Facebook has 1.1 billion active monthly users and roughly 665 million daily active users. Think about that for just a moment. A good portion of the entire human race interacts with Facebook on a daily basis, and even more of them stop by at least once per month.
If you’re an attorney, how can you possibly ignore numbers like these? Setting your firm up on social media sites should be a top priority if you want to succeed in the future.

Something New: Social Search

One interesting feature of Facebook that most attorneys aren’t aware of is Graph Search, which is Facebook’s first foray into becoming a serious search engine that may someday rival Google in power and ease of use. Considering all of the personal data that Facebook has access to—potentially including your location, workplace, education history, preferences for music and food, friends and family members, and even brands you like—it is likely that Graph Search will eventually deliver more personal, accurate results than Google could ever hope to.
Right now, Graph Search is in an extended beta phase, meaning you can sign up to gain access, but it is not available to all members quite yet. However, any law firms ignoring this forthcoming—and potentially revolutionary tool—would be tempting fate, since anyone from the most rural Social Security disability claimant to the sophisticated, cosmopolitan injury claimant may be using Facebook at any given time.

How Does Graph Search Work?

Upon gaining access to Graph Search, your Facebook toolbar will be altered significantly. A more prominent search box will prompt you to “Search for people, places and things.” Clicking this box opens a new world of possibilities, and at the moment it looks like this:

Very quickly, you get the idea that Facebook is attempting to provide search results based upon what your connections have already liked, places they have visited, and more. Want to know what movies your friends think are great? Click and find out. Interested in trying a new, local restaurant, or even one in a city you’ve never been to? Easily done via Graph Search. Why bother going to Yelp (or even Google) when Facebook leverages your social connections’ reviews and interests for you? You probably trust your friends’ recommendations over those of a total stranger.

How Is This Applicable to Attorneys?

At the moment, the basic options for Graph Search are limited to what you see in the screen shot above. However, the system is actually more powerful than it first appears. Start typing “law firms” and Facebook suggests “Law Practices In ” (according to either your hometown or your current place of residence). This means that people can actually search for an attorney using Facebook, and then immediately see which firms their friends and family members have “liked” or visited (via a check-in).
That type of immediate endorsement serves as a referral, and one you had to do almost nothing to gain. If Injured Irene needs help with her auto accident, is she more likely to trust the results on Google, which have no personal connection to her, or the results on Facebook, which showed her a law firm that her friend has liked? The answer is fairly obvious. The personal connections Facebook has at its disposal are the powerhouse behind Graph Search. Google cannot compete with this type of social web, at least for the moment.

Seeing Is Believing

You may be thinking to yourself, “All of this is too complicated. My average client isn’t going to know how to do this.” You would be absolutely incorrect in that assumption. Think of how prevalent smart phones are. We have tiny computers in our pockets that can access the entirety of human information in seconds, and it’s a good bet that every one of your clients can work a smart phone pretty well. Facebook’s Graph Search is a breeze by comparison.
Let’s take a quick look at what Graph Search can do in seconds. Hypothetically, let’s assume I am looking for an attorney in San Antonio. All I need to do is type “Law Practices in San Antonio” into Graph Search, and Facebook presents me with the information below.

Keep in mind that I don’t have any connections in the San Antonio area. If I did, however, and any of my connections had interacted with these firms on Facebook, I would immediately know. Not only can I see where these firms are geographically, but I can check out photos, contact information, and more right away.
Additionally, Facebook gives me the option to refine my search on the right side of the page. You can actually narrow a search by who has liked or visited a firm, as well as the geographic area. Looking for an instant source of referrals? Interact with your clients on Facebook and look no further.

Attorneys: Start Using Social Media Today

If you only take one thing away from this post, it should be that the power of social media is immense, and it is only going to grow month by month, year by year. Graph Search is less than six months old; imagine what it will be able to by 2014. Get started on your social media campaign now if you haven’t already, and don’t get left behind.
Facebook’s Graph Search is a powerful, new tool for law firms, and it has complexities that are far too numerous to cover in a single blog post. In future posts, I’ll examine ranking factors in Graph Search and what you can do to increase your visibility on the system. Like Google’s organic search, Facebook uses an algorithm of ranking factors, so stay tuned.

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