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Ten Ways to Multi-Task Social Media Marketing

Bill Gates predicted that “content is king” in 1996, foreseeing a future in which companies of all sizes could use the Internet to distribute information or entertainment.

Fast forward 16 years, and content remains king in the Internet realm. While the revenue model of content as a business continues to be challenging, savvy legal marketers are using social media marketing and other forms of online publishing as a way to attract and retain clients.

This article will demonstrate how time-strapped law firms can increase their ratio of visibility to effort when it comes to successful Internet marketing campaigns.

Let’s start by examining three major elements that form the basis for social media success:

1. SEO-friendly copy containing the best keywords. When you write for the Internet, you really have two audiences. One, of course, is your current or prospective client. Equally important, however, is writing for the search engines. The challenge is to achieve a blend of substantive legal writing that incorporates a suitable selection of relevant keywords.

2.  Topic selection. The more you can educate your audience on legal topics, the less you will need to “sell” your law firm’s services. Over time, you will build a reputation through writing and speaking that will naturally attract clients to you.

3. Widespread social networking distribution. Social media makes it easy for you to write once and publish your work through multiple outlets, as outlined below.

When you blend all three of these success factors, your law firm can become a social media marketing powerhouse.

If you have any type of online marketing campaign currently in place, you probably understand that it is easy to launch a social media campaign but difficult to maintain momentum.

The secret to multi-tasking your social media marketing campaign is to write one substantive article and publish it, with slight variations, through multiple marketing channels.

In the battle between quality and quantity, your clients are likely to vote for quality. Google also favors high quality published material. Offering substantive material that educates your client about important legal issues will help to position you as an expert in your field.

Whether you choose to publish material on a weekly, monthly or quarterly schedule, the social media publishing strategies outlined below will enable you to leverage your work in a way that makes a big impression.

1. Start by publishing on your blog or website. This is your basic building block for all social media marketing. Once you have your article published online, you can use the link and any associated images to other outlets.

2. Post to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Expand the reach of your blog post by publishing the link with a comment on all of your social media outlets. Consider the use of a service like HootSuite.com to automate your publishing efforts.

3. Distribute as a client newsletter. Your published article can serve as the focus for a print or e-newsletter distributed to your clients and prospects. Email service providers like Constant Contact, Vertical Response and others make it easy and affordable to implement an email marketing campaign. (Be aware of the CAN-SPAM Act if your marketing extends beyond your permissioned client base.)

4. Publish as an article. Contact editors of legal or industry publications to get your topic in print. Publishers are always looking for high quality articles on current news topics.

5. Get a speaking engagement. Offer to speak at an upcoming group meeting on your topic. Reach out to the program chairperson of organizations where you are a member, including professional groups, civic organizations, and bar associations. Give them a copy of your article, and let them know that you are available to speak.

6. Produce as a Q&A sheet. Pretend you are being interviewed, and create a one-page sheet with key questions, answers, and your photo. Post this to your web site, and you might attract the attention of reporters who want to use you as a source.

7. Issue as a news release. There are many free or low cost Internet news services available. Issuing a press release once a month can help drive traffic to your web site.

8. Conduct a webinar. This works particularly well if your audience is widespread. Promote your webinar through LinkedIn (you can also create an “event” record on LinkedIn), email, and on your web site’s News page. Check with your membership organizations to see if they might want to sponsor your webinar, which will help to build your audience when they promote the event.

9. Create a video for YouTube. Grab your digital camera, an assistant, and record a 1-2 minute clip on your topic. Create a channel on YouTube for your video collection, and then use this as a base to promote your videos through your web site, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other outlets.

10. Start a LinkedIn Discussion. Use your blog post link to generate interest in a LinkedIn group. If this makes you nervous, you may want to monitor targeted groups for a few days to see what kind of material other participants are posting.

Get on a Schedule with an Editorial Calendar

Creating a 12-month editorial calendar provides a strategic framework for your social media marketing efforts. Let’s say you have a full-service law firm, encompassing many different practice areas. Pick one topic for each month.

Topics for the first three months of a quarter could be:

1) business law; 2) real estate; and 3) intellectual property.

Next, break each monthly topic down into four weekly supporting articles. For example, business law topics could be: a) forms of incorporation; b) partnership agreements; c) employment agreements; and d) joint ventures. Select the timeline and schedule that works best for you. Now that you have your calendar, you can start to write your articles in advance. Of course, the schedule can be reconfigured or supplemented as needed to reflect breaking news.

How to Overcome Writer’s Block

Finding the right topic to write about in social media marketing campaigns is a question that frequently arises. Here are two easy ways to supplement your editorial calendar and start writing.

First, pick topics that are in the news to avoid rehashing old material. The law is perfect for this, since new laws and court cases provide a steady stream of topic ideas. For example, according to MSNBC, almost 40,000 new state laws became effective on January 1, 2012 alone.

Second, you can write about the legal topics that form the basis for your law firm’s services. Think of the questions that you are frequently asked by both current and new clients. Examples include, “how to apply for a green card,” “what to do if you are in a car accident,” or “how to protect your business from trade secret theft.”

Google Rewards Fresh Content

Have you noticed how fast Google can find fresh content? If you use Google Alerts, you probably know that it is literally only a matter of hours (minutes in some cases) before you receive notifications of new material featuring your specified keywords.

Continuous improvements in search engine optimization are obvious in the 40 search changes that Google announced in February 2012. Here are some of the tweaks, big and small, that are relevant to law firms that are dependent on website traffic for lead generation. Keep these points in mind as you plan and implement the social media marketing strategies outlined above.

Local search. Ranking improvements are being used to refine local search results. Translate this in part to mean an increasing emphasis on Google Places and associated search capabilities. A new system is now being used to find and display results from a user’s city with greater accuracy. For example, Google can now determine when both queries and documents are local to the user. YouTube results are more localized. The ranking for predictions in YouTube are enhanced to present the user with geographically relevant data. At a high level, this translates into country relevance. Law firms using a video channel on YouTube will want to make sure and optimize video clips for geographic terms as well as practice areas.

Fresher images. Google now finds new images more quickly, reinforcing the need to continually refresh the content on your website. Attorney photos, community events, and practice-related images should all be evaluated.

Fresher content. Web sites featuring frequent content updates gain favor with Google. Law firms that are on a monthly update schedule (or worse) will find themselves left in the dust of daily dispatches being pumped out by some firms. Stay substantive, of course.

Don’t Forget Your Social Media Manager

A key factor in social media success is to put someone in charge of your campaign. Lawyers should be practicing law, so even the best laid plans for an attorney to manage the Internet marketing will quickly fall to the wayside in the face of court and client demands.

If your Office Administrator does not have a few hours available each week to take on social media tasks, consider hiring outside resources to help you implement and maintain an engaging news stream featuring your law firm.

Monitor Social Media Feedback

Social media is interactive, meaning that prospects and followers will comment on your posts and otherwise interact with your material. Prompt responses will make a favorable impression on your audience.

Never Stop Marketing!

Marketing is a process and not an event. Stopping your marketing program when you get busy is one of the worst mistakes your law firm can

Margaret Grisdela

Margaret Grisdela is president of Legal Expert Connections, a national legal marketing agency, and author of the legal marketing book Courting Your Clients. She acts as an outsourced legal marketing director with a concentration in insurance defense, personal injury, and social media marketing. She welcomes your comments or questions at 561-266-1030 or via email at mg@legalexpertconnections.com.

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About the Author: Margaret Grisdela is president of Legal Expert Connections, a national legal marketing agency, and author of the legal marketing book Courting Your Clients. She acts as an outsourced legal marketing director with a concentration in insurance defense, personal injury, and social media marketing. She welcomes your comments or questions at 561-266-1030 or via email at mg@legalexpertconnections.com.

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