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Community Building – Essential To Your Practice And Your SEO

Last week, Greg wrote an excellent post on social media and what lawyer’s can learn from mega-corporations’ use of social media.  When I first started developing my own online presence for my Las Vegas law practice (see here) and was starting to learn the basics of SEO and web marketing, I read article after article about how important it is to have a strong social media presence.  For those who don’t know, I started my own firm in 2011 with only 2 clients.   Needless to say, I didn’t have a large audience of people interested in what I had to say.

I felt a little silly creating a Facebook page for my business, because, other than a few friends and family, there was no one in the community particularly interested.  And, to be perfectly honest, my personal Facebook presence is still rather neglected.  (It is the story of the attorney who has no last will and testament.  He drafts them for other people, but never gets around to doing one for himself.)

Since then, I have come to realize that social media should not be used simply for the sake of having social media.  That would be like talking for the sake of making noise.  (I wish my three-year-old son could see why that might not be the best thing.)  Instead of simply posting random and meaningless drivel on social media, attorneys should use social media as platforms to communicate with the community around them.  To do this effectively and meaningfully, of course, lawyers must be involved in the community.  My former bosses at Snell & Wilmer were great examples of this.  The majority of the partners participate and help in the community by being on boards of important players in the community, like Nevada Public Radio, the Boys & Girls Club, and the Nevada legislature.  The associates were encouraged to perform pro bono work as well.  In fact, I was awarded the pro bono attorney of the year award in 2009 because of my 500 hours of pro bono work.  (I thought that was a little funny because Snell & Wilmer counts associate pro bono work as fully billable, making it not much of a sacrifice for the associate.)   Lawyers have a time-honored tradition of counseling, not only their paying clients, but also meaningful local initiatives.

It is important that we, as lawyers, reach out to our communities and make a meaningful contribution.  Happily, that also plays well with social media and SEO.  Very few things are easier to post about than the charity work a law firm or individual lawyer does.   If you don’t do pro bono work, or serve on a local charitable board, now is a great time to start.  Not only is it good for the soul, but it is great in helping you develop relationships with potential referral sources and in giving you or your SEO great content to blog and post about.

Remember, the goal of an online presence is not to fool people and search engines into believing you are relevant.  Instead, your online presence should reflect your actual relevance.