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Digital Marketing Primer

Using Social Media to Protect Your Referrals and Enhance Your Brand

By Mark Homer

Did you know that your Facebook Business Page and law firm Twitter account are the most likely social media profiles to show up in the search results?

In my last few articles in this digital marketing series, we dove into the specifics of how you should set up your online presence to best “protect your referrals” when someone searches your name online.

As a reminder, whether you have a strong referral base right now or are working on it, you need a “protect your referrals” strategy so you don’t lose those prospects. Here are the four steps you need to take:

  1. Claim and optimize your directory listings.
  2. Build a “review culture” to get positive reviews online.
  3. Use social media to enhance and protect your brand.
  4. Create a mobile and branded search-optimized website.

In this article, we’ll talk about ways social media can help you dominate search engine results when someone Googles your name or your law firm’s name.

Use Social Media to Protect Your Referrals

Because they are so popular, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn often rank well when someone searches for your name online. If you’ve been following this series, you might have seen your profiles on social media sites when you were doing the searches on your firm name and all the attorneys’ names at your firm. If you didn’t, then you have a great opportunity to add a listing to the search result that people now expect most businesses to have.

For firm name searches, we have found that your Facebook Business Page and the firm’s Twitter profile are the most likely social media profiles to show up in the search results. For searches on specific attorney names, LinkedIn and Facebook tend to show up more often.

The more active you are on a social media platform, the more likely it is to show up in search results — especially if you link to those social media profile pages from your website and, in turn, link to your website from your social media profiles.

First, I want to be very clear that what I am recommending below is to create a profile and then do just enough to make sure it shows up for your branded searches. This is not a recommendation for how to find new prospects from social media, which I’ll cover later in this series.

Claim Your Social Media Profiles

Facebook Business Page

It’s important to claim and manage your Facebook profile because prospects spend a lot of time on Facebook — as well as Instagram and WhatsApp, which Facebook owns. If you don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, you may not realize how many people use Facebook to search for local businesses and read updates, reviews and recommendations. Being on Facebook is a great way to show that you are an active part of the local community.

I’ve talked to numerous firm owners from around the country who get a lot of leads from Facebook Messenger chat on their Facebook page. Yes, you heard that right.

Just as with Google My Business, prospective clients who don’t bother to visit your website could learn enough from your Facebook page to reach out to your firm. They can do this using the phone number on your profile, and you can even set up forms that connect to your website’s intake software. But many people use Facebook Messenger chat to reach out and expect businesses to respond. Often, law firms that set up Facebook Business Pages — or had them set up by their marketing agency — are shocked to discover that they have quite a few unanswered leads when they log in. Fortunately, legal-focused website chat platforms have begun to incorporate Facebook Messenger. If you are using a website chat platform that doesn’t do this, you may want to look around at other vendors.

“Unofficial” unmanaged Facebook pages. Many law firms don’t even realize they have a business page on Facebook. This can happen for a number of reasons:

  • If a client has an appointment and “checks in” to your firm on Facebook, Facebook will create an “unmanaged” business page for you if you don’t have one.
  • Similarly, if you have multiple locations or meet clients at a temporary office but don’t have an individual location page, Facebook may create one for that location when someone checks in.
  • Someone may tag or check in or try to leave a review but use an incorrect spelling.
  • Or, when someone checks to meet with a specific attorney, Facebook may create the page under the attorney’s name and not the overall law firm name.

Facebook itself says: “A Page may exist for your business even if someone from your business didn’t create it. For example, when someone checks in to a place that doesn’t have a Page, an unmanaged Page is created to represent the location.”

Because it is a “feature” of Facebook, many law firms think these unmanaged pages are not a big deal. However, this unofficial page can get indexed by Google, and that can confuse people referred to your firm when they look for your business. Also, even if you have claimed and optimized your Facebook page, Google (and even Facebook) may sometimes show the wrong unofficial page. Furthermore, the phone number or address listed may not even be correct!

Worse, sometimes clients leave reviews on these unofficial pages. These reviews will go unanswered and, if they are negative, that leaves bad reviews out there that you didn’t even know you had to manage.

Since you don’t want this unofficial Facebook page out there leaving a bad impression, I recommend you start the process of setting up your official Facebook page by looking for unofficial business pages. Once every quarter or so, you should also do searches on Facebook for any unmanaged or unclaimed pages that refer to your law firm.

  1. Start with a search for your business name. Since we often see firm name misspellings, be sure to search a few variations. As mentioned, your business may already have a page with check-ins, comments and reviews. You will want to claim and merge all the various pages into one main page.
  2. If you find unclaimed business pages, use the help guide on Facebook to claim and merge the pages.
  3. If you don’t see a page for your law firm, create one by visiting Facebook’s “Create a Page.” (Use the cheat sheet of information you created in “Claim and Optimize Directory Listings” to keep your business information consistent online.)

If you need some guidance on setting up your Facebook Business Page, use this resource from Facebook.

Twitter Profile

So that firms have another website page that ranks well in search, we typically create a Twitter profile for law firm clients. There really is no difference between a Twitter profile for an individual and a business. I simply recommend creating a profile name (@lawfirm) and a profile image (Twitter avatar) using images specific to the law firm. You can further customize your profile with a header image, brief bio description, location, website URL, theme color and a pinned Tweet.

Use this guide from Twitter to get your business profile created.

LinkedIn Profile

Your firm can have a business page on LinkedIn and should do that at some point. But for the focus of branded search, your personal LinkedIn profile is what often shows up in Google when someone searches your name.

Focus on creating a strong personal LinkedIn profile. My book, “Online Law Practice Strategies,” covers how to do this, but Tea Hoffmann recently provided some great guidance on this site that you can follow: “LinkedIn Profile Update: How to Stand Out in 4 Simple, Achievable Steps.”

Facebook Personal Profile

A Facebook Business profile can help with referrals that search for your actual firm name. However, many referrals are not to a firm name but the name of a particular attorney at your firm so your Facebook personal profile can be optimized for this too.

Many lawyers shy away from using their personal Facebook profile to talk about their lives as lawyers and as a positive business member of their community. Nevertheless, it is a great strategy to treat your personal Facebook profile as a valuable social media platform for engaging your referral network. The Facebook algorithm prioritizes personal-to-personal relationships over personal-to-business relationships in the newsfeed. You are much more likely to get your “personal brand” in front of your network on Facebook by posting things on your personal page versus your business page.

If you can get comfortable with this, optimize your Facebook profile to talk about you as an attorney. Include images of your office, your civic organization events and community outreach work. For a good example, check out Morris Lilienthal’s Facebook profile. “Mo,” as he is referred to on social media and in his community, has spoken at conferences around the country on how he successfully merges his personal and professional social media and how that has grown his firm. You can see that his details and his feed include both personal life and lawyer life.

Be sure your personal profile details show your law firm, law firm’s website, and law firm email address and phone number. When someone finds your personal profile and needs a lawyer to help them, they will have more ways than Facebook Messenger to connect with you.

Adding Activity to Your Social Media Profiles

Now that you’ve set up your social media profiles, you need to help them get found by Google so they show up when someone searches on your firm name and attorney names.

  • First, add links to your firm’s LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter social media profiles on your website’s header or footer. Also, include links to personal social media profiles on your attorneys’ profile pages. This will help Google connect these profiles to your firm.
  • Next, begin to occasionally post information on these platforms. You can do this manually on each platform, but it is easier to manage your activity when you use a tool that can connect to all your platforms and allows you to schedule days, weeks and months in advance. In addition to social posting tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer and SproutSocial, marketing agencies often have reputation management tools that include social posting along with review and directory management (topics we discussed in earlier articles).

The goal of these posts is to show you are an active firm tied to the local community. So, for example, instead of posting links back to your website, you can post about local events your firm participates in: food bank drives, civic organization events, local sports teams (or even high school teams). Talk about what team members are doing in the community and brag about them and their families. Did your paralegal’s son win an award? Congratulate them publicly on your social media pages.

Keep Your Eyes on Your Goal

When using social media, always consider your overall goal: Protect your referrals! When they check you out, many will be more comfortable seeing that your firm is active on social media and that you are a valued member of their community.

Illustration ©

Catch Up on Mark Homer’s Digital Marketing Series

So far in this series on internet marketing for law firms, we’ve tackled:

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Mark Homer Mark Homer

Mark Homer is CEO of GNGF, a leading law firm marketing agency. At GNGF, Mark leads the team to help empower and educate law firms to grow their practice. He is co-author of “Online Law Practice Strategies” and often speaks around the U.S. on marketing and social media ethics for law firms. Sign up for GNGF’s  Legal Marketing Academy here. Follow Mark on Twitter: @mark_homer.




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