Does your law firm need a “social agency?”

As social media channels grow and the “what should we be doing” buzz slowly moves across the legal marketing industry, more legal marketing professionals and law firm leaders are asking, do we need to hire an agency? If you’re big enough or serious enough, you probably do. And according to some of the heavy hitters in corporate America, maybe even more than one if you want to touch all the bases.

Big Brands Weigh in on Social Agencies

In a post by Kate Kay at ClickZ, the big brands weigh in.

“Depending on the agency and the need, we leverage them and their strengths,” said Singh of the social agencies Pepsi works with, noting that he has yet to find one agency that fulfills all his social marketing needs. “We shop by skill on the agency side,” he added.

Scott Monty, Ford Motor Company’s pioneering head of social media, told the social marketing panel’s audience, “We’re very methodical and very aggressive about our social media” efforts. He said Ford has a social media agency at the corporate level and works with Team Detroit – a joint venture of WPP agencies including JWT, Mindshare, Ogilvy, Wunderman, and Y&R – in crafting social campaigns.

Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, an agency that handles social media strategy for companies and brands including HBO, Diageo, and Bing, suggested that social agencies have varying approaches. Some, he said, are more focused on scale, reach, and frequency, while others are focused on engagement.

Microsoft is also learning as it goes when it comes to integrating social agency services. “We’re really starting to blend the ideas of our agencies and our media partners,” said Eric Hadley, general manager, for Microsoft’s online services division. He said the company typically writes quarterly or annual briefs, and brings in its agency partners to help decide who should handle specific projects. Hadley continued, “If you have the media agencies in silos it doesn’t work.”

Law Firm Marketing

The legal profession is typically slow to adopt, but most larger law firms (say 60+ attorneys) who are serious about promoting their brand do have public relations or marketing design agencies on retainer or in-house. And, within the past year, most of those agencies have added a social media service line or “expertise” to their offerings, but is that enough?  It may be wise to step back and take a hard look at how well they are covering all the bases and if it might be to your advantage to test additional options.

Where are law firms headed in the social media space?

Frankly, the argument is no longer about whether or not your clients and prospects are there, as recent statistics show that 80% on the U.S. online population is engaged in social media one way or another. Rather, the issue is that despite the massive scale and promise of social media, it is much more subtle than traditional marketing and business development communications. So, with all this new activity and subtlety, how do we keep all the balls in the air, how can we cut through the noise, and probably most important is what are we ultimately doing with all this activity? Do you need an agency or maybe two or three to handle your strategy and some of your tactics?

It’s no longer a novelty to launch a blog, build a mobile app or create a Facebook fan page.  It’s time to move on to questions like:

  • How do we integrate all this connectivity with our CRM system? What does social CRM mean to the law firm organization?
  • How can we use our activity to position ourselves favorably against the competition? Is creating our own social network an option?
  • How can we use social to streamline our processes of recruiting and marketing and client service? Will virtual tools give us a new type of workforce – one with less overhead?

What other ideas do you see in the future for social media programs in law firms?

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  1. says: Jaimie Field


    In typical lawyer fashion I will say that maybe a law firm should hired a social media agency.

    From the “yes” standpoint: I truly think attorneys should be engaging in social media. If they do not understand or know how to go about becoming involved, then a social media agency is important to provide them the training they need to use the tools effectively.

    From the “no” standpoint: Many attorneys are engaging Social media agencies to do the work for them. If you are going to blog, hiring out the content just feels a bit disingenuous to me, as does having someone tweet in my name, etc. Social media is also known as Social Networking – and networking is about creating relationships. If you are going to be involved, then use your voice.

    Just my opinion.

    Rainmaking Trainer & Coach
    Marketing Field, LLC

    1. Jamie,
      Thanks for your professional insight on this. There are, as you note, a number of opinions on whether the agency should actually engage on behalf of the client. It does cross the line of authenticity in relationship, no doubt. What is more annoying to me, for some reason I’m not quite sure yet, is when law firm marketing departments set up Twitter accounts for the firm to simply push out press releases with no intention of engagement. It’s a buck shot attempt at attracting attention to key words and “hoping” a journalist might pick up the Tweet and contact the firm for more background info. I get that. What I’d like to see more of is law firms adding attorney voices to the firm stream and actually engaging or at least trying to add something meaningful to the press releases they post. But this of course is the subject of another post. I wish I had more hours in the day to write posts!

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