Legal Business

Fear of Facebook Part III: Fan Pages for Law Firms?

"There's a lot of business done in country clubs, but you'll never see a company open a booth in the club's dining room.  Instead, individual business people network quietly there, blending into the scene and using the social atmosphere to their advantage.  That's how I feel about Facebook, at least for now.  Individual lawyers and strategists can get a lot of benefit from Facebook.  But as soon as the firm comes in, as the firm, it somehow breaks the social rules of the medium and calls negative attention to itself. " A comment from an attorney in response to my post from the other day....

For two years now I've been using the comparison of old things in new places, i.e.LinkedIn becomes the Chamber of Commerce, Connected is the Bar association meeting, Twitter the cocktail party and Facebook is like the country club, to illustrate how the new social web tools fit into our lives. We're not doing anything different-humans seek connections-we're doing the same things only differently. I'm not suggesting that online tools can replace the benefits of face-to-face socializing, but I know first hand that together offline and online networking are a complimentary duo.

Yesterday, Curt Meltzer, the editor of PinHawk Legal Tech Digest (sign up for a free trial here), who shared that attorney's comment with me, added....

"I reminded my friend that law firms have often (at least in the past) rented tents at golf events/tournaments, spending lavishly on client entertainment. The name of the firm is typically evident on the outside of the tent. The good old days!"

And they still do, sometimes with great branding benefit. So is there a difference between sponsoring a sporting event at a country club and hosting a Facebook Fan Page? Let's explore.....

What is a Facebook Fan Page?

According to Facebook, they noticed that people were trying to connect with brands and famous artists in ways that didn't quite work on Facebook. So they created a feature, Fan Pages, where you connect with your favorite artists, movies, celebrities, and businesses, and show your Friends what you care about and recommend by adding those Fan Pages to your personal profile. Likewise, you can also see which Pages your friends are fans of via the "Info" tab on their profile.

Brilliant! Especially if you have a brand that people want to follow. Tell a friend marketing has always been a powerful strategy and the Internet is making it even easier with reviews, favorites, recommendations, and comments. We all pretty much trust the opinions of our friends when it comes to making decisions about what we purchase, right?

Brand or celebrity Fan Pages are effectively like normal profiles on the site and have the ability to have friends, add pictures, and applications. They have tabs that uncover more information and Page owners communicate by "updates" which show on the update tab, or a person's wall if they select to show them in their updates. Unlike normal profiles, however, a Fan page has two walls; one for what the Page owner writes, and one for fans to write their own messages.

Can Law Firm Brands Have Fans?

Sure, why not? Corporate America is jumping on board in droves, so, why not law firms? Some corporate brands are actually doing it quite well. They have figured out creative ways to engage their fans -coupons, contests, applications, games, service operations, special offers, give-aways, and so on.

To read about steps four and five, visit the Virtual Marketing Officer Blog.