And, if so, what will they look like?
With the growth in functionality of social media platforms, will there be a need for law firms (and other businesses) to maintain their own websites in the future?
In September 2011 I attended the APSMA conference in Sydney where there was a great panel session on ‘the evolution of our roles as professional service marketers’. When asked about how law firm websites have changed over the past 10 years, one of the panelists commented that her firm’s website is becoming much more of a resource centre and that the amount of content on it has grown exponentially.
Great Jakes in New York, have developed a ‘Rainmaker-focused website’, essentially comprising attorney microsites. This setup allows lawyers to customise the information that appears within their individual microsite (which sits within the overall firm site), and to organise that content across multiple pages.
The thing I love about this approach is that it allows lawyers to post reputation-enhancing content into their microsite so it’s linked to them, rather than getting lost elsewhere on the site. This also eliminates the need for lawyers to set up their own work-related blogs that are entirely separate from their firm’s website. I think this is a really smart approach.
As the proliferation of content continues and the channels diversify, I believe it will be those professionals and firms that provide valuable resources and content to their clients, prospective clients and other stakeholders that will prosper…However, it must be easy for them to find that content.
The power is increasingly in the hands of the client:
- It’s the client who seeks out the info he/she wants
- It’s the client who compares the relative merits of two or more providers
- And it’s the client who determines the channels through which he/she will access info.
Having valuable resources which are regularly updated and which are easy to find and access will differentiate professionals/firms and, I believe, influence clients’ buying decisions going forward.
However, the old adage that good content will get found is simply not true any more. It’s those people who are active in the social media space, who have built their reputations, whose content is shared most. Is it good? Most of the time yes, but is there other good content out there? Most definitely. It’s just you don’t always know about it.
While I think engagement via social media will continue to grow, I think in 5 years time websites will become less necessary EXCEPT:
- as a content repository (i.e. an expanded blog),
- as a portal to transact business, or
- as a place to find out a person/organisation’s contact details.
I believe the majority of people will visit these websites via social media platforms (whatever they may be in 5 years’ time) and that the majority of searches will take place within the social media platforms themselves.
What’s your prediction?
N.B. I actually wrote this post in late 2011 but never posted it. One year on my thoughts are still the same! I’d love to hear yours.