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Social media is a 24/7 cocktail party

By Michael Hammond
and Mark Powers

Martini_Want to party 24/7? Marketing experts Tim Tobin and Lisa Braziel suggest that social media is analogous to an ongoing, internet-based, 24/7 cocktail party.

Yet social media perplexes many lawyers and law firms. They know they need to move in that direction, but the “how” escapes them.

The way to succeed with social media is to embrace the simple but effective rules of relationship-based, word-of-mouth marketing — just imagine you’re at a cocktail party.

The rules

Writer Anne McAuley recently outlined her cocktail party rules for social media:

1. Survey the space

You wouldn’t rush into a cocktail party blathering on to just anyone who would listen and it’s no different for social media. Survey the space first and learn about the different social media platforms — some may work better for you than others.

Facebook is used primarily to engage target clients; LinkedIn is used for B2B marketing and professional networking. Twitter is commonly used for sharing links to relevant information. Google+ does that too and helps drive traffic to websites.

Know which platforms are best for your firm and why.

2. Work the room

When you walk into a cocktail party you find the people you want to meet and then you work the room to get to know them. Social media is no different.

Get to know who is in your space, whether on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or some other social media platform. Identify and connect with the experts in your area of interest. Listen to what others are saying, comment and create a following. Just like at a cocktail party, working the room is well worth the effort.

3. Listen more, talk less

An effective networker at a cocktail party is a good listener and intent on learning more about — and from — other people. Social media allows you to listen on a big scale to your clients, referral sources, prospects and even to your competitors.

Listen carefully before you join the conversation. Lawyers, for example, using Twitter’s search function, can search “need a lawyer” and literally listen to the people who are asking for their help. Start thinking of social media as a huge, 24/7, 365-day long focus group that you can tap into any time.

4. Tell, don’t sell

In a recent article posted on Inc.com, Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Local, points out that with social media you now can tell your stories along with a picture, a 30-second video shot with an iPhone or a tweet.

Traditional media storytelling requires an expensive P.R. agency or a big advertising budget, but with social media there is no barrier to entry and little or no penalty for telling a story that doesn’t quite resonate with your audiences — just try again.

5. Be authentic and transparent

In that same article, Dave Kerpen said: “This is the hardest rule for older generations to appreciate, but the reality is that in the social media age there are few if any secrets anymore. The more open you are, the more people will trust you. And the more people trust you, the more they’ll want to do business with you.” This is especially true of lawyers, whose entire relationship with their client is built on a foundation of trust.

6. Be courteous

Whether it’s an in-person or a social media contact, don’t forget to say “please,” “thank you” and “I’m sorry.”

Make your grandmother proud of how you behave at the social media cocktail party. Be polite, attentive and responsive.

Like, retweet or comment when followers engage with you or your brand.

Dave Kerpen gave this advice: “Be prepared if and when someone complains about you on social media. Embrace it … and fix the problem. When you do that, you not only solve one customer’s problem, you tell the whole world that’s watching that you’re the kind of organization that cares about its customers.”

7. Be valuable

People aren’t interested in your law firm; they’re interested in getting help solving their own problems. So think about how you can provide value to your audience.

Are you educating them? How can they benefit from your expertise? Can they gain insight from your experience?

Establish yourself and others in your firm as thought leaders in your practice areas by providing useful information and practical guidance. When people have a need for your services, you’ll be top-of-mind and they’ll come to you.

Michael Hammond is a “founding father” of consulting company Atticus Inc. and a certified practice advisor. Mark Powers is the president of Atticus. He can be reached at [email protected].


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