Word of Mouth, Lawyers, and the Internet

Most lawyers know how important word of mouth referrals are. On the other hand, at least some lawyers don’t make the connection between word of mouth referrals and the internet.

Recently, Google and Keller Fay hooked-up to study the connection between the internet and word of mouth conversations about brands.


They have made their Word of Mouth Study available online. Here are some key findings from the study:

Word of Mouth conversations still predominantly take place face to face. 94% of WOM brand impressions occur offline.

The Internet is both the leading spark of WOM conversations and the #1 resource utilized to take action after conversation. Search impacts more than 15% of all Word of Mouth conversations.

Google is the #1 spark of Word of Mouth conversations and the #1 place people turn to after conversations for more information.

Google directly informs 146 million brand conversations a day.

Word of Mouth impressions generated by search are 25% more credible and 17% more likely to lead to purchase than those generated by online social media sites.

I don’t know if we needed this study to recognize that the internet and search have some influence on word or mouth conversations. It’s also worth recognizing that this study was sponsored, in part, by Google.

Nonetheless, I think it’s rather persuasive evidence that offline conversations and decisions are influenced by what we find online.

What does this mean for attorneys? I think Kevin O’Keefe has the right idea:

  • We know a strong word of mouth reputation is the leading way good lawyers get new business.
  • We know people turn to a trusted source when looking for a lawyer, often a business associate, co-employee, friend, or relative.
  • Discussion of your reputation is likely to take place off-line and face to face.
  • The leading source of information motivating people to discuss your reputation as a lawyer is the Internet.
  • If someone shares your reputation as a lawyer by word of mouth, the leading place people go to find out more about you as a lawyer is Google.

Which brings us back to the question of, “What will people see about you when they go to find out more about you as a lawyer on Google?”

Will they find:

  • Your website, that has been +1?d by someone searcher knows personally?
  • Your Google Places listing with testimonials from clients and other lawyers?
  • A .pdf file of your resume?
  • Your Avvo profile with reviews, answers, and license history?
  • Your LinkedIn profile that contains testimonials and answers?
  • A video of you demonstrating your expertise on the very legal issue you are facing?
  • A news article in which you were quoted and recognized as an expert?

Or will they find that you largely ignore the internet as a waste of time?

And you want to know something else? People also use the internet to research a lot of unbranded legal issues that began as offline face to face discussions.

And do you know where most of them go to get answers to questions and issues posed during those discussions?

Hint: It starts with a G.

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