Legal Marketing: 10 Things NOT to do on LinkedIn

December 16, 2010

Notebook with Things not to do

When LinkedIn tells you that your profile is 100% complete, don’t believe them.

Here are the top 10 things to avoid to get your LinkedIn profile optimized and ready to go:

1. Don’t put anything in the name field other than your name

Thinking they will stand out from the crowd, some people add email addresses, phone numbers and group affiliations into the name field (when editing Basic Information on LinkedIn). They think that:  John A. Smith  (Johnasmith@gmail.com) LION will get them more hits than a simple: John Smith.

The problem is that LinkedIn will categorize you incorrectly, which means you’ll be harder to find when someone types your name in.  It also means you will be harder to find in the contacts list, especially if you have 500+ contacts. Harder to find means less business.

Keep your name clean: John Smith.  You’ll have plenty of other opportunities to put your contact information in your profile (headline, summary, or contact me sections to name a few).  And in those other sections you can always use CAPITALIZATION and special characters to make YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION jump out at the reader.

Ladies- LinkedIn finally has a field for your maiden name. They took far too long to resolve this issue, but now both your old colleagues and your new friends can find you!

2. Don’t create your LinkedIn profile in LinkedIn

Create your LinkedIn profile in a Word file, then cut and paste it into LinkedIn. This will help prevent spelling and grammatical errors, make it easier to get word counts, and later you can be easily copy it into other social media platforms to keep your branding consistent. It will also save you a boatload of time.

And if for some reason LinkedIn ever suspends or shuts down your profile, or you simply want to try out another legal networking site, having a fully formed profile already in a Word document is a huge time saver.

3. Don’t use boudoir shots or your business logo for your LinkedIn photo

This is a BUSINESS NETWORKING site. Keep your photo professional. Head shot only, so they can see your trustworthy eyes and kind smile.  And for those of you with new babies, yes your kids are adorable, but you can show them off on Facebook.

4. Don’t Ignore the Update function

Similar to Twitter and Facebook, the LinkedIn update can be a powerful tool to keep you top of mind.  You will show up on your connection’s homepage and even their email, especially if your connections don’t know they can turn this off.  And a few a week is just fine. I recommend people Tweet hourly, update Facebook daily, and update LinkedIn one or two times a week.

Like the other updates, you can post links to interesting articles, let people know about upcoming legal events or promote speaking engagements.

5. Don’t leave your public profile unedited

How useful or memorable is this public profile URL:  Linkedin.com/in/23h9il?  How about this one?  http://www.linkedin.com/in/legalmarketingexpert

Your public profile can be a powerful way to optimize your brand, raise your Google rankings, increase connections and position yourself as an expert.  Many people simply miss the fact that you can customize your public profile URL. You can use your name, your company name or your personal brand.  Just remember it has to be all lowercase, one word and no special characters.

6 . Don’t ignore your website link and make sure to customize it

First of all, if you have a website, blog site, or even another social media address, make sure you have it in your LinkedIn profile.  You can include THREE sites, so use them all! Every time someone jumps from a mega site to your website, your Google rating climbs just a bit higher.

Higher rating = more hits = more clients! And really, isn’t that the reason we are on LinkedIn in the first place?

7. Don’t populate the Experience section with a simple copy of your resume

Hey, you can now use box.net to upload your resume into LinkedIn.  So while you certainly want to use Experience to list your current and previous jobs, really take advantage of this section by filling it with all that stuff you wish you had room for in your resume.  Did you work for/with any Fortune 500 companies? Did your legal advice save the day?

You can always use this space to showcase wins, different companies you have helped, seminars or workshops you have presented or a mini-shot of your personal website.  And fill it with keywords to increase your changes of showing up in searches too!

8. Don’t limit the Education section to just your traditional education

Certainly you are going to want to list all the degrees you have managed to accumulate.  If you have a PhD from Harvard, by all means, let us know.  But you can also use this section (once again, using that magic tool called other ) to list certifications, licenses and other nifty specialties that make you stand out in a crowd. Once again, use your keywords!

9. Don’t ignore the Summary section

The Summary section is probably one of the most useful and overlooked tools on LinkedIn. You have 2000 characters – that’s 2/3 of a page – to tell people who you are, how to contact you and why they should hire your firm. This is also an EXCELLENT place to capitalize those things to which you want to you want to DRAW attention.

And for the search engine spiders, use your keywords. The more you say something about yourself, the more true it is on LinkedIn.

Remember to use white space (it only takes a character to break that clump into nice readable paragraphs,) CAPITALIZATION, special characters and key words. And as mentioned before – CREATE YOUR SUMMARY IN A WORD DOCUMENT FIRST.

10. Don’t forget to use the applications

LinkedIn finally has some pretty nifty internal and open source applications to make your LinkedIn profile even more effective.  Some of my favorites are:

  • Events
  • WordPress
  • Slideshare.com
  • Box.net
  • TripIt.

Check them out and utilize them!


Legal Marketing: Track Social Media for your Law Firm

December 15, 2010

Graph Tracking Social Media

Tracking activity and response rates is key for law firm social media ROI.

Want to know what law topic is being tweeted about? Want to know if your law firm’s tweets are creating any buzz? Curious what others are saying about your law firm and attorneys?

Here are 3 tips regarding tracking social media:

  1. Track your Twitter popularity by using it regularly. Tweet important topics about the legal field by referring to big law sites like National Law Review, American Bar Association, or Legal Marketing Reader. Check to see if people re-tweet it or comment on your posts. If you are not yet familiar with Twitter functionality, you can check to see if people are responding to your comments by checking the @replies on the right side bar.
  2. If you don’t have time to maintain and keep up with social media news, then use a program like SocialFlow. This Enterprise SaaS application listens to what your audience is interested in and talking about in real time. They pair your potential Tweets and posts with your audience’s interests in real time, and release the message that is most likely to earn the most attention and action from your audience. From what we understand, those using this application have seen huge increases in their click rate.
  3. See which articles are being clicked on most by using bit.ly links. This site shortens URLs so they take up less of your 140 allowed characters on Twitter. And once you have your bit.ly link, you can track how many clicks each article  is receiving, who is retweeting it, and if that reader is actually reading the whole article. If a reader is only reading one paragraph of your article, then maybe the headline didn’t correlate with the actual material in that article. This is an easy way to see what people are reading and relate to them by posting current and popular law articles.

Check out more of their tips by reading Advertising Age’s article, “Five Things you didn’t know about Social Media Tracking.”


Legal Marketing: 5 Tips to Help you Find a Marketing Partner

December 5, 2010

People talking

Some simple recommendations can make selecting a law firm a much easier process and improve your opportunity for a successful relationship.

As a partner of a firm knows, successful legal marketing requires a little more finesse in its approach than a standard marketing plan. With so many talented agencies vying for your business, it can be difficult to identify which one would be the best choice for your law firm.

Next time your law firm is searching for a marketing partner, consider these five tips to help you choose an agency that’s a perfect fit for your firm:

1. Chemistry

That’s right, chemistry, first and foremost. Consider your gut feeling for the personality type of the representative meeting with you and of the agency as a whole. That connection makes a difference in how well you and your representative are able to communicate with each other.

A lot more quality work gets done when the client and the agency genuinely like each other and have similar work styles. People say you can’t choose a vendor based on whom you get along with. All other things being equal, I say, “Yes, you can, and you should.”

2. Legal expertise

An agency may have a dashing presentation and a sizzling portfolio, but if it doesn’t have solid experience in legal marketing, the learning curve may require more time than you are able to give.

An agency that is already well versed in the nuances of legal marketing – and has impressive experience to show for it – will be able to hit the ground running and develop a campaign that hits the target dead on. Ask to see samples of work they’ve done for other law firms and the results their campaign brought in.

3. Knowledgeable about your law firm

Similarly, the agency should have at least some understanding of your particular network, audiences, challenges and competition… or at the very least, have looked at your website  (You’d be surprised how often they haven’t.)

It’s helpful if someone on the agency’s team has legal experience on your side of the desk; someone who can provide the creative team insights and advice as the project takes shape.

4. A leader in using social media

Marketing today is changing quickly, due to the meteoric rise of social media and its increasing importance in communications, and it will likely continue to evolve. For law firms – or any organization – it’s imperative to have an agency that is staying at the forefront of issues and opportunities in social media.

Your marketing partner should be able to recommend the right mix of traditional and new media for your specific needs.

5. Stellar creativity

While legal firms don’t tend to have the luxury of doing campaigns that are highly unconventional, your agency should bring in novel ideas that set you apart from the competition in a fresh, compelling way.

I feel part of an agency’s role is to offer a new perspective; to introduce creative ideas that challenge you to look at your firm’s public image in a new way.

Ultimately, of course, the agency’s work should have your target audience looking at your firm in a new – and favorable – way.


Legal Marketing: 10 Tips to Create a Law Firm Blog for New Business

December 1, 2010

SEO Logos

Your law firm’s blog can make new business easier, not harder, and will help you to better understand how digital and social media marketing works.

You hear everyone talking about blogging and social media, but you don’t understand the relevance for your law firm. As important as a website was for your law firm a blog is now as equally important if not more so. It should become a gateway to your firm.

A personal blog will provide you with a direction, focus and professional enrichment unlike anything you have ever experienced before. Your personal network skyrockets giving you the opportunity to generate the right kinds of new business leads that are a better match for your firm. Plus, you won’t have to be constantly chasing after new business; your new business pipeline will always remain full.

So with those things being said, here are 10 tips to get your attorneys’ blog started and to start turning those blog readers into clients:

1. Before you start to write learn to listen.

Identify and read other online resources that would be important to your target audience. Read blogs of other firms. Subscribe to blog RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds through Google Reader or the feed reader of your choice. Using a feed reader will greatly help you to strategize and organize your online reading. Get a feel for how blogs are written.

Writing a blog post is much different from writing for print. People tend to scan for information online rather than reading word-for-word. You’ll gain lots of ideas for your own posts from your online reading.

2. Do not incorporate your blog into your firm’s website.

You will need to allow your firm’s blog room to breathe and evolve apart from your current branding. As you interact with your target audience, they will become the decision makers as to what information resonates, what messages are appealing, what their legal challenges and obstacles really are.

You may think you know what your readers want, but you will continually be surprised as you receive their input, reflect upon your blog’s analytics. What you gain from this experience will help you discover an “appealing” position and proper branding for your firm from your prospective clients perspective.

3. Blog posts should be written by the firm’s principals or key attorneys.

Social media is personal and you are the face of your firm. We are in a relationship-oriented business and clients want to work with someone who they know, like and trust. Therefore your firm’s principals should lead the way.

Another reason I advocate that the blog post be written by the firm’s principals is that they are the least likely to leave the firm. Therefore, equity isn’t lost if an associate chooses to leave for another firm.

4. Keep the design simple.

Limit your creative and interactive staff’s involvement in the design process unless you want to greatly slow the process down. The design of your blog should be nice and clean. Here content is king.

I personally recommend using either WordPress.org or WordPress.com as your blog platform. These are simple blog platforms that are relatively easy to use and provide just the right bells and whistles.

5. Own your domain name.

I have seen a number of blogs with a wordpress.com or blogspot.com in their URL (web address). Be sure to own your domain name.  That way, if you ever change blog platforms, you won’t lose traffic to your site.

6. Create a simple written plan for your blog.

From my perspective, the objective for your blog is to generate leads and new business for your firm. To reach this objective you will need to identify your target audience, who you are writing to. What are their legal challenges?  In what ways can you become an invaluable resource and help?

You’ll need a name for the blog. An appropriate tag line that states what this site is about. Identify the categories that you will be writing to. I would suggest limiting the categories to 10 or less.

As you begin your blog remember, you cannot be everything to everybody and the more general your blog is the less traffic you can expect.

7. Keep a list of blog post ideas.

I’m often asked “don’t you run out of ideas when you are primarily writing only to a law firm’s marketing needs and social media tactics?” The answer is no.  Every morning I start the day by opening my Google Reader.

I have RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds from about 16 of my favorite blogs and publications. I scan quickly through the list of post titles or headlines, when one catches my attention I open it up and read it. It often sparks ideas for my own posts or is information that I can site and link for my readers.

I use a browser bar tool called “Press This” that allows me to post a draft of that article in my blog. I also keep a list of post ideas on my DeskTop.  I never find myself lacking for something to write about that won’t be of some help to my audience.

8. Set a goal for the number of posts to write per week.

I have a goal of posting 5 blog posts per week-it is very ambitious to think an attorney will have this many posts, but remember, consistency is key. I want to be constantly posting so that I don’t lose any readers. The feedback that I gain is what motivates and excites me.  My readers are very loyal and I don’t want to disappoint them by not having fresh content.

9. Repurpose your blog content.

I have lots of material to utilize through other new media tools. Your blog posts can actually be turned into a book. You can also create your own white papers, e-newsletters, and informational press releases from your content.

I use a tool called Tweetlater, to automate postings on Twitter. You will find all the effort you’ve put forth in your writing for your blog can be repurposed in lots of different ways through a number of different online channels and will have a long, long shelf life.

10. Learn how to generate blog traffic.

The current communication revolution makes it critical that you know this stuff so that can provide better direction for your firm and for your clients. Learning how to generate traffic to your blog is an eye-opening experience. You will better understand SEO (search engine optimization), web analytics (such as, Google Analytics), RSS feeds (reader subscriptions), email campaigns, HTML, etc.

Plus you will know the importance of and learn how to use social media tools like FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Delicious, Technorati, Digg and StumbleUpon just to name a few.

Understanding social media is not for just one practice area within the firm. Every staff member needs to understand it. What better way to learn than to use these tools than to generate new business for your firm through social media.

Social media is permanently revolutionizing communication. It isn’t an option to not participate. If your firm is to survive you’ve got to “get it.” Only as a participant will you genuinely come to understand what a valuable tool it is for your firm.


Legal Marketing: 10 Tips When Writing for an Online Audience

November 27, 2010

Book Stack

Writing effective online articles requires a much different approach than any other type of writing so leave the “legalese” for your legal briefs; here, your words should be short and your message clear and direct.

Online readers scan quickly for content and move on if they don’t quickly see  information of direct relevance to them. Your copy must be concise, easy to scan and objective.

This type of writing may seem simple but is harder than it looks. Remember these 10 tips when writing for an online audience:

  1. Brevity is key. Readers want to find information quickly, get the facts and get out. Don’t you?
  2. Your post should be information rich. “No frills” writing will allow you to create a substantial amount of information into a few paragraphs.
  3. Keep headlines short, simple and focused on the point of the article. Include key words that will help get your article picked up by search engines.
  4. Sum up the main point of the article in the first paragraph. This lets the reader know exactly what the article is about and what knowledge they can expect to take away at the end.
  5. Readers will be turned off by promotional writing, so don’t sell. Blogging is a much more subtle type of marketing – the purpose is to establish yourself as a thought leader in your area of specialty by sharing your expertise. The minute you talk about your firm’s benefits, readers lose interest.
  6. Use meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones)
  7. Highlight keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others).
  8. Use bulleted or numbered lists. Readers love them.
  9. Keep your articles within 350 to 450 words, or about 3 to 4 short paragraphs.
  10. Include at least one high quality graphic.

Legal Marketing: 5 Steps to Improve your law firm’s blog

November 20, 2010

Blogging 101

If your firm’s blog is a repository of helpful content, it can effectively attract a large number of prospective clients.

Each new blog post is n opportunity for you to be found online by your best prospects. Here are 5 simple steps and suggestions to improve your legal blog:

1. Creating

  • Write to a specific target audience and provide answers to their legal challenges.
  • Write consistently. It is important to creating regular readership.
  • Posts should average 350 to 450 words and be pleasantly scannable to the eye. Break up long paragraphs, use bullets and numbered list when possible. Highlight key words and thoughts.
  • Write in the inverted pyramid style, leading with your conclusion. People read differently online than they do for print. They tend to scan much more.
  • Identify and consistently use keywords in your post title. You want to be able to dominate these words in a Google search.
  • Let your reading fuel your writing.
  • Write one original post to every four to five resource posts. You’ll never be considered a thought leader without original content, but you won’t generate much traffic if all of your content is just your original thoughts. Your blog should provide balance of both.

2. Optimizing

  • Carefully think through your blog’s heading. A “heading” is a stand-alone phrase that describes your blog’s content. Create a blog descriptor statement for the header that lets readers and search engines know the purpose and intent of the content.
  • Be sure you own your domain. A person that still has “Wordpress or Blogspot” in their domain won’t be able to change blogging platforms without losing traffic.
  • Be sure your site is indexed with Google. If your pages are not indexed, then Google is not crawling them.
  • Build quality inbound links. There are lots of online business directories where you can just submit your URL, law firm name and a description of your practice. There are also many social media sites where you can simply build links to your site.

3.  Promoting

  • Make sure your content can be easily shared on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as social bookmarking sites such as Digg, dell.icio.us and StumbleUpon with share buttons.
  • Jump start traffic by repurposing your blog’s content through an email newsletter that is sent every two weeks. This is an easy way thing to do. Since you already have the content and can create an email template that is reused, it will take literally minutes to prepare the newsletter and send it.
  • Build a sizable, targeted Twitter following using TweetAdder and repurpose your blog content to your Twitter account using a program such as SocialOomph.
  • Write guest posts for other blogs and invite others to guest post on your blog.
  • Comment on other blog posts and online articles, sites such as American Bar Association, Legal Marketing Reader, etc. Select sites that are frequented by your target audience.
  • Write content for search-ability.
  • Conduct your own primary research by writing case studies and other useful information.
  • Be proactive in securing speaking opportunities by creating a speakers page for your blog. List the topics and titles that you can speak to and provide links to your past speaking engagements through YouTube, and post photos through your Flickr Photostream.
  • Pull blog content together and expand SEO opportunities by creating Slideshare Presentations, Whitepapers, etc.

4. Converting

  • All of this activity isn’t worth the time investment if it doesn’t turn visitors into leads.
  • Place your RSS Subscription Feed button above the fold, near the top of you blog’s homepage. Visitors who subscribe will automatically receive updates every time you publish a new post either through an RSS Reader or through their email Inbox. I would suggest setting up an RSS feed through Feedburner.
  • Also place a subscription for your email newsletter within your blog’s sidebar to create Opt-Ins from site visitors.

5. Measuring

  • If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Fortunately you can measure nearly everything online and continually hone your program.
  • Review your blog site’s analytics daily to see what posts are generating the most traffic, what search terms are being used, where traffic is coming from, who is linking to you, links readers clicked on, page views, etc.
  • Utilize your email newsletter analytics to improve open and click-through rates. Test the day of the week your email newsletter is sent, time-of-day and subject line copy.
  • Use this suite of tools to analyze your legal marketing efforts: Blog.Grader.com, TwitterGrader, Website Grader, Facebook.Grader.com, PressReleaseGrader.com and LinkedIn Grader.

By following these steps, your blog will be up and running in no time. And you’ll see results from it too.


Legal Marketing: How to Write your Firm’s Blog

November 12, 2010

Notepad and Keyboard

The inverted pyramid style of writing works well to produce the kind of content that generates significant targeted traffic to your law firm’s blog and allows you to be a thought leader in the legal world.

Journalists have been using the inverted pyramid style of writing for years, and it works well for legal blogs as well. Using this method, you place the most important information at the top of the story, then follow with details. Writing for the Web has to be different, because people read differently online. Actually, they don’t “read” at all, they scan.

Nielsen Norman Group’s research found that 79 percent of their test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word. A newer study found that users read email newsletters even more abruptly than they read websites. People prefer sites that get to the point and let them capture information quickly.

Most readers are impatient and want stories to get to the point immediately. The inverted pyramid style of writing helps compel the writer to get to the point quicker. For this style of writing, you put the most newsworthy information at the top, and then the remaining information follows in order of importance, with the least important at the bottom.

The pyramid style of writing is valued to your readers because they can leave the story at any point and still understand it, even if they don’t have all of the details.

I would suggest actually leading your article/post with what I call the “takeaway or benefit” statement. Simply answer the question, “What is my benefit if I commit to read this article?” You actually lead the story by starting with the conclusion.

“The inverted pyramid organizes stories not around ideas or chronologies, but around facts. It weighs and shuffles the various pieces of information, focusing with remarkable single-mindedness on their relative news value.” – journalism historian, Mitchell Stephens