Don't pin all your hopes on Pinterest

By Correy Stephenson

Dolan Media Newswires

BOSTON, MA--The latest social media phenomenon, Pinterest, is growing in leaps and bounds, with more than 11.7 million unique visitors in January alone, according to comScore.

Pinterest functions as an online bulletin board, with users "pinning" images that they like or want to share.

Users can follow other boards and similar to retweeting or recommending, can "re-pin" an image from another board. Followers can also "like" an image on someone else's board.

But can the site be a useful marketing tool for lawyers?

The visual nature of Pinterest could prove to be challenging for attorneys looking to market themselves or their firm, acknowledged Matthew Hickey, a sole practitioner in San Francisco.

Unlike Twitter or Facebook, the lack of a message may limit the site's usefulness for lawyers.

"Lawyers are all about the written word," said Adrian Dayton, a New York-based attorney and social media consultant who uses the site on occasion. "Pinterest is not a natural fit for lawyers because it is so incredibly graphic and all about images."

But "creative lawyers who think outside the box may be able to use [the site] effectively," Hickey said.

Hickey, who focuses on entertainment law, uses Pinterest and pins images relating to the music industry, like album covers. While not specifically legal, it ties into his practice and client base.

In addition, Hickey uses images from his Sociable Lawyer blog posts and pins them to his board.

"If I wrote a post about iPad apps, I might use a picture of an iPad screen," he explained. "I'll pin that image with a short description about the blog post with a link, so people will see it and click through."

Cross-referencing his social media outlets "reinforces to my followers that I am an attorney," Hickey noted.

Dayton agreed that Pinterest --with its exploding popularity and potential for networking - could provide an opportunity if lawyers can figure out how to do it right.

An intellectual property lawyer might pin up images of the various brands that he or she has trademarked, he suggested. Or he or she could share images of infringing products that they have defended their clients against.

Because both scenarios would be highly visual, "they would play really well on a Pinterest page," Dayton said.

Finding compelling images may be more challenging for other practice areas, such as corporate law, he noted.

While the site may not be as effective as other social media outlets at drawing clients, Hickey noted that because Pinterest is free it's an affordable option for solos and small firms looking to think outside the box.

Plus, the site doesn't require tech-savvy, making it an easy entry point, Hickey said.

One note of caution: be sure you comply with all copyright laws when pinning images.

"Make sure that you are using your own images or have the rights to use them," advised Hickey.

Entire contents copyrighted © 2012 by The Dolan Company.

Published: Tue, May 1, 2012

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