Most lawyers have very strong opinions about how they want to present themselves online. But there’s usually a disconnect between what lawyers think is important, and what potential clients and referral partners think is important.
Most lawyers obsess over their websites. That’s where they devote all their time and energy.
Sure, websites are important. You have to have one. But a website is only one of many components of your online presence.
In fact, the website is often the final destination for web users. In many cases, they get to your website through Google, LinkedIn, a directory listing, or other online resources.
Do you have an active social media presence? A complete, updated LinkedIn profile? Or do you have a tumbleweed blog on a ghost town of a website?
If you’re 100 percent focused on the website, you’re really missing the boat. It’s time to start thinking more broadly.
What Happens When a Prospect Googles You?
If you think you can find the answer by Googling yourself, you’re wrong. Google has got really smart in the past three or four years. Everything is customized.
In other words, the Google you see isn’t the Google your neighbor sees.
Suppose you’re narrowly focused on your website. If someone Googles you, they could see 10 results with your name on it, but only one will actually look good. Even worse, they could see inconsistent information in those search results.
How Do Clients “Search” for a Law Firm?
First, don’t make the mistake of equating “search” with “Google.” After all, the best clients don’t use Google. They look for referrals.
The attorneys that are really knocking it out of the online park don’t just have a website. They don’t just push out emails. They actively engage with their communities.
If there are two attorneys, with all things being equal in terms of website effectiveness, who will the prospective client choose?
Will they choose the attorney who’s engaging on social media? The one who’s building trust and credibility by consistently publishing thought leadership articles?
Or will they choose the attorney who, based on what you see online, might no longer be practicing? The one with the blog that hasn’t been updated in months or still has the generic “Hello World” greeting from WordPress?
Common Fears That Hold Attorneys Back
When it comes to the internet, many attorneys have a fear of being out there at all. That is because they’re uncomfortable with what it means to be “out there” in the vast online universe. They’re afraid of what people might say about them.
Will people say bad things about you? Possibly. But they’ll say things whether you’re there or not.
Wouldn’t you rather be there to defend yourself so all the chatter isn’t going on behind your back?
All attorneys have the same tools at their disposal. As consumers of legal services use new communication channels and information resources, we need to do the same. Those who don’t will be left behind.
If you’re not where your best clients are, how can you possibly get more clients? Do you want to be left with the clients who are less tech-savvy and less engaged?
Another common fear is based on a simple lack of understanding. Just like your clients don’t understand the finer points of practicing law, you don’t understand every part of an online presence that can help you grow your practice.
In that case, you need to get help from someone who does.
The More Legitimate Fear
The more legitimate fear among attorneys is that they won’t be able to show a return on their investment of time and money into their online presence.
To be clear, if you approach social media expecting a pure return on investment, you’ll be disappointed.
What you will find is that it’ll be easier to get engagements because people have seen you there. You come pre-validated.
You might not realize how much easier it becomes, but trust me. We have people coming to us all the time who say, “I’ve seen you guys everywhere. You must be the real deal.”
Wouldn’t it be great if you had clients coming to you, saying the same thing?
Make a frank assessment of where you are on the three social networks in which every attorney should be visible and active – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
More than knowing your clients are there, you need to understand how your clients are using these platforms. On the most basic level, they’re finding out if you’re real.
Now, through their eyes, ask yourself, “Do I seem like a real person? Do I seem legit?”
If not, it’s time for some online resuscitation. We can help.