Monday, February 7, 2011

Building Attorney Referral Networks With Social Media

Most attorneys spend a great deal of time generating new referrals and maintaining them for their practice. The fact of the matter is that most attorneys today could not sustain and grow their practice without referrals from other attorneys – many of which practice in a different area of law and/or geography.

Most marketing experts claim that you need 7 to 12 impressions on a person for a marketing message to be remembered – the same applies for attorneys. How do you stay in touch with your referral network and better yet, how can you expand your referral network through the use of social media? That is what I will address here today…

Specialize Your Practice With An Active Content Strategy

If you have a specific medical need, you are more likely to seek out a medical specialist than a generalist – the same applies for law. There are 1.2 Million attorneys in the United States (75 Thousand in New York City Alone) which means you have a lot of competition for your services. The more specialized you can become in an area of law, the more attorneys will start recognizing you as a specialists in that practice area and the more likely potential clients will find you for that work.

The best way to build on this strategy is by creating an active content strategy for this area of law and establishing yourself as a thought leader. This means that a targeted website and blog are the first places you should start. Create a targeted blog (the more targeted the better) that is dedicated to a specific area of law. Remember, there are over 4500+ legal blogs in the United States so you need to specialize your blog to make it stand out to not only your potential clients and referrals but also to the search engines through search engine optimization techniques.

Once your blog/s is created, the next step is to provide “useful” content for your referral partners to read. What is useful content? Useful content is anything you can provide that will potentially capture the interest of your targeted reader groups – in this case: your referral network. If you are still unsure, ask a number of current referral partners what they would like to learn more about when it comes to your area of law and/or practice. Posting case wins is always helpful but you need to grab the reader’s attention with your articles and most importantly – keep them coming back for more.

Just because you are creating a focus for your practice doesn’t mean you are foregoing the other areas of law you want to also practice within. All it means is that you are building a brand for marketing purposes to help set yourself apart – you can practice anything you wish after new people find you but by then, if you are good, they will then know and trust you for other needs.

Using Facebook To Stay In Front Of Your Referrals

Facebook is now actively used by over 650 Million people – have of which visit their account each and every day. The average Facebook user has 130 friends and likes over 80 Facebook pages or groups. What sets Facebook apart from all other social media is that more people access their Facebook account on a daily basis than any other place on the web – including Google! The first page every Facebook user sees when they login is their News Feed page which content updates and news from all of their friends…and the Facebook Fan Pages that they indicated they like! Think about that for a minute – you now have the ability to stay consistently visible in front of ALL of your potential referrals, clients, and even their friends on a daily basis. There is no other place on the web that can give you this type of potential visibility and the best part is that it is 100% free! Here is how to start:

- Create and optimized a Facebook Fan Page for your firm and each attorney within your law firm. There are no limits to the number of fan pages you can create and each will help further extend your reach based on the personal and professional connections each attorney may have.

- Friend request (on a daily/weekly basis) each and every person in Facebook that could be either a referral source or knows somebody else who could be. After each networking event you attend, perform a lookup for that person in Facebook and send them a friend request ASAP while you are still fresh in their minds.

- Integrate your Facebook fan page/s with your blog so your blog entries are automatically feed into your Facebook fan page/s – which every one of your fans will likely see in their default news feed page in Facebook when they login.

- Have each attorney in your firm suggest your firm’s fan page/s to their friends on a weekly basis. This is a very simple process but requires discipline. Most attorneys on Facebook don’t have a standard protocol for accepting/rejecting Facebook Fan Page suggestions so more often than not; they will accept it and become a “fan” of your page. When this happens, you have created an active and automated content loop with the user.

Capturing In-House Counsel Work Through Targeted Blogging

Every day I hear stories about how attorneys with specialized blogs are generating interest for in-house counsel. Why? According to the 2010 Corporate Counsel New Media Engagement Survey, when research is conducted for outside counsel work, 27% of in-house council now considers their emphasis on blogs as “most important” when doing their research. A perfect example is a client of mine who has a highly targeted blog on adverting law and claimed that he was found and retained by an in-house counsel from a very prestigious Fortune 500 company – because of his blog! Not only was the blog highly optimized and indexed on the search engines for visibility, but he also positioned himself as a specialist in this area of law – which is what the company was looking for.

Using Social Media For New Client Generation

Social Media isn’t just for referral networks either. There are a growing number of attorneys who market themselves directly to their individual customers with great success. A good example is Leanna Hamill who operates her own Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog in Hingham Massachusetts (just outside of Boston) and claimed on one of her recent Twitter Tweets that she had more clients come through her blog than her referral network over the past quarter. Leanna’s blog is successful because it has the five critical ingredients needed for a successful attorney blog:

1.) The blog is targeted in practice area focus

2.) The blog is optimized for the search engines

3.) The blog is posted to on a regular basis

4.) The blog entries are consistently useful & helpful to the readers

5.) The blog is consistently promoted - especially on her social media

Resource to Help You Get Started Creating Your Social Media Strategy For Your Practice

Facebook Page Search Engine Optimization

Blog Search Engine Optimization

Law Firm Search Engine Optimization

Author: Dustin W Ruge – Dustin is new york city law firm search engine optimization consultant. For more information see: Law Firm Website Search Engine Optimization (


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