Sunday, 30 August 2009 16:17

Websites and social networking: a combined approach to law firms' online profile

Online social networking offers new ways for law firms to connect with their target audiences when considered as part of a wider online strategy
Los despachos de abogados tienen que tener en cuenta qué tipo de información quieren transmitir online, cómo y a quién va dirigida, comenta Maria Cabral de Sousa, Directora General de la empresa de desarrollo web Softway de Lisboa. Se pueden aplicar diferentes estrategias a diferentes medios, páginas web e incluso a las redes sociales, así como a diferentes grupos de interés: clientes existentes y potenciales, empleadores y al mercado de manera genérica.

"It used to be that without a website you did not exist. Now if your website does not rank in Google you do not exist," says Maria Cabral de Sousa, managing director of Lisbon web development company Softway. "But more than this, companies need to think strategically about their entire web profile, about the types of audiences they wish to target and even how they engage with new medium like social networking."

Firms need to take a considered approach to what type of information they wish to convey, how and to whom it is presented. Different strategies may even be applied to different stakeholder groups: existing and potential clients, recruits and the market more widely, she believes.

alt

"In the commercial world, firms need to be able to differentiate themselves. But a challenge can often be how to present a consistent institutional message, to target key audiences, and bring out lawyers' individual personalities."

The internet is about contact, information and personality, says Cabral de Sousa. A firm's website may be the first form of client interaction, but many firms still struggle to present their values and expertise clearly.

"The ability to access information easily, whether through partners biographies, directory rankings, or deal lists and press coverage, and to obtain key individuals' contact details, for example through vCards, is fundamentally important," she says.

An emerging issue also is the amount of institutional knowledge firm's wish to present to clients, and whether this is through a website, extranet or even shared intranets.

"Firms can manage the amount of information clients have access to and how it is shared through different web interfaces aligned to existing back office content or document management infrastructure. A fundamental first question however, is how much knowledge do firms want to share and with whom," she says.

Networked

An extension of this ability to interact with clients and to use the internet for business development is how firms engage with social networking sites, which, believes Cabral de Sousa, presents new opportunities so long as firms take an intelligent approach.

"Some firms consider social networking sites a distraction and even block their lawyers' access to many. But there are always ways around this and arguably it is a waste of valuable IT resources trying to keep track of them all."

Instead, firms should consider the reasons to embrace social networking – to encourage lawyers' involvement and to see them as another channel to help promote strategic and business development goals, she says.

"Lawyers, as professionals, are among the best at networking. Much of their business development is not done over a desk, but in meetings, seminars and conferences. Arguably, the profession should also be among the best at capitalising on the online networking possibilities."

Firms should however ascertain whether they want to present an institutional face – for example on sites such as Linkedin or Xing – or take a more casual approach, through sites such as Facebook or Twitter.

"The 'degrees of separation' theory that underpins these sites is a powerful argument for engaging with them – enabling lawyers to connect directly and indirectly to fellow lawyers or clients, to join industry, practice or special interest groups and to engage with them," she says.

Networking offers a communication medium beyond mere emails and websites. Firms may even use them as a channel to publish deal news, to highlight their rankings success, or to publish information on events, seminars, or even recent hires.

"You have though to approach different sites in different ways. You cannot focus on all of them equally, so ultimately you have to define your positioning. It can be useful therefore to look at how other business sectors already use them, how user interaction is evolving, and even where the new opportunities lie."

With almost a decade's experience, including working with many of Portugal's largest law firms, Cabral de Sousa knows that engaging with new technologies may not always be comfortable, but to demonstrate you exist it is often more productive to swim with the flow than against the tide.

Subscribe now to receive your copy of Iberian Lawyer

The Latin American Lawyer
N.22 • November 2021

IL98 cover SP IL94 cover EN
 

Iberian Lawyer
N.109 • November 2021

IL98 cover SP IL94 cover EN

IBLLabourAwardsPortugal 202112 300x250 Finalists

UIAMadrid 300x100

IL LatamAwards STD 300x100 1

UIAMadrid 300x100

IL LatamAwards STD 300x100 1

IL LatamAwards STD 300x100 1

IpTmtAwardsSpain 2021 300x100 finalists 1

IL LatamAwards STD 300x100 1

IPTMTAwardsPT 2021 300x250 Vincitori

This website uses cookies

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the IberianLawyer website. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time. Learn more

I agree

What do I need to know about cookies?

A cookie is a small text file that’s stored on your computer or mobile device when you visit a website. We use them to:

  • Remember your preferences
  • Tailor our sites to your interests.

There are different types of cookies

First party cookies

These are set by the website you’re visiting. And only that website can read them.  In addition, a website might use a separate company to analyse how people are using their site. And this separate company will set their own cookie to do this.

Third party cookies

These are set by someone other than the owner of the website you’re visiting. 

Some IberianLawyer web pages may also contain content from other sites like Vimeo or Flickr, which may set their own cookies. Also, if you Share a link to a IberianLawyer page, the service you share it on (e.g. Facebook) may set a cookie on your browser.

The IberianLawyer has no control over third party cookies.

Advertising cookies

Some websites use advertising networks to show you specially targeted adverts when you visit. These networks may also be able to track your browsing across different sites.

IberianLawyer site do use advertising cookies but they won’t track your browsing outside the IberianLawyer.

Session cookies

These are stored while you’re browsing. They get deleted from your device when you close your browser e.g. Internet Explorer or Safari.

Persistent cookies

These are saved on your computer. So they don’t get deleted when you close your browser.

We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.

Other tracking technologies

Some sites use things like web beacons, clear GIFs, page tags and web bugs to understand how people are using them and target advertising at people.

They usually take the form of a small, transparent image, which is embedded in a web page or email. They work with cookies and capture data like your IP address, when you viewed the page or email, what device you were using and where you were.

How does the Iberian Lawyer use cookies?

We use different types of cookies for different things, such as:

  • Analysing how you use the IberianLawyer
  • Giving you a better, more personalised experience
  • Recognising when you’ve signed in

Strictly Necessary cookies

These cookies let you use all the different parts of Iberian Lawyer. Without them services that you have asked for cannot be provided.

Some examples of how we use these cookies are:

  • Signing into the IberianLawyer
  • Remembering previous actions such as text entered into a registration form when navigating back to a page in the same session
  • Remembering security settings which restrict access to certain content.

Performance cookies

These help us understand how people are using the IberianLawyer online, so we can make it better. And they let us try out different ideas.
We sometimes get other companies to analyse how people are using the IberianLawyer online. These companies may set their own performance cookies You can opt out of these cookies here.Some examples of how we use these cookies are:

  • To collect information about which web pages visitors go to most often so we can improve the online experience
  • Error management to make sure that the website is working properly
  • Testing designs to help improve the look and feel of the website.
Cookie nameWhat it's for
Google DoubleClick The IberianLawyer uses Google DoubleClick to measure the effectiveness of its online marketing campaigns.Opt-out of DoubleClick cookies
Google Analytics From time to time some IberianLawyer online services, including mobile apps, use Google Analytics. This is a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. Google Analytics sets a cookie in order to evaluate use of those services and compile a report for us.Opt-out of Google Analytics cookies