Marketing Strategies: Facebook Interactions vs Blog Comments

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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/)

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  • Tim,

    Excellent job on this post, it is an interesting question, does Facebook really provide more quality and quantity of feedback?

    I think it makes sense that when announcing a major career change Facebook would be more engaging because your Facebook friends are just that, “friends” and as friends they are invested in some type of a relationship with you.

    This is where Facebook is really powerful, in helping you stay connected and informed about people that you care about and who care about you.

    Twitter is a very different animal however, and although it may often seem like an echo chamber- there is a potential on a daily basis for real serendipity, connections to people that you never would have expected to meet.

    For example in the last day on Facebook I posted a thought provoking article that elicited over a dozen comments. 2 comments from my brothers, one from a cousin, one from an old friend and another from a law school classmate. All people I know.

    On Twitter however, I posted a separate article about trust this morning and I was able to have conversations with a lawyer in Texas I had never met, another in Pennsylvania, a legal marketer, a corporate recruiter and an old friend from high school.

    Engaging conversations on both platforms but one was in a somewhat closed network (Facebook) and the other was in an open network (Twitter).

    • Thanks for the comment, Adrian. Agree with you. This post was supposed to be about blog comments vs Facebook interactions but I may have llost focus there for a bit. Included Twitter more as a reference.

      The one thing that I may not totally agree with is your categorization of Facebook friends. It really depends on who you choose to friend. I’ve given up trying to resist the personal/professional division (for the most part) and have used Facebook to strengthen professional relationships. Most of the feedback I got on the announcements were from my these relationships – an area where Twitter is supposed to excel.

      I’m a huge believer in Twitter for the reasons you mention and more, but we simply can’t escape the depth and scope of Facebook relationships.

  • How does one create such a facebook page as the ELPO Law site. That is impressive and looks like a website more than a facebook page. Can you provide your subscribers with the knowledge to be able to set up a law firm facebook page? Or at least point us in the right direction on who to speak with about such a project.

    • Good question, Michael. Agree, the ELPO FB Page is terrific. This prompts me to do a follow-up, how-to post with resources and suggestions. If you want to connect on Twitter – @BaranCLE – I’ll notify you when it’s up. Meanwhile, check out lawyeristlab.com right here – they offer social media guidance and tips.

  • Our law firm is actively trying to create a more conversation-based interaction on our Facebook page (facebook.com/coyelaw), but like you say, it can be a challenge to grow fans organically rather than accept spam as an actual “like.” In the future, I see Google beginning to rank “likes” as they rank content now… Let’s hope the smaller, more personal pages get the credit they deserve.

    • Point well taken about Google ranking pages, Wade. People can’t like you if they can’t find you. However, the conversation is shifting away from discovery via Google search to within Facebook itself. They’re the top two websites in the world with diminishing numbers separating them. A website or blog that’s Google-ranked with a prominent action point to a vibrant Facebook Page is the best of both worlds.

  • Jay Pinkert

    Tim,

    Glad you found the recent mini-case studies interesting/useful. I’m working on getting a “lessons learned” guest post from the ELPO folks, and will alert you when it’s up.

    As you can tell, I too have been spending a lot of time thinking about Facebook use models and best practices. Regardless of whether or not we’ve had personal success with Facebook and Twitter, to paraphrase Anthony Trollope, they are “the way we live now.” In other words, we all have to make it work.

    Always good stuff. Thanks again for the shoutout.

  • One additional thought. Neither Facebook nor Twitter are intrinsically “for” a specific use case. For example, Twitter is a powerful research tool for finding/monitoring specific topics, competitors, etc., whether you’re making and interacting with contacts or not.

    From your description it sounds to me like Facebook is producing meaningful results because you have a clear use case in mind that guides your content and networking strategies, not because of anything inherently more effective about Facebook.

    • Jay, thanks for access to the case studies. I have huge issues with Facebook, not the least of which is the lack of control over content, but I agree with you and Anthony Trollope, it’s “the way we live now.”

      I especially appreciate your final thoughts about the effectiveness of Facebook, or any other platform for that matter. It mirrors my thinking.

  • Until pages can behave and interact more like individual users, Facebook will be unwieldy and vexing for professional services providers, and building followship/community will be trench warfare.

    Concerning a comment you made in response to Wade, I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, but putting pointers to Facebook on your blog could be a great “We’re Moving” strategy. Let’s be honest, long-form content is a chore that not everyone is capable of or interested in, and the less demand short-form model of Facebook could help them get their content marketing groove on. It’s time to think outside for the blog adopt a more agile and multi-vectored approach to create and distributing useful content that gets noticed.

    Just to mix things up a bit, this week I decided to experiment with Tumblr, which is sort of the love child of Twitter and Facebook, to see if it helps me with driving traffic to my long-form content (blog, SlideShare).

    • Jay, I think Facebook will always be somewhat unwieldy and vexing. We just manage and use it strategically as best we can.

      You’re right, I didn’t mean the comment that way, but couldn’t agree more than long form content can be a huge chore. Just yesterday, I came across a Facebook tip and wanted to share it so took a screen shot, but the thought of creating a post around it seemed too burdensome, so attached the imagine in a Facebook Page update and was done in a couple of mins. I think, for now at least, social network and the blog compliment each other nicely.

  • Hi there, I’m the person who maintains the Facebook page for ELPO Law. First, thanks very much for the compliments! We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback.
    The look of the page was designed by an outside firm that we hired. We directed them to make it look like our web site (we just built a new one) and gave them some photos that we used, and decided we wanted it to have basic information about the firm. The company we used designed it into an app. The company is Communicate & Grow, and they have a Facebook page, too.
    Generally speaking, I look for things that involve the attorneys at the firm, community-related activities, etc. I also look for news stories that are tied to cases they’re handling. I would love to see more interaction, but that’s pretty rare. One way I do that is by using the questions feature. That seems to prompt more feedback.