Originally posted in The National Law Journal on December 16, 2013
“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” — Galatians 6:7
A few months ago I addressed a large group of lawyers about building their online presence. I explained the importance of demonstrating what Aristotle called “ethos” — strength of character and authority as tools of persuasion. In social media, this entails a three-step process that involves building a robust profile, using tools like LinkedIn and writing articles or blog posts demonstrating your mastery of your particular field.
There was one big problem: They weren’t willing to pay the price to build credibility online.
“How much time is this going to take?” one partner asked, complaining he lacked time even to read all his emails.
“It seems to me that only unsuccessful lawyers would have enough time to do all that writing,” another said (justifying his complete lack of effort when it came to business development).
I didn’t have the heart to share with them at the time what I’ll share with you now: Building your online presence — your ethos — takes a lot of work. There is no “Ten-Minute Abs” version of business development. What is true of online marketing is true of most things of value in life: They take a lot of work.
There is a saying in marketing — “50 percent of my marketing is effective; I just don’t know which 50 percent.” Online, you need not be quite so blind to which articles are effective and which aren’t. You can view how many visitors read each post using Google Analytics; you can see how many people click on the articles you share by using a free tool called Hoot Suite; and you can gauge the success of articles based on feedback from clients and others in your network.
But to really measure success you need multiple articles. This gives you context and allows you to spot trends. If each of your articles is viewed on average 100 times, then when you have an article that draws 1,000 views you know you are on to something. It takes time and multiple experiments, to use a scientific term, to find out what kind of material really resonates with your audience.
When a farmer plants a field, he plants hundreds of seeds, waters them, makes sure they have sunlight and are protected from the elements. If the conditions are right, many of those seeds will grow into plants that give off thousands of new seeds. Building your online presence works the same way — here is a potential for huge gains, but you have to plant the seeds and do the work. Write, share, engage, repeat.
Social media and LinkedIn aren’t the panacea or the silver bullet to your marketing woes, but they are tools with real power if used correctly.