This post is part of the MyShingle Solos summer series which will run between June 17 and July 3, 2014.
This post is written by MyShingle Guest Blogger Dr. Sandra Thompson
Part 1 of this series focused on three tips for getting started incorporating social media into your marketing efforts: 1) identify someone at your firm who will handle social media updates, 2) review the various social media sites to determine what is the best fit for your practice, and 3) separate your professional social media accounts from your personal social media accounts. If you have decided to spend this upcoming long weekend setting up one or more new social media accounts or evaluating how you can improve the ones you currently have, I encourage you to also go back and read my first article on Impact Marketing. This article is going to pull both that first article and Part 1 of this series together and provide some easy ways to boost your social media presence, help your clients and generate more business.
Boost Your Social Media Presence
The first thing you need to do is start letting others know that you are using social media for your practice and that it is in their interest to follow you. If you like to write, or if you have written something recently on as aspect of the law, post it to your website and then cross post it to Facebook and Twitter. As part of that – pay attention to your “News”, “Events” and/or “Publications” links/tabs on your website. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited a site for another attorney, clicked on those links and found that the last piece of news or the last event was from one or more years ago. You must be an advocate for yourself and your business – and the way to do that is to let everyone know what you are doing in the community, where you are speaking, what awards you are getting, what you care about in the law and why they should consider you the attorney for their legal matters.
Now, place your social media affiliations on your webpage and in your E-mails. For your webpage, use the “Follow us on…” wording with the icons for each social media site you are using for your firm. If you are not sure how to set these up, you can either talk with the company who is designing and/or hosting your website, or you can search Google with something like “how do I add social media icons in WordPress”. In your E-mails, add your social media identifiers to your signature at the bottom of the E-mail. For example, my professional Twitter account is @PatentDoc. At the bottom of each E-mail I send out, under my phone number, it says “Twitter: @PatentDoc”. Once I separate out my personal Facebook account from my professional Facebook account, I will add the link to that as well.
Next, use social media every day. Every. Day. You don’t have to dedicate an hour or more to it, but you do need to carve out some time each day. And before you think that you don’t have that much information to post about you, your firm and what you are doing in the world…sit tight. I can help there too.
Help Your Clients
We all have clients – hopefully – and most of those clients have businesses, win awards, do important things, which brings me back to impact marketing. Share their accomplishments, like and promote their businesses, share what they post on your own social media feeds. To make gathering this information easier, set up Google alerts for your clients and connect with them on LinkedIn, so that when something is posted publicly – you get an alert. Check to make sure the article or post is good news (because if it isn’t, you may want to get in touch with them directly) and then share that news or event on your Twitter feed, Facebook page and other social media sites. You don’t have to say: “Hey everyone! This is my client!!”, but helping them promote their own activities means they are going to remember you.
LinkedIn is a great resource for this kind of information. For example, I recently connected with a client on LinkedIn and saw that his profile picture was him on a deep sea fishing boat. The next time I saw him – I asked him about it. Apparently, he loves to travel (as do I) and we spent 20 minutes just talking about our travels. The next day – he sent me some work. I can’t say that they are directly related – but it certainly didn’t hurt.
If you win a lawsuit, obtain a patent, incorporate their business – ask your client if you can put that on your website as “News” and then post it to your social media pages. Remember, though – it is very important to check with your clients first.
Generate More Business
And this is where you can really get creative. Several years ago, I went vegan, and as part of that – I started trying new products, shopping for new things and getting a lot of good information from companies who provide products and resources for vegetarians and vegans. I tried this fantastic coconut milk ice cream and decided to let them know by tweeting about it. I mentioned the company in my tweet by using their Twitter name and then used the hashtag “vegan”, so that those on Twitter who follow that hashtag could see my tweet. The company saw my tweet, read my professional profile, which said that I am a patent and trademark attorney, and contacted me about helping them in advance of a trade show with respect to their logo, packaging and trademarks. Lesson here – find those social groups online that align with your lifestyle or hobbies and join them. Using social media networks allows us to expand our networking reach beyond in-person events or bar meetings.
I reconnected with a friend from college several years ago on Facebook who knew someone just sued by a patent troll. My Facebook was clear about how I work with companies of all sizes with respect to their intellectual property portfolios and subsequent legal actions around those portfolios. Her friend contacted me right after they were sued to ask me to handle the case for that company.
Finally, we all go to restaurants, get our hair cut, visit all kinds of local businesses where they know us. Return the favor of a good experience by liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, and following them on other social media sites. When you have a positive experience there, get a good meal or something nice on sale, recommend them or share your experience. These interactions are the ones they will remember and when they need an attorney – and they may just return the favor. Given the fact that many of these businesses already know you, you may want to consider using your personal social media feed to recommend them to your friends. However, given that many solo practitioners and small firms live and work in their local communities, you may be fine using your professional social media accounts to share information about your local area.
And this goes back full circle to impact marketing. You can either pay someone to market your firm or you can take some time each day or each week to talk about your firm and related news, celebrate your clients or get your name out to potential clients. The personal touch works, but it takes time and attention. However, social media has made that reach, impact and positive branding much easier and obtainable for all sizes of law firms – from the solo practitioner to the multi-national 1000+ attorney megafirm. I contend that the personal touch will win out in the end.
Sandra Thompson is an intellectual property attorney in Orange County, California. She represents patent, trademark and new media clients in the areas of energy, nutraceuticals, entertainment, biofuels, chemicals and chemical intermediates, green technologies, telecommunications, vehicle design and software