Social media delivers law firm content to people who want it

Earlier this week LexBlog’s Kevin O’Keefe wrote a post titled Social media is not about distributing your law firm’s content to people – the theme of which is fairly well summed up in the title.

Kevin writes about “using social media as a distribution channel to feed content to people” – saying, among other things, that no one, including corporate counsel, wants to receive law firm content on their social networks, and that this practice is rude and tasteless, something bound to make you “lose trust and destroy relationships.”

The Numbers Tell a Different Story

Hardly a surprise, but we disagree with this point of view. The numbers tell a different story. Across our legal news channels, over 100,000 people have requested to receive legal updates, client alerts, articles, newsletters, blog posts and the like on all topics from our lawyers and law firms, often delivered to them on the major social networks.

Daily we see people subscribe to feeds of law firm content, including via our new Legal Updates application on LinkedIn. (Anyone can use the app to follow specific legal subjects or content from an individual firm or lawyer. Indeed, one of the most followed firms on Legal Updates: Sheppard Mullin, which uses JD Supra’s distribution network to find additional readers for the firm’s many blogs hosted by LexBlog.)

Some of those subscribers (and subscribers is what they are): in-house counsel. Others are entrepreneurs, business owners, CEOs, CFOs, managers, consumers, and professionals who are well-served to stay on top of legal issues in their industry or field.

Our subscribers not only read the content, they also share it with their own networks of friends and colleagues. And, it is clear that, far from losing trust, this sharing of substantive content builds trust. A recent example from LinkedIn:

image001.jpgMoreover, the content helps to build relationships. People connect with author attorneys after reading work they might otherwise not have seen, but for its distribution via social media.

On LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, no one is “shoving” this content in anyone’s face – every single subscriber (whether to JD Supra’s applications or to a law firm’s own social media account) is just that: a person who requested to receive this content because they find it valuable.

Social media is primarily an opt-in activity. Who you follow – and what you follow – is entirely up to you. Don’t like it? Don’t follow it.

When I click to follow the New York Times on Twitter, for example, I don’t do it to enter into dialogue with the company. I do it because I find Twitter a convenient way to receive news and updates from the NYT. Twitter is an important news channel for me because, like Facebook and LinkedIn, it is where I spend a lot of time engaging with friends and colleagues. It’s not either-or; I enjoy both the relationships and the information streams.

Closer to home, I doubt people follow Fox Rothschild’s Fashion Law
page on Facebook (where I see Kevin is a fan) primarily to become
friends with the attorney who programs the page. That well might be an
eventual consequence of joining the page; but, as far I see it, the
Fashion Law page starts as a one-way broadcast channel, a rather
interesting law firm exercise in using social media to meet your
audience where they gather (Facebook) and sharing useful, on-topic content with
them.

Years ago (and even under some circumstances today) I would’ve opted in to various information streams by providing my email address. Today, that same transaction – “Sure, keep me informed; send me updates” – is not just limited to email. We can follow people, corporations, and news services on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and places elsewhere.

And every time we do, it’s a choice.