The best 10 minutes of the Law Firm Marketing Partner Forum happened to me at 5:00 PM after sitting through 8 hours of presentations. The last session, Social and Electronic Media 2011: How Firms are Using It Successfully, had just ended. Most session attendees had made a bee line out the door and off to the bar. I wandered toward the podium where the usual group of hangers-on were chatting up the presenters.
Earlier in the Forum, at a different session, one of the speakers, Silvia Coulter with Hildebrandt, had observed how social media was free. No, I thought (and tweeted) social media is NOT free. Good content strategy requires substantial resources. Only the medium is free.
Now, at the podium was Alice Grey Harrison, from Dixon Hughes PLC, the largest CPA firm based in the Southern US. Alice had just described to us a recruiting effort based largely on a Twitter campaign. Her honest assessment: “I’m thanking God it worked out. It could have been a complete failure.” With Alice was Hans Haglund, from Paul Hastings. Hans had described a pilot social media listening campaign featuring one of the firm’s practice areas. My question to each of the panelists was simply how had each secured the human resources required to make their social media initiatives work. Their responses revealed the simple truths about the direction of marketing in general and social media marketing in particular.
Alice first noted that their firm’s marketing staff was growing. They had recently merged their company with Goodman & Company LLP. But she quickly added that they were not putting the emphasis on print media that they had. And they were migrating their marketing skill sets from people who could assemble brochures and other print collateral to those who could create online content. Bingo – content generation replaces print collateral.
Hans response was equally insightful. The case he presented was not about publishing but about mining social media for actionable opportunity. Hans had noted that their experiment had discovered that 1 of 10 social media conversations about their brand was actionable in some way.
Who, I asked Hans, was frittering away their time in social media environments to uncover this information? He responded that all the effort was done internally by a combination of analysts and their IT people. He acknowledged the effort was resource intensive. If they determined the benefit was great enough, consideration would have to be given to growing head count or moving marketing staff activities from their emphasis on their traditional marketing.
If there was a theme to the discussions of law firms’ social media efforts throughout the Forum, it was one of measured experimentation. Nevertheless, the early returns suggest a consistent emphasis on publishing content strategically and, conversely, listening carefully to what is being published.© 1999-2013 Duo Consulting