Marketing without social media

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Let’s say you’re like me and you don’t like social media, or you don’t like it enough to make it a mainstay of your marketing.

If you do like it, or don’t want to ignore it completely, there are a lot of benefits, but it’s not the only game in town.

You can get traffic to your website or blog without selling your soul to the master of the universe, through:

(1) Search.

People looking for information (about legal issues and/or lawyers who can help them) will find your content if the search engines deem it worthy of the same. So, make it worthy.

No clickbait. Good information. Published more often than “once in a while.”

(2) Sharing.

If your content is good, visitors to your blog or website will share it. Make it easy for them to do that by providing share buttons that allow them to link to or post your content on their social media platforms.

(3) Posting.

Sign up for accounts on the major social media platforms and, when you write new content, post a link to it on those platforms. You can also post in groups that cater to your niche market, besides posting in your timeline.

(4) Advertising.

You can do pay-per-click advertising, ironically through social media companies, or display advertising, or even offline advertising. Advertise your content, your services, or both.

(5) Everything else.

When you speak or write articles or give interviews, promote your blog or other content properties. When you meet people, via networking, or socially, and you think they might benefit from your recent article or video, tell them about it.

And don’t forget to share your content via your newsletter and invite (ask) your readers to share it.

Tell folks what they’ll find and how to get there, and they will come.

Social media is free marketing, but it can take up a lot of time. Optimizing posts for SEO, guest blogging, commenting, and especially, consuming other people’s and content and engaging with them. You could easily spend an hour or more per day.

For some, that is time well spent. For others, like me and perhaps you, the time factor is a big reason for not making social media a big part of your marketing.

If you want to do something, choose one social media platform used by the people in your target market, and spend your time there instead of everywhere. And limit yourself to ten minutes a day.

But you don’t have to do that, either.

If social media just isn’t your thing, you can still benefit from its power and reach without a formal social media marketing plan or hiring people to run it for you.

Make it “something else” you do, in support of your primary marketing activities, and spend your time on those.

My primary marketing activity is email

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Social media bad

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I’m told that some law firms severely restrict their lawyers’ use of social media. Apparently, they don’t trust them to be judicious about the information they share or the image they portray.

Is this warranted? Or an outdated (and silly) notion that should be dragged to the guillotine and have its head lopped off?

Lawyers can police themselves, can’t they? Doesn’t every lawyer care about how their public utterances might be received?

Apparently not, as Nancy Myrland makes plain about the likes of Michael Avenatti, et al.

But that’s not the fault of social media, is it? You can do as much damage in a blog post as you can on Twitter or TV, or at a party with an open bar.

So when it comes to social media, if you are looking to establish a policy for the lawyers who work for you, may I suggest, “Trust but verify”?

Train your people. And hold them accountable if they violate your policy or basic common sense.

Yes?

Anyway, instead of prior restraint, shouldn’t the discussion be about how to get a good return on the social media investment, since it’s clear that many attorneys don’t?

Unfortunately, you’ll have to count me out of that discussion. I know just enough about social media to stay out of jail, and I’m not really interested in learning more.

It’s not my thing.

And I’ve got other things that work well for me, don’t take a lot of time, and don’t make me take pictures of my lunch.

I get most of my work from referrals and email

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You don’t have to be social to use social media

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I don’t use social media for personal matters. I rarely share or comment, I don’t post photos or talk about my personal life. I may or may not accept friend requests (if I see them), I don’t “chat” online, and I don’t have any social media apps on my phone.

I don’t do much more for work. I share my blog posts as I publish them, I check in now and then to see what’s been posted in a couple of groups I follow, and that’s about it.

Because I’m not social. And I’ve got other things to do.

Cal Newport, makes the case for using social media sparingly if at all in his best-selling book, “Digital Minimalism”. I guess I’m on his team, even if I do a lot less “deep work” than I should.

I’m certainly not an “all work and no play” kinda guy. I play games, I watch videos on silly subjects, and I have outside interests I regularly indulge.

But you won’t hear about them unless I talk about them in my newsletter.

You can get a lot of business using social media. I know more than a few lawyers who’ve done that. Even I get traffic and subscribers and clients that way.

But I let that happen, I don’t do a whole lot to make it happen.

To each his or her own.

If you enjoy social media and it doesn’t interfere with other things in your life, go for it.

If it gets in the way, if it’s not your cup of tea, it’s okay to cut down or let it go.

Just make sure you’re on my email list before you go.

Email is my primary marketing tool

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My election predictions

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I predict my side will win and this will be good for our country. If I’m wrong and the other side wins, I predict bad things will happen.

I predict everything is about to get even messier and we are unlikely to know the results any time soon.

I predict that some polling firms and media outlets are going to radically change their methods, but most won’t, at least until enough people stop listening to them.

Pretty lame predictions, huh? No specifics about who or what I favor or why.

Because if I did that, it would likely alienate half of my readers, and why do that?

Unless you regularly write or speak about political issues, you’re trying to build a following of people on one side of the spectrum, or you’re running for office, I suggest you stay away from politics, especially when things are as polarized and emotionally charged as they are in the current election.

But don’t stay away from predictions.

Predictions appeal to your reader’s curiosity. They get lots of clicks and engagement.

You’ll get more readers reading, commenting or asking questions. You’ll get more shares. And people will continue to read or listen to you and look forward to your next prediction.

People want to know what smart people like you think will happen, and why. They want you to explain what happened and what it means.

So share your predictions and explanations. Just make sure you choose the right subject.

How to build your practice with a newsletter

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The TRUTH about practicing law

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One of the simplest ways to get more people reading and sharing your posts, especially on social, is to make them controversial.

Challenge them, shock them, anger them–because everyone loves a good fight.

They most popular TV shows and online videos feature emotional content: anger and outrage, sex and love, pleasant surprises and massive disappointments.

People love conflict. And the algorithms promote posts and videos that feature it.

Platforms like Twitter have their entire business model built around people being angry at something. Or someone.

If you want to get more eyeballs and engagement and shares, write posts that “expose” the truth about something, including your practice area (especially your practice area).

Write about issues you know people disagree with, and tell them why YOU disagree with what other lawyers say or do: “Why I don’t agree with. . .” or “Why I don’t like/use/do. . .”

“Force” prospective clients who are searching for a lawyer to read your post with a title like, “Is [legal service] worth it?” or “What most [practice area] lawyers get wrong.”

Cruise through social media and record the titles of videos and posts that are being promoted or shared or that catch your eye, and adapt those titles and themes to your posts.

Throw some raw meat to the lions and watch them stick around for more.

There are more ways to attract and engage clients and prospects. In Email Marketing for Attorneys, I break these down and show you what to do.

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A simple way to grow your email list

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You want more subscribers for your newsletter, right? More people hearing your words of wisdom, your success stories, and your offers.

You also want these subscribers to be people who are likely to need your services at some point, or to know people who might.

You want to grow your email list because more subscribers eventually translates into more clients.

One of the simplest ways to grow your list is to partner up with other professionals, business owners, bloggers, and other centers of influence in your niche.

If you are an estate planning, consumer bankruptcy, or divorce attorney, you might pair up with an accountant, financial planner, or a financial blogger.

Who might be a good source of referrals for you? If they have a list and write to it regularly, talk to them about a strategic alliance.

What might that look like?

You write an article for them, they write an article for you. Or, you mention their newsletter and they mention yours. Or you promote their offer and they promote yours.

You might interview each other. Or co-author a piece that gets published in both of your newsletters.

You could do the same thing on social media.

The key is to find someone with the right attitude, someone who wants to grow their list and is willing to work with you to do that. You don’t need everyone to say yes, you just need a few.

Once you find someone and execute your first “swap,” you can (a) do it again in a few months, and/or (b) go find someone else.

To learn more strategies for building your list, including the ones that get my highest recommendation, check out my course on email marketing for attorneys.

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Hacking social media

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Most people use social media to blast out information, offers, and requests. And that’s okay. Ask enough people to do something and you should see some results.

But there’s another way to use social media that can bring better results, and it doesn’t depend on the size of your list or the value of your content or offer.

Instead of asking everyone to do something, ask a few people, and do it one at a time.

Identify some people on your list you know personally or with whom you’ve corresponded, send them a direct message or email, or call them, and tell them what you want.

If you ask them to Like or share your post or content, for example, you should get a better response simply because they know you’ve asked them and are watching to see what you do.

They can’t hide behind a list of hundreds or thousands of contacts. If they ignore your request, they’ll know you know.

If you want to get even better results, there’s something else you should do.

Tell them why.

Why you’re asking them specifically. Why this is important to you. Or why you believe their contacts will benefit from your content or offer.

If I ask you to share this post or email with other lawyers, I should get some new subscribers or followers. I’ll get more subscribers, however, if I tell you that this year, I’m focusing on building my list.

Not a great reason from your standpoint. “Your lawyer friends will appreciate you for thinking of them,” is much better.

But studies show that the reason isn’t terribly important.

Offering a reason significantly increases the likelihood that the other person will comply–even if the reason isn’t a particularly good one.

But, just in case, here’s another reason: I appreciate your help.

The easiest way to build a law practice? Email.

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My dinner with Bob

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A few years back my wife and I went to dinner with our old friends Bob and Lou Ann. During dinner, Bob mentioned something I’d recently written on my blog.

I was surprised since Bob isn’t a lawyer. And he’s retired. And I figured he probably has better things to do than to read my utterances.

But apparently, we’re connected on LinkedIn where my blog posts are re-posted and he reads them there.

You never know who is following you, reading you, keeping tabs on what you’re doing. And you never know the reach of your network.

Your connections have connections, and while a personal friend may not need your services, he may know someone who does.

Bob was in business for a long time. He knows other lawyers. If one of them mentions that they were looking for help with something in my wheelhouse, I’m sure Bob would tell them about me. Or forward something I’d written to them.

The lesson: you may not depend on social media for marketing, but don’t ignore it.

Connect with people you know and people you want to know. Clients, former clients, professionals, and personal friends. People who know people who might need your help. Or know people who know people.

Because marketing isn’t just about who you know. It’s about who they know.

Build your list and stay in touch with it

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Do you have to get a lawyer to get divorced in Indiana?

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Saw this question posted on Quora. If you’re a divorce lawyer in Indiana, should you answer it?

Should you go looking for questions like this for your practice area or jurisdiction?

My take:

Answering questions on forums probably won’t bring in a lot of business. More importantly, the business it does bring probably won’t be high quality. 

Yes, there are exceptions. You might indeed get some decent clients this way. If you’re just starting out or you otherwise have the time to troll through forums and answer questions, why not?

Just don’t make this your primary marketing method.

On the other hand, there are some very good reasons why visiting forums and answering questions can be a good use of your time.

You’ll get to learn what people want to know about the law in your practice area. You’ll see the words they use to describe their situation, their pain, and their desired outcomes. This can help you write more effective marketing documents.

You can get some ideas for blog posts and your newsletter. Hey, I got this idea from a forum, didn’t I?

You could get some traffic to your website from the answers you post. That might improve your website “score” in the eyes of the search czars, and that could bring you some good clients.

Now, are you thinking what I’m thinking? Did a divorce lawyer in Indiana ask someone to post that question so he could answer it?

Devious minds want to know.

Your best clients come from referrals

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What’s wrong with this picture?

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I saw a post on Flakebook this morning that made me want to scream. It said, “If anybody needs to reach me today, I won’t be available until Noon.”

What’s wrong with that? It’s terrible posture.

It says, “I’m online most of the time because I’m not very busy. I’m not very busy because I’m not very good at my job and don’t have a lot of clients. I hope you need me and will contact me and give me some work. Please?”

Yes, you want clients and prospects to know that you can be reached if they need you, but not like this.

Let them know you have office hours. If there’s an emergency, they can reach you through an assistant or answering service (if you have that kind of practice). Otherwise, they should contact your assistant and see if they can help them. Or make an appointment to see you or speak to you. Or leave a message for you and you’ll get back to them as soon as your schedule permits.

Bad posture: Call me any time. Email me any time. Message me any time. And expect me to be available at any time.

Good posture: I’m busy. In high demand. My time is valuable. You can talk to me but you have to get in line and follow the rules.

If you’re not busy, don’t tell anyone. Nobody wants to hire an attorney that nobody else wants to hire.

If you are busy, let people know it. It will make them want you even more.

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