Every business wants to have a good reputation, but the nature of a lawyer's work demands it. Attorneys have been understandably slow and cautious in promoting themselves online. But clients are consumers, and consumer needs and expectations evolve.
Can opting not to build an online presence hurt?
Based on new research by TRiG, The Research Intelligence Group, more than three-quarters of adults who looked to hire an attorney in the past year went online at some point in the process.
If consumers fail to find an online presence, they will form a poor opinion of the firm, in my opinion.
How safe is it to believe that the firm doesn't have an online presence if no one inside the firm created one?
The firm will have a reputation — and an online presence — regardless if the firm endeavored to create one because consumers exchange opinions.
Worse, the Web is full of "trolls" who have nothing better to do than say negative things — and an easy target is a firm with no established online presence. Therefore, it is crucial for a firm to claim and establish its reputation by actively creating an online presence.
Is social media an important factor?
Social media has become a popular form of conversation among consumers since LinkedIn was launched in 2003, Facebook was launched in 2004, and Twitter was launched in 2006.
There is a continuous, influential stream of messages being sent about lawyers and law firms. The conversation can generate new business for firms that participate, or it can send new business to competitors for law firms that ignore the conversation.
How can a firm monitor its reputation and measure the results?
The most important important metric of a positive reputation is the amount of revenue generated. Offline sources of business are notoriously hard to measure. Online sources, however, can be measured and compared easily:
- Unique visitors and page views for a website.
- Number of views and leads generated by an online profile
- Followers and re-tweets for a Twitter account
- Likes for a Facebook page
- Recommendations for a LinkedIn profile
Using ReputationDefender is a good option to monitor reputation. The best place to monitor is the online venue that clients and potential clients visit.
How can a firm manage occasional negative feedback?
Stifle the natural urge to counterattack; the better approach is to be sensitive and accommodating. The key is never to respond in anger. Even if the commenter is not satisfied, at least you have shown that you are the more reasonable person.
At some point it will make sense to let it die out. At that stage, the only option is to flood the web with "good news" using SEO techniques. Negative comments will appear out of sight.
Can posting videos on YouTube enhance a firm's reputation?
There is nothing more convincing than appearing "in person" to demonstrate good will. Good production values and frequent postings make a big difference here.
On Lawyers.com, we have helped hundreds of lawyers create playlists of positive messages about their practices on YouTube. These videos emphasize how a law firm works and how it proceeds with a legal matter. Sound and motion capture people's attention, and a relevant, helpful message will keep an audience.
How can lawyers drive online traffic?
There is a science to optimizing search engine results for websites and blogs. But in the final analysis, nothing beats fresh new content and unique perspectives.
Readers may be hooked by promoted tweets or online marketing, but only a good story with a practical point will keep and hold clients and new customers.
Are there third-party options to help lawyers get established?
It has become desirable for lawyers to engage marketing and writing professionals to create their web pages and initial drafts of blog posts. For example, many lawyers turn to LexisNexis Custom Web Visibility Solutions to interview them and use the information to write practice descriptions and web copy that attracts new business.
For the copy and content to be authentic, a lawyer must be personally involved in the final expression. This taps into the personality of a lawyer, who will be a better editor than creator of content.
Carole Oldroyd is a freelance writer whose work focuses on online reputation management and many other topics.