So let’s be honest here. I am an internet veteran for sure and despite a small hiatus fairly tech savvy (I run Linux systems in my home because I like to tinker.) However, entering the world of online marketing is truly a new world to me. I know the basic concepts of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I understand the ideas behind ad campaigns, newsletters etc. My problem, I find, is in the execution. As a trees, not forest kind of person, it is so easy to get bogged down in the minutia. That being said, I am catching on quickly, mostly from help from some “friends” People like Carolyn Elefant at My Shingle, Stephanie Kimbro at Virtual Law Office, the good people at the Lawyerist, the bloggers at Solo Practice University, Jay Fleischman and his multitude of contents at Legal Practice Pro, Nicole Black and her family of sites, and tons of others. So here is my report so far. Mind you, I have not completely implemented any of this, but I think it is important to work in this direction.
This is the most important key to using the internet and social media as the core of your marketing/online presence. You may use Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, WordPress, Digg, etc. every day for your social life. You may even have started using these services for your firm. The question is, do you know how to use these services to optimize your goals? Without getting into the details, it is important that you understand how your information is disseminated, how the community uses the information, and what the optimal use will be. My advise, research social media strategies, examine the successful users, and reach out to the community.
>The real point is to understand your audience. Who do you want to read your blog? Who do you want to follow you on Twitter? This may seem like a simple answer, any and all persons that will bring you business. The problem is if you don’t understand who is using various services and for what purpose, you might be wasting your efforts as your content falls on blind eyes or is simply disregarded. For example, most clients are not searching Twitter databases for legal advice. If all your Twitter content is focused on getting clients, you not likely catch many calls. You should notice that most attorneys disseminating client focused information on Twitter have already attracted these potential clients through a blog or Facebook or some other source. That means for all practical purposes, Twitter is usually a better tool for building on your professional community and referrals. Your practice area and your target audience will ultimately be the deciding factor but you must do the analysis of your audience. Once you have determined your audience per service, you need to focus your content. (Don’t follow my lead, yet). Although it is important to connect with your audience, as suggested here here, you have to keep you content relevant and on target. Remember the average internet surfer is fickle. Too much hodge podge can turn readers off as they crave consistency. Once you have chosen your audience (or your audience has chosen you) you can begin to construct your social media plan. Obviously, you are seeking out clients, but you should also consider other indirect referrals that are common in your field of practice. For example, in my particular field, I like to befriend or follow venture capital groups and small business news providers. If you are an estate planner or tax attorney, your target audience might also include accountants and tax preparers. Determining who you want to contact is critical building an effective system.
Despite the natural feel of most social media, simply existing is not enough to get noticed. Remember that social media is an extension of normal life, not some wonder world uniquely set upon a hill of virtual bliss. The same techniques and skills used to build real life referral and client networks are still at play. (My apologies to Solo Practice University and others as I cannot find my bookmarks for the great article on why this is so true). That means that fact of your existence is not enough to make people notice. Just like in the real world, you have to be tactful and plan out your approach. My suggestion, build a map. Start with your content, then your target audience as inputs and outputs. Now lets put into place the social media and internet tools at your disposal. Applying your new found knowledge of the mechanisms of social media, run content through the filters of social media to your target audiences. This may require several accounts, with interlinking, i.e.Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn, several blogs based on audience and subject matter. Now implement and don’t forget the golden rule of social media, content, content, content, lots of quality content.