Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

The social-media cocktail party, Part 2


The social-media cocktail party, Part 2


Listen to this article

By Michael Hammond
and Mark Powersi

Dolan Media Newswires

While there’s no question that marketing through social media offers another avenue to sell yourself and build relationships, it continues to perplex 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. As we noted in a previous column, sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter provide ongoing streams of cyber conversation that you can — and should — step in and out of at will, much like a 24/7 cocktail party.

Let’s break it down.

The posts

There are some people who love parties and thrive on social interaction, and there are those who don’t. For those wondering how to navigate this new social scene — and do a little marketing at the same time — the territory can seem foreign and fraught with problems.

For one thing, everything you “say” at an online party (think posted comments) is written and recorded, and some words, once written, are very hard to retrieve.

Use the same conversational strategies and follow the same rules you would use at a cocktail party, and you’ll be fine.


For example, you wouldn’t go to a party spewing one long commercial message about how great you and your firm are, and you shouldn’t do it online either. In a real social situation, surrounded by people you don’t know, you’d start with small talk, share a little about yourself personally, ask questions of your fellow partygoers, tell a funny story or two, and only then mention something about your firm.

Or, you might be introduced as an attorney, say a little about what you do, and then spend some time finding out what everyone else does. There’s give and take. You might talk of business mixed with conversation about your family, your hobbies, or maybe the sports you follow or the last trip you took.

The ‘50-30-10-10 Rule’

Attorney and blogger Nicole Black offers some instructive guidelines on this subject. She recommends using the “50-30-10-10 rule” when operating in an online forum.

  • 50 percent of your posts should provide followers with links to articles, blog posts and other online content you think might be of interest. That includes “re-tweets,” or “sharing” of relevant content. If you want to be seen as an expert in a particular field, this is the opportunity to aggregate information on a specific subject matter and share it with others, but do so in a way that is helpful and informative.
  • 30 percent of your posts and comments should consist of replies to other users’ posts, links, status updates or tweets — in other words, engage in conversations with others at least a third of the time. Don’t make a habit of focusing only on yourself and your needs.
  • 10 percent of your posts can consist of self-promotion, including your firm’s blog posts and information about professional activities and accomplishments.
  • The final 10 percent of your online communication can be comprised of posts or tweets that are devoted to your personal interests and hobbies.

While nothing will ever replace live human contact for real marketing effectiveness, adhering to the cocktail party rules and following the applicable conversational guidelines will help you navigate the world of social media successfully.

Just remember: Don’t make it all about you. Be sociable — it’s a party.

Michael Hammond is a “founding father” of consulting company Atticus Inc. and a certified practice advisor. Mark Powers is the president of Atticus.



Should Wisconsin Supreme Court rules be amended so attorneys can't appeal license revocation after 5 years?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Legal News

See All Legal News

WLJ People

Sea all WLJ People

Opinion Digests