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updated: 4/22/2013 7:17 AM

Palatine law firm turns to social media to build recognition

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Lawyers and social media. The words don't roll off the tongue as easily as, say, chocolate and ice cream or summer and vacation -- unless you're talking with Colin Gilbert.

A founding partner at the law firm of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella LLC, Gilbert is shepherding a social media marketing campaign that he believes will be successful in introducing the new Palatine firm.

New is something of a relative term. The four partners boast a combined 68 years of legal experience. "We're not starting from scratch," Gilbert says. "We all brought goodwill and business to the firm."

While that matters, DGAA could become just another suburban law firm in an already crowded marketplace. Partly for that reason, DGAA is using social media for a very traditional marketing purpose: To raise the firm's visibility.

It's early days, but Gilbert is encouraged. "I think social media allows us to reach a lot of people," Gilbert says. "We have 700 likes so far on our Facebook page."

Many of those likes come from Thank You Thursdays, a DGAA promotion intended to connect the firm with fans and other local businesses. On one recent Thursday, for example, "People who liked us got a free three-month membership at Fitness 19," an Arlington Heights workout facility, Gilbert says.

The firm also posts "links to our blogs, any awards we receive, pictures of us in the community and photos highlighting businesses we partner with" on its Facebook page, Gilbert adds.

"You can't not be using social media," says Jay Beaton, principal at On the Beaton Path LLC, an Arlington Heights marketing firm providing support for DGAA's social media initiatives. "Everyone has transitioned there."

At least some law firms apparently are making the transition. The cover story in the April edition of the Illinois Bar Journal, published by the Illinois State Bar Association, was "Marketing Your Practice via Social Media," and Gilbert says DGAA has seen "a significant spike in social media traffic from our peers. Social media is a hot-button issue."

Even so, says marketing consultant Nick Keseric, the personal touch still matters. "Technology is a great tool to get a brand out, to bring your name to a larger market," says Keseric, president of The Marketing Seeds Co., Hinsdale. "But you still have to give before you get. Even in our instant society, it takes time to develop a relationship."

Beaton knows. His task may be to help DGAA develop a digital-focused brand, but, he says, his firm applies "traditional principles to this new medium."

Gilbert knows, too. DGAA is on LinkedIn, the business social media site that centers on relationship building, and is developing sponsorships with the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Palatine Area and Arlington Heights chambers of commerce.

• Jim Kendall welcomes comments at 2013 121 Marketing Resources Inc.

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