John McDougall: Hi, I’m John McDougall, and I’m here today with Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog. We’re in part two, talking about law firm content, social media, and blogging for trust and rankings. Welcome back Kevin.
Kevin O’Keefe: Thanks John.
John: How important is social media for increasing trust for attorneys? At the very least, is it a negative when you click on social media icons, that they reveal almost no followers on Facebook or Twitter?
Kevin: I don’t know that I’d beat somebody up over not having followers on Twitter…
Kevin: …or likes on Facebook.
John: That might get in the news. [laughs]
Kevin: Look at these things as networking. These are vehicles that we can network today, if you choose to use them, that you use them. They’re certainly not validation tools in and of themselves.
This is not a race to put on a show. If Twitter followers were…There have been and there’s lawyers still that have software, that go out and get Twitter followers. I get hammered by some of those things.
I can see that they’ve got tens of thousands of Twitter followers. Does that make them a better lawyer? God help the people that think it does.
John: When they’re buying it on Fiverr. [laughs]
Kevin: But what does it do? So what? They have that. They have whitewalls, does that make them a better lawyer? No.
I think the social media represents, for lawyers, the opportunity to network through the Internet. Networking allows you to come in contact with people, and by coming in contact with people, you can build relationships. As you build relationships you can establish trust. It’s just a vehicle.
John: That’s good. That makes sense. People buy from those that they know, like, and trust. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, being an attorney is supposedly among the least trusted occupations in America.
Can attorneys gain some of that trust back, and initiate the influence principle of reciprocity by giving of their knowledge through website content?
Kevin: You’re tying a lot together. You don’t need to give anything away in your website content to gain that trust back. In fact, you’d be much better off gaining trust back by not using social media. I’m not a big believer that you try to bring people back through your website because most people, like you just said, they don’t trust lawyers.
I’m also a big believer that one of the reasons people don’t trust lawyers is because of lawyers advertisements, period. I believe that websites are advertisements, so to bring people back to something they don’t trust, that defies logic. What are you doing?
Why not be out using modalities online to go out, and connect with people where they are? People don’t hang out at lawyer websites. They just don’t. They don’t bounce around at home at night, and go “Let’s go to the lawyer websites…
Kevin: …and see who we can build trust with.” I could tell you where they do hang out. They hang out on Facebook.
The best lawyers in certain communities, you know how they get work? Civic groups, hospital boards, church groups, little league, soccer, coffee shops, you name it, getting out, and just being themselves.
Somebody at some point in time might even ask them “What is it that you do? What is it that you do? Oh, you’re a Lawyer? OK.” The person that the lawyer gets the work from probably isn’t going to be the person that they met. It’s going to be the person that asks the person that the lawyer met, “Do they know a lawyer?”
The more that you’re out there just being yourself with other people, doing what other people enjoy doing, what you both enjoy doing at the same time, the more likely you’re going to get your work.
If you like to hunt as a lawyer, then you hang out with hunters. You might get work over time because somebody asks one of the hunters “Who’s your corporate lawyer? Ours is retiring. I’ve got a business with 100 employees. Who do you use?”
That’s how lawyers get work. What you’ve got to realize is you got to leave your law office, you got to leave your website. You’ve got to go out, and network, and build relationships.
Facebook’s a great way to do it. People do it on LinkedIn. They’re publishing information on LinkedIn. They can publish it as a status update. They can publish it, actual publishing it now, as opposed to linking it. People are doing it on Twitter. They’re sharing insight, and commentary from sources that they follow on the issue that they blog about.
If I take a picture at a Mariners game last night and I put it up on Twitter, and a couple of people here in Seattle like it, that strengthens my relationship with those people. One of them is one of the leading First Amendment and media lawyers in the country.
That’s the way I look at stuff. I may look at it weird, but I look at it as you’ve got to get away from your law office. You’ve got to get away from where people don’t trust you to go to where people do trust relationships.
John: There’s nothing beats a solid relationship and real interactions with people. It relates a little bit to our work with our clients doing Internet marketing over the years.
I learned from my father who had the sixth largest ad agency in New England, McDougall Associates Advertising. He always said, “If you create a good relationship with your clients, if times are hard and you screw up ‑‑ even if you screw up and you blow it in some marketing campaign that you’re doing for them ‑‑ they’re more likely to forgive you, and give you another chance, and really work with them, if you’re an honest good person and they like you.”
You can’t do it just, “It’s all about new business. It’s all about just pumping out content to get into people’s faces.” I like where you’re going with this recurring theme of real networking, real people.
If you’re going to do blogging, if you’re going to do social media, don’t just do it, even for legal content. Put out real content. Those are great thoughts to be more engaging.
If a picture is worth a thousand words ‑‑ and research has indicate that over 70 percent of what we communicate is through our tone and body language, not just through our words ‑‑ doesn’t that make images, audio, video an incredible part of influencing website visitors?
Kevin: You’re going back to the “influencing website visitors.” I don’t know. I’m not trying to get anybody to…A website is really important, but I wouldn’t buy that if I put a certain type of picture up there, it’s going to attract more people to come to a website.
Somebody may prove me to be a liar or that if I put a video up on the website, it’s going to cause more people to come to the website.
Images are critically important. If I go to Flipboard and I’m flipping through the content, if I go to any type of RSS reader and I’m flipping through the content ‑‑those are what the influencers are using ‑‑ there’s going to be a large image. That image is coming out on the top of a blog. It’s a large image at the top.
If I’m sharing information on Facebook, it’s going to have a large image. Video is valuable. Video, to me, is more valuable when somebody’s getting interviewed by an independent party that credentializes what they’re doing.
There is some pretty good stuff out there on that now. It all depends on what people want to pay for those type of things. The lawyers that do good podcasts that will be diligent to follow up week after week so that the podcasts are just loading in, that could be worthwhile, as well.
John: You mean by “podcasts loading in,” to do it regularly with frequency? What did you mean by that?
Kevin: Yeah, I would think once a week.
John: Like a radio show?
Kevin: Yeah, because if I ask people about it, they’re going to get podcasts that come right into their iPhones, just to be automatically updated because they’re subscribed to them.
John: I know that at the LMA Orlando, you had an awesome booth with video. I got to be interviewed by your team and I appreciate that. That was a lot of fun.
How did that do, adding all those snippets of video content? Was that a good way to outreach for you guys? Connect to a lot of influencers and people through that?
Kevin: What it does is there’s certain organizations and there’s certain people we want to have good relationships with. By working with the Legal Marketing Association to expand the reach of that conference beyond the four corners, that’s good for our organization.
I also think it’s important for us to give back to that organization in that way. That’s an organization that’s made up of people that work very hard and put up with a lot of grief back at their law firms at times, so if there’s ways that we can give back to them, that was a good way to do that.
John: A lot of people had a lot of fun with that, were able to share that with each other, and was so much appreciated.
Last question, does thought leadership and blogging matter more, in your opinion, to B2B or business‑to‑consumer attorneys.
Kevin: I don’t think it matters at all. I started using the Internet in rural Wisconsin doing work primarily for injury victims and their family members. I guess that would classify me as a B2C. I’m not even sure we used the term.
By sharing insight with three to four answers a day that took us a half hour to do, people loved it. They passed it all over the place. Built a state reputation and national reputation for helping folks. I think sometimes people think, “That’s not really important.”
I also found that those lawyers in the B2C places had the largest medical malpractice cases, the largest product liability cases, they tended to be some really, really good lawyers. They were fellow board members of my State Trial Lawyers’ Association, and they were members of ABOTA.
If you had to label people “thought leaders,” these guys, I suppose, would be thought leaders. Women would be thought leaders. On the business side, I think it’s the same thing. People want to know that their lawyer is a good lawyer.
What are they following? What are they writing on? Do I see them speaking at conferences? Are they quoted in the media, those type of things? They want to see that level of influence so I don’t think it really matters.
John: With the “AmLaw 200 State of the Blogosphere,” I’m a big fan of your report. If our listeners haven’t checked that out, definitely take a look at that report.
You cite employment attorneys, health care, intellectual property, different practice areas being the most blogged about. Are there any key practice areas that you think are the hottest for blogging, or all attorneys should be doing it?
Kevin: You don’t follow a hot area, you go for whatever your passion is. If you’re going to spend the time blogging, in my opinion, the most important thing is to have a passion. This is what I totally want to do. This is totally what I want to be known for, as a go‑to lawyer. These are totally the type of clients that I want to represent, period.
You throw your heart over the bar and let your body follow, because if a lawyer can do that in cruise law, if they could do that in equine law, if they could do it in FMLA law, they can do it in fashion law…There’s a lawyer, I don’t even think she’s 40 years old, that I’m following in Hong Kong right now. She’s at a fashion law institute or fashion industry institute, right now because of her blogging.
Last year she was in Brazil. She’s known around the world by virtue of that. What did she have? She had incredible passion. This is what she wanted to do, and now she’s done it.
Now, before her kids are even in junior high, she’s showing them that you can do what you want to do, if you put your mind to it. She’s gone out and done it. That’s what’s most important for lawyers.
John: That’s really good advice. We do have people come to us. They try and pick, “We want to get the most search results, we want to pick the hottest areas,” but I think you are absolutely right. It’s very hard to see content that’s either outsourced like you said, or written not very passionately, then being shared, and engaged with.
In those early days, where SEO really did work well, you could pump out a bunch of crap content just to have more pages indexed in Google. It would work, it really did. It didn’t necessarily convert people [laughs] when people got back there, but those days are gone.
Passion. I like that as a theme of our conversation today. Be passionate and good things will follow from that. Any other final thoughts or success stories of people blogging, or things that you’re up to at LexBlog that you want to leave us with?
Kevin: No, we don’t have to get into it.
I appreciate the opportunity of being on.
John: Absolutely. Good luck with everything at LexBlog. If there’s anything we can do for you, let us know. Again, this was John McDougall with Kevin of LexBlog.
You can go to LexBlog.com and check out the AmLaw State of the Blogosphere. We’ll talk to you soon, Kevin.
Kevin: Take care. You have a great day.
John: See you later.