A New Year’s Resolution: Keep Social Media Personal

There aren’t many people who choose to send New Year’s Eve alone. That’s because the holidays are social events – times to connect with family and friends and strengthen old bonds. So why do so many businesses treat social media networks so much differently?

Far too many business owners treat their follows on social media like the the masses at professional networking events – they collect as many contacts as they can, but never do any follow up. But social media is about relationships.

On its most basic level, social media is one of several ways for business owners to keep in contact with past and potential clients and referral sources. And it can be a platform for publicizing new blogs and news items. But if you stop there, you may as well be using mailers.

Instead, small business owners need to commit to making personal connections with their social media followers. That means engaging with them and giving them a glimpse at the man behind the curtain. So, in 2015, business owners should resolve to:

Reply to Followers

Inevitably, someone will comment on one of your posts. In fact, you want them to. That’s how you can develop organic reach for your social media posts. Thank new followers, like or favorite responses and shares and retweets. And engage in your followers’ conversations. It will build brand loyalty and grow organic reach.

Be Personal

In between blog posts and product photos, take the time to post something personal. That doesn’t mean posting a picture of your lunch, but maybe you could post a shot of you and the crew on the job. Let them see who you are and what they are paying for behind the marketing pitch. It will help your loyal fans recommend you better to their contacts.

Have Conversations

Particularly on Twitter, one of the best ways to improve visibility and teach your followers about your business is to have conversations with them. Consider asking open-ended questions and being prepared to respond to the answers. Or set up a Tweet-chat or “Ask Me Anything” – dedicated times when you will engage and respond to your followers’ questions.

2015 will give you a chance for a whole new take on your social media strategy. Make a New Year’s resolution to take it more personally and to engage with your followers. What you invest in time, you will get back in organic growth and dedicated followers. If you need help developing a social media strategy, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt at Legal Linguist today.

 

Skipping Christmas?

You blog regularly. You publish on a set schedule designed to reach your target audience. And now that schedule is telling you to post on Christmas. What do you do?

Let’s face it, very few people will be scrolling through their RSS or social media feeds on Christmas or New Year’s morning, looking for a thought-provoking article on business or the law. So how do you deal with the scheduling conflict. There are a few options.

Post with Christmas Cheer!

If you are a stickler for schedules, you could decide to post anyway. People often may not find your blog until the next day, but you can show your dedication to consistency. If you are going to post on December 25 (or January 1 or any other holiday, for that matter), be sure to acknowledge what you are doing. Don’t just put up a generic “top tips” post because, let’s face it, you’re phoning it in while your kids open up their stockings to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Instead, craft a blog that is in the holiday spirit. There are very few topics that can’t be connected to Christmas or New Year’s Resolutions or at least year end. Let your readers know that you are paying attention rather than just posting for the sake of posting.

Dodge Christmas

Your readers may be busy on Christmas morning, but they probably will have some down time on Christmas Eve or the day after the holiday. Adjusting your schedule so your post goes out just before or just after a holiday can be a good idea, particularly if you are targeting consumers. You may still want to use a holiday theme, but people probably won’t fault you for a fall-back post either. Instead they will be thanking you for giving them something to read to avoid unwanted in-laws.

Skip the Post

Every business (except possibly emergency rooms) has some holidays when they are closed. Despite the importance of new and fresh content, your readers won’t lynch you because your office, and your blog, are closed for the holidays. The more often you blog, the less likely skipping Christmas will negatively affect your SEO. So relax and enjoy the egg nog, knowing you’ll jump right back into blogging in the new year.

Which holiday strategy is best for you depends largely on how often you post and who your target market is. Ask yourself whether your readers will be at their desks or whether they may want a distraction. Then decide whether to target, dodge, or skip this holiday season.

Lisa Schmidt is a ghostblogger and blogging coach for Legal Linguist. She helps small businesses and law firms create professional web content and improve their online marketing return on investment. If you need help giving your website a boost in the New Year, contact Legal Linguist today.

Color Matters: What Your Branding Says About You

A lot of lawyers and other professionals don’t give much thought to color when it comes to their branding. They are more concerned with professional look and ethical obligations. But the color of your brand can say a lot about you. Continue reading

Suspended for Blogging? Don’t Panic.

When law blogging was new, a lot of lawyers were afraid that they could lose their licenses if they posted the wrong thing online. The plethora of well-maintained blogs have set those fears to rest for the most part. But once in a while a story comes up that reignites the panic.

This time, an Illinois patent lawyer’s license may be suspended for 3 years because of her blog about a Cook County probate matter. But rather than a warning against this well-established form of web marketing, this is a cautionary tale against making complaints personal and making misrepresentations online.

After her application to represent an elderly woman’s daughter in a guardianship matter, lawyer JoAnne Marie Denison decided to voice her dissatisfaction on a blog that included a “table of torts.” The blog alleged “TEN PAGES of questionable behavior, corruption, misfeasance, malfeasance, perpetration of misdemeanors and felonies.”

A disclaimer on the blog warned readers to do their own investigation regarding the facts. But elsewhere on the blog, Denison suggested that the allegations were true, even though investigators determined they were unfounded. The hearing board found:

“From our perspective, it appears respondent has genuine concern for senior citizens and perceives the senior population as vulnerable, especially to financial exploitation. This concern, as a general matter, is a legitimate one, even though respondent had no reasonable basis for believing the judges or attorneys in [the specific] case were corrupt.”

The hearing board also warned against “inappropriately personaliz[ing] matters.”

A license suspension may be one of the scariest threats to a practicing attorney. So stories like this one could scare some lawyers into web silence. But the lesson to be learned from Denison’s cases isn’t silence, it is diligence.

Your law firm’s blog must be professional, first and foremost. Just like any other form of advertising, you can’t make allegations without doing any research to back them up. Best practices suggest linking or citing to any external sources. Building in these kinds of links can provide credibility as well as improve the SEO of your blog.

That is not to say that a legal blog can’t take controversial positions or be critical of court opinions or legislative actions. But if you decide to take a position on your blog, be certain you can back up your factual allegations and cite to your sources.

Writing a law blog doesn’t need to make you panic. As long as you follow the same rules you would for any other kind of advertising, you should not have to worry about licensing sanctions*. To help you create a professional and informative law blog, contact ghostwriter Lisa J. Schmidt at Legal Linguist to examine your options.

* Lisa Schmidt is not an expert in attorney discipline proceedings, and your state’s advertising requirements may place more restrictions on your blog than are represented here.

Is It Time for A Website Facelift?

When is the last time you took a close look at your own website? For many small firm lawyers, reviewing their web marketing is no where near the top of the priority list. But if your website has been the same for the last 3 years or more, it may be time for a website facelift.

How often should you update your website?

The experts at Law Practice Advisor suggest that lawyer’s website should be addressed every 3 years. That may sound unrealistic, but among professional services firms, nearly half have redesigned their websites in the last 12 months.

That means 1/2 of your professional competition has a shiny new wrapper for all of its web-based marketing. A full redesign can include new templates, images, web content, navigation, and features. It is an all around facelift, not just a nip and tuck.

What prompts a website remodel?

A top-to-bottom website makeover is not a small investment, so most businesses wait until there is some change in the business. So when should you think about mixing up your web content?

1. Mergers & Acquisitions

Has your firm picked up a partner or merged with another firm? As part of your big media announcement, consider revamping your website. Based on your state’s ethical rules, you probably will be changing the firm’s name on all of your web marketing outlets, so now is the perfect time to change up your brand.

2. Firm Refocusing

If your business model changes to focus on a different area of the law or a different target market, then your website should match your new direction. This can signal your staff that you are serious about your change of mindsets and can attract your new clients with a well publicized launch of your new website.

3. Technology Update

Practically speaking, it is nearly impossible to always have a cutting edge website. By the time your redesign is complete there will likely be new ideas starting to trend. But if it has been several years since your webmaster redid the back end of your site, it may be out of date. Web browsers and hardware devices are always changing, and websites that do not keep up are more likely to face technical problems down the line.

Whether it is because of a corporate reorganization, change of focus, or technological update, it is a good idea to completely redesign your website every few years. It will keep your content fresh, your visuals appealing, and your structure up to date. If you are ready for a website rewrite, contact ghostwriter Lisa Schmidt with Legal Linguist for all your web content needs.