Thursday, September 27, 2012

ABA on Google Plus

Like many of you, I make a habit of quickly flipping through each edition of the ABA Journal that arrives in the ole' postal box.  Magazines are always a healthy diversion from the task after task after task grind. This time around I was pleasantly surprised to see a few articles touching on issues near and dear to my heart--law firm social networking and blogging.  

You may have skimmed the articles.
The first was on Google Plus--the latest social networking service that would undoubtedly mean nothing to anyone except for the fact that it was created by the search engine behemoth--Google.  Social networking and SEO-types have been debating the merit and future use of Google Plus since it was first released over a year ago.  

So far, I think it is fair to say that the short summary so far is: many people have signed up (because its easy if you already have a a Google account), but few use it regularly.  

The ABA Journal story provided two perspective on the service--a pro and a con.  The supporters of the service essentially emphasized the benefit of the sharing tool for firms that already utilize Google App programs for other things--mail, the cloud, calenders, etc..  For those firms, GooglePlus is essentially an intraoffice tool.  That makes sense, and increasing use of the service for larger firms is painless and helpful.

In opposition, however, the author noted that most firms are still way behind on the basics of content creation and successful online presence leveraging.  For those firms (the majority) GooglePlus is basically a distraction.  The fundamentals need to be put into place first, without too much focus on second-tier social networking sites.  The author writes, "Daily and weekly updates and addition of content are key.  Then and only then should a firm take a dip into the water of true social networking."  This is also a clear-sighted observation.   

At LawBlogWriters, we often get asked about GooglePlus.  While our focus is on actual law firm content creation--and not necessarily social network management--we certainly keep a pulse of all of these developments.  It is critical to understand which outside services and networks are valuable and which  are not.  Every attorney and firm has limited time and money, and so it reasonable to hold off on investing anything in  new service until it is clear that the service provides some value.  

So what do we make of GooglePlus?

For the most part, the author in the ABA Journal article who harped on the negatives is mostly spot on.  Most law firms either do not have blogs, don't update the blogs, or don't update their website.  The new content must come first.  Simply forwarding stories written by others on GooglePlus is of little value if firms are not creating unique content on their own. 

However, one consideration lacking in both perspectives was the obvious fact that Google plans on leveraging its search engine dominance to incorporate GooglePlus.  The "liking" feature on the service will undoubtedly become a factor in future (and current) SEO efforts. For that reason, it is smart for all firms to at least get the basics of GooglePlus in place.  

Create an account, put your new content on it, and slowly begin building a network.  While it is not worth throwing significant money or time into (yet), it is reasonable to lay the foundation, because odds are it will be mandatory for future SEO efforts. 

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