Should you ask clients to give you a 'thumbs-up' online?

By Sylvia Hsieh

The Daily Record Newswire

Given the number of social media sites reviewing everything from barbeque to Botox, some law firm consultants say that lawyers should be asking their clients to post positive reviews on websites like Yelp!, Avvo and Google Hotpot.

Dale Tincher, a law firm consultant, recommends striking while the iron is hottest and the client is happiest.

"When you finish the case and the client is most satisfied, ask, 'Would you mind going to these sites and putting in a good review?'" said Tincher, CEO of Consultwebs in Raleigh, N.C.

The longer you wait, he said, the less likely a client will actually go online and write a review.

But others say there are downsides to soliciting online reviews from clients.

The main reason is that they just aren't that good.

"A review that you ask for is going to be pretty middle-of-the-road," said Austin, Texas- based small firm consultant Jay Pinkert.

In his view, people think of an online review as a public and permanent declaration, while a referral or recommendation is just something passed along between friends or family.

Further, he said, it's obvious when positive online reviews are solicited instead of spontaneous, because they tend to be generic and focus on "what a nice guy" a lawyer is, without providing specifics about the work performed.

In soliciting positive reviews - often to balance out negative ones - lawyers are looking at social media all wrong, according to Pinkert.

"Lawyers tend to look at online rating reviews as a threat rather than an opportunity, as a way of managing risk instead of 'How can I use this to my advantage,'" said Pinkert whose blog Shatterbox advises small firms on social media tools.

While it's fine to say yes to a client who offers to write a positive review, Pinkert recommends letting your online reviews grow organically.

He suggests inviting people onto your social media sites by making it easy to find links to all of your pages and by asking clients to visit them.

As for getting good reviews, you have to give some love to get some. Pinkert said that spending a small amount of time participating in social media, posting comments and writing your own reviews builds a community that will draw reviews your way.

"You can't just expect people to post to your site if you are not participating. If it looks like you're just there to juice your reputation, you're less likely to get the positive feedback that you seek," he said.

Published: Mon, Nov 7, 2011