Everybody’s Talking at Me: Intro to the ROI of Listening

It was only a matter of time before the gasoline of prolix, marketing-minded attorneys encountered the lighted match of social media…

BOOM…the blawg explosion. From partners to associates, marketing managers to wordslinging paladins, law firms are investing intellectual and financial resources into virtual megaphones — official firm blogs, personal blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Authoritative voices competing to be heard, and once heard, followed.

But now that we’re a couple of years into law blog mania, the microphone-hogging alpha dogs can’t seem to figure out why they don’t have more followers. Within the blawgosphere, while everyone’s talking, it’s not clear that many people are listening.

“Listening” is one of the central tenets of the social media movement. Search engines and “thought leaders/influencers” of the medium award both technical and style points to bloggers who demonstrate interest in ideas and insights beyond their own through well-integrated external references and links.

As Chris Brogan noted in his series on the social media toolkit:

“Social media tools are a great way to get the word out about your passions, your interests, the company’s latest products, but we tend to rush right into the “speaking” side of the toolbox without giving much thought to the “listening” part. Knowing what people are saying about you, your competitors, and your industry as a whole are just as important as blogging and making good video.

It’s interesting to note that companies will spend anywhere from $20,000 to $150,000 on a good website design, but will fail to implement even the most rudimentary listening tools to move their capabilities to understand the impact of such a site beyond the realm of hits and clicks.”

In addition to the benefits Brogan cites, blawggers who actively listen to online conversations and communities can:

  • Identify and engage with potential partners;
  • Target firms and organizations you want to engage with for referrals;
  • Conduct background research for business development; and
  • Discover potential causes of action.

I’ll discuss each of those marketing applications in upcoming posts. Thoughts? Best practices to share?

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