What Legal Marketers Need to Know About Social Media

On Nov. 27, 2008, I attended a session hosted by the Toronto chapter of the Legal Marketers Association (LMA) on Social Media Success.

The event was moderated by Max Valiquette of Youthography, and featured a panel with Parker Mason of CNW Group, Michael Rabinovici of AR Communications Inc., and Stuart Wood of Torys LLP.

Wood claimed his firm didn’t know he was there. But the event was promoted on the LMA website, and as he soon found out, he was part of an impromptu podcast when Mason revealed he was recording the session.

Full audio of the event is available here.

Introductions were provided by a representative from Martindale-Hubbell (Lexis-Nexus) who noted that everything they used to say about e-mail they’re now saying about social media. They said clients would never want confidential information over e-mail.

Those same naysayers will be proven wrong, in due time.

Valiquette noted that in the past, marketing was all top-down. It was adult content, a corporate/state culture. Now, the Internet has changed everything.

The importance of Facebook was emphasized, as the Toronto network is the second-largest in the world. There are more photos uploaded on Facebook than any other site. Attempts to block sites like Facebook in the workplace are proving futile.

The Obama campaign realized the potential of social media when they hired Chris Hughes, formerly of Facebook. This was the first election in some time with a higher youth turnout, and over 60% of them voted for Obama.

Wood explained what he did on Facebook, searching for his firm’s name. They chose not to create a group and allowed one to organically develop by alumni of the firm. He regularly finds employees that do not have their privacy settings on maximum but list the firm’s name, and notes that they can also list some unsavory hobbies.

Generational perspectives regarding social media and privacy is probably the biggest generational difference since Rock and Roll.

What used to be a book is today a long series of blog posts or a couple dozen podcasts. The format is much more cost effective, and produces more palatable consumer content. People like to listen to podcasts while working out or in the car. These can be automatically synched with the player using iTunes.

The firm had one IP client that viewed their content and turned into major account, which justified their investment in social media several times over

Mason highlighted the use of search tools like Technorati and Google Blog Search. The genius of social media is that these tracking tools are very easy, and can be integrated with RSS or delivered right to your e-mail inbox. Social media might not be for all legal marketers, but all of them should at least know what it is about.

Rabinovici raised the issue of Return on Investment (ROI). Blogs and podcasts are just beginning. We obsess over metrics, instead of having clear objectives that we can measure now and later. A podcast series on a specific issue can help build credibility in the field.

Wood added that we need to stay on our toes, because social media happens in real time. In one big case he was approached by a major online legal journal that asked him for a comment. He passed it over because he hadn’t been briefed yet, and if they got something wrong it could be reproduced on a number of other sites within minutes.

Rabinovici mentioned Joseph Jaffey‘s book, Join the Conversation. Find out who your clients are, where you can find them, and engage with them in a dialogue. (Interestingly, Jaffey cites me on page 141).

Rather than do a little of everything, legal marketers should plan and do something really well for the greatest impact.


  1. A couple people have e-mailed me asking about the audio. It’s still not available, but I’ll update the post when it can be found on the CNW Group site.