Social Media and Your Small Business: You Asked, We Answered!
Before you make a big mistake on social media, be sure to look over these common questions. Asked by small business owners like you and answered by our team, they can help you avoid some of the most common social media mistakes made by business owners. If you have a question that isn’t addressed here, please do not hesitate to call us at 888-886-0939.
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I may have been a little impolite when I began my practice’s social media outreach. How can I repair the poor customer relations label I’ve stuck on myself?
It’s remarkable how quickly one boorish social media post can ignite a “flame war.” Rather than embarrass one of our law firm or medical practice partners, let’s take an example from college sports. An exchange between rival fans might go like this:
- Michigan Wolverines Official Site of Awesomeness: “Way to go U of M for your non-stop determination and drive. There’s definitely a reason we’re a Big 10.”
- Buckeyesforlife83: what are you even talking about? Wolverines? You should be called the “Woeful Latrines.” #Ohiorules
- MWOSA: We’re sorry you feel that way Buckeyesforlife83, obviously you’re confused on where you need to be. Go home and take your attitude with you.
- Buckeyesforlife83: figures. You can’t even come up with a decent response. Just like a Michigander to take their ball and go home.
- MWOSA: Whatever, at least we’re not from Ohio. Where do you think the toilet water goes—South. #mittenslap #FootballersGoHome-We’llTakeItFromHere
Does this type of banter look familiar? How many times have you seen similar posts on the social media pages of friends and colleagues? How many times have you engaged in a similar (yet I’m sure more eloquent and grammatical) debate on your own site?
Probably way more than you’d like to admit.
Unfortunately, many businesses allow personal feelings and opinions to outweigh the purpose of their networking sites. As a professional, you don’t want to attract social miscreants to your site as if it were a cage match. Sure, your page’s popularity may increase as a result of curious readers coming to see what low blow you may deliver next, but they’re not going to respect you as a professional. If they can’t respect you, then they’re definitely not going to hire you, so what’s the point?
Thankfully, even if your reputation may be tarnished from past posts, tweets, or memes, you can still dig yourself out of the rubble and rebuild a mature and successful social media platform for your businesses networking needs.
The Tools to Rebuild Your Social Media Reputation
Social media is an excellent way to promote yourself and your business. Unfortunately, it’s also an excellent vehicle to advertise your flaws. It isn’t as forgiving of the latter as it is of the former. It can be difficult to build your reputation as a smart and focused professional in a place where kitten videos and trolling are the norm. Thankfully, by knowing how to combat negative situations and baited comments, you can not only showcase your strengths, but also build a strong and supported networking platform for your business.
Here are some ways to get you started on rebuilding an otherwise tarnished social media reputation:
- Start fresh by refocusing on your ideal client. Making some questionable mistakes in the past doesn’t mean you need to continue upsetting or belittling your viewers. Take a step back and focus your social media encounters on those you want to help. By streamlining your focus, you’ll not only speak to your target audience but you’ll minimize the risk that unwanted viewers will leave negative comments.
- Stay calm. The odd negative response or poor review is bound to occur—don’t let it get to you. The fastest way to ruin your reputation is by addressing a problem when you’re ill-prepared. Take a moment to calm down before you decide how to approach the situation or comment.
- Respond positively. When and if you choose to respond to a negative remark, do so politely. Although this may be difficult, stooping to a Neanderthal level of namecalling and insults will only hurt you; you’ll give other readers the impression that you can’t be professional when confronted. However, if you take the high road and simply thank the negative commenter for taking the time to write, you’ll showcase your maturity…with the added bonus of preventing the curmudgeon from baiting you further.
- Use hashtags judiciously. When you choose to hashtag (#) a phrase or word, make sure that tag doesn’t mean something disrespectful. Otherwise, you’ll end up looking insensitive, cruel, or out-of-touch.
- Use information, not threats, to encourage likes and shares. When you include informative and entertaining content on your site, viewers will naturally like and share it. There’s no need to bait “likes” and “shares” by deceptively promising good fortune or threatening bad luck. Stand behind your content and trust your viewers to know what they like and what they don’t like
Wrecking Balls: Actions to Avoid
As long as you stay calm and positive when maintaining your social media sites, then successfully rebuilding your reputation should only be a matter of time. However, one false-sounding comment or ill-conceived post can reversing your progress. This is why it’s important not only to know what to do, but also what not to do. When updating your posts or checking your tweets, stay away from these common faux pas:
- Piggybacking on negative news. Stay away from using someone else’s tragedy as a way to promote yourself. For example, refrain from posting a story about a celebrity’s car accident with the remark, “He’ll be needing help from us.” Not only is this tactless, but it could also snarl you in legal trouble.
- Falling for the baited troll post. You need to remember that a lot of people on social media have way too much time on their hands. Many of them pass their time by “trolling” websites—posting outrageous comments in the hope of starting a fight. Don’t encourage this practice. If someone leaves a ridiculous comment or opinion, either ignore it or politely respond; anything else is just a disaster waiting to happen.
- Edgy humor. Although you should try to add appropriate wit and humor throughout your website and posts, make sure you stay mature and respectful. Everyone has their own trigger points. If you’re unsure of whether a joke goes too far, it probably crosses the line for some of your readers. Use a different joke instead.
- Shaming potential clients. Everyone has the right to his own opinion and the right to express that opinion. Although sometimes you may not agree with a comment, you need to respect the exercise of free expression. Refrain from belittling reader or starting a fight just because you disagree.
Above all, don’t try to turn negatives into positives; looking on the bright side of things is a useful tool, but should not be used to call extra attention negative comments. If you’re getting a lot of negative remarks or disinterest, don’t point that out to future clients. Instead, root out the problem and fix it. Once fixed, you can then politely draw attention to the fact that you were made aware of the issue and had the good grace and ability to right the wrong.
Sailing the seas of social media can be a perilous journey. We’d be happy to help you navigate those treacherous waters. Contact our social media marketing team at 866-460-3724, and let us map you out a course to the destination you desire.
Can Buying Likes on Social Media Help My Business Rank Better?
Not really. This tactic was adopted in the early days of social media as a fast way to make a new enterprise look more established. Unfortunately, many firms are still buying into this ineffective advertising trick, suffering the loss of their marketing capital and no real gain.
Buying Fake "Likes" on Facebook Won't Get You Real Clients
Before you pay to add followers to your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or YouTube pages, you should be aware that these followers are:
- Not real people. There are companies that exist solely to create false online identities—complete with email addresses, social media accounts, and even phone numbers—that are then sold to digital middlemen, which are commonly called “click farms.” These identities are then sold by the bundle to unsuspecting companies looking to pad their online audiences. Put simply, your 1,000 new followers are no different than the spambots that plague an unprotected comments section.
- Unable to engage. Although your new followers are not real people, some can be used to go beyond a one-time interaction—liking a new post or even commenting on a thread. However, these robots can only talk, not listen, making any engagement they do with your website generic and irrelevant. You have paid to perform to an audience of imaginary friends (who will never hire you) instead of finding a local, interested audience.
- Throwing off your marketing numbers. Buying social media followers can turn your marketing data upside-down. From location (many “click farms” are based overseas) to age and income, you will no longer be able to trust any of the demographics collected by your social media accounts, making your real customers lost in the crowd.
These “click farms” stay in business for much the same reason people who sell fraudulent diet pills do—because desperate people can be conned into taking the easy way out. A few thousand “likes” on your Facebook may boost your self-esteem, but if nobody knows who these people are, they’re not likely to trust your business any more than if you had three followers who are actual human beings.
What Else Can I Do to Get People Interested in My Business?
There are nearly limitless ways to interact with your flesh-and-blood followers on social media—and best of all, most of them won’t cost anything. Simple actions such as “liking” other neighborhood business pages, responding to inquiries and comments on your posts in a timely manner, and posting information to entertain and inform your audience are great ways to engage with your target audience: actual people.
When it comes to social media, quality will always trump quantity. To find out how to interact with your audience in an effective and organic way, contact us today at 866-460-3724 to discuss ideas for a robust social media strategy.
What is the difference between Google+ Local, Google+ Business, and Google+ Personal?
We're going to break it down for you, so feel free to read this article as a rap. A really good one that puts a spring in your step and gets you pumped up about the many features of Google+.
What is Google+ Local?
Google+ Local has quickly become a crucial element of local search engine optimization for attorneys. Your firm should absolutely have a Google+ Local profile—one for each of your offices. If you don't, you will be left out of millions of local searches. Another great reason to setup a Google+ Local profile is that it's a popular place for people to leave and read reviews. If you haven't embraced the power of reviews for attorneys, now is the time, and Google+ Local is a great place to start.
Tip: To make sure that your name and that all-important pin pops up on Google+ Local, triple-check that all of your profile information is correct, especially your name, address, and phone number, and that it exactly matches your Google+ Business page.
What is Google+ Personal?
Though your Google+ Personal profile is for you, as an individual, it will be linked to your law firms' Google+ Business page. In fact, you won't be able to create a Business profile without a Personal profile. In addition, this profile is needed to claim authorship, and trust us, you want authorship. Because of this, your profile picture should be a professional headshot. Period. You want your shining face to show up in Google search results, not your logo, your cat, or your kid.
When used correctly, the Google+ Personal platform can assist in furthering your brand and helping you appear more "human." Use this to your advantage. Many people see attorneys as slightly robotic, so make sure that your personal page contains humanizing posts. Occasional posts about attending your kid’s soccer game, taking your dog to the park, or helping at the soup kitchen on Sunday should do the trick.
Tip: You will need to balance personal and professional posts, but no matter the subject, all posts must be well written and appeal to potential clients and your contemporaries.
What is Google+ Business?
The easiest way to explain Google+ Business is that it's very similar to a Facebook Business page. This is the place where you post about new articles you've written, interesting articles written by others, and videos that you've made. To distinguish this page from your Personal account, use either your logo or a professional picture of all the attorneys in your practice. We must reiterate: make certain that all of your information—name, number, and address—is correct and matches all other online listings for your office.
Tip: A good rule of thumb for posts on your Google+ Business page—and Facebook Business page, for that matter—is 80 percent links to content written by others and 20 percent content of your own. This helps you avoid getting a "ME! ME! ME!" image and, if your links are relevant and well written, will improve your image as a helper and giver of important information who has a finger on the pulse of current laws and trends.
Our law firm social media team can help guide your Google+ efforts, ensuring that you and your firm make the most of your Google+ profiles.
Do I really need to be involved in social media?
Yes, yes, and yes!
A recent study showed that over 50 percent of people use social media to find a lawyer. 50 percent! So, if you haven't embraced social media, you are missing out on more clients than you know.
Social media is no longer a place where people go to share pictures of their cat and talk about their lunch. With the advent of Facebook Graph Search and the increasing reliance people have on their social network, social media must be a cornerstone of any successful lawyer web marketing campaign.
How to Get Started with Social Media
If you don't yet have an account on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter—or if you do, but you never do anything with your accounts—it's time to make a change. To get going, our attorney social media team suggests that you:
- Do some groundwork. Take a look at what your competition is doing. Are they active on Facebook? Or do they tend to Tweet more? If they seem to be getting good results—lots of comments, likes, and shares—on a particular social media site, start there. You need to not only compete with other attorneys in your area, but do social media better than they do.
- Set yourself up for success. Begin by ensuring that every bit of information you enter into your profile is correct, especially your name, address, and phone number. Make sure your description is interesting and well-written, and then pick a professional, high-quality profile picture. Nothing will scare potential clients away more than a mistake-ridden profile with a grainy picture of your lead attorney.
- Build a following. This takes time. And, like any white hat SEO strategy, it's going to take some work. Before you post anything—and you should be posting once a day on Facebook, or more often on Twitter—be sure that there are no mistakes in your posts and that it's something you would say to a client. Links should be helpful to those seeking your services, and everything you post should be relevant to your area of practice, mistake-free, and shareable.
If you need assistance in any aspect of social media—be it setting up your accounts or running your entire social media campaign—call 888.886.0939. We can help you achieve social media success. Your competition won't know what hit them.
Should I create unique content that is only posted to my attorney social media accounts?
Although time restraints and a desire for consistency often mean that offering completely different content on your website, blog, and social media pages is nearly impossible, there are definitely benefits to offering at least a little unique content on your attorney social media pages. Here are just a few of the benefits of developing some unique, social-media-only content for your law firm:
- Social-media-only content helps bring your audience back for more. If your social media pages only offer the exact same information you already offer on your website or blog, then it is unlikely that your clients and potential clients will bother checking in.
- Social media content starts conversations. The best social media content tends to engage users, who will then “like,” share, and comment on your posts. You can respond to questions from potential clients, and you get a chance to actually ask your audience questions about what they want, need, or would like to see. Create your social-media-only content with a conversation in mind.
- Social media can be a great place to talk about current events. Most people these days check their social media accounts more often than they check their email. Talking about relevant local news or changes in the law can be more engaging and interactive when presented “live” through Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Do you need more content ideas or want to learn more about social media for attorneys? Reach out to the friendly attorney social media team with Foster Web Marketing today to learn more!
How can I get more “likes” for my attorney Facebook page?
Although it’s definitely not the only factor, the number of “likes” your attorney Facebook page collects can be a tangible (and, let’s face it, exciting) sign that your social media audience really does like what it sees. If it seems like interest in your social media content is waning, here are a few ways to encourage more people to read, “like,” and share your attorney social media content:
- Add social media sharing buttons to your attorney website and blog. It’s easy to add social media buttons to your law firm’s website, blog, or videos, and the buttons make it easy for your audience to “like” and share your content on social media site. Plus, it’s a great reminder that you’re available on social media sites, too.
- Offer some unique social media content. If you aren’t getting “likes,” it may be because you’re not offering anything special for those who go to the extra trouble of engaging with you via social media. Create some social-media-only content, and give people a reason to follow you on Facebook and click that “like” button.
- Get involved with your audience. If you don’t respond to comments, ask for opinions, or create content that people want to talk about, then you’re missing out on a lot of what makes social media great. And, if you feel like your audience isn’t very excited about what you’ve tried so far, consider just asking them what you could do better!
Do you need help developing effective Facebook content for your law firm? Or are you interesting in learning more about social media for attorneys? Talk about it today with the friendly attorney social media team at Foster Web Marketing—just give us a call at 1-888-886-0939!
Is YouTube considered a social media site?
Yes. Though you may only be familiar with YouTube as a place to watch funny videos of laughing babies and puppies, YouTube has firmly established itself as a social media website.
What Social Media Is
Social media is any site that provides a network of people with a place to make connections. And, as we are talking about YouTube as a social media site, what better way to show you how social media works than this popular YouTube video describing social media in easy-to-understand terms.
Now that you understand social media—and, if you don't, please ask—we will cover the best ways to use YouTube as a social media platform.
Getting 1 Million Views Is Not the Goal
Let's hope you don't achieve this kind of infamy. As an attorney, any video of you that gets that much attention is likely a bad thing—think uncontrolled tirade in the courtroom or an embarrassing fall that lands you in the lap of a jury member. Instead, you want to use YouTube to build connections and establish yourself as an authority.
Building connections and networks on YouTube can be done in many ways, including:
- Posting quality videos on a regular basis. This keeps those who subscribe to your videos interested and helps establish you as an authority in your area of law.
- Making friends with others in your field. Much like Facebook, you can send out friend requests on YouTube.
- Getting subscribers and favorites. Ask people to subscribe to your channel and favorite the videos they like. Do the same for others.
- Responding to comments. Just like other social media users, people like it when you reply to their comments. As long as they seem to be legitimate comments—not spam or trolling—write a thoughtful response.
Not sure you have a handle on your social media marketing efforts? Call us at 888.886.0939, and our social media experts will help you make the most of your social media accounts.
Will active participation on Facebook and other social media sites help boost law firm's SEO?
Yes. Increasingly, Google and other search engines are factoring social media activity into their ranking formulas. The ways social media factors include:
- The number of times a site or a page on a site has been liked, shared, retweeted, stumbled upon, or +1'ed
- The number of mentions on Twitter
- The number of people who have you in their Google+ circle
- Increased brand awareness and loyalty
- More inbound links
- More positive reviews
- Decreased bounce rate
- Increased time on page
Because of this, our team encourages you to go out and embrace attorney social media. Besides being powerful, a major benefit of social media is that it's free! Create an account today. Or, if you already have an account, dust it off and begin using it again. Start by posting a link to your newest free offer or an interesting blog post. Follow up by asking a question of your audience or posting an updated picture of your office or staff. Facebook and other sites will make you appear accessible, easy to talk to, and knowledgeable. If you do it right.
But...There Is Always a But
Social media has the potential to boost your SEO power and increase awareness of your practice, but only if you do it right. Getting social media for attorneys just right isn't simple. But, once you get the hang of it, you will be able to quickly shoot out a new post or tweet, reaching potential clients who wouldn't have heard of you otherwise.
Call 888.886.0939 to speak with our social media super team about the right—and wrong—ways to engage your audience and attract new clients.
Could my law firm’s marketing plan benefit from having an Instagram account?
These days, about 90 percent of businesses are taking advantage of social media marketing opportunities, especially on social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. However, fewer businesses – and even fewer law firms – have experimented with newer and more abstract social media websites. For example, Instagram is a popular photo-blogging website with over 30 million users, but few businesses have tapped into the marketing potential of the visual social media website.
How can attorneys use Instagram to boost their social media marketing plan?
- Take interesting pictures from you day – certainly at the office and perhaps outside of the office.
- Create hashtags for your photos that are relevant and that will attract new followers.
- Follow the Instagram accounts of those in your industry and community.
- Share Instagram photos on Facebook and Twitter.
- Get others in your office to post relevant images to Instagram.
- Check out how other businesses are utilizing Instagram to help their brand and strengthen relationships with customers and clients.
- Geo-tag your pictures to attract local attention and engage in location-specific marketing.
- Get creative with your photos!
Studies have shown that images attract more attention than plain text when it comes to social media. In addition, it’s likely that your competition hasn’t taken advantage of Instagram for marketing purposes. Get ahead of the crowd, start an account, and begin posting pictures today.
Need help with your social media marketing campaign or want more ideas about how to tap into visual social media marketing? Contact our team at Foster Web Marketing today by calling 888-886-0939.
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