Social Media: Building a Bridgehead between Marketing and Fee Earners

Social Media exposes law firms to a number of issues that up to now they have been immune to:

  1. Understanding their website;
  2. SEO;
  3. Blogging;
  4. RSS; and
  5. Google Analytics.

In the past the brochure style website was good enough, particularly as most firms relied up word of mouth to generate a significant proportion of their work. But, as the market has contracted, even long-established clients have been turned on to the ubiquitous Google search either to look for the most apposite service provider or to check you out, following a personal recommendation. If all your web does is provide the scantiest of material or more likely dull, dull, dull material juxtaposed against some elegant images then what are the chances of you being instructed?

In my experience what clients are looking for is to understand: (a) can they work with you; and (b) do you have a track record in their designated area of supply? Tick those two boxes and there are good chances you will find your way to being instructed. But, even here, with each website saying the same thing, there will usually be something else that tips the client in your direction. Hopefully, it is not the fact that your nearest competitors are not taking on more work and passing your their dregs!

From an internal perspective you will need help both to get on top of the ‘What’ of social media but also to understand how to maximise the internal resources – both human and off line material. Save for a small handful of firms, you will be muddling through the process of trying to build a bridge between marketing and everyone else. In an ideal world you would look to your website company to guide and inform you but with the best will in the world their focus will be on building what you ask and will expect you to deal with everything else. Even if they do provide you with SEO or social media training, you should really be aiming to take as much of this material under your wing.

If you are consider a revised Business Development strategy, then before the ink is dry I would advise that you consider how you will, on a daily basis, resource your social media efforts.

Who will coordinate Twitter, particularly where you have multiple streams?

Who will write the blogs?

Who will SEO the blogs?

Who will deal with the integration of LinkedIn?

Who will deal with YouTube?

And who will look at your content strategy, metrics and ROI?

I admire you if you have it figured out, but don’t be surprised if your fee earners and marketing both start to moan and prevaricate about having to find time to do all these things. You already expect them to do the job of 1.5 people so assuming that they will simply pick up the slack is misguided.

What to do?

In an ideal world you would recruit. Perhaps employ someone on a part time basis to coordinate things. If that is not feasible then you need to challenge the Partners to adjust their thinking viz the usual plethora of off-line activity and events so that whoever would otherwise be doing this has the capacity to undertake the digital media aspects for the department or the firm.

Social media is here to stay, and I don’t just say that from a self-serving perspective. It’s not just the impressive numbers of fans, connections and followers but rather the fact that generationally more and more people will expect you to have a presence and if you don’t they will think something wrong. I know this sounds pack like and perhaps it presents its own disassociative problems but as a bare minimum you need to optimise your website, which is the first place people will look.


Build your bridgehead. Make sure it is stable and even if you have someone leave, you are not left stranded. Make sure they have the right blend of business development and digital media experience. Not too technical and not too fluffy.

Time is not on your side. The longer you leave this the more likely it is that others will come along and occupy your space.

~ Julian Summerhayes ~


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