Social Media Snakes for Lawyers

Disclaimer, putting the words “snakes” and “lawyers” in the same line was not meant to degrade lawyers (ha, ha). Since I’ve worked on public relations campaigns for lawyer for years, I would not want to bite the hand the feeds me. However, the problem is that over those years, I’ve seen lawyers jump on the marketing bandwagon in a big way. So much so, that they’ll try almost anything from buying overpriced website design services to hiring people to ghost write their blogs.

There’s a LinkedIn group called Legal Blogging that has a discussion going about a BusinessWeek article titled Beware Social Media Snake Oil. The dialogue was started by a thought leader in this area, Kevin O’Keefe.
As a matter of disclosure, our agency helps our clients through the social media maze. However, we do disclose that while we can measure results, measuring the primary result with ROI in dollars is difficult. That’s because too often our clients don’t track all their business leads that come as a direct or indirect result from public relations or a social media campaign.
For fun, I went to YouTube and searched for videos on “social media for lawyers.” At the top of this was this:

Talk about irony, this “expert” video is a talking head that gives nothing more that few tips. And it does not make clear the ROI. This video reminds me of what I see being sold to lawyers: social media utopia for business development.

The PR laugh for me is that lawyers, highly skilled and skeptical professionals, sometimes fall for these “snake oil” sales pitches. Why? Not because they are not intelligent, but because in recent years their business has been down like other professional services company and they are desperate and feel that social media is the sure shot short cut cure.


The 100 Year Old Virus

One of my colleagues, Bill Moller sent me a link to a posting: 2o Winning Elements of a Viral Campaign. At the top of the list were topics on humor, edginess and brevity. It’s funny because when I mentor public relations professionals, I always share the three things that usually gets publicity are connected to concepts like “first,” “biggest,” and “controversial.” Those are the elements that since the history of public relations began in the United States continue to work regardless if the medium is a newspaper or a new social medium.

When doing a search for “viral marketing” at YouTube, the video with highest number of hits is titled: Champion cardstacker builds capitol with 22,000 cards. While it’s an entertaining video, it did not help me directly see what viral marketing is all about. Actually the video titled How to Sell Soap:

This video was the first one that helped me see the value of viral marketing compared to traditional marketing. It took an everyday product like soap and brought into the latest trend with promoting products.

The PR laugh I find is that clear communications still wins in the end. The “sell soap” video is almost three years old and comes up number 15 based on views of video connected to a search for “viral marketing.” Since that time so much has been said on how to become an “instant” success with making your promotion for a product or service go viral online. Here’s a case where video creator was “first,” used “humor” and is one of the “biggest” hits when it comes to views, which is why I paid attention to it for this post. Three years in viral marketing is almost like 100 years in normal history.