John McDougall: Hi, I’m John McDougall and I’m back with Katherine Larkin‑Wong, President of Ms. JD and Nicole Chiu‑Wang, the Board of Directors and Chair of Marketing Communications Committee, as well as Jane Rosales, the Social Media Manager at Ms. JD.
In this section, we’re going to be talking about law firm content, social media and blogging for trust and rankings. How important is social media for increasing trust for attorneys? At the very least, is it a negative when you click on a website on, say, their Facebook icon, Twitter icon and there are almost no followers?
Jane Rosales: Hi, John, this is Jane. It’s so important to be increasing trust, especially on social media. There is so much content and so much noise. You really want to move past that and find what’s real.
I’m not sure that it’s completely negative when you click on a Facebook page or a Twitter page and they have no followers. I would just like to know that they’re not spam and they’re real people who are sharing our content and commenting on our content online.
I think it’s really important to know what’s authentic and what’s legitimate online, especially on Facebook and Twitter. As Nicole had mentioned earlier, you could buy Twitter followers and Facebook likes, but knowing what’s real is really important.
John: Yeah, that’s a really good point. Definitely. The search engines have…Well, search and social media sites alike, Google with Google Plus and Bing with their own algorithms, have ways to detect whose fake and not.
I was on a webinar with Duane Forrester of Bing and he was talking about detecting fake profiles and growth in social media and he had a graphic. On the left, he had one where it looked like blobs of ink with lines going between them and, on the right, he had loads of tiny little dots connected by lots of tiny little lines.
He said, “On the left, this is how we detect when people just buy likes on Fiverr. It’s just like blobs and we can basically see that the growth of your social following is fake.” I thought that was fascinating, but the average user, just clicking on a Twitter, following, “Oh, look, 80,000 people following them on Twitter.” They assume, “Oh, that’s so amazing there.” I don’t know how that’s going to play out, but it’s a definite issue online, for sure.
The age‑old saying is that people buy from those that they know, like and trust. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, being an attorney, supposedly, is 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?
Nicole: This is Nicole. First of all, as to attorneys being the least trusted occupation in America, I think that’s incredibly sad because your attorney actually has so many ethical duties to you. As someone whose parents are both attorneys, it’s my personal mission to make sure that we continue to better the profession because I think it is an incredibly ethical, wonderful profession that I’m proud to be a part of as an admitted attorney.
Getting off my soapbox, attorneys can gain some trust back by just being out there. From the attorneys that I’ve talked to, whether they’re in big law or have their own practices, they try to share their experiences as much as they can. There are client confidentiality issues and that sort of thing. They’re trying to write content that their clients will find useful, and in that way opening themselves up and making it not $300 to have a one‑hour conversation with me. They are, I think, gaining a lot more trust and recognition for their expertise.
John: Yeah, that makes sense. Some of the other people we’ve interviewed have said, like Professor David Wilkins said, “People hate attorneys in general, supposedly, but they love their actual attorney.” It’s ironic. People will say those things and then how amazing is your attorney when your family has a health problem directly caused by someone?
I had an intellectual property issue with one of my employees about 10 years ago. I searched Google and found a great intellectual property attorney. Boy, was I happy with them. It’s an amazing scenario. There probably are a lot of ways that attorneys can deepen trust.
John: Yeah? Go ahead. Chime in.
Nicole: Can I just make one comment on that?
Nicole: I think that you’re making a really important point, which is that, again, you’ve got to know your clients. You’ve got to know who you’re targeting as an attorney. If your clients aren’t people who are going to be on social media or who aren’t necessarily going to be looking for you on Google, then you have to figure out where are the ways and in what ways you connect with them.
It may be through industry or trade journals or things like that, that’s how you connect with your clients. You need to get yourself there. I think just being cognizant of that and being aware of that is important. Again, as an attorney, as you’re figuring out where are you going to spend your time, I think that’s an important consideration, so I just wanted to mention [laughs] .
John: Yeah. No, absolutely. That’s great. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, and researchers indicate that over 70 percent of what we communicate is through our tone and body language, not through our words always, doesn’t that make images, audio, and video an incredible part of influencing website visitors?
Nicole: So absolutely, basically I think with the rise of the Internet, it’s not even just that what’s mostly communicated through personal interactions is with tone and body language, but actually the Internet has made us lose our attention spans to add on top of that. So images, audio, and video are engaging, and I think that’s even more why they’re so important because people have short attention spans, and that’s why there are services like Vine, where they create a 15‑second video and you can upload it.
That’s why everybody’s using animated GIFs now, where it’s literally like a moving picture and it only lasts a couple seconds long, because movement draws people eyes there. There’s all this software that’s developed for user experience researchers to be able to see where someone’s eyes are looking on the screen, and people are drawn to movement and to pictures. So I think it’s incredibly important. Jane, do you have anything to add?
Jane: Well, for images, in terms of working with Facebook and Twitter, it’s just so important, because you get more click rates that way. We draw more people to the website when there is an image in the link or in the post. It’s very helpful in terms of bringing people to the website and once they get to the website checking out all the other great content that we have and so images are just very important in terms of just getting eyes back to our website and the content that we have there.
John: Yeah, the web became so visual over the last couple of years with Pinterest and first with Flickr and then Pinterest and then like you said, Vine videos and just all kinds of different ways that the web has become more visual, both static pictures and video content.
Of course, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Google owns it, and it’s bigger than Bing and Yahoo, so there are a lot of reasons that if you’re doing video content and it’s bringing you search results, it’s warming people up to you because they actually get to hear you speak and see you move and really get a little bit of energy from you, not just a wall of words about “The firm does this and the firm does that.”
Nicole: I think pictures are an interesting thing. I think attorneys tend to shy away from things like Pinterest and the like as being a potential way to develop clients. I think two things to think about. One is, if you have a side interest that is easily shown in images, if you’re interested in fashion law, having a vibrant fashion‑related Pinterest is a great way to get yourself out there and potentially connect with people who you want to be connecting with.
Similarly, if you are someone who’s involved in art law, that’s a great example of something that can be a great way of driving people to you. At Ms. JD, we post everything from infographic tips and tricks on our Pinterest, from LinkedIn to “Here’s what’s worn in the office.” I think you want to be creative with these things. I think they can be a really great opportunity to do something different and possibly connect with a different community as well.
John: Yeah, those are great thoughts and a couple of fun examples with art law and fashion law, for sure and to that point of different types of law and what works better, do you think thought leadership and blogging matter more to B2B or business to consumer attorneys? Is there a big difference from, say, mass tort and personal injury to corporate law, IP law and things like that?
Nicole: John, I think it’s more about the content of the blogging. Also, going back to what Katie said, which is ultimately the be all and end all of this discussion. It’s knowing who you are in your practice and as an individual, and also who your clients are or who you’re trying to target.
It goes back to say whether these people are people that would expect to find this kind of content, so what’s appropriate, what they’re going to be looking for and engage with. It can’t really be split along those lines, as far as I’m concerned. It really depends what kind of brand you’re building and what kind of clients or people you’re trying to connect with.
John: It can be good for both, basically. If they’re corporate attorneys or IP or, like you said, fashion law are different things. Or health care, employment law, there are some corporate or business‑to‑business things. If you have content that matches your audience, that’s going to be great. Just like it might be good for a personal injury attorney to immediately get a client from it.
Katie: The thing I would add to that is, ask your clients what they’re reading or what they receive. Then take a look at what they’re publishing and write something that they would publish. This stuff, I think people think that this is extremely complicated strategically. I think it actually can be quite simple, but you do have to ask the questions and figure out where you want to be, based on what you have going on.
It may be that the local news is a great way for you to develop clients and doing a spot on the local news will get you somewhere. Well then, the next question is, how do you pitch something to them that’s interesting? It may be that that’s not the right fit for your practice.
Like I said, you need to be an [indecipherable 12:24] for your journal. What are they publishing? What are their clients concerned about? Who are the people you’re hoping to turn into clients?
John: Yeah, those are great thoughts. Basically, make sure you’re where your customers are and that you’re developing content that matches the mediums that they’re in. Good, any other thoughts from any of you guys?
Nicole: I guess because I am chair of the Marketing and Communications Committee, this would mean to say that…to one thing and reiterate the fact that for us, we’ve created a really special place. We are now a special place for women in the law and those who support women in the law, to really grow their expertise and at present, both online and offline, as Katie pointed out. There are other resources and like Katie said, it’s not as hard as it looks. You just need to search for those resources and then go use them.
John: OK, that’s great. Any other thoughts from anyone else?
Jane: I’ll just add that we are always here. You can tell that we do a lot of this. We’ve gotten pretty fluent at it. If you have specific questions or ideas that you want some help flushing out, www.ms‑jd.org. We’re happy to help and strategize with you. We have a lot of fun doing this and we’re happy to share it.
John: That’s great. It sounds like an amazing resource. Again, that’s ms‑jd.org, is that correct?
Jane: That’s it.
Nicole: That’s right.
John: All right, really good talking to you guys, and hope to get you back on again soon.
Katie: Thanks so much, John.
John: See you later.