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June 5, 2009

Legal Marketing Round-Up

Once again, it's time for a round-up post, updating information that I covered in earlier posts.

1. Lawyer-Bloggers All A-Twitter About the Value of Twitter 

Back in February 2009, I considered whether lawyers should be using Twitter, ultimately concluding that at the very least, they ought to give it a try.  Last month, however, lawyer marketing expert Larry Bodine stirred up a controversy with this piece contending that Twitter isn't a very effective tool for lawyer marketing.  Bodine highlighted Twitter's high churn rate, with 60 percent of users dropping off after just a few months' use and pointed out that other tools such as email promotions and blogs were more effective ways to drive traffic to a website.  Most significantly, Bodine argued that Twitter was a time sink -- a distraction from getting real marketing work done that didn't lead to serious business.

Bodine's post earned him lots of criticism in the blogosphere, which David Barrett exhaustively summarizes at Linked In Lawyer.  Most of the commentary emphasizes that Twitter isn't an end in itself, but a supplement to other marketing tools, such as creating an introduction to warm up a cold call or other personal connection, or helping lawyers reinforce their personal brand.

2.  Are Listservs Obsolete?

Back in December, I made the point that the new generation of social media still hadn't rendered listservs obsolete.  Fast forward six months... and is that still the case?  Via the Legal History Blog, I came across this interesting article, Where Do Legal Listservs Fit in A Social Media World? by law librarian Greg Lambert.  Lambert notes that while listservs still remain a great way to build relationships, network, and discover new resources, at the same time, they have drawbacks such as "lazy research" (obvious questions sent out to 2500 members) and a tendency to generate flame wars if left unmoderated.  Lambert favors Ning (which I'll post about on Monday) as his tool of choice for combining the ease of use and spontaneity of listservs without the drawbacks.  I checked out the Law Librarian Ning that Lambert referenced -- and while it's a nice looking site, it lacks the fluid interaction of a listserv.  At the same time, the participants have all filled out bios, which can facilitate connections and networking.
December 22, 2008

Don't Leave the Listserv Off Your List When it Comes to Marketing

Without a doubt, social networking was the hottest new trend in marketing in 2008, and is destined to gain even more traction in 2009.  I'll be posting more about social networking at this blog, though if you can't wait, you're welcome to download my free ebook, Social Networking for Lawyers

However, as powerful as social networking may be, lawyers shouldn't neglect the listserv as a valuable tool for marketing.  For a variety of reasons, some lawyers have not made the transition to social networking, nor do they have any intention of doing so. Yet, these lawyers may be a source of referrals, or may need to collaborate with another lawyer or outsource a project.  By ignoring listservs, you miss out on a potential source of work.

In many ways, listservs are a precursor to social networking tools.  Listservs are essentially a mailing list dedicated to a particular topic where users can post messages and receive responses via email.  Listservs enable users to ask each other questions, exchange information, and engage in conversations on a variety of topics.  Over time, many listservs may morph from pure business to include personal discussion as well, thus creating the same sense of community as social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

Solosez is perhaps one of the best known listservs for solo and small firm lawyers.  Now a decade old, Solosez boasts more than 3,000 members, making it -- as some refer to it -- the nation's largest virtual law firm.  These days, most state bar sections have listservs, as do specialty bar associations dedicated to practice area specialties like litigation, estate planning, or bankruptcy.

Some lawyers prefer the convenience of a listserv, since messages flow directly into their inbox instead of requiring them to log on to a site.  On the other hand, some lawyers avoid listservs, particularly high volume ones like Solosez, because the thought of 150 daily emails flooding their inbox is overwhelming -- though the email problem is easily cured if you manage your participation properly

 Below are a few tips for maximizing the marketing value of a listserv in your practice.

1.  Choose your lists wisely

Just because listservs are a useful marketing tool doesn't mean that you need to go overboard.  Limit yourself to two or three lists, with at least one of them being a low volume list.  If you spread yourself too thin, you'll either find yourself reading emails all day long or you won't have time to participate meaningfully in any of the lists.

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