Lawyers: Get Your Social Web Strategy On

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If you’re a lawyer or other legal industry professional engaging on the social web I’d love to hear about your social web strategy for engagement. Why? Because next month I’ll be speaking at the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference in Denver along with  Progressive Marketing Blog author, Russell Lawson of Sands Anderson and Legal Watercooler Blogger Heather Milligan of Barger Wolen and we think your experience will be valuable to attendees. Our presentation is focused on building social media strategy for small and mid-size law firms.

It’s been my observation that lawyers in smaller firms, smaller markets or larger regional law firms have a lot to gain from getting their social media game on (that also holds true for lawyers in a large law firm but located in a smaller city or remote area). There are tons of reasons why, the least of which is how quickly engaging on the social Web can enlarge your circle of influence opening up new markets for your services.

But, I’ve also observed that as the social Web evolves, lawyer involvement can be a bit scatter shot. And like everything in life, there’s always room for improvement. That’s why having a plan can help. The best marketing doesn’t just happen; behind it are objectives, strategies, goals and measurement.

I’ve dumped what I’ve learned from the past three years on the social Web into the simple outline that follows.  I’m sharing it with my readers in the hope that they can help. So, readers, what have I missed? What would you add?

Strategic Planning for the Social Web

The Social Media/Networking strategy has three primary categories: Design, Develop and Assess and one ancillary category: Innovate. Your online plan works best if you can align the key objectives of your current off-line marketing or business development activities with your key objectives for your online activity. Be specific, but keep in mind that nothing is necessarily exclusive and that the best plan may be pretty inclusive, and of course, flexible.

Design

  • Who –do you want to attract or connect with, i.e., clients, referral sources, general counsel, other lawyers, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, finance professionals, doctors, alums, politicos, journalists, current friends, family, etc?
  • What –is your point of view, i.e., broad, narrow, specialty, niche or general?
  • What –is your persona, i.e., expert, collaborator, influencer, leader, or learner?
  • What –is your content, i.e. pure information, opinion, education, how-to, analysis, current events, commentary, etc.?
  • Where –do you want to be seen, i.e. community, industry, government, private, public, search engines, blogsphere, legal circles, etc.?
  • When –will you need to see mini-milestones? When will you surpass your benchmarks, i.e. three months, six months, 2 years? (It takes time!)
  • Why –will specific tools be helpful to you or your team in reaching benchmarks, objectives, and goals? Tools are not exclusive.
  • How –will you have them all in play at once?
  • How –will they build on each other?
  • How –much time are you willing to commit? How will you do it? Will you need a team, outside support, in-house support, clerical support, an editorial calendar, or other infrastructure accommodation?

Develop

  • Systems –budget, office network permissions, hardware, e.g., laptop, mobile devices, net-book, etc. Define distribution channels such as CMS, CRM, paid/unpaid services, email accounts, password storage, joint accounts, home network access, and etc.
  • Tools and techniques –browsers, software downloads, cloud-ware,  services, aggregators, networks, platforms, memberships, and monitoring tools (paid or free?).
  • Services –content, publishing, blogging, conversation, photo sharing, video, podcasting, micro-blogging, aggregators, and management tools.
  • Roles and responsibilities –content, editorial processes and procedures, co-bloggers, guest bloggers, publishing calendar, time management, commitment, vacation coverage, ethics considerations, collaboration, clerical support, cross-platform promotions and policies.
  • Positioning –placement, audience social-technographics, your persona, profiles, key words, size and type of networks that might work best, tone, communication style, topics, conversation and commenting strategy.

Assess

  • Metrics –search engine results, subscribers, readers, link stats, number of qualified sources in your network, clicks on your video, or downloads of an article/presentation/document/PDF/podcast.
  • Milestones –increased touch-points, online to offline conversations, qualified comments on your blog, group activity converted to new network contacts, getting contacted as a result of a keyword search or answer to a question, getting contacted by a journalist, or being named to a list, high ratings on a list, being added to another bloggers blog roll—all pertinent to being seen as an influencer.
  • Benchmarks –relationships converted to new business, relationships converted to new referral sources, new audiences, wider dissemination of content, number of reblogs or links from influential media or others.
  • Review and Revise.

Allow time for innovation

  • Uncover new milestones
  • Find the gaps, fill the needs
  • Discover new tools -experiment –trial and error
  • Reach out to your networks in new ways
  • Listen to other innovators, your clients, your readers
  • Listen to instincts
  • Assess your organization
  • Refine design, redevelop

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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