employees.
- 69% of organizations plan to increase their social media budgets and 85% say they are seeking actively or planning to invest in social media technology.
- 60% of respondents said corporate social media programs are most effective when used for communications, followed by brand awareness (57%), increasing the effectiveness of marketing (55%), brand monitoring (52%) and positive press (50%).
Social media has established itself as the #1 recruiting tool and the trend indicates that it will become even more widely used in the coming years. For fairly obvious reasons, LinkedIn and Facebook are the primary resources used by companies and employers in searching for job candidates. LinkedIn, with its focus on professional careers, education, and prior employment will likely continue to lead the way in social-media-based recruiting. This is important to both candidates and companies. LinkedIn and other social media sites (to a degree) have become the job-board / classified ads for those on both sides of the hiring-decision. Make sure that you are aware of and utilizing these resources for your and your business’s benefit.
Tell me. Does this sound familiar?
You’ve heard hype. You’ve heard hysteria. And you’ll continue to hear a whole lot more. What should you believe? As is usually the case, you’ll find the truth somewhere in the middle. In order to determine what constitutes the spectrum and where the “middle” actually is, we need to take a broad look at social media in general, how pervasive it has become, and how it is being used. As we begin to see creative implementations of this “social media revolution,” we begin to get a better understanding of where we are and where we are headed. The following video provides an excellent, albeit biased, summary of what social media is and how quickly and pervasively it infiltrated so many areas of our lives:
Scroll down a few posts and it should. If you didn’t believe it the first time, you better believe it now. The original video was published on July 30, 2009, and has nearly 2,500,00 hits. The “refresh” video was published on May 5, 2010, and is almost up to 1,000,000. The statistics are staggering. But I will let you be the judge. Here is the official tagline from the flick:
“Social Media Revolution 2 is a refresh of the original video with new and updated social media & mobile statistics that are hard to ignore. Based on the book Socialnomics by Erik Qualman.”
Like I said above. Those numbers are staggering. And increasing. I’m excited and, admittedly, nervous to see that we will learn from “The Social Media Revolution v.3″ video. Thoughts and comments please.