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At the start of the new year, we asked Gyi Tsakalakis what lawyers need to know about changes in social media and online marketing in 2012—and, more importantly, what lawyers should be focused on in 2013. The following feature—and checklist—is excerpted from Attorney at Work’s new e-guide, Really Good Marketing Ideas: How to (Really) Get More Clients This Year.
When I think about the changes to social media and social networking in the past year, a variety of changes come to mind. Facebook acquired Instagram. Twitter added cover photos. LinkedIn launched new company pages. Google integrated Google+ into search results and added Communities. The list goes on. Sure, we could talk about how each of these changes might impact how you market your law practice. But in contemplating some of the “stuff you must know,” it seems to me the most important thing is still one of the most overlooked: Being authentic.
Yeah, I know it’s not glamorous. It’s not the insider tip, trick or technical hack that you might have been hoping for. It’s not “How to Make It Rain with Social Media: The Complete Guide.” But if you’re a lawyer contemplating your marketing plan for the year ahead, it should permeate everything that you’re considering to market your practice.
You see, from my vantage point, 2013 marks the beginning of a shift online:
Whatever the root cause, the result will be that those who develop an authentic online presence will create, nurture and solidify professional relationships that will lead to more business. Conversely, those who resist the shift to authenticity will find themselves wondering why the Internet “just doesn’t seem to work for business development.” Here are a few things that will help make your online activities more authentic.
Whether you’re thinking about entering the blogosphere for the first time or revising your approach to blogging in 2013, you should look at the authenticity of your blogging with a critical eye. Do you:
Lawyers have been told that blogging is a good way to attract new business. And it certainly can be. But not all blogging is equal. Posts that are published for the sake of targeting keywords, that are self-promotional, that regurgitate news stories and that don’t motivate readers to subscribe, share and cite won’t be effective for attracting new business. Instead, they are likely to be a waste of time and money, harmful to your professional reputation—and potentially unethical.
Lawyers have been told that they need to be on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. So, many lawyers have flocked there—or paid someone to “set them up” there. But having social profiles and auto-distributing your blog posts there isn’t social networking.
People aren’t on these platforms to read your thin self-promotional updates. On the other hand, these online networks might be a good way for you to keep in touch with people in your professional network. They might also be a good way to meet someone new or access someone you might not otherwise be able to connect with. Do you:
Lawyers are a busy bunch. They deal in experience and skill, which has traditionally been measured in time. I’m often asked how much time a lawyer should spend online. And, of course, there are no hard-and-fast rules. Having a plan, however, and developing regular habits, will make online participation less of a chore.
Instead of trying to advise you on how much time you should spend with online social media and networking, I suggest you use the checklist below as a guideline to help prioritize your online activities:
Second only to questions about how much time to spend are those about how to measure social networking activities. While measuring social networking effectiveness is akin to measuring one’s sociability at a cocktail party, if you want to see if what you’re doing online is resonating, here are some things to measure:
If you’re not getting this type of feedback, change course. Maybe it means you publish less, but more thoughtfully. Maybe it means reaching fewer people, but reaching people who are truly interested in you.
Okay, you get the point. Now for some lawyer marketing predictions:
Nothing really earth-shattering here, I know. It is clear, though, that the Internet generally, and social media and networking more specifically, can be powerful tools for lawyers to create, nurture and solidify professional relationships that lead to more clients. But …
Make this the year that you make your social marketing and networking authentic.
Gyi Tsakalakis helps lawyers put their best foot forward online because clients are looking for them there. He is a co-founder of AttorneySync, a digital marketing agency for law firms. You can find more of Gyi’s writing in his “Optimize” column on Attorney at Work, on Lawyerist and Avvo’s Lawyernomics blog. You can ask him a question (or just say hi) on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.
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