Generating positive word-of-mouth has always been an effective way to reach potential clients, especially when it’s online. The statistics show that the 2016 digital approach to word-of-mouth is to engage brand ambassadors — people who will share the good word about your law firm online.
84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues and friends about products and services, according to Nielsen.
88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as in-person recommendations, according to BrightLocal.
“Having an online community of brand ambassadors who are just as excited about your company and vision as you are can work wonders,” says Natalie Cagle on TheMuse.com. “You don’t have to do all of the sharing—because they will. When your company posts a new update or launches a new campaign, your brand ambassadors will be thrilled to pass it along to their networks, too.”
Think how much more effective this is than touting yourself on your website. It’s better to have others share your brand with their friends.
The starting point is to put shareable, useful content on your website. You already know that issuing press releases about an internal promotion or getting a Super Lawyer badge for your firm doesn’t make the grade. Smart law firms publish content that addresses a website visitor’s fears, hopes, and curiosity.
You are trying to appeal to the kind of people who send in letters to the editor, are active on Facebook and Twitter, write blogs, post comments, write online reviews and have YouTube channels where they talk about their favorite products. They are brand ambassadors.
They are also trendspotters who write about the issues that you deal with in your practice, who write articles and are looking for an attorney blog to quote, and who may call you up and ask for an interview.
A brand ambassador can be your local TV station. WRGB Channel 6 in Albany, New York, needed comment about an assistant principal who broke up a fight outside a high school, and the TV station turned to attorney Michael W. Macomber for an interview. He is a partner with Tully Rinckey PLLC, a law firm that actively courts and responds to calls from the TV station. The law firm’s attentiveness paid off spectacularly, as the news report has been viewed on YouTube 1,194,159 times.
The law firm has more than 100 videos on YouTube and its website, discussing everything from child visitation, military drug tests to real estate closings. 814 people subscribe to its YouTube channel.
A GOOD STORY
A key element of shareable content is a good story — something that your brand ambassadors can tell their contacts about. People remember stories and love to retell them. Bear in mind that some of your best brand ambassadors can be other lawyers.
These blog posts just beg to be shared:
“Police Officers Cover Up Drunk Driving Incident” by Coleen D. St. Clair, an attorney in Seattle. Two policemen investigating a DUI hit-and-run simply drove the drunk driver home and lied about it in official reports.
“Court Expands Who Can Consent to a Search” by attorney William Bly of Biddeford, ME. The case involves an ex-girlfriend who gave police consent to search a man’s computer.
“Seattle Man Admits to ‘Driving Like an Idiot’ in Crash That Killed a Woman” by Steve Karimi, a lawyer in Seattle. The case involved a fatal three-car crash in the middle of the day. The driver was an intoxicated mental patient with a history of meth and heroin use.
LawLytics, where I serve as Sr. Legal Marketing Strategist, facilitates sharing with a “Network” feature, that allows lawyers to view shareable blog posts by other lawyers.
Your next client will most likely visit you using a smartphone, not a desktop computer. New data from comScore shows that 68% of time on digital media is now spent using mobile devices. Desktop computers account for only one-third of digital time spent.
The trend has been building for years. As early as 2014 LawLytics studied 700,000+ visits to law firm websites and found that 45% of them came from mobile devices. See the infographic at https://goo.gl/NdgdIS
This is good news because it is very easy to share content on a cell phone. Eighty percent of consumers use the Facebook smartphone app. It is also on almost half of users’ smartphone home screens, according to comScore.
To capitalize on these marketing mega-trends, lawyers should start by designing their websites for cell phones, not for desktop computers. Often, lawyers will create a mobile website as an afterthought, a dumbed-down version of their desktop site. This is a mistake.
Potential clients looking you up on their cell phones are awaiting a “mobile moment,” one compelling point of information that can be absorbed in a single glance. For example, the mobile site of Walker Morgan of Columbia, South Carolina, makes it clear that the firm focuses solely on burn injury cases. Rather than talking about themselves, the firm has practical information for consumers about the degrees of burns, the effects of electrical burns and facts about e-cigarette burns — an expanding area of tort law.
MILLENNIALS – Online & Sharing All the Time
A likely brand ambassador might be a Millennial. There are 75 million of them and they spend $600 billion per year, making them the most lucrative market in the US. The tech-savvy Millennials spend many hours on their mobile devices.
As consumers, thirty-somethings have a penchant for seeking new experiences and sharing them online. “This audience can spread the good word about your firm, for your firm,” says Kate Stromberg, a millennial who is marketing director of Network Affiliates in Colorado. “If you can create an experience with your brand, Millennials will become messengers for your brand and ambassadors about the experience you provided for them.”
Millennials want to feel that a law firm is an extension of what they believe in. They are attracted to law firms linked to social causes, and want to see businesses make the world a better place — not just make a profit
For example, the Sinas Dramis personal injury law firm of Grand Rapids, Michigan, sponsored its “Lids for Kids” Bike Helmet Giveaway and Safety Event last summer. At the event, the firm gave away 439 bike helmets to children. Each was custom-fitted by trained volunteers to help prevent a brain injury in a bike-related accident. The event was shared far and wide by young people.
Additional brand ambassadors included the official Lids For Kids website, which featured a video with attorney Tom Sinas wearing a law firm T-shirt. TV station Fox 17 devoted a four-minute video feature to the firm.
“This audience can spread the good word about your firm, for your firm,” Stromberg says. “Likewise, consider getting your message directly to the top-trending social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, where a younger generation might be even more inclined to share your story.”
Millennials may be more likely to be typical brand ambassadors. But attorneys who create quality content that speaks to their clients — blog posts, infographics, ebooks and videos — create more opportunities to engage potential clients of many ages and backgrounds.
Attorneys who create useful, educational content on a regular basis make it easy for potential clients to find answers to their questions, to learn new information, and to share that information with others.
A good piece of content can work hard for your firm long after you’ve published it.