Kevin Nichols All Articles
Law Technology News
March 15, 2012
No question about it, social media isn’t just an obsession for teenagers and geeks. It’s become a multibillion dollar customer service industry, as companies shift resources to create social media sites to interact with their customers. For lawyers and other legal professionals, deciding which sites you should join or avoid can be overwhelming.
Here are eight ways to use social media to help you reach your professional goals:
1. Develop your personal brand. What are you trying to communicate with your profile? Carefully consider the keywords you want to project: such as integrity, innovative, detail-oriented, accessible, hard working. Keep your our target market/audience in mind. Create a consistent message with professional photographs as your profile avatars. For example, if you work at a mainstream megafirm, you probably want to project an image as a conservatively dressed, reserved individual; if you work at Google, your colleagues would start laughing if you dressed that way.
2. Treat Twitter like a mini-press release. Social media novices may not fully understand all of the ins and outs of LinkedIn and Facebook, but generally “get it” when it comes to their purpose and target market. However, many people do not understand Twitter‘s functions or purposes. Most people do not know that every tweet is archived at the Library of Congress and is a permanent record of our generation.
When you “tweet,” you share up to 140 charters of text that can include links to websites, blogs, pictures, or video, with the entire world … literally. This can be an enormous marketing tool because the reach of a “tweet” is limitless, yet, there can be serious consequences when not done appropriately. For example, CNN News analyst Roland Martin recently was suspended for tweeting comments about David Beckham in an H&M commercial during the Super Bowl. Be mindful not to dilute your brand.
3. Knowledge is power. At least once a month, search your name in all major search engines, to know how the world sees you. Visit Google, Yahoo, and Bing and type your name in quotation marks to see what is out there.
Some people have such major concerns with security and privacy online that they choose not to participate on social media sites. Yet, they are often dumbfounded when they Google themselves to see the preponderance of inaccurate data about themselves online.
It’s better to control (as much as possible) your own information — offer a post office box for your address. Use a Google Voice telephone number — you can block foreign numbers and control various settings, rather than having various sites try to piecemeal or fabricate your personal information for you without your consent. Protect your brand. Sometimes you may have to send cease-and-desist letters to websites that are unlawfully using your written materials or intellectual property.
4. Check your reach. Naymz.com and Klout.com both help you add your profiles from major sites to rate your social media reach and amplification. Translation: When you update your status or send a tweet, they will track how many people “like” it, comment on it, share it, or “retweet” it to their networks. The wider your message is amplified, the greater your score. Compare your score to other members to see where you rank. These sites offer tips on how to expand your reach, with the goal being that your message resonates well with your target audience.
5. SEO rewards fresh new content. Search engine optimization helps your target audience find your website, profiles, and blogs. Although companies can buy words for advertising so that their sites appear on the first page of search engine results, adding keywords multiple times on your sites can increase the likelihood that your site will appear as a top result as well. Moreover, various search engine algorithms reward newer content to appear higher in results than static or old sites. This helps your target audience get exposed to your professional brand while they are looking for your products and services.
6. Automate and/or make updating your status easy. One of the most powerful social media tools is the “status update.” This is the broadcast message reintroducing your brand to your target audience on a frequent basis. There are various websites that allow you to update all of your social media sites, simultaneously, such as Hellotxt.com, TweetDeck, PingFm, and HootSuite. Some provide tracking and useful analytics, however, there are web address shortening sites such as bitly, that shrink very long URLs to eight to 10 characters and provide robust analytics of who is talking about and reading your information. This helps individuals who are concerned about their return on investment track results. For example, lawyers can share relevant articles, or case decisions.
7. Show off your expertise. Carefully choose sites where you can demonstrate your knowledge. For example, both Quora and LinkedIn Answers are vehicles where attorneys can answer basic questions, yet lawyers must exercise caution and carefully follow their jurisdictions’ ethical rules to avoid the appearance of an attorney/client relationship when they comment.
JD Supra has massive distribution channels consisting of thousands of Facebook and Twitter “followers” of various legal practices — such as mergers and acquisitions, or labor and employment litigation. When you post an article or pleading, it is disseminated to the masses with a link to the document on your profile. Subscribers receive these updates and can share them with others — a good way to get your name in front of possible clients.
8. Communicate consistently with your target audience. Many lawyers and firms use “client alerts” or email newsletters to educate current and potential clients. Constant Contact and Mail Chimp are examples of tools that help you send communications to large distribution lists. (However, you must be mindful of the federal and state laws regarding how to add people to your distribution lists.) Incorporate video (from YouTube , Vimeo, Knoodle, or other venues).
Social media is constantly evolving; dedicate time to keep current so that you can fully exploit its opportunities and stay aware of its risks.
Kevin L. Nichols is the principal of KLN Consulting Group located in San Francisco. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.