Social Media for Lawyers: Contemplating the Nuclear Option

You’ve tried training, guilting, pleading, appealing to professionalism, more training — and still, getting your associates to blog, tweet or even share one of their presentations is like pulling teeth.

Have you considered linking social media content creation to performance metrics and merit increases? OK, forget social media. What about carrots and/or sticks for traditional business development and networking activities?

For all the hand-wringing about the difficulty of getting lawyers to create content for social media and participate in networking activities, there seems to be a deep-rooted resistance to even considering the use of performance evaluations and compensation as a management tool for driving those behaviors.

Having tried a voluntary approach to participation in the firm’s marketing and business development activities, one of my clients  recently instituted some mandatory measures. In addition to weekly one-hour professional development meetings, firm management requires associates to log at least 72 hours of business development activities per year, which is tracked through a billing code in its ProLaw system. Research and writing time for blogs and articles count, as do networking coffees and lunches. However, passive activities like event attendance do not. Results will be discussed in annual reviews and factor into merit increases and bonuses.

Money Motivates

  • Spiffs – Practically everyone who’s held a sales job is familiar with “spiffs” — spot awards for selling particular items. If you’re having trouble getting people to submit blog posts or newsletter articles, try periodically offering $5 Starbucks or iTunes gift cards for the next submission. You’ll be surprised at how motivating a free spiced pumpkin latte or smartphone game download can be.
  • Pay per submission – I worked with one firm that gave away $50 spot bonuses for every accepted staff blog post submission. Even the partners were eligible, and the managing partner took pride in his second income. So for only $7,800 per year — 3 posts a week, 52 weeks a year — the firm had a strong pipeline and frequency of posts.
  • Executive face time – Lunch with the managing partner is a pearl of great price. See how many JD Supra submissions you can generate by offering associates that incentive (and they’ll have something to talk about during the meal).
  • Time off – Offering extra personal days as an incentive for extraordinary contributions to your content marketing could be the most motivating compensation of all.


  1. What a fantastic idea. I’m going to share this with folks I know. Love it.

    • Jay Pinkert says:

      Thanks, Robyn.

      Sometimes it seems law firms would rather curse the darkness than light a candle. These are simple, proven techniques that are standard practice in marketing-driven companies.

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