There’s been increasing talk about Facebook Pages replacing websites and blogs.  This conversation does not add to that debate. It instead focuses on an important and coveted aspect in this increasingly socially networked world—interactions. The consistent engagement that builds community and credibility.

Why? Because people buy from those they know and trust.

The narrative

I recently decided to ramp down my 3-year old CLE venture and explore other opportunities.  I had piecemealed the information to a few friends and colleagues and decided to “announce” it with a blog post, Twitter notice and Facebook (personal and business page) updates, all with links to the blog post.

Facebook vs the rest

Within 3 days of the blog post and status updates, I received 2 telephone calls, 7 emails, 14 Twitter conversations  and… 80+ Facebook interactions.  Facebook was by leaps and bounds the most responsive community, and among the conversations, were inquiries about possible working relationships.

Creating and Building relationships

Aside from certain niche blogging, like blogs about blogging, politics or entertainment, meaningful comment exchange on blog posts is negligible. There are exceptions, like the occasional promotional post here on Lawyerist, or talented writers who blog provocatively about relevant legal issues, like Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice.

Twitter is great for creating, building and maintaining relationships, but it can quickly become an echo chamber. And too often, a self-serving one, resulting in a depth of engagement that’s often shallow.

Emails and the telephone are still useful tools of engagement and speculations of their demise are premature. But the sharply declining numbers speak for themselves.

Facebook—building community

There’s a whole other level of commitment when someone likes your Facebook Page. They’re exposing their personal diary to you. It’s a proactive “like” rather than a reactive Twitter follow-back.

Fans are privy to one or two meaningful posts each day, unlike the 23 status updates on Twitter, coalescing the attention and response of a budding community.

Getting to a meaningful level of engagement

1 million Facebook fans brings in an average of 826 likes and 309 comments per post. Yeah, but that only works out to one interaction per post per 1000 fans. And, for the average Facebook Page, it’s difficult to even get to 1000 fans.

Here, I believe that smaller is better. Instead of pulling out all the stops to get Facebook fans or “likes”, organically grow your fan base, one post at a time. One interaction at a time.

To illustrate, with only around 200 fans, my very niche CLE Facebook Page over the past month had 23 posts with 88 interactions for an average of 3.8 per posts. At 1000 fans, that would translate to 19 interactions per post, dramatically more than the current average of 1 per 1000 fans. Do I wish to grow beyond 200 fans? Sure, but only with those who are genuinely interested in what I and the community have to say.

Keep blogging

I strongly advocate for law firms and legal professionals to have a website and to keep  blogging, but also to use social networks, like Twitter to create and build relationships, and Facebook to strengthen those relationships and engender community. They’re both — blogging and social media — useful for content marketing, with social networks, like Facebook Pages facilitating a more intimate brand awareness and strategic marketing opportunities.

Examples of law firm Facebook pages include two profiled by Jay Pinkert—ELPO Law and the Law Office of David C. Wells, P.C. If you know of vibrant law firm or legal services Facebook pages, please note in the comments below and perhaps we can use them as examples of how to create and maintain a meaningful Facebook Page.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laughingsquid/986542579/)