While I’ve long been a proponent of using the Internet for law firm marketing both through websites and e-mail newsletters, I’ve remained uncertain about the value and methodology of social media since it has gained prominence. LinkedIn seems to be a way to accumulate contacts with other professionals that may be worthwhile if one is ever looking for a new job. FaceBook seems best for finding old high school and college friends (or crushes) and exchanging photos with current family and friends. And who gets Twitter?
Blogs seem to fall somewhere in between websites and social media. They are essentially an easy way of putting content on the Web, which seems little different from a traditional website – and some people seem to use them as a substitute for a more formal site. On the other hand, they do invite comments from readers, this ability to exchange and post on someone else’s site or page being a hallmark of social media. But, essentially, blogs seem to fall more on the side of traditional websites then with social media.
So, here is where I’ve come to in terms of the use of social media for small firm marketing: Your first focus has to be your website. And your first question for your website is: What can you do to make people who come to it want to hire you? This comes before SEO because many of the potential customers coming to your site will have heard about you from other sources and will simply be checking you out on your site. You want to make a good presentation and convince them that you are the attorney to hire.
Once you have a compelling website, you can take the second step of working to get people who haven’t already heard of you to come to the site. The best way to do this is to improve your search engine results on Google. And the best way to enhance your listing on Google is to have high-quality, unique, fresh content on your site. The beauty of this reality is that by continuing to add excellent content to your site you serve two purposes: making your site more compelling and improving its SEO. Blog posts are good ways to add such content to your site since they are designed to be shorter and less formal than other kinds of writing. In addition, they are easy to the post.
So, now you have a compelling site with great, fresh content. How do you leverage what you’ve created? There are two answers: e-mail newsletters and social media. E-mail newsletters permit you to keep in touch with your clients and referral sources, continue to provide them with valuable information, and stay top of mind when they need legal representation themselves or run into someone else who does. And it brings them to your site. Ideally each of your newsletter articles will be a lead to an article or event posting on your site.
Social media will permit you to reach people who many not otherwise know about you. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter all permit you to post notices about your firm and about content you have added that link back to your site. And Hootsuite permits you to automate the process so that whenever you post a new article to your site or an item to your blog, it automatically gets reported on your social media pages. While there’s a lot more you can do with each of these social media platforms, along with e-mail newsletters, simply posting your new content in the social media world should be part of step three in promoting your practice on line.