Managing Your Firm’s Online Reputation: Complicated but Crucial

Managing Your Firm’s Online Reputation: Complicated but Crucial

What is reputation? If you’re like most attorneys, the answer might seem pretty obvious. It’s what your clients tell people who might need your services. Your degrees, CV, awards and community presence also are part of it.

In the internet age, reputation is a bit more complicated.

That’s not to say that those traditional measures aren’t important. But one of the truisms of the internet is that businesses can no longer control how consumers perceive them. The metrics of reputation are more complex, and that’s primarily because of online reviews. Potential clients put a lot of stock in those starred blurbs, even if they’ve never met the reviewers. When it comes to hiring an attorney, legal consumers are as likely to put their trust in strangers as in their friends.

But while reputation isn’t something you can control, you can manage it. In fact, you have to—actively. That might be especially true for small and solo firms that don’t have the “brand recognition” of a large corporate firm.

If you run a small firm, how do you make sure your reputation is as strong online as it is offline? A new FindLaw playbook, “Online Reputation Management for Solo and Small Law Firms,” provides the insights and strategies you need.

At FindLaw, we define reputation management as the art and science of applying digital proof to your business success. It is taking advantage of your existing reputation, and building upon it in the digital realm.

To understand the importance of your online reputation, put yourself in the shoes of a typical legal consumer.

GETTING POTENTIAL CLIENTS TO TRUST YOU

Most likely, you’re not in this situation by choice. In fact, you might be dealing with a legal issue for the first time in your life. You’re bewildered and, quite likely, fearful. At the very least, your emotions are in the driver’s seat, and they’re often driving erratically. You need calm, rational guidance—and reassurance. And a big part of that comfort comes from knowing you’re choosing the right law firm to advise you.

Finding an attorney with a good reputation reassures legal consumers that they’re heading down the right path. Whether accurate or not, shoppers who choose highly rated products or services begin to feel a whole lot better about their situation. Even before you’ve begun working, your positive reputation can build trust and even loyalty with a potential client.

That’s the kind of trust you can communicate online, particularly as more and more legal consumers “shop” for attorneys on their laptops and smartphones. Our reputation management playbook addresses the ways you can build this kind of trust:

  • What the best strategies are for online reputation management. What works, and what doesn’t work so well?
  • Why legal consumers place so much value on something so subjective as online ratings and reviews. (And why having only great reviews isn’t necessarily a great thing.)
  • Who is in your corner, who isn’t, and what you can do about both. As always, your work with past clients helps you attract future clients. But as we’ve noted, word of mouth is no longer the only way legal consumers learn about you. So how do you get former clients to be your cheerleaders? And how should you respond to reviews that threaten to harm your reputation?
  • What the link is between your online reputation and your firm’s search engine visibility.

The first step is easy. Take the reins of your online reputation by downloading FindLaw’s new playbook today.

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