Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Are Lawyers Going Social?

I was aware of the website LegalZoom through its TV ads featuring celebrity attorney Robert Shapiro. That was all until a student pointed out their other online activities, which I found quite unusual for a legal firm—thanks, Fiesal!

The current centerpiece of the online strategy is a contest, just concluded, that allows customers to upload videos about their experience with LegalZoom. Here’s their YouTube video. The embed looks like nothing special, but play it all the way through—the 40 seconds is worth what you find at the end. When the video finishes you get thumbnails of customer videos that have been submitted. I don’t know how to do that, but it’s very cool and it makes the point that people are entering the contest.

That brings me to my favorite question: how did they let customers know about it. I’ll bet there were outbound communications, through their corporate newsletter probably. I have visited the site several times recently, and I didn’t see a notice about the contest. It has its own separate website, which links back to the corporate site, but I don’t find anything on the corporate site that links to the contest site, although entries to the contest have been closed for five days now, giving them enough time to remove a notice. Given the care with which they do other things, and the fact they are lawyers, I doubt that is an accident. That guess is supported by the fact that the winners are not scheduled to be announced until December 20—5 days from now. CPG sites would be hyping the winner announcement.

Ok, there is a separate website; you still have to get customers to that website. They have a very active Facebook page; I’d recommend it as a “best practices” business Facebook page. It’s active; there are a lot of informative links. They have only 1,197 fans at this point, but they used the Facebook page aggressively to promote the contest. The screen capture shows 2 posts announcing the contest. There were others throughout the contest. The last entry I saw was on December 7, promoting the last chance to vote on the contest.

They do something else I love. Each week they welcome “New Zoomers;” new fans, presumably. How nice is that??? They also had Halloween picture contests. Perhaps most important, their strategy jumps out of the Facebook page at you; you can see it on the website, but it’s not as evident. Their primary segment is small businesses and they are providing all sorts of content and encouragement to them. Definitely best practices! They are also active on Twitter; I’m guessing there’s a feed between the two, but I didn’t take time to trace the posts/Tweets. In addition, a search turns up a lot of PR activity surrounding the contest.

Finally, I can guess how they got the idea for the contest. According to the website of their interactive agency, they have been using client testimonials in their advertising for at least a year. That shows a clear, sensible evolution of online strategy.

It would be a great integrated program for any large corporation. For what’s essentially a website-only business model for services, it is striking. For a group of lawyers it is simply mind-blowing!

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