So if you’ve been hiding under a rock instead of reading my blog posts, you may not already know that my favorite session from LMA13 was "Delivering Happiness: Fresh Ideas for Service-Driven Brands Deploying Social Media Tactics, Seeking ROI" with Graham Kahr, Social Scientist for Zappos and Jayne Navarre of Law Gravity LLC.
Rather than a typical session, Jayne and Graham let us know right away that it would be different when they introduced themselves in the third person. Their session took on the tone of more of a conversation, which also included those of us in the audience.
They began their conversation by saying that they wouldn’t be talking about social media per se, but really focusing instead on creating experiences for clients (which is something we could all identify with). Graham said that Zappos doesn’t push their own brand stories – they want their customers to tell the brand story for them.
Because of that, counting friends, fans and followers isn’t the true measure of social media ROI in the traditional sense (Return on Investment). Graham challenged us to think of it instead as "Return on Ignoring" and the idea of whether we can afford to ignore the conversations and opportunities happening in social media for our businesses. For Zappos, they measure their social media successes in terms of human interaction. And while they care about likes, shares, comments and followers, if they’re not driving sales, something isn’t working.
From the law firm perspective, Jayne commented that she doesn’t see any engagement on social media sites. Most firms use their Facebook pages, for example, to talk about themselves. And if people don’t see value in that (which they probably won’t), they won’t stay. As Graham added, fans have liked you for a reason, so you need to deliver value to them. A firm or company can pepper in items about their culture, but it’s more important to focus on the fans.
So while firms have things to say, it doesn’t always need to be about them. Instead, they should stop at nothing to deliver client value, and part of doing that is giving the community what they want. Graham asked us to think about our friends, and asked how many people in the room have a friend who only talks about themselves. Everyone in the audience raised their hands. He then asked people to keep their hands raised if that person was their favorite friend – and no one did.
The idea is to make the customer/client the star of the show – deliver content to them, but also give them something to do with it. Firms may be pushing out content, but they’re not adding conversation to that. Jayne asked Graham how they manage that side of it. He said that before Zappos step into any new social network, they make sure that they have a real person on their end who will interact with the public there. This went back to an earlier idea that he mentioned, that of making sure a firm or company can handle their organic network before they try to build it further.
Consistent interaction and responsiveness across all social networks is critical to Zappos’ success (and all service-driven brands’ successes) – they would never ignore their community. Graham pointed out that none of us would ignore the phone if it rings in the office, so why would you ignore your fans or followers?
A member of the audience asked Graham and Jayne to talk about whether lawyers’ paranoia about social media is to blame for their lack of activity on it, and therefore a lack of results. While they agreed that that might be the case, the answer is that lawyers can respond on social media to legal questions in a general way – people gravitate towards the most helpful people, and there are ways to be helpful without engaging in an attorney-client relationship, or trampling on ethics.
Engaging with fans and followers on social media can build brand loyalty just as easily for law firms as it can for customer-based businesses like Zappos, so it’s essential that people don’t feel ignored. Marketers themselves can also scan legal questions on social networks and then ask these questions of their attorneys. Graham suggested having lunch with your lawyers and posing these legal questions to them – get the answers in laymen’s terms, and that will be "content gold." When you’re helpful for free, prospects will return to you because you were there for them, even when it wasn’t your "business."
For those who start to feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the work this might entail, Graham pointed out that his department is made up of three people, and they handle 11 social networks.
In terms of Twitter, Graham commented that people go to Twitter for customer service, so it’s a good place to listen. Other channels are more for push/broadcast. For monitoring brands, there is software, including some free, that can help. Graham recommended Hootsuite, Radian6, Google analytics and Bit.ly analytics. He offered the tip that if you add a "+" to the end of a shortened link from bit.ly, it will tell you who has clicked on the link.
In terms of the type of content that law firms can focus on, Jayne and Graham agreed that there are things that counsel do in their everyday lives that can help clients – to look at case verdicts only is too wide a perspective. It’s important to care about all of the steps that lead to the "buy" – not just the result. That’s what service is about.
On Facebook, people are looking for something "living" – they’re not looking for legal advice. They want to be treated like a person. Firms want clients to say wonderful things about them – Graham said those are the things the firm should talk about on Facebook, not verdicts. An audience member mentioned that lawyers are concerned about ethics rules, so Graham said that they don’t need to talk about substantive topics. Service, products, and relationships will always exist – Zappos is a customer service company that happens to sell shoes. Law firms are a customer service company that happens to sell legal advice.
Graham and Jayne moved on to discussing social media policies, and Graham said that at Zappos, their policy is very simple: "Do what makes sense." The idea behind this is that they don’t slow their client down in their pursuit of happiness. So as a result, employees are empowered to solve problems to make their customers happy. When Zappos is out of a product, they’ll even help their customers find another retailer – just to make them happy. For law firms, this could translate to the idea that when a firm doesn’t have the expertise for a certain issue, they can help their client to find someone who does – even though it takes business away from them in the short term, the client will remember the firm as helping them and will bring business back in the long term.
Social media has infiltrated Zappos at all levels too – Zappos puts everyone’s Twitter accounts on their profiles, and uses them as a way to share their culture with each other. Their new hire training includes social media training, and Zappos asks their employees to broadcast for them – tour photos, charity events, etc. Their approach to social media is very simple: "We have a problem to solve. We find the solution. Implement it. Go back to the drawing board."
Someone in the audience pointed out that while we would be happy to see a Zappos box appear on our doorstep, we wouldn’t be happy when a lawyer showed up. So how can we really translate their customer service and social media lessons to our own firms? (This is where I jumped in with my points) Heather Morse summed it up over on Twitter by saying that lawyers need to connect on more than just business and the law – they need to bring their human side out.
Graham went back to talking about about Zappos’ focus on customer service, saying that every new hire goes through four weeks of customer service training – even their CEO, Tony Hsieh, went through the training. He said that when hiring, they look for people who already have their core values, not those who they could teach them to. Then, two weeks into their new jobs, Zappos offers the employee a couple of thousand dollars to quit. That doubles the third week of working there. Under 2% of people take that offer – their employees are just that happy to be working there.
An audience member asked Graham to elaborate on what those core values are, and he said it’s the four C’s – Clothing, Culture, Customer Service and Community. Their main focus is that of "surprise and delight," the idea of which is to treat every customer the way you’ve always wanted a company to treat you. Graham said that in every opportunity that they have to talk to someone, they can make someone’s day, make a PEC or Personal Emotional Connection. He emphasized that we should never forget that there are real humans out there behind social media accounts – if someone tells you a problem, it’s because they think you might be able to solve it.
These "magic moments" won’t happen when a client gets the bill – they’re going to happen when you connect on a personal level. So think outside the box to connect with clients – while this is something the lawyers can do, it’s also something that marketers can act on. For example, send a baby basket to new parents – not everything has to be about business. Conversations with Zappos aren’t always about shoes and clothes, but each of those conversations is valuable nonetheless.
So although I’ve challenged all of you to think outside the box and identify what lessons you can translate to the legal industry from this session, I’ll outline them below for you:
- No matter what business you’re in, your focus should be about creating positive client experiences at every level.
- Identify what the costs to your firm are of not being involved with social media, and not participating in the conversations happening about your firm and the topics you care about – that will tell you what the benefits of being involved with social media are better than the number of followers you have.
- It’s better to empower your clients and social media communities to tell your firm’s story, than to tell it yourself. How can you best do that?
- How can you make the client/potential client the "star" of your social media efforts?
- Firms should identify what their social media communities want on each network (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) and then give that to them.
- Be consistent and always interact with your social media audiences – never ignore questions you get, even if the answer is that you can’t comment on something because of ethics rules.
- Marketers should mine social media networks for legal questions, then pose these to their own attorneys to get the answer in laymen’s terms, and re-frame them for appropriate use – this is content gold.
- Be helpful, even when it’s not going to directly lead to business for you. People will bring business back to those who have helped them.
- Empower everyone in the firm to solve problems (remember that solving a problem for someone can be as simple as introducing them to the right attorney at your firm to help them, or to point them to the right resource to find more information).
- Connect on more than just the legal and business side – lawyers and law firm marketers should show their communities their human side.
- Every time someone in your firm talks to someone, from the receptionist answering the phone, to a tweet from the firm account, to an attorney engaging with a client, there is the opportunity for a Personal Emotional Connection. Does everyone at the firm share the same core values, so that they can take advantage of these opportunities?
- Never forget that there is a person behind every email, every Facebook question, every tweet. "Magic moments" with your firm and its members will only happen when you connect on a personal level. And these magic moments lead to business.