In Robert Ambrogi’s latest blog post entitled “Pseudo Social Sharing Isn’t Smart, It’s Spam” he accuses me of creating software that prompts lawyers to spam their contacts. It isn’t true Bob, so let me have a chance to set the record straight.
I’d like to start by clearing up one major misunderstanding. Just because the software makes it easier for lawyers to share, doesn’t mean it removes their responsibility to share in a thoughtful way. Here are six reasons my software will lead to more genuine sharing.
1. ClearView Social encourages lawyers to share articles to individuals by email. When you receive an email from my software, you can choose to preview an article, share that article by email to a personal contact or share it online with two clicks. Engaging in 1-to-1 sharing with personalized messages is the highest and best use of a lawyers time, and the software encourages this.
2. ClearView Social promotes personalization of messages. Each lawyer that clicks to share using my software is prompted to personalize the message before sharing. They can add their thoughts of how it might impact their contacts, their practice area or their industry. They are not required to personalize, but they are always given that option.
3. ClearView will decrease SPAM by tracking the success of articles. The software tracks every article shared, and how many clicks and likes those shares receive. If lawyers share content that nobody in their network wants to read, then nobody will click on it. It makes the entire law firm smarter about sharing. If hundreds or even dozens of people are reading the articles, that isn’t spam. That is effective content distribution, notice I didn’t say lead generation, because that isn’t the point. The point is sharing content that is useful to others in their network.
4. ClearView reminds lawyers on a daily basis to share good, quality content. Receiving a daily email with suggested content makes it easy for lawyers to share pre-approved firm content, but it is also a simple reminder to share daily. ClearView Social gives lawyers the option to bring in their own outside research and articles to share or share those suggested by the firm. If these articles are successful, others lawyers in the firms can learn from their success.
5. ClearView provides opportunities for lawyers to start conversations. Less than 3% of lawyers are sharing online right now, this is dreadful! We can do better. I’ve spoken to over ten thousand lawyers over the last five years, written two books on the topic and over 100 articles. Robert Ambrogi, Kevin Okeefe and anybody else that cares to listen should know by now, I am committed to getting lawyers to engage in real conversations online. Sharing isn’t a lead generator, it isn’t the end game, it is the beginning and it is a great way to connect with new people for the first time and re-connect with contacts that have sat dormant. ClearView can help new lawyers get started in a positive way.
6. ClearView takes something scary for lawyers and makes it simple. Some lawyers may never read an article, copy the link and open LinkedIn to share that article. They just don’t think that way. I want them to though, and if ClearView Social can make it just a little bit easier for them to figure out what great tools LinkedIn and Twitter are, then we will be getting somewhere.
Robert, I appreciate your insights, and it made me look at my software in a different way. Your concerns are all valid ones. My software is currently in beta with a handful of firms for this very reason, I want to make sure it is the best sharing software possible when it launches. If that hasn’t come through in my messaging, then that is on me. Yes, my software makes it simple, and that could lead to lawyers sharing in a less than thoughtful way, but that isn’t the goal. The goal is to encourage engagement, encourage cross-selling and make sure that big firms can get their best ideas out to a larger network of potential clients where lawyers have existing relationships.
You can find out more about ClearView Social at http://clearviewsocial.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to setup a demo.
Five years ago I launched the first social media consultancy dedicated to the legal profession. I had one big question, should my company be the Adrian Dayton Company or some other clever name? I went back and forth on this point and asked some of my top Twitter friends like Gini Dietrich and Julio Varela what they thought I should do. They basically told me it would depend on what I wanted out of my company. In the end I decided to go with the Adrian Dayton Company, and then as my team grew we became Adrian Dayton & Associates. At the time I was working hard to make a name for myself in the industry, so it made sense to use my name. But today I want to announce a big change. My software company ClearView Social Inc., has officially launched their marketing website, and it will now be my primary focus. You can see it here: http://clearviewsocial.com and you can watch this Youtube video to see what the software does:
I’m the Founder of ClearView Social, but the company is far more than just me. Our team includes a very talented designer, statistician, and software engineer. You can learn more about them at http://clearviewsocial.com. Feel free to say hello to them and connect with them on LinkedIn and Twitter.
We have a massive challenge ahead of us. We are looking to make a dent in the legal universe and change the way law firms and lawyers participate in business development. This isn’t something I could do alone, and truthfully our team can’t do it alone. We are going to depend on our network of very smart people and on the wisdom of crowds. Our software is going to collect large amounts of data on sharing globally that will help law firms learn and improve the way they connect the right types of content with their ideal customers. Please come along for the ride!
ClearView Social is currently in private beta with a handful of law firms, but our public launch will be coming soon. Email email@example.com for more details or to see a demo. As for my speaking, writing and consulting, those will continue because they are all part of who I am. The difference is that with the help of the ClearView Social software, we can bring about change to the legal profession much more quickly.
This morning my son asked, “Mom, can you write me a list of everything that bugs eat?”
He’s only six, so he didn’t realize he was asking for a pretty long list. But his head was in the right place, he wanted to make sure that what he put in the jam jar with holes poked in the top would satisfy the critter he had found.
Are you giving your clients the same level of care that my son gives to bugs? Wait, that came out wrong.
Let’s try this: Are you paying close attention to what your best clients need? What they like? Where they have an appetite for improvement? Your ability to write, blog, and create articles that satisfy the demands and needs of your clients tells them you are listening and shows them you care about them and their business.
How do we know what they want? I’d like to share with you three simple ways to spot their appetite for content. All of them have to do with spotting trends.
1. Talk to your clients regularly. Look for common questions being asked by multiple clients in a short period of time. If one or two clients have a similar issue on their mind, there are likely hundreds more like them that would appreciate an article written to address that issue.
2. Track click-through rates on your blog posts. It doesn’t matter how many total readers view each post, what is important is the trend. If you usually get 60 views, but suddenly jump to 300, then you have hit on a nerve. (My two favorite ways to track clicks are bitly.com when sharing on social networks and Google Analytics for on-page analytics.)
3. Track open-rates in email marketing campaigns. This is low hanging fruit in my mind, and unfortunately even though over 90% of law firms have email services that track open rates and can show lawyers by name who opens each newsletter or e-alert, this information is rarely shared with the lawyers — because the lawyers aren’t demanding it. If you have an open rate that is substantially higher than your last few blasts, even just 5-10% higher, then you are having success and should go deeper into that topic.
At that point, you can “serialize” the content. This week in conversations with Adrian Lurssen at JD Supra, he talked to me about creating a 2,3,4 or 10 part series to go deeper into the topics that have been successful. Hold a webinar on the topic, put together a lunchtime CLE, or plan an event with speakers. Now that you know what your clients are enjoying, take advantage of that knowledge. Give your clients what they have shown they want.
Now numbers alone can be misleading, sometimes a flashy headline mentioning a celebrity can attract more clients, but when you are actually creating useful and timely information, the numbers tell a story.
This morning when my son was asking what bugs eat, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it didn’t really matter what he fed them. Bugs just don’t live that long. You will have better luck with your clients by paying close attention to what they need.
“Once I launched my blog, the money just started pouring in,” said no one ever.
In the United States we are all about the moment: The game winning catch in the super bowl; The winning putt in the Masters; And of course, the game winning home run in baseball. It is easy to create a narrative out of the big moment, but in sports, life, and marketing, success rarely can be boiled down to just a single moment.
Yesterday, I joined Adrian Lurssen of JD Supra and David Ackert of Practice Boomers for a discussion about LinkedIn and the changing role of content in law firms. By content we mean: blog posts, newsletters, articles, e-alerts and other educational information created by lawyers. One of the biggest talking points that resonated with me was the illusive idea of writing blog posts to win a new big piece of business.
I’m not saying it never happens, Adrian Lurrsen and I have both seen the right article at the right time connect a company with a new law firm, but it is rare and it is the exception.
The majority of people do business with people they’ve done business with before and know, like, and trust. Sharing our content with those people in the long run may be far more powerful than fishing for strangers with our writing.
However, there are three other powerful ways our content help build our practice, other than through helping us meet total strangers.
1. Help us connect and stay top of mind with our existing connections.
2. Help reassure existing clients that they made a great choice.
3. Become the subject of other people’s conversations.
These first two reasons for creating content in a baseball context can be considered singles, keeping us connecting and making sure we keep business coming in at a steady stream. The third is more like a double or triple — When we create content that becomes the subject of other people’s conversations, then we are not only gaining free advertising and greater name recognition in the marketplace, but we also become known to a much larger network that we couldn’t have accessed before.
This will often lead to speaking opportunities or opportunities to write for major publications and that is exactly the type of exposure that is more likely to lead to new relationships that could result in more business. I’ve shared Adrian Lurssen’s graphic below. That Adrian, smart guy.
I guess my whole point is, lawyers need to get out there and write and be happy with hitting singles — singles win ball games and singles keep your clients happy. You may just hit a home run one of these days, but even if you don’t, at least you’re in the game.
Fewer than 5% of partners in big law firms use Twitter. I say to them, with 500,000,000 users, are you waiting for it to take off?
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
This classic line has been used for years to let a soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend down easy. For the last few years, law firm use of LinkedIn has absolutely exploded. Yet Twitter usage is still in the doldrums.
Who’s fault is this?
Is it the lawyers or is it the Twitter platform? Bruce MacEwen over at Adam Smith Esq recently suggested the problem with Twitter isn’t lawyers inability to wrap their heads around Twitter, but Twitter itself. In his latest article entitled simply #Twitter MacEwen suggests that if Twitter was really any good at all, that utility would have become clear to lawyers by now. In fact, he suggests the problem isn’t that lawyers don’t understand Twitter, but that there really isn’t much to it.
He makes three other points, and each one is concise enough that it could be presented in a Tweet:
First, he suggests that the real benefit of Twitter needs to be explained with a wink and a nod, the quote he claimed to have heard many times was, “once you get it, you get it.”
This is a lazy way of presenting Twitter’s value proposition; The real value of Twitter is obvious and easy to describe. The genius of Twitter is that unlike the closed networks of Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter is an open network with a searchable API. There are no barriers to entry other than the quality of your thoughts and ideas. The traditional gatekeepers can be side-stepped instantly because everything shared on Twitter is searchable.
Twitter is a marketplace of ideas, and I would think that with a site name like Adam Smith Esq that MacEwen would love watching the invisible hand at work on Twitter. In this marketplace, the brightest minds stand out. The good ideas are passed on, while those who post nonsense or worse are ignored or ridiculed. Twitter users aren’t posting for the enlightenment of society, they are posting to move forward some idea and they succeed only if there are other individuals using Twitter to hear those ideas. No money changes hands, but there is a transaction occurring: One person writes an article to share on Twitter, but the only way she can succeed is if there is an audience out there for what she has written.
Twitter’s basic value is clear, and it is not that complicated.
Second, MacEwen claims to have heard of occasional stories of friendships made through Twitter and that these are exceptional events. He argues that, “When one is discussing the overall social value of a technology or a service, you are obligated to focus on its general, center of the bell curve, impact, and not on outlier special cases.” In essence, he posits that we can’t claim serendipitous connections are reason enough to use Twitter, because these events are so rare.
Here’s the thing: Nobody is claiming that meeting amazing people through Twitter is the meat of the technology. I have gained amazing friendships through Twitter, all over the world. Yet still, it isn’t what makes Twitter so useful; It’s just another positive externality of Twitter. There are myriad externalities of Twitter that alone may seem trivial but combine to make a powerful case for the use of Twitter. What happens when disaster, revolution or war hit in any country in the world? What is the one platform that continues to serve as an information source both to those in the zones of danger and those at home? #Twitter.
Twitter didn’t play a key role in the Arab Spring because it is trendy; It helped topple multiple wicked regimes because it is useful.
Third and finally, MacEwen brings up that 140 characters is not enough to say anything of substance. This is the same argument that Scott Greenfield was making back when Twitter had only 10 Million users, but now that Twitter has over 500,000,000 users, the argument falls on deaf ears. Reporters have been using short snappy hooks and headlines for years to sell news programs and papers. Twitter does the same. Limiting your thinking on Twitter to 140 characters ignores the fact that over 50% of Tweets include links to source content. The tweets aren’t meant to stand on their own, but to point to other more in-depth writing as well as critical thinking.
I respect MacEwen and have really enjoyed his blog over the years. I think he is a very intelligent person. But, I think he makes a mistake when he extrapolates that it has zero validity as a marketing tool in law firms because Twitter wasn’t much good for him. Twitter makes conversations and the flow of information searchable in a way that will always be useful.
I don’t expect to change anybody’s mind on the topic of Twitter, but I think those who continue to love and use Twitter don’t need to feel like outliers. They still have over half a billion Twitter users to keep them company.
If it makes MacEwen feel better, I’d like to speak on Twitter’s behalf and tell him that it sounds like it just isn’t working out between us. It’s not you, it’s me.
The new buzzwords in legal marketing are “corporate journalism.”
This term was made famous by the latest findings of the Greentarget/ALM/Zeughauser’s 2014 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey and is defined as “a practice that combines an organization’s market intelligence and subject matter expertise with the credibility and narrative techniques of professional journalism.”
The challenges for law firms attempting to engage in corporate journalism are obvious: First, law firms generally aren’t very good at investing in market intelligence; And second, the majority of large law firm lawyers don’t know how to write like journalists. Each of of these problems strike at the core of what corporate journalism is, yet there is an even bigger problem, which I will call the corporate journalism dilemma.
Let me describe it this way: At law firms you hopefully have three types of practices: Those that are growing; Those that are stagnant; And those that are on the decline. Which of these is most in need of corporate journalism? The answer might surprise you. Investing time and resources into content online makes sense with growing practices. Unless there is real potential for growth, the time and money expended by the lawyers and the firm in creating content just won’t be worth it. What if the lawyer with the stagnant practice wants to write in his free time? Fine, but it can’t be a priority of the firm.
I’ve written two books on social media & blogging and although I believe that these tools are effective, I don’t believe they are right for every lawyer and every practice area. Here is what is happening right now in law firms:
1. Law firm A has identified a huge growth area and decided it would be great to build a blog there to leverage the firm’s growing reputation in this expanding marketing.
2. Lawyers at firm A are far too busy to write or blog because they are doing billable work. As a result, the firm misses out on a major growth opportunity.
Even worse, I’ve seen the other extreme happen at law firms.
1. Law firms decide to start blogging, but they don’t base the blog strategy on market intelligence. Instead they encourage anybody that wants to create content at the firm to start a blog.
2. As a result, more content is being created by the firm, but none of it directed at the most productive practice or industry groups.
How do firms solve this dilemma? How do they get the right type of content from the busiest lawyers at the right time? There are two real solutions.
First, prioritize content creation and tie the success of good content creation into the compensation of lawyers, or…
Second, hire professional writers and journalists to create the content. Each law firm has key strategic initiatives every year, but far too often there is not a content strategy aligned with the firm’s key initiatives.
Social media, blogging and content creation are no longer shiny objects that can be relegated to the geeks and innovators within your law firm — They need to become essential tools that can pulled out and used to build the credibility of your firm and execute on the key market opportunities that your law firm identifies. Corporate journalism isn’t easy. It requires substantial resources and deliberate focus, but there is no more effective method of reaching potential clients. Every firm faces this same dilemma, but the most successful firms in the next decade will have found the solution.
When was the last time you received a hand-written thank you card? Did you take the time to read it? How did it make you feel? Now let me ask you a different question, when was the last time you received a corporate newsletter from a company or law firm in your email inbox? 10 just this morning? By comparison, how did those make you feel? If you are like me, they didn’t make you feel anything, they were sent in an automated fashion to a pre-populated spreadsheet of email addresses.
Law firms can do better. Law firms have the ability to make these messages more personal. Instead of blasting a single message to every email address on the corporate list—law firms should encourage individual lawyers to build their own email lists to send out similar information, with a personal touch. For a partner’s top contacts, they can send a personalized email telling them why the email is important. In numerous panels I’ve attended of in-house counsel, buyers of legal services have insisted that the personal email messages with content attached are the ones they read. So why don’t we send more personalized communication?
For all of the other individuals on a lawyer’s email list, they can send out an automated message that is more personal. So instead of having the email come from “Corporate Group at White Shoe Firm X” it instead comes from “Kevin Bacon” or whoever and can include some personality or individuality in the note that won’t leave people feeling like they just received an automated note from a robot. More highly personalized messaged work better and are more effective at convincing readers to take action.
On March 31st of this year, based on the votes submitted by thousands of lawyers and hundreds of law firms, I was voted the winner of Best Social Media Consultant by the National Law Journal. In the two previous years, I had asked for people to vote for me using social media only, but this year I took I different approach, instead I asked my entire email list to take 15 seconds and vote for me. That simple email propelled me to first place.
There are over 40,000 people in my combined social network lists, yet only a couple thousand in my email list. So what was worth more? Hands down, it was the email list. The vast majority of those in my email list have met me in person or heard me speak at an event. They know me, and so by checking my read report, I was able to see that a high percentage of those I emailed took the time to click on the link and vote for me.
Social media is great and powerful, I absolutely love it, but your email list has the potential to be 10X as powerful because the quality of the relationships there are generally much more substantial. There are a lot of different email marketing tools out there, I personally use Concep for my email marketing and I love their platform. Their tools make it easy to send or schedule the messages and then view the analytics to improve my conversion rates. That second part is key, most law firms don’t share the analytics with the lawyers, not because they are unwilling, but because the lawyers don’t understand how valuable the information is. Using Concep’s analytics lawyers can see the name of every one of their contacts that has opened an email and whether or not they forwarded that email on to someone else. That is important information, especially when it leads to follow up.
Some legal marketers may not like this post because creating individualized email lists for every lawyer at a firm is a massive task, but won’t it be worth it if it substantially increases conversion rates? The email lists are the low hanging fruit for lawyers, they already know these people, they just need to do a better job of keeping in touch with them. Or they could keep doing things the way they are currently doing them. Just don’t expect different results. If the last century was all about automation, this century will be about personalization. Firms need to find ways to make that happen.