Heather Morrison of the CNW Group, formerly Canada News Wire, released a 11-pg report yesterday titled Canadian Law Firms and their Use of Social Media. I am quoted in it, so please excuse the vanity reference.
The report itself offers a nice overview of the benefits of social media investment. That’s important, but the part I appreciated most was the focus on relationship building. Great relationships are a key driver of success for any law firm (or lawyer’s) search strategy. The reason? Relationships not only improve our network of contacts, which alone is a worthy goal, but they form the basis of the link network behind most firm websites.
Links, remember, are ultimately a form of online currency and a driver of what many people refer to as ‘google juice’ – a measure of trust, and better search rankings.
At one point in the paper, I’m also quoted saying that firms ‘not skip steps‘. Let me explain that further. Broken down, I often consider these three components:
- content – eg. blogs, papers, newsletters;
- distribution channels – eg. twitter, email, RSS, JD Supra; and
- relationships – either mirroring & codifying one’s existing relationships with links, or driving new relationships with social media;
Most firms (not all) have content at least partially covered. They may be sending out paper or email newsletters (distribution) and connecting with existing clients. In the past, that’s what firms had to work with. Could they now have more forms of content? or distribute via more channels? Absolutely, but it’s hard to argue that having those basic pieces functioning (think: 80:20 rule, existing clients…) didn’t create some success.
But this 2/3 element scenario, also created a huge gap in search marketing. Without relationships driving links, firms weren’t creating any kind of an ‘after effect‘; where their published content continues to rank well in the search engines, and continues to drive new readers creating exposure. But with Social Media participation (I include blogger-to-blogger relationships here), and creating new relationships with the associated links, firms are often able to make their publishing work harder & longer. In the cases of extremely popular content, years after the date of publication.
As the years pass, and a firm’s volume of substantive publishing increases, so too does this ‘after effect‘. And the driver in all this is pretty consistent. Having a solid network of ‘web friends’, who are also web publishers, is one tough combination.
There are lots of other benefits to social media usage, which are covered in the report. But that’s my take on the why SM participation reflects positively on search marketing.