The last U.S. presidential election proves that social media has surpassed traditional media in impact and response. When the Russians sought to influence voting here, they went straight to Facebook and similar outlets to disseminate information. They didn’t take out any ads in The New York Times.
Lawyers, too, are realizing the value of social media. But, the audience lawyers are trying to reach – the general counsels, other potential clients and thoughtful peers – are still capable, unlike the general population that the Russians exploited, of separating real from fake news, like wheat from chaff. They have no problem ignoring the chaff in favor of well-cultivated wheat. More and more, these audiences expect to be fed a steady diet of the good stuff.
Lawyers as Publishers
Knowing this, some lawyers are entering the information superhighway with their blog posts, articles and videos. They’re providing some of the content that feeds social media. Remember, content isn’t self-generating, it has to come from somewhere. Shares of stories and opinion pieces by respected media like The Guardian and The Washington Post fill everybody’s newsfeeds. Without them and many other content-generators of all political stripes, the Internet would be an undisciplined babble of streamed consciousness.
Lawyers who write understand they’re not going to win Pulitzers. Still, they strive for at least contributing to the great, mythical unicorn story, as the one who stands out in a crowd of, uh, bulls.
Proven Methods of Attraction
They have good reason to keep practicing their prose skills. A recent survey, cited by Gina Passarella of The American Lawyer, shows that 91 percent of general counsels hire lawyers based on their articles, blogs and speeches. So, general counsel who used to comb through guidebooks for fresh outside talent, now look to LinkedIn. Instead of price lists and rankings in guidebooks, they now study lawyers’ professional profiles and writings on LinkedIn.
Interestingly, the same survey shows that only 7 percent of lawyers share content on LinkedIn. While approximately 70 percent use it, they don’t seem to appreciate that general counsels are reviewing their credentials and written content.
So, LinkedIn, and Twitter by similar accounts, have become effective tools to expand one’s audience, whether lawyers realize it or not. It stands to reason, then, that any marketing plan that leaves out attorney-bylined pieces is incomplete and likely to fail.
Information flows in many directions. Reporters for traditional media are reading social media to get tips, sources and data they can turn into stories. With everybody looking at everything, a lawyer could start out just writing a blog post and wind up featured in a respected journal. The firm appreciates the result, even more so when the lawyer seeds the cloud that brings a welcome shower of attention.
The opportunity is to go out there and brave the rough seas to expand your core practice area by presenting and writing articles, while seeking independent validation from reputable publications and industry guidebooks.