Mention “social media” to someone and they inevitably think of the big three: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Truth is, however, that there are plenty of other social media platforms. For instance, Google+ often enters the conversation, but there’s debate over whether it’s a social media tool or part of a larger Google plan to revamp the nature of Web search. You can even argue that video sites such as YouTube qualify as social media channels since they allow users to share information via the Web.
What are some other alternatives to the big three? Let’s consider a few of the more popular options — and examine their current marketing value for law firms.
Pinterest is a photo-sharing website that allows you to build and manage collections of images. You can also share the images, and follow and comment on other users’ images.
Yes, it sounds like digital scrapbooking, but Pinterest has grown exponentially since its founding in late 2009, and corporate giants such as The Gap, McDonald’s and Sony maintain an active presence on it.
Marketing value for law firms: There’s some potential. On one hand, it’s hard to picture someone going to the site to find a lawyer. At the same time, you could use it to post visual content such as infographics or photos and bios of your associates and partners to help put a human face on your firm. Combine that with the site’s growing traffic base, and it’s worth considering as a way to help maximize your firm’s online presence.
Tumblr is a “microblogging” (i.e., posts that are typically shorter than regular blogs) platform that’s quite popular — it hosts nearly 80 million blogs that collectively attract almost daily visitors. Many of its blogs are focused on imagery, but users can also post text, video or even audio files. As with Pinterest and other social media networks, you can follow other Tumblr users, and they can follow you.
Marketing value for law firms: Similar to Pinterest.
Another site that’s grown quickly since its 2009 founding, Quora is essentially a massive and active Q&A warehouse. Users (who must register with their real names) ask questions. Other users answer, and still other users rate the answers and post comments.
Marketing value for law firms: Questionable. Answering questions can position you as a thought leader — and other Quora users can “follow” you. But offering answers could also put you in ethical hot water, particularly if you inadvertently share privileged client information or inadvertently form an attorney-client relationship. (It’s a good idea to check with your local bar association with these sorts of questions.)
Pinterest, Tumblr and Quora are by no means the only alternatives. There are hundreds of others, with new ones emerging every day, and others — e.g., Friendster and MySpace — fading into obscurity.
Social media has undeniable benefits, but the question with alternative platforms boils down to ROI. Setting up and maintaining a social media presence is a time-consuming activity. If your firm has the resources, and you can fit one of these alternatives into your marketing strategy, it could be worth exploring. If not, it’s smarter to stick with the major players — at least until a new competitor emerges and pushes one of them aside.
If you would like to learn more about how FindLaw can help with social media solutions, please contact us for a free legal marketing consultation.