Using Social Media to Accelerate the Referral Process
Social media has become a fundamental shift in the way we communicate and find information -- or rather, the way information finds us.
When you consider the overwhelming number of people who are now using social media, the question you should be asking is not, are my prospects, clients, and referral sources using social media? The question you should be asking is, which network are they using most often?
For attorneys who are looking to connect with consumers (versus business owners), like criminal defense, personal injury, bankruptcy, estate planning, and family law just to name a few, Facebook should be your primary focus because of the sheer number of people that can be found there (over 950 million registered users and growing). A survey last year by the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center found that 56% of attorneys are already using a social network. This means for you skeptics out there, if you are not maintaining a presence on at least one social network you are already behind the curve. Of those networks, LinkedIn is the most popular, followed by Facebook – however, Facebook is still the social site favored by prospects.
Depending on the demographic of your clientele, you may have more success with one social media platform compared to another -- but it is important that you have a presence on them all. For example: Business oriented attorneys, like business litigation, securities, and intellectual property, should focus more of their efforts on LinkedIn. However, LinkedIn also has the highest number of attorneys who use the network so it's a little more difficult to stand out as compared to Facebook or Twitter.
This trend is especially true in the under-30 age group. In fact, many social media experts are starting to point to Facebook as the new Google! Tens of thousands of searches are conducted every day on Facebook for resources and reviews of products, services, and service providers. What many people fail to understand is how people are starting to use social media. Social networks are more and more being used as personal search engines mainly because Google has become too generic and they often don't trust what they find there.
The long-time phenomenon of asking your friends and colleagues for a referral has simply gone viral and online. Social networks are quickly multiplying the number of connections a person can ask when seeking a referral to a trusted advisor.