Online advice and recommendations are proving as important as personal word-of-mouth referrals, and a new study from Cone shows the former can derail the latter. Most people will rely on online information as confirmation before retaining a lawyer. That means it’s important to look your best online so that potential clients can check your credibility before picking up the phone.
Check Just Seven Basic Boxes to Manage Your Online Reputation
If you are a corporate, transactional or defense lawyer, you should:
- Have a detailed biography on your website that includes descriptions of recent and representative matters handled and in what industries (the most sophisticated buyers of legal services, including in-house counsel, say they don’t want to explain the jargon of their business and are swayed if a lawyer has experience with the legal issue at hand). Include community service, too—people will switch or continue with a provider based on causes supported.
- Have a full Martindale-Hubbell listing, and obtain an AV rating.
- Get nominated and try to be selected as a Super Lawyer or Rising Star.
- Try to get nominated and voted on The Best Lawyers in America list, and if you make it, buy a link on their site.
- Get on LinkedIn, and seek connections with clients (where appropriate) as well as with other professionals and lawyers, and ask for recommendations (if local bar rules allow testimonials).
- Claim and update your AVVO profile.
- Make sure your profiles on directories managed by institutes, colleges or academies are up-to-date.
Lawyers targeting consumers (personal injury, divorce or personal bankruptcy, for example) should do the same. One major consideration for those targeting consumers is the value of a listing and rating in Martindale’s. If you want lawyer referrals, you should have a full Martindale listing and obtain an AV rating. A number of direct-advertisers skip this cost without harm.
Independent studies like Cone’s are coming out regularly now, so this list is likely to evolve quickly. As of this writing, what data there is indicates that following our seven basics will substantiate the hard work you put into getting word-of-mouth referrals.
Bob Weiss writes law firm marketing plans, coaches lawyers and speaks regularly at retreats and legal conventions nationwide. He helps attorneys develop dockets of intellectually challenging cases at desirable rates. Considered one of the pioneers of professional services marketing, Bob founded Alyn-Weiss & Associates, Inc. in 1980 and is the author of the new book Marketing in Brief.
From the Editors: Dig Deeper
Want to know how you’re doing? Here are just a few pulses you can take from time to time to see how you are looking (and who’s talking about you) online.
- Google Alerts.Set up Google alerts to send you an email every time you are mentioned on the Internet. Make sure you set up a separate search for all the different iterations of your name, for example, Deborah P. Jones, Deb Jones, D. Patricia Jones, Debby Pat Jones. While you’re at it, set up alerts for your clients and colleagues as well. It’s a wonderful way to be the first with all the news.
- Facebook Insights. If you’ve set up a Facebook page for your practice, you probably already know that usage data is constantly available to you via the Insights link in the upper right of your screen. More simply, you can just keep track of how many people “like” you.
- Twitter follows and lists. Check your own Twitter profile to learn how many people are following you and how many have included your posts in their “must read” lists. If you want to go deeper, you can click on those lists to see who else is included on this list with you. Or try Twitter Counter.
- LinkedIn profile stats. To track your stats, click on Home at the top of your LinkedIn page and scroll down to find some basis data about who is reviewing your profile, plus who else they have been interested in. For the really good stuff, however, you’ll need to upgrade your account for an additional fee. Then you’ll learn the search keywords people used to find you and get the full scoop on everyone who views your profile and much more.
- Google Analytics. It isn’t complex to set up your website to allow Google Analytics to track all activity. At no cost, you’ll learn how many pageviews and visits you receive daily. Where do the visitors come from? Do they snoop around or just bounce in and out? The data well here is deeper than most users will ever need. This helps you to understand the impact (if any) of your online marketing activities.
One place you don’t want to see your name is in your state bar’s disciplinary records, so be careful what you say about your accolades and expertise on your website as well as in ads or other marketing materials.