Way back in 2004, those of us who first joined Facebook had a simple metric for success: friend count. The more friends we had, the cooler we were. (Okay, we were sad little nerds for even caring, but still, Internet friends are better than imaginary ones.)
At a certain point, however, it stopped mattering. What was more important was logging on and seeing a friend's new baby, or sharing a funny link on your brother's wall. It's not about quantity of friends: it's about quality of interactions. It's called engagement and companies are finally catching on.
Learning How This Social Thing Works
The Wall Street Journal recaps the story of the Ritz Carlton, which purchased ads for its Facebook page, only to pull them a short time later.
Why? The company was getting too many followers, and worried that it couldn't engage and connect with the ones that they did have. Instead of counting follows, likes, and friends, the company is listening and responding to comments and criticisms.
Want to spend more time practicing, and less time advertising? Leave the marketing to the experts.
Why Follower Counts and One-Way Posting Doesn't Work
It's simple: we're spammed enough as it is. When we head onto the Internet, every site is peppered with advertisements. And when we go on Facebook, not only are there ads on the side, but promotional posts litter our News Feed as well. Ditto for Twitter and other social networks.
After a while, it all becomes white noise, easily ignored.
A recent Gallup report [PDF], "The Myth of Social Media," echoes the anecdotal evidence:
- 95 percent of people use social media to connect with friends and family, while only 29 percent use it to follow trends and products;
- 62 percent of people say that social media has no impact whatsoever on their purchasing habits, while 30 percent admit that it has some (not a lot of) influence.
Instead of pushing content and advertisements, the Gallup report recommends being interactive, responsive, and compelling. Generic brand statements don't work, but responding to a customer's complaint on a Saturday, or tweeting timely updates about a service outage, will go a long way towards building rapport and increasing chances of word of mouth recommendations, online and offline.
What Does This Mean for Law Firms?
If you're going to go social, you have to be all-in. Having a firm Facebook or Twitter page that is never updated, or only pushes out prepared content at regular intervals, is not worth the expense. Customers want to hear your voice, and for you to interact with them: it's called social media for a reason.
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