Social Media Annual Review – Marketing for the Small Firm Lawyer
Published to: 000113, 000116, A Small Town Lawyer's Perspective, Perspectives of a Small Town Lawyer, West Virginia Lawyer - Tips and Techniques
on December 23, 2014 1:31 pm
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The heart of my Internet presence is my professional website, mentioned below: http://www.hunterlawfirm.net
Pulling all of these threads together into a coherent whole is a challenge. So let me number some sentences and see where it leads me. I have written on this subject before:
- “How I Got My Score Over 50 on Klout.com, Bird by Bird”: http://hunterlawfirm.net/how-i-got-my-score-over-50-on-klout-com-bird-by-bird/
- The Illusion of Klout.com – A Lesson in Ego Deflation: http://hunterlawfirm.net/the-delusion-of-klout-com-a-lesson-in-ego-deflation/
I learned a valuable lesson when Klout.com reset my Facebook privacy settings to “public” giving me a lot of “Klout” apparently, while giving the world access to my “friends only” personal FB information and timeline.
Recently a colleague gently chided me for “self promotion”. I plead guilty to “self promotion” if it means that I aggressively market myself by sharing information with potential clients, clients, colleagues and even judges. And I try to be as visible on the WEB as possible. This fits perfectly with my “hobbies” of reading, tracking technology, and keeping friends and family connected.
A savvy FB Friend explained to me that even our personal FB postings are part of our personal “brand”, the way we want the world to view us. Whether we send out game invitations, reposts of kittens, America’s Funniest Videos, political or religious reposts, or our own substantive content, we who elect to be visible on the WEB want to create an impression. I want people to believe I have boundless energy, good humor, valuable experience, a good heart, and brains. Against my best intentions, I “over-do”, but perhaps even that helps convince people I would be a good guy to have on their side.
I remind you here of the fundamentals:
- This will not work if you do not have something to say.
- You will not have something to say if you do not have passion and brains and if you do not read and listen.
- If you lack these things, you will need to rely heavily on those who do, but they probably don’t know your business, or your practice, or you.
- This article is written for someone who likes to test the power of the Internet, to explore its potential, to write, to take photos or make videos, and to market something.
- An example , of course, is a solo or small law firm. But I think it is suitable for a café or restaurant, for a gift shop, or small contractor, or a community organization, or a charity.
- You are going to have to devote 2-15 hours a week to this endeavor.
- If you are ambitious, I assume you do not mind working, say, 60 hours a week. Why not spend 10-15 hours helping the right people find you?
- Developing the tools to do your job probably needs to be fun to you. Other lawyers are interested in the law per se. They are “scholarly” and/or they have dedication in analyzing subjects that, to me, are pretty dry and boring. I admire them, and when I have no other choice, I emulate them.
- A sole practitioner, even one like me who has 4 employees, has to be the lawyer, the marketing director, the business manager, and the buyer of software and hardware. We have to establish our “game plan”.
- My “content” comes from my writing, my blogs, and my posts to FB, Linked In, and Twitter.
- If you are new to your community, your business, or your profession, I suspect the “tried and true” methods are still important. Church membership, boards, charities, and youth organizations all need volunteers.
- Over the years, I have been in the Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, the Progressive Bank Board, President or VP of our Senior Center, Chair of the United Way, board member of The Arts Alliance, chairman of the WV Trial Lawyers’ “Peoples Law Schools”, 17 years a youth soccer coach, organizer of computer fairs, and computer clinics, and was even an amateur auto racer who wrote his own news reports. Our firm sponsored a bicycle safety “road-e-o”, and bought helmets for children in the community.
- If you do not care about your community, it probably won’t care that much about you.
- For the first time, “The (new) WV (Lawyers) Rules of Professional Responsibility” identify a responsibility of a lawyer to become “tech savvy”. I emphatically agree!
- I wrote “How to Set Up a Tech Savvy Legal Office” four years ago: http://hunterlawfirm.net/how-to-set-up-a-modern-tech-savvy-legal-office/ .
- My Blackberry Curve evolved to an iPhone 4s, iPad, iPhone 5, and new iPad. Next on the list, a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 for January, 2015.
- “How to I get the Information I need? There are websites, blogs, podcasts, tech classes, books, Kindle e-books, TED Lectures, and college courses through The Teaching Company and the Khan Academy, https://www.khanacademy.org/. The wisdom of the world is at our fingertips, as it the “garbage” of the world.
- Two essential aids online are Wikipedia, https://www.wikipedia.org/ and Google Scholar http://scholar.google.com/ .
- Anyone who travels needs a Garmin, Google Maps, Google Earth, and/or MapQuest and Yahoo Maps. Map reading, of course, is becoming a lost art.
- If you are going to market yourself, you are going to have to spend some money. I gave up my $1400 West/Thompson Findlaw website. But, advertising still costs $2000-$3000 mo. If you do not have that, these “cheap” tips are even more important to you.
- Now www.hunterlawfirm.net takes you to the site I built with the help of a local team of graphic artist and programmer. Cost? @ $4000.
- With that savings, I was able to double my current Yellow Pages budget. Yes, West Virginians still find services through the Yellow Pages!
- Also, I am paying a monthly stipends to my programmer, Dan, to Avvo.com, to SuperPages.com, and to Justia.com.
- As for the pages below such as AVVO.com, Superpages.com or Yelp.com, all I can say is claim, claim, claim your page, profile, or site!!!
- So, let’s dive in and find, in no particular order, some of the resources I use.
- Here is the link to the PDF file of a rough version of my “book”. It is a compilation of all my blog articles, with a “Table of Contents”: http://hunterlawfirm.net/book.pdf . You can also download it by visiting my professional website: http://www.hunterlawfirm.net .
- A fellow with the announced goal of getting 100,000 YouTube followers is “techy nerd” Steve Dotto, a Canadian. Steve has good free videos on the organizer Evernote, the task manager Wunderlist, and many tools of Internet marketing: http://www.dottotech.com
- My son John likes Michael Seltzer and The Social Media Examiner, especially for the amount of free and useful content: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com .
- Here is a recent podcast from Social Media Examiner: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/social-media-marketing-podcast/id549899114?mt=2
- A good source for online courses on subjects tech is Udemy: http://udemy.com
- My favorite source for tech training has been the site Lynda.com, http://www:Lynda.com, because I thought the fee was $9.99/month, BUT my wife Nancy advises me that we have been paying out $37.50. That upsets me a lot, and I will probably cancel, but I have had over a dozen worthwhile courses, and many other partials. Not so bad if compared to $300 continuing legal education seminars.
- I could not get my coupon to work, so I never logged on, but Grovo, http://www.grovo.com, advertises heavily as a “player” on online tech training.
- So, far I have had limited success with my videos. Here is an example, Introduction to J. Burton Hunter III https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlwD2-VB-Po.
- And here is the link to my website’s videos:http://hunterlawfirm.net/videos/.
- Here is my YouTube Page:
- The combination of skills needed for YouTube for business is considerable, and I have managed to mix my professional and my personal videos, so it is, at best, a “work in progress”.
- We began earlier this year, 2014, politely to ask our clients for reviews. We realized we had to make finding the sites to post reviews easier. With practice, we wee able to get 20-30 reviews posted, most of them five stars. Here is an example!
- So, who is Jayna Jane? We checked her other review and discovered she had also trashed a popular local mediator. I remembered a lady who negotiated a full settlement. Our attractive, female, mediator used charm and her forceful personality to convince the husband to make some concessions. My client and I even commented on how much she was able to influence him. When the client had “second thoughts” the next day, we met, and I got her to concede that the agreement was the best we could do, and it certainly made no sense to go to court. The client testified, under oath, that she was satisfied with the compromise, and the Family Court approved it as fair, but for some reason she was not happy, and she took it out on me and our mediator. Successful mediations save clients thousands of dollars, but they are COMPROMISES.
- That review hurt my “Merchants’ Circle” score, below:
- Even though Yelp is tailored to businesses such as restaurants, I think it makes sense to claim your site and create a profile. If someone posts a positive review, great! But, if we get a negative one, we can guide our next 3-4 satisfied clients to this site, until the damage has been repaired.
- Note that Yelp has a map to my office, and allows me to post several attractive photos, and it’s free!
- I have linked my blogs posts to my FB personal and professional pages, to my Linked in page, and to my Twitter feed. I have yet to understand Twitter, but I keep Tweeting! Here is my Twitter page.
- This is my Facebook professional page:
- And this is my my Facebook personal home page. My friends are up to @ 750, and my FB friends are so kind to me. I share my views on most everything.
- And this is the home page to my Linked In site. I am fortunate to have had a decent photo by a professional (our church directory) photographer. I have tried to get this one to all of my sites.
- Another listing; I think it is Lawyers.com , owned by Martindale Hubbell, or Findlaw.
- Also owned by Martindale Hubbell is the Martindale Hubbell site. My monthly contract for this lawyer and client peer rated site is $136/month.
- Justia is another well-known site, and my other paid site:
- This is the first page of the Google search for J. Burton Hunter III. Note on the right, the insert from Google Maps.
- This is my Google Maps Page with reviews prominently indicated:
- And this is my Google + page:
- FourSquare is another site focused on retail food establishments, but my identifying data is there:
- Findlaw used to host my website: $1400/month! It is still a major site, so I make sure my profile is complete. My guess is that for $50/$100/month, you could get a plan similar to Justia or Avvo.
- An early verson of Perspectives of a Small Town Lawyer, one of the few “hard copies” I own, featured my 60 year old second grade picture, which demonstrates I have a rather interesting perspective of the law and our world as they have changed over time.
- The page below shows some of the power of the Internet. I noticed the AVVO logo on a friend’s e-mail signature. He gave me some valuable tips. I checked Buckhannon lawyers, and we were all rated a mediocre 6.5 “Fair”. Over the course of a couple of weeks, and thanks to staff and some kind clients, I became a 10.0 “Superb”. An interesting component of this site is we get questions in our practice areas which we can answer and “earn points”. I have done this and believe I have helped several people. With a well-claimed “profile page”, I agreed to pay AVVO.com $100/mo. for placement in half dozen WV counties. http://.www.Avvo.com.
- Somehow get a website; or at least a blog using something like Blogger.com
- Write a dozen good articles.
- Find the dozen or so sites above, and claim your profile.
- Complete your profile carefully!
- Be consistent with your name, spelling, photo, etc. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
- Anything you post to your blog should go to your personal and professional Facebook, to Twitter, and to Linked In.
- Have your secretary contact your best clients for the prior years. Send the client the link to the site where you need the review. Send the client links to some good examples.
- Incentivize your staff. If they are like mine, asking for praise doesn’t fit easily. Pay a $25 bonus for each 4 or 5 star review. But I stress, ASK, DON’T BRIBE YOUR CLIENTS FOR REVIEWS!
- Never, never, never, fake a review! It is ok, in my opinion, to avoid the “horse’s ass” who you who refused to listen or follow your advice. There are difficult clients or unhappy results even when you did a good job. It is best to leave such clients be. Your staff almost unfailingly knows who is satisfied. AND, if your staff is like mine, the most gushing reviews mention how wonderful they are.
- Take online training courses, with Lynda.com, Udemy, Grovo, or Steve Dotto or Michael Seltzer on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Google Ads, and YouTube.
- Own decent equipment. By now your main machine should be Windows 7 or 8.1; you should have a “smartphone” iPhone or Android, iPad, and/or Surface Pro 3.
- Have a good camera. Your video can be your iPad.
- Don’t forget a flatbed scanner, and Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners at every desk!
- Get started listing your tasks on Wunderlist, and with some discipline, you will soon be an Internet presence.
This post was written by Burton Hunter