SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE:
• How can you take advantage of the social media movement?
• How can you use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to build your practice?
• What to avoid in the social media arena.
• This article is part three of the Social Media Teleseminar Series. You can check out Part Two here and Part Three here.
What is Social Media?
My name is Dan Couvrette. I’m the CEO of Divorce Marketing Group and I’ll be leading this seminar, along with Martha Chan, and I want to welcome you and thank you for joining us today.
It would be helpful if you were in front of a computer. If you don’t have your computer on or you’re not in front of one, please turn it on or go and sit in front of one. You’ll want to check out a few of the things that we’ll be recommending and talking about in this seminar.
So while you’re doing that, I’ll give you a bit background for those of you that have not attended our monthly teleseminars before. This seminar is put on by Divorce Marketing Group. We are a marketing agency dedicated to helping family lawyers and other divorce professionals grow their practices. We work with over 200 family law firms, mediators, financial planning firms, etc., and we host these free teleseminars every month. You can find out more about upcoming seminars on our corporate web site: www.DivorceMarketingGroup.com.
As promised, this seminar will not be a sales pitch for Divorce Marketing Group or Divorce Magazine. However, by way of introduction, you might want to know that our company has been working with divorce professionals, family lawyers, mediators, financial professionals for the past 14 years and we’ve helped them get their message out. There are also, by the way, a lot of articles on DivorceMarketingGroup.com that you might find of interest to you on the subject of marketing. I say “we”because the person who will be talking about social marketing is Martha Chan. Martha is VP of marketing for Divorce Marketing Group and Divorce Magazine, and she oversees the strategic development of our Internet, electronic and social media efforts.
Now, when most lawyers think of social media the image that probably comes up for them is a 14 year-old kid following their latest teen idol on Twitter, or posting pictures of their favorite outfit on Facebook. But social media is much more than that! As a matter of fact, it is probably responsible for Barack Obama being in the White House. If you want to learn more about how that happened, you might want to pick up a book called “Yes We Did.”It’s by Rahaf Harfoush, and in his book, Rahaf goes into great detail about building the Obama brand, and there’s specific information about the email, blogging, social networks, video and online ad campaigns that they employed. So I feel like I’m preaching to the converted when I say that social media is a powerful way to promote your business given that you’ve joined this call — but it is. It is definitely in your best interest to jump on the social media band wagon because it has a lot of momentum going for it now and it will only continue to pick up speed.
This seminar is part of a two part seminar on an introduction to social media. Part two of this seminar will take place on January 20 at the same time, 2:00 p.m. eastern standard time. By the way, if you just joined this call, you can always find out more information about our teleseminars on DivorceMarketingGroup.com.
I’m now going to turn the seminar over to Martha Chan who has 30 years plus experience in the marketing business, which includes owning her own marketing agency, and working with blue chip corporations and small businesses. Her expertise with our clients, who are mostly small practices, demonstrates that she understands the limitations and the needs of small business. Martha also brings her strengths in marketing and strategic thinking, so we never lose sight of why we are doing what we are doing. Her experience includes web site building, search engine optimization, advertising, direct marketing, electronic marketing and social media. I’m going turn the call over to Martha Chan.
(Martha speaking) Thank you, Dan. Okay, well let’s get started on how it is that you can use social media to grow your practice. You might hear that we use the term social marketing or social media interchangeably – this is because they’re both the same as far as we’re concerned at this particular seminar.
I want us to step back for a moment. I can generally categorize our marketing activities in two big categories: one is targeted marketing, the other is general marketing.
With targeted marketing, for example, if you are offering a service to divorcing people being a family lawyer or a divorce financial analyst, you will want to target the right people: lawyers or other professionals who can refer business to you. So you don’t want to be doing general marketing where your message would be seen and heard by people who are not going through divorce, as much as you can help it.
For general marketing, a good example is Coca Cola, whose target audience is much wider than the divorcing population. There are people who drink Coke who are of all ages and walks of life, so a general marketing campaign may be an ad on TV that would show people drinking it. Of course, I’m making a very general statement.
Why I point to targeted marketing versus general marketing is because the beauty of social media is that it allows you to do both. You can put your message out there for people to find you, and then a lot of these social media web sites have features within them that allow you to target the specific people that you want to meet.
As this is session number one of a two session on social media, I am going to talk about three web sites. The first one is LinkedIn, the second is Facebook, and the third is Twitter. We will have a second session on January 20. During that time, we’ll be discussing blogs, Wikipedia, and more about Facebook.
So, let’s start by talking about LinkedIn because this is the most potent marketing tool for professionals like us. If you’re in front of a computer, please go to LinkedIn.com. What you have to do, as with all social media web sites, is that you have to register before you can get in. Then every time you go back, you have to sign in. With social media, I want to start off by addressing, perhaps, a thought that you might have which is that you don’t know how to do this. It’s too complicated. You might think: I go into the registration page and it’s already stopping me! What I want to encourage you to do is to give it time and be patient. Either work with someone who already knows how to do it, or you hire someone to do it for you. Of course, our firm offers this but you can also hire a friend who already has a LinkedIn page and have them show you how to do this. LinkedIn is a professional networking web site. If there is any social media activity that I would like you to do, or if you were only to choose one, this would be the one that I’d recommend that you start with. The first thing you need to do after you register is to produce a good profile of yourself. Your profile tells people who you are, what you do, and what experience you have. It could include previous employment, how long you’ve worked in the field that you’re in, job titles that you have held, and certifications. Once you have a good profile, make sure that you post a short update as frequently as you can. For example, in my profile, I posted an update to tell people about this marketing seminar that we’re having today. After the seminar is over, I’ll post something about the next seminar for January 20. The update that I’m referring to is very, very short. There’s literally only one sentence, so it takes maybe 15 seconds to do.
From there, what you want to do is to connect with other people. LinkedIn will suggest some people that you may want to connect with. When you sign in, there will be some suggestions for you, or you can send email to people that you know asking them to connect with you on LinkedIn. The person who receives your invitation to link with will have a choice of whether or not to accept your invitation. You can also ask to be introduced to another person through a connection that you already know. For example, if you know me and you would like me to introduce you to another lawyer who I am connected with and could refer business to you, you can contact me and ask me to do this referral for you. Often, it would be more effective if I were to do a referral and connect you to somebody else, because sometimes professionals don’t necessarily want to link with people that they don’t know.
To show you the power of LinkedIn, today I checked and found that 15 people have reviewed my profile in the last two weeks. That’s what I mean by general marketing. I’ve put up a page on LinkedIn. I didn’t do anything particular with these 15 people. They just found me, read about me and likely clicked on my web site to check out our company and the services that we have to offer. So that’s 15 people in just two weeks! And, LinkedIn itself has been growing and will keep on growing, so the number of people who will check out your profile will only increase over time.
Now, let me discuss something on LinkedIn that allows you to target your contacts. On LinkedIn, there are lots of groups that you may want to join. If you are a lawyer for example, you may want to join American Family Lawyers, or you may want to join a group that I started called Marketing for Divorce Professionals. Once you have joined these groups, you can view the members list. Some members allow members to contact them directly by email. If you see someone whom you think may refer business to you, go ahead and contact them. I often get emails from professionals who want to know how to use our services, advertise in Divorce Magazine, or learn more information about our teleseminars. This is how I can grow my network and also introduce people to our services.
So once you’ve joined the group, you can post discussions and news about your services or your firm, Make sure that you provide the link back to your web site (if you have one), or to another website address. Just make sure that the link back goes to a page that is highly relevant to what it is that you are posting. So when you post discussions and news, the links back should be relevant to that group. The last thing professional networkers want is irrelevant information where you’re just basically selling anything and everything with no respect for where you are and who you’re talking to. Just so you know, the managers of these groups can delete your post if they think that they are being spammed.
Another way to get contacts is to start your own group. I started a group called Marketing for Divorce Professionals. When you start a group, you need to write a short little blurb about the purpose of the group. For example, mine says “a fact forum for exchanging marketing ideas.”Make sure that your little blurb has some value to attract people that you want to join your group. Today, for example, someone started a group called “Support for Parents in Loss in Custody Disputes.”I just joined the group. I am waiting for him to approve me as a member. When you start a group, you have a choice. You can ask for people to be approved by you before they can join your group or you can just allow anybody who cares to join to be a part of your group. As a leader of a group, you have a lot more privileges than just being a member. For example, as a group leader, your posting would go on top of the list of postings that other members might have posted. That gives you higher visibility. As your know, anything that is on the top part of a page will get viewed a lot more than if it’s somewhere on the bottom of the page.
I think that’s all we want to talk about as far as LinkedIn goes. What I wanted to do in this session is really to get your started. There are many, many features and options for LinkedIn that over time, you will come to learn. In the future, we might have more seminars that zero in on how to maximize the use of LinkedIn to grow your practice.
The next one I wanted to talk about is Facebook. You can visit Facebook by going to Facebook.com. Facebook is also a social networking site. Until recently, most people have used Facebook for personal purposes. For about a year and a half ago, that’s mostly how Facebook was being used. But about a year or so ago, Facebook introduced an aspect because LinkedIn was becoming so predominant in offering networking for professionals.
Facebook wanted a piece of that, so they’ve introduced Facebook Fan Pages. That is particularly useful for if you want to promote your company. I use Facebook for my personal connections, and for family members and other friends that I want to keep in touch with. But you can also create a fan page for your company. A big difference between the fan page for your company and your personal Facebook page, is that your company fan page can be viewed by the public. The public doesn’t have to have connected with you personally on Facebook in order to view your fan page. This is different than a regular personal page on Facebook, where in most cases, people have to be friends before they can connect and see each other’s pages. So keep in mind that the fan page is what you want to create for business purposes. We are going to talk a lot more about Facebook in our next session on January 20 because we can’t cover everything all at once here, plus I really wanted you to get going and start with LinkedIn. Once you get comfortable with LinkedIn, Facebook will become easier for you.
The third one I want to talk to you about is Twitter. Twitter is the newcomer to the social media scene, but it’s really catching on really fast. Head over to www.Twitter.com. Twitter is the simplest of the three that we are discussing today. As with the others we’ve talked about, again, you have to register on Twitter and then you will need to sign-in once you have registered. Once you’re in, all you’re doing is really posting a short update of about a sentence or two to let people know about what you’re up to. Of course, what I recommend is when you post that short little update, tell people about things that would be of interest to them and draw them back to your web site, which means that you should include a link every time you post on Twitter. So, for example, if on your website you have some FAQs about divorce, then you want to “tweet” about that (each post on Twitter is called a “tweet”). For example, you might tweet “are you wondering about what your divorce settlement agreement should look like? If so, visit my site to learn more.”
We started our Twitter pages a few months ago, and we already have hundreds of followers. We use it for our short updates. We have two Twitter pages: one is for Divorce Marketing Group, the other is for Divorce Magazine. If you’re interested in checking it out, go to www.Twitter.com/divorcemktg or www.Twitter.com/DivorceMagazine. The reason why we set up two pages is because we have two target audiences that we are speaking to. Divorce Marketing Group is for professionals like you who are interested in learning more about how to market your practice, whereas Divorce Magazine is for people who are going through a divorce. Because of that, on Divorce Magazine we tweet about articles that would individuals on coping with single parenthood, or how to choose a lawyer. And with each one of these updates, we provide a link to an article on our web site www.DivorceMagazine.com where there is a relevant article. On the other hand, for Divorce Marketing Group we point to articles that help divorce professionals market their services. We also post about our upcoming teleseminars, for example. The reason I’m explaining this to you is because perhaps you want to have more than one Twitter page. If your firm strictly practices family law, you can have a page about custody or you can have a page about mediation. Or if your firm offers more than family law as your practice areas, you may want to have a Twitter page that talks about family law and have another page that might speak about personal injury (if that’s what you also offer)
So the key is to have a Twitter page and give updates that are pertinent to what it is that that particular Twitter page is about, so that the people who are following you feel that they are getting valuable information that is relevant to them. Imagine if you were following a page that talked about personal injury, and what you’re posting on was about divorce. If you do that, you will find that a) people won’t follow you, and b) they will probably delete themselves as your followers.
Twitter is very simple to use. For some of you, I know that you are very busy and I have a suggestion for you. You could assign the job of updating your pages — whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook — to your assistant, or to somebody who you know will find the time to do these postings. How often you post is entirely up to you. You could post several times a day, two times a week, and so on. The best way to do this is to work out in advance a series of updates that you want to post, and give them to your assistant and direct him or her to take care of that task every Monday or every day when they come in. That would be the sure-fire way to ensure that your updates are posted..
Next, I’m going to discuss the do’s and don’ts of a social media page. There are some things that you need to be cautious about, because once you post these things, the majority of them cannot be taken back. Here are some things to watch out for. Don’t post any personal data. Almost all of these sites ask you for information. Facebook, for example, asks for your date of birth. I usually put down January 1 when anybody asks me for my date of birth, because it makes no difference that I put down a real date or one that I make up. Personal information like your date of birth should never be posted, because we’ve all heard about identity theft and date of birth is a very, very key piece of information that could be used by a fraudster. The other thing is, don’t post anything that would subsequently haunt you and your business. I’ve seen people who post things about a company they have worked for, or saying things that are not so flattering about anybody or their business or their industry. Remember if you’re working for someone, your employer may be able view your profile. Another thing you may want to consider is not posting your political orientation. So if you are a democrat and you post pro-democratic opinions on your profile, or if you join a democrat group, just know that that group is going to show up on your profile. I’m not saying you should never do this, I’m just saying that you should know the consequences of this because some people who don’t share your political orientation may view you differently. Now if you are a proud democrat and you want people to know that and aren’t worried that it may alienate some connections/friends/followers then by all means, do that!
Another thing is to be aware that there could be people online stealing your identity. For example, on Twitter, someone has stolen Divorce Magazine’s identity. Our Twitter page is www.Twitter.com/DivorceMagazine. Someone created a page called www.Twitter.com/DivorceMag. What they did was go there and they posted every hour, and within their posting, there was nothing about divorce. It was just a link that took people to various sites that they were advertising on. So you may or may not experience that. I believe Divorce Magazine is probably more open to people stealing our identity than perhaps your law firm. If you should notice this happening, all you have to do is contact Twitter. You give them an explanation and they will gladly take these pages down. They have the right and then the authority and the know how to do so. They did it within, I’d say, a couple of days.
That concludes what I wanted to share with you today. I want to summarize what we’ve covered. First of all, if you believe that you cannot “do”social media, I want to assure you that you can and that it makes sense. Social media is here to stay. If you don’t do it now, you’ll have a lot of catching up to do. Another point is that if you feel uncomfortable with social media, hire someone to do it, who can write a proper profile or a proper page. And if you think that it would take up too much of your time, make sure that you work with someone within your company to post your updates. The other thing to remember as you get started is that you just keep learning as you go! There’s no other way to be good at this. A lot of people are learning, so you might as well join them at the early part of the learning curve.
This concludes our session. I hope that you get value out of this call with us. Our next call will be 2010, January 20, 2:00 p.m. eastern standard time and it would be part two of Introduction to Social Media, where we will be talking about blogs, more on Facebook, the fan page for your company, as well as Wikipedia. I look forward to talking to you then. Have a great holiday. See you in 2010!