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Social Media for Law Firms: Facebook vs. LinkedIn

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Get Noticed Get Found Facebook vs. LinkedIn for Law Firms ImageLately, after I give a talk about Internet Marketing to a roomful of attorneys or other representatives from law firms people seek me out after the talk and always ask about social media.  The biggest question I get is where should I spend my time, on Facebook or LinkedIn?

It is no wonder that more people are asking about social media.  It is getting a lot of buzz these days and rightfully so. If you take a look at the latest 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report (follow the link for the blog post by Michael Stelzner to get this great report) the Social Media Examiner found the following:

“Marketers seek to learn more about Facebook and blogging:

  • 70% of marketers want to learn more about Facebook and 69% want to learn more about blogging.

The top benefits of social media marketing:

  • The number-one advantage of social media marketing (by a long shot) is generating more business exposure, as indicated by 88% of marketers.
  • Increased traffic (72%) and improved search rankings (62%) were also major advantages.

The top social media tools:

  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs were the top four social media tools used by marketers, in that order.
  • Facebook has eclipsed Twitter to take the top spot since our 2010 study.

Social media is important for my business:

  • The self-employed (67%) and small business owners with 2 or more employees (66%) were more likely to strongly agree.

Benefits of social media marketing:

  • A significant, 88%, of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses.
  • Improving traffic and subscribers was the second major benefit, with 72% reporting positive results.
  • As search engine rankings improve, so will business exposure and lead generation efforts, and overall marketing expenses will decrease.
  • The number-one benefit of social media marketing is standing out in an increasingly noisy world
  • Nearly two-thirds of marketers indicated a rise in search engine rankings was a benefit
  • Owners of small businesses (2 to 100 employees) were more likely than others to report greater exposure (89.2% reporting benefits).

Commonly used social media tools:

  • All of the other social mediatools paled in comparison to these top four.  By a long shot, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs were the top four social media tools use by marketers, with Facebook leading the pack.  All of the other social media tools paled in comparison to these top four.
  • The self-employed (80%) and owners of small businesses (78%) were more likely to use LinkedIn.
  • B2C are more focused on Facebook and B2B are more focused on LinkedIn and video. Also note that B2B companies are utilizing blogs more.

The number of those who are outsourcing has doubled since our 2010 report, from 14% to 28%”

 

That is some very compelling information.  Small business owners are using social media and seeing increased search traffic, increased business exposure, and most importantly, increased business.  Many Law Firms and clients we work with consider themselves small business owners so it is not surprising and goes along with the data that we find many of them already have a LinkedIn presence but have little Facebook presence.  However, many of these firms would be classified as Business to Consumer (B2C) and thus the data shows us that the majority of marketers in this category are focusing on Facebook.

In fact I think Kevin O’Keefe lays it out there for other lawyers to challenge themselves to treat Facebook like any other real world networking opportunity in his recent blog post: Facebook for lawyers : Wonderful relationship building medium for business development.  In this post he says:

“Relationships with other people, no matter where those relationships emanate from, can lead to business for lawyers. Facebook should be looked at by lawyers as a relationship building medium. Limiting your use of Facebook as a lawyer to your ‘personal side,’ and nurturing ‘professional relationships’ elsewhere on the Internet is a mistake. You’ll be missing out on the opportunity to build and nurture relationships that can lead to business….

…As a lawyer you may meet people by coaching baseball or hockey. I did. You may meet people by sitting on a local non-profit board raising money for a home for developmentally disabled children. I did. You may meet people sitting on a local bank board. I did. You may meet people sitting on the board of your state’s trial lawyers association. I did. Why not get to know better through Facebook the people I got to know and like well through those relationship baskets? If I grew to like and know the parents of a kid on my team so well I’d send them a Christmas card with our kids’ picture on it, why not connect with them on Facebook? The people you get to know through your ‘relationship baskets’ present business development opportunities whether you like it or not. People get to know you’re a lawyer. They will overtime have business or personal needs for a lawyer. They’ll turn to someone they know and trust when they do — you. If you can’t help them out, you’ll refer them on to a lawyer who can. That lawyer will reciprocate over time. If Facebook enabled you to see the family vacation pictures of those friends you have met through these ‘relationship baskets’ and vice versa do you think you’d grow tighter? Do you think if you each got to see the news and info you each were reading through Facebook that you’d see where you have similar business, sports, and social interests? That data (pictures, news, info etc) shared on Facebook allows us to engage people we know and nurture relationships based on common interests. Relationships built on trust. It’s relationships built on trust that are the foundation of business development success for you as a lawyer, whether you’re in a large law firm or on your own.Rather than look at the Internet as law firm websites, alerts, and email newsletters, look at the Internet as an opportunity to accelerate relationships and grow your word of mouth reputation as a good lawyer. Facebook is such an accelerator. As a lawyer, don’t dismiss Facebook as an opportunity for business development. That would be a mistake.”

Well said Kevin. If you look at what other marketers are doing, if you are a firm focusing on Business customers LinkedIn should be your starting point and if your clients are the general public Consumers then Facebook is where you want a presence.

However, sometimes it pays to not just follow other marketers.  Our data and success stories have shown us that business users use Facebook and that general public consumers use LinkedIn.  In addition, the strategies to approach each of these networks is a little different (although they seem to be converging lately).

Let’s take LinkedIn for example.  If you are an estate planning attorney who has had good success helping families prepare for the complexities involved with an aging parent who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – there are dozens of groups on LinkedIn for this topic alone.  There is a good chance that one of the 2200 members in the Alzheimer’s Association group on LinkedIn, is someone who may need your help in your town.  This would not be your standard B2B customer but they are certainly spending time and interacting with groups on LinkedIn.  Or, for example, your firm is located in Cincinnati, Ohio – it definitely can’t hurt to connect with some of the almost 18,000 members of the LinkedCincinnati group. If you want more information about this, check out our earlier post: Grow Your Firm with Linkedin – For Attorneys

The other useful piece of information that you should know about LinkedIn is that the majority of users on LinkedIn have an annual income over (or well over) $50,000.  That is a good market in which you should be networking.

Facebook has many benefits as well, as Kevin O’Keefe expressed above.  In addition there is great targeted advertising that you can do on Facebook that you can’t do practically anywhere else on the internet or traditional media.  Plus, with over half a billion people on Facebook who are now conditioned to share things with friends and family, Facebook is a great way to encourage word-of-mouth marketing.  Stay tuned for another post where we will go much deeper into the best ways to utilize Facebook to grow your law firm.

So in short the answer for Facebook vs. LinkedIn is: YES.

We believe that both are very, very important social media tools for Law Firms, but unlike many marketing consultants out there, we recommend, based on our experience with law firms across the country, that LinkedIn should not be ignored for attorney’s who would often be categorized as Business to Consumer.

Let us know your thoughts (or tell us about your success) about Facebook vs. LinkedIn below

If you still have some questions then maybe our whitepaper – Are You Wasting Your Hard-Earned Advertising Dollars? How Attorneys Blow It With Traditional Advertising & How You Can Dominate Page #1 of Google — can help – it’s just one of the many free resources we provide.

About Mark Homer

Using a strong blend of technology, marketing, consulting, and management experience gained from his twenty years in the business world, Mark leads the GNGF team to deliver targeted and efficient results with a focus on high-touch service. When not managing the day-to-day operations at GNGF, Mark can usually be found coaching little league or trying to brew up another batch of craft beer. Mark Homer's Google+ Profile

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