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Guest Post: Remember Two Things: Expanding Your Social Networks to Create Meaningful Connections and to Build Business

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A little while back, I wrote a two-part tome on social media marketing. (Part I is accessible here. Part II is available here.) Maybe you’re still reading it. You can stop now. The short series was theoretical, but inspired by some of the very impressive uses of social media marketing that I see being made by a number of attorneys. Determining that my impressions are too white-tower, I decided that my posts were in need of a follow-up series, drawn up by practicing attorneys: men and women on the street, delivering field reports. I reached out to several attorneys, and got a positive response from each gracious one.

Justin Kelsey, of Kelsey & Trask, PC, has been kind enough to draft the second installment of this follow-up series respecting social media marketing in practice. Justin is a founding partner of Kelsey & Trask, has bachelor’s degrees in the humanities and mechanical engineering (wait, what??) and concentrates his practice in divorce mediation and representation, bankruptcy, paternity, 209A and modification cases. When he was younger, he wanted to be Captain Picard from Star Trek . . . probably with hair, though. Justin is the co-creator (with Scott Stevenson) of the Stevenson-Kelsey Divorce Spousal Support Calculator. To find out more about Justin, check out his profile page at the Kelsey & Trask website. In addition to his other standout accomplishments, and having great taste in television shows, Justin, and his partner, Matt Trask, have done some really innovative things with respect to web and social media marketing. But, don’t take my word for it. I’ll just let Justin tell you . . .

. . .

At the request of Jared Correia (who first inspired us to take the leap into social media marketing) we have agreed to share some of our thoughts and experiences in the hopes that we can help inspire others to take the same leap. This post will endeavor to answer the questions of just ‘How’ and just ‘Why’, as those relate to Kelsey & Trask’s use of web and social media marketing.

Why Do We Blog?

Reason #4 (Yes, this is a Countdown!) –Unique Ways to Engage your Audience. When potential clients come to our website, it’s because they’re looking for our firm, or it’s because they’re looking for legal information. Firm information and legal information, then, must be presented in a clear, but also very predictable, fashion. What this means is that almost all legal websites (even ones as well-written as ours) look very similar. With the addition of a blog component placed central to your website, you can be more informal, presenting information that is interesting and interactive (as well as informative), and even sometimes fun–like countdowns!

Reason #3–Dynamic Content and SEO. An important part of search engine optimization (i.e.–obtaining the holy grail of page 1 Google search results) is including “dynamic” content on your webpage. Constantly changing the content for a webpage, though, can be time-consuming and/or expensive. Instead of making constant page edits, then, we have chosen to integrate our latest blog entries (from both “Scaling the Summit: A Family Law Blog” and “Don’t Go Alone: A Bankruptcy Law Blog”) directly into the homepages of our respective websites (Family Law homepage and Bankruptcy Law homepage). Therefore, every time we update our blog, we’re updating our website. Best of all, this system is not at all complicated to set up, and any web designer worth his salt should be able to figure it out.

Reason #2–It’s Fun. An important factor in motivating yourself, and finding the time for marketing, is to market by doing things that you already enjoy doing. For example, if you like dining out for lunch, then you should schedule more networking lunches. A theme you’ll see developing in this post is that we have found ways to make blogging, tweeting, and similar, long-term projects fun, and this makes them infinitely easier to keep up with. When it comes to blogging, this means choosing to address topics that interest you. Take inspiration from everyday life, or movies, or music, or whatever you’re into. Here is an example of how a funny moment in a television show inspired one of our posts.

Reason #1–It’s FREE! Marketing is all about ROI = return on investment. And, although blogging takes time, there are many blogging platforms that are free and easy to use. Anyone who can use email can create a blog, and can update it. For a startup firm (which we were only two years ago), this is a great way to invest your time in marketing without having to dip further into the red.

Facebook & Twitter: Creating & Maintaining Connections

I recently started looking up some of my fellow Boston University School of Law alumni to see what they had been up to since we lost touch. Of course, there were many whom I could picture–but, I couldn’t remember their names. So, I went into my closet, and found the BU Law student facebook, a book of pictures and names of new BU students when we were all 1Ls–like a backwards yearbook. Then, armed with a refreshed recollection, I started Googling my former classmates, and found many of them on Facebook.

In addition to helping me to build my personal network, Facebook, and my facebook, provided me with my very own “Who’s On First” moment with my wife:

Me: “I’ve been looking up BU alums. I couldn’t remember their names, so I checked the facebook.”
Wife: “How did you find people by just their face on Facebook?”
Me: “I used the facebook first.”
Wife: “I heard you the first time; but, How do you search Facebook by faces?”
Me: “No. I’m trying to explain that I used the facebook, then I looked them up on Facebook.”

–and so on. Really.

Once I escaped that conversation, I realized that Facebook presents an excellent method for reconnecting with many people at once, and for instantly allowing them to catch up with what I’ve been doing since law school, and vice versa. In addition, any of them who “Like” our firm’s Facebook page will get regular updates on the news we’re publishing. We also post new blog entries through our Facebook page, as well, so that all my new “Friends” are exposed to those, too.

In this way, we use Facebook to turn our social connections into potential business connections. As anyone who has started a small business knows, family and friends are excellent sources of referrals, especially when you are still building your professional networks; and, Facebook is a great way to keep up with extended social networks (t
he people you know, but don’t see on the holidays).

Twitter, can be used in a similar way; but, I have found Twitter to be more effective at introducing me to new people that I can network with. In many ways, Twitter is really just the Facebook “News Feed”, standing alone–take a look at my Twitter feed, and at my partner, Matt Trask’s Twitter feed, to see what I mean. What we’ve found in our experience is that Twitter has led to the creation of many new connections (with people we would not have met otherwise), mostly through the use of the “Retweet” feature. Twitter is designed to allow anyone to easily repost what you have posted by giving a cite back to your username; the most common method for achieving this citation is through the use of the retweet. If you write something interesting, or useful, or funny, you will often get retweeted, and so introduced to other people’s social networks via their friends’ feeds.

I’ve essentially found the Twitter retweet to be a better implementation of LinkedIn’s connections. Through their introduction of you, via your tweet, to other users’ networks, retweeters essentially “recommend” you to their followers, every time they retweet your posts. Through these retweet-spurred connections, I have found multiple local lawyers, with whom I have ended up having coffee or lunch, thereby making additions to my personal referral network.

Though this all may sound like a lot of work, I will come back to my same point about blogging: this type of networking and advertising can be fun. It is informal enough that you can make jokes and present information that might not always be educational. And, you can keep up with the interesting and/or humorous news that others post. While I stick to the rule that I wouldn’t post anything on Facebook or Twitter that I wouldn’t want a client seeing, I certainly don’t have to be as formal (or as boring!) as I am in producing our official website content. In the areas of divorce and bankruptcy law (our main practice areas), finding ways to make otherwise heavy topics at least a little lighter can be the key to engaging social and professional connections who would not otherwise remember us.

The Professional Sites: LinkedIn, Justia, Avvo, etc.

Although LinkedIn is more like Facebook and Twitter in its design, we use it more like Justia and Avvo, i.e.–for advertising and publishing, instead of connecting. LinkedIn has some powerful tools for connecting, and we advertise our profiles (mine and Matt’s) as another way to connect. But, because of its bland design, and the failure of most users to use the news feed feature (probably because it was only recently added), LinkedIn just isn’t as dynamic as some of the other social media options.

The way to get value out of LinkedIn is to use the Groups. Groups are where you can find the discussions that the basic LinkedIn profile page is lacking. Now, you can also link your Twitter feed into your LinkedIn profile, to create some chatter there. (You can do the same thing for your Facebook status updates, incidentally.) And, for me, that means that my Twitter posts go to my LinkedIn page, as well, essentially giving me the opportunity to post and connect with two communities, or to kill two birds, as it were, using one stone.

Similarly, our Twitter feeds, LinkedIn profiles, webpages and blogs are all advertised on our Justia and Avvo profiles. These sites allow us to provide publications/legal guides, and, in the case of Avvo, to answer posted questions. In most cases, these publications, legal guides or answers are just regurgitated content from our website or blog; but, even so, this means that we are able to take advantage of the research and writing time we’ve already spent to create even more web buzz. Repurposing like this can save you lots of time, while extending the reach of your expertise.

Whether it’s through the use of these sites or others, the more you can cross-link your content on the web, the more likely it becomes that you will be able to find potential consumers, and to make meaningful connections with them. If you can find these sites, then you can bet that your potential clients will get there, too. And, once you’ve created a profile on any of these sites, you can basically copy the same information for new profiles on any of these other sites.

In the end, it all comes back to the fact that these services are easy to use, free to use and can be made fun to use (or, at least, more fun than writing press releases, or paying for a yellow pages ad). In all of our advertising and marketing we try to remember two things: (1) customers can’t hire who they can’t find; and, (2) generally, customers hire professionals that they like. If you’re not on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, and you don’t have blog or profile sites other than your own website, how many customers can’t connect with you, and how many can’t find you at all?

CATEGORIES: Client Relations | Marketing | Planning | Productivity | Technology

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