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News from the LexisNexis Social Media Survey That Didn’t Make Headlines

The recent LexisNexis/Vizibility survey of social media for law firms deservedly generated a lot of headlines, buzz and discussion in the blawgosphere. While many legal bloggers identified a pending deluge of new legal blogs as the key takeaway, some of the most interesting information in the study has been overlooked.

Worth Considering More Closely

  • Video - Despite being an even more nettlesome and expensive enterprise than blogging, nearly half of respondents indicated they plan to incorporate video into their marketing mix — a percentage more or less consistent across firms of all sizes.
  • QR Codes – To be honest, I don’t think Vizibility was a good partner for this survey because QR is a mobile technology for accessing online content through physical media. Despite Vizibility’s pitch, QR is not a social media networking or marketing platform. But the bigger issue is that even if you consider mobile applications to be social media marketing, there is no compelling data to indicate QR technology has staying power, let alone growth potential. The infographic distributed with the survey results announcement misleadingly correlates QR code growth with smartphone market growth, when its future is more directly tied to advertiser choices. While QR code-based gaming and discounting applications were popular with consumer product marketers over the past year, smartphone users themselves have not enthusiastically embraced their use, and the future of QR is uncertain.  Notwithstanding, the survey suggests that 80 percent of law firms will have QR codes in their marketing mix by the end of 2012, predominantly for mobile access to online marketing materials and business card data. So are legal marketers riding the tail end of a gimmick?

Notable for Their Absence

  • Budget and Resourcing Plans – A single five-minute branding video can cost as much or more than the out-of-pocket expenses for an entire year of blogging. Even low-budget productions can cost several thousand dollars apiece. Combined with aggressive movement into blogging and social networking engagement, does that mean marketing budgets will be increasing, or will it be funded through cuts to other marketing tactics? Which ones? Will there be new marketing hires, or a greater reliance on outside contractors?
  • Non-Blog Content Marketing – Content distribution and SEO optimization platforms like JD Supra and SlideShare are bona fide forces in content marketing for law firms. However, the survey did not mention them by name, nor include content marketing as a category.

Worthy of Its Own Category

  • The infographics accompanying the survey results press release literally and figuratively animated the narrative, and elevated the overall impact of the announcement. It would be great to see adoption and utilization of infographics in law firm marketing explored in a future survey.

What did you think of the survey results? Anything surprising? What kinds of questions would you have asked?

Comments

  1. Thank you Jay for covering the survey. I’m sure your piece will generate good discussion. Video is an exciting area and Larry Bodine from LexisNexis has great tips for making it cost effective. My interest in responding to your blog is to shed some light for you and your readers on why QR codes were included the survey. Frankly the jury is still out on whether QR codes will be judged a game changer or gimmick (Vizibility is not a QR code company so we don’t have a pony in that race — Vizibility helps professionals control, organize and share their online identities and QR codes are just one tool we give our users). QR codes are just a digital bridge from something analog like a business card or printed bio to a rich set of online assets. Microsoft has their own technology called TAGs. There will probably be more competing technologies in the future. There is solid value in being able to get to online destinations quickly without typing in a mobile browser so the mechanism itself (i.e. QR codes today) is irrelevant. What matters most is where QR codes point. Firms are using QR codes for firm-wide content, of course, but they are also starting to use them for individual attorneys. When scanned, the attorney’s social media streams, videos, curated Google search results, online profiles, LinkedIn connections, etc. can be instantly available on a single mobile microsite for that individual professional. Many law firms of all sizes have caught on to the fact that QR codes on business cards, for instance, can surface their lawyers’ social media activities and make them more convenient to access. Some notables include Loeb & Loeb, McCarter & English, Duane Morris, and Dewey & LeBoeuf, among others. For this reason, QR codes were included in the survey because they (or similar digital bridge-like technologies) can help social media efforts pay off by driving awareness and providing instant, mobile access to them. Hope this explanation is helpful and it is now more clear why LexisNexis and Vizibility partnered on this important survey.

    • Jay Pinkert says:

      Thank you for taking note of this post, and for the detailed response. Respectfully, I find your argument difficult to follow. It’s disingenuous at best to hold QR technology at arms length as one “bridge-like technology” among many when creation and distribution of QR images is critical to your service delivery model. Further, if you don’t want to be perceived as a QR code company, then don’t group yourself with Paperlinks and Kawya under the heading “QR codes for attorneys” in a survey. I get it, though. “QR codes” has more buzz and SEO mojo than “helping professionals control, organize and share their online identities.”

      As far as their connection to social media, QR codes only enable a technical operation — functionally no different from hyperlinks. Both provide one-click connections to a URL. It severely stretches credulity to equate that with driving social media awareness.

      Finally, that law firms are incorporating QR codes into their marketing materials does not mean the images are generating response. If you have case studies that show end users are actually scanning QR codes on lawyer business cards and printed collateral in meaningful numbers, I would value the opportunity to publicize them.

    • FollowtheLawyer says:

      @Vizibility Thank you for taking note of this post, and for the detailed response. Respectfully, I find your argument difficult to follow. It’s disingenuous at best to hold QR technology at arms length as one “bridge-like technology” among many when creation and distribution of QR images is critical to your service delivery model. Further, if you don’t want to be perceived as a QR code company, then don’t group yourself with Paperlinks and Kawya under the heading “QR codes for attorneys” in a survey. I get it, though. “QR codes” has more buzz and SEO mojo than “helping professionals control, organize and share their online identities.” As far as their connection to social media, QR codes only enable a technical operation — functionally no different from hyperlinks. Both provide one-click connections to a URL. It severely stretches credulity to equate that with driving social media awareness. Finally, that law firms are incorporating QR codes into their marketing materials does not mean the images are generating response. If you have case studies that show end users are actually scanning QR codes on lawyer business cards and printed collateral in meaningful numbers, I would value the opportunity to publicize them.

      • @FollowtheLawyer You’re welcome Jay…happy to engage. Facilitating distribution of a firm’s social media is arguably just as important as creating it. QR codes are merely one marketing tactic that can be employed here. Because Vizibility supports QR codes, a truly disingenuous position would be to hail QR codes as the definitive next technology. While it may be counter-intuitive, we go out of our way not to take such transparently self-serving positions. The higher level strategy at the heart of the discussion is the use of machine readable codes to facilitate awareness and access to the digital assets of a firm and its professionals. Our position is that these digital-bridge like technologies (whatever they are) will be become a valuable part of the marketing mix over time as the deployment of smartphones, camera-enabled tablets and other code-scanning devices increases. Today they are QR codes, Microsoft TAGs and LinkedIn’s CardMunch…tomorrow it may just be your face. By their very nature, QR code-like technologies are about discovery (you don’t know what’s under the code until you scan it). There have been many marketing misfires but that comes with any new technology. When handed a business card with a QR code, it is logical to expect that code to deliver information about that individual, which might include links to their social media. People are already linking QR codes directly to their Twitter feeds, blogs, Facebook pages, etc. So we find it easy to believe that these technologies can help drive discovery and awareness of an individual’s social media usage. As you imply in your closing comment, however, at the end of the day understanding the actual use of these technologies is critical to valuing their importance in the marketing mix. ComScore reported that 14 million unique individuals scanned QR codes in the month of June (2011). In our case, we have served more than a million clicks on SearchMe buttons and links (another mechanism we support to share one’s online identity). Professional services firms are just starting to roll out QR codes in a meaningful way so I expect we’ll be publishing our first data on usage later in 2012. We will be delighted to share it with you and your readers then.

        • FollowtheLawyer says:

          @Vizibility@FollowtheLawyer I’m really struggling with your positioning and messaging strategy here. If you really believe that QR codes are “merely one marketing tactic that can be employed here,” then why is that position not stated forthrightly on your website? No pun intended, but I don’t the transparency you’re claiming.

          It seems that you’re trying to have it both ways — getting attention with QR code story lines, then trying to pivot to your higher order messaging. It’s indirect and complex, and obscures a genuinely powerful UVP.

          To be clear, I think your content/social signal aggregation approach to online reputation management and personal brand acceleration has genuine value. I can absolutely see some version of it as a SaaS offering for lawyer websites.

          This circular discourse about QR codes (or bridging technologies) is an avoidable distraction that clouds your brand. The “SearchMe” functionality sounds very interesting, and if you’re so disposed, I’d value a walk-through to help me understand it better.

  2. carolynelefant says:

    The blogging component of this study is actually just a tiny piece. The largest part of the survey seems to be dedicated to promoting the importance of directories. They still matter quite a bit in the AmLaw 100/200 world. I was recently invited to speak to a select group of executives, which found me as a result of my blog and a law review article that I’ve posted all over the web. However, even after all of this, I was still vetted through my resume and credentials. If I were a large firm listed in Chambers or US News, rather than a solo with a blog, I doubt that I’d have been subject to this scrutiny.

    • FollowtheLawyer says:

      @carolynelefant Thanks for mentioning the directories component. Excellent points.

      The AmLaw 100/200 world exists in a reality distortion bubble. Congrats on piercing it!

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