Social Media: Why Bother? || By Sandi Poreda, APR
July 8, 2015
Social media can feel like quicksand. Everyone says you have to be all over it and there are new platforms popping up all the time. It’s easy to get sucked in and quickly feel like you’re drowning. Plus, there are so many rules about how attorneys can use social media. Why should you bother engaging? Because if used strategically, social media can be a force multiplier, not a resource drain.
First, let’s talk about the basics of your marketing plan. Your marketing plan should at the very least identify who matters most to you (your target audiences) and what you want them to do (become clients, give referrals, etc.). Focus on specific, measurable actions; busy doesn’t equal effective. If you need help developing a marketing plan, let’s chat.
Now that you’ve identified your target audience, study them. Where do they get their information? That’s where you want to be. You’ll waste time and resources trying to pull an audience to you instead of going to where they are. This includes evaluating social media channels because it’s better to pick a few platforms and do those well than be mediocre at many. For this audience, we recommend starting with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
Next, set up your social media accounts correctly. Make sure your accounts are public, so people searching can see your posts in their search results. Keep all of your information, including your logo, your name, your website, your phone number and your address, identical across all channels - NO EXCEPTIONS. Having different information, even something as simple as St. vs Street in your address listing, can affect where you show up on search engine result pages.
Which is where this whole conversation is headed - how to get good positioning on search engine result pages. These pages are what a search engine returns when you type in a specific keyword or phrase. Most search engines use some sort of an algorithm to determine placement. Used correctly, social media can help boost your placement on these pages.
Overall, the silver bullet is to have killer original content and a plan for posting it. Create and post content that sets you apart as an expert, as someone with a well-supported opinion or someone who has a voice worth listening to. You can review a recent CLE or talk about a recent court ruling - whatever might be interesting or important to your target audience.
Once you’ve developed the content, you need a network to help you get the most out of it. Look for places to submit your content so you can drive even more people back to your website. These could be legal blogs or they could be parenting blogs, depending on the topic you’ve chosen and your target audience. Key influencers in audiences matter, and they can promote your content on their networks, reaching people not necessarily in your sphere of influence. Pro tip: start building these networks early so the first time they hear from you isn’t when you need something. It’s also important to pay attention to what is going on around you, so you can join the conversation in an authentic way.
For best results, you should post updates, new content, information, etc., at least once every two weeks. This rate won’t help you thrive, but it will least keep you alive. Anything less frequent, and Google will start to penalize you. But remember - using social media effectively in the legal world really isn’t about the sheer volume of posts - a little planning and some strategy will go a long way here.
Finally, make sure you use best practices when you’re on social media. Don’t overload your posts with keywords or hashtags. Try not to purchase too many of your friends, followers or likes; paid advertising is fine, when used correctly. Do build a “cheering squad,” people who will champion you on social media when you need them. And make sure you’re interesting.
Social media can be overwhelming, so be strategic and take it one step at a time. Don’t sign up for a platform just because someone says you have to be on it; evaluate your marketing plan and how to reach your target audiences and choose your channels wisely. Post relevant, interesting content and share it through a network of people with similar interests, and you will see improvement on those search engine result pages. #forthewin
Author Sandi Poreda, APR owns Bulldog Strategy Group, a communications firm that specializes in litigation communications. Learn more about her service areas at www.bulldogstrategygroup.com.