Thursday, October 25, 2012

Three Common Social Media Mistakes & Their Application to Law Firm Blogs

A post at SiteProNews recently listed three basic business "social media mistakes."  We want to delve into these "mistakes" as they relate to law firm blogs.  The three problems outlined in the SPN post were:

1) Thinking social media is "free"
2) Failing to respond to customers
3) Talking business all the time 

The post was a general one, directed at basic SEO matters for all businesses.  But a few underlying principles for law firm content writing and online marketing are relevant.

First, the idea of "free" social media usage is huge.  Of course, it does not cost anything to open a Facebook account, start on Twitter, or even use most blogging programs.  But the assumption that social media marketing is "free" often translates into the tool being utterly neglected.  Having a Facebook account or a blog means nothing if it is not used often and well.  On many occasions that means putting actual resources (time, money, or both) to actually make sure it works.   On some occasions that might mean having a staff member dedicated solely to these efforts.  Far too many business (including law firms) simply toss these online marketing details to someone who already has a plate-full of other tasks.  But to actually ensure things are done consistently and correctly--which is the only way social media actually works--is to have certain folks (either internally or externally) who are focused solely on social media details on your behalf.

Second, responding to customers in a online legal marketing sense means paying attention to timely issues and real question areas.  Of course when potential clients actually reach out, it is absolutely essential that a system be in place for them to be responded to in a timely manner.  But responding to customers also means being cognizant of their actual interests when creating law blog posts.  That might mean realizing what questions you get asked time and time again.  It also might mean writing in a manner that is easily accessible to the potential client.  That doesn't always means entirely "dumbed down" content. But it does mean explaining some basic legal concepts that someone who did not go to law school might never have heard.

Finally, the "all business" concept comes into play in both the topic selection process and the writing style of law firm blogs.  One big mistake that firms make is pigeon-holing themselves far too much.  Obviously, every firm and attorney has their niche, but it is a mistake to think that every single blog posts must talk only about that tiny niche in one tiny part of the country.  For example, if you help clients with short sales in a town in Nevada, every single post does not necessarily have to be about short sales in Nevada.  New, interesting topics on Nevada short sales are certainly important, but it is entirely reasonable to also have posts on foreclosures generally, an interesting case in another state, scams regarding short sales happening elsewhere, or other issues that are a bit more tangential. 

Not being "all business" for law firm blogging also means talking conversationally and having flexibility in topics.  The SEO details can be worked out regardless of the underlying topic.  The main goal should be creating posts that might be interesting to a wide range of potential clients, not simply spewing out article after article on one very small concept area.

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