I recently read the book “NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children,” which uses recent social science research to debunk pillars of conventional wisdom about parenting. It got me thinking about how some of those findings apply to law firms starting out in social marketing.
For most law firms, the Web site is the firstborn social marketing platform, and is subject to the same parenting challenges as firstborn children: high expectations, hypervigilance, strict rules. Add one or more siblings — a blog, Twitter, Facebook — and those challenges morph and multiply. So what can we learn from current parenting research?
Early success is great, but most high achievers develop over time: Viral videos and internet memes are like fashion magazine covers — enemies of social media self-esteem, which propagate unrealistic expectations (Our team is very creative; we’ve invested a lot in site design and AdWords). Everyone wants to start big — massive organic SEO, retweets, a popular fan page — shortly after launching a new social media program. But prodigies are rare, and prodigious early success is very difficult to replicate and maintain over time. Give your social media platforms the time and permission to experiment and mature. With the proper support and encouragement, it will hit its stride in great shape. AttorneySync has some helpful observations about this phenomenon.
Don’t overprogram: Word-of-mouth. Thought leadership. SEO. Lead generation. Community building. It is unrealistic and counterproductive to expect each of your social marketing platforms to perform well against all marketing objectives. Web sites, blogs and social networks have distinct strengths and weaknesses depending on the marketing objective. Select one or two key proficiencies to focus on for each platform. If they generate halo benefits (e.g. clickthroughs from the blog to the Web site, or vice versa), that’s upside. Then add stretch objectives when the platform’s performance shows it can support them.
If you’re having trouble supporting the first, plan the next carefully: The surging interest in blawgs (law blogs) is an encouraging trend for law firm marketing as a discipline, but it presents significant operational pitfalls, too. Many firms underestimate the additional resources required to support multiple communication platforms, and overestimate the resources currently available. “We’ll hire a blogger who can do Web programming as well,” “We’ll get the partners and senior associates to contribute every week,” “We can use press releases from the Web site on the blog.” Any of that sound familiar? The sad, unspoken secret is that far too often, adding a blawg either pulls focus and resources from the Web site — resulting in outdated copy, broken links and lack of updates — or the blawg quickly becomes a dark, lonely place no one visits, distinguished by stale content separated by long pauses between posts.
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