LinkedIn for Lawyers: The “How To” on Using the Internet’s Most Effective Business Development Tool

This 90 minute webinar will be brought to you by the ABA Center for Professional Development.

Almost every successful attorney networks. And there is simply no bigger platform than the Internet’s largest business-oriented social networking site–LinkedIn. With more than 240 million users (nearly 80% of whom are 35 years or older), LinkedIn has become the most valuable and effective business development tool in existence. However, many lawyers find the task of setting up a profile, inviting and accepting connections, building a network, joining groups, avoiding ethical missteps and seeking recommendations and endorsements daunting. It is not.

In just 90 minutes, Dennis Kennedy and I, authors of Linkedin in One Hour for Lawyers, will give you the tools and information to best position yourself on one of the most recognized websites in Corporate America. We’ll also be joined by Rob Humphrey, Senior Marketing Manager at LinkedIn. Whether you are a first-time user or seeking to better benefit from your LinkedIn visibility, this  ABA Center for Professional Development webinar will put you on the road to greater success. Learn how prospective clients and referring attorneys will reach out to you with legal matters, headhunters will find you with job offers and colleagues will come here first for reliable biographical and contact information.

Register by phone at 800.285.2221 and Select Option “2”, M-F, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM Eastern, or online at: http://apps.americanbar.org/cle/programs/t14lfl1.htmlEvent Code: CET4LFL.

Three Steps to Using LinkedIn [infographic]

If you’re not a regular LinkedIn user, you may be wondering what it’s all about or where to start. This infographic was developed as a quick overview of three of the steps you need to take to build your LinkedIn presence. All of these steps are covered in more detail in the recently released Second Edition of LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers, which is available now (for more information about the book, you can click on the book cover at the bottom of the infographic)

Who’s Using Social Media?

Lawyers ask me all of the time whether they should get involved in social media platforms, and whether those platforms really do anything to help them build their practices or attract potential clients and referral sources.

When answering this question (or similar questions about any particular marketing endeavor), I encourage lawyers to first determine two things: first, what is their purpose or intended outcome (for example, do they want to get in front of a wider audience, have a platform for distributing content, build relationships with existing clients, or attract potential new clients, etc.?) and second, depending on that purpose, is the audience they are seeking involved in that particular activity?

If you’re seeking to target a specifically male or specifically female audience, for example, his infographic from InternetServiceProviders.org,  may help you to determine if your audience is participating on social media:


Social Gender Infographic

As I discussed in a recent post on Slaw.ca, if you have a business to business practice and in-house counsel play a role in selecting or retaining outside counsel, LinkedIn might be a good platform for you to consider. As I discussed in that post, the 2013 In-house Counsel New Media Engagement Survey revealed that more and more in-house counsel are influenced by blogs and social media, with LinkedIn’s “professional network” being the one they use most for their professional contacts.

Don’t forget that even if your audience is participating on a particular platform, you’ll need to ensure that your content fits with the culture of that particular site. It’s great to have an opportunity to communicate with your intended audience, but you’ve also got to make sure that your message will resonate, and not turn them off. For example, if your audience is on LinkedIn, don’t ignore the culture, which is one of professionalism and business-oriented discussion, rather than the more personal sharing that may occur on other platforms (such as Facebook, for example).

Google Plus for Lawyers

Google PlusI’ve been getting a lot of questions from lawyers lately about Google Plus – do they really need yet another social network to concern themselves with? The answer may depend on why you’re considering Google Plus for yourself or your law firm. Many lawyers evaluate social media platforms based on whether their clients use them. But if that describes you, at least in the case of Google Plus, you may want to adjust your thinking.

Google Plus is Google. You know – the search engine – the one everyone is always trying to ‘game,’ to pay “SEO experts” to ‘get to the top’ of, the one you may be paying for adwords or pay per click campaigns to boost your visibility or drive traffic to your website. If you’re serious about online visibility, you need to pay attention to Google Plus and Google’s related services. Google “favors” content from Google+ in its search results, and if you use Gmail and Google Contacts, they integrate with Google+, making for an easier user experience.

Finally, it’s FREE. Why ignore the free option and throw money at the paid services? And what are the chances that you will be found in organic Google search results in the future if you don’t have a presence on Google? Why take that chance?

Google+

Google+ is similar to other social networks; you create a personal (or business) profile, follow others ( by placing them in “circles”), and post content including links, photos, videos and other media. It has over 500 million registered users, of whom about 235 million are active monthly.

As with anything else, you will want to make sure your profile is credible, authoritative and contains good content and information about you.

Google+ Circles

Circles work like Friend Lists on Facebook, except that on Google+, you must add people to at least one circle (on Facebook, you can ‘friend’ someone without adding them to a specific friend list). Just as you do when choosing an audience for posts on Facebook, you can choose which Circles to share specific information with on Google Plus.

Unlike Facebook, you can add someone to a Circle without them having to add you back – it is a one-way, rather than a two way relationship. For personal profiles, if someone adds you to a Circle and you don’t add them to one of your Circles, they will only see your public posts on Google+. By contrast, business pages (discussed below) require that a user add your Page to their circles before your business page can add them to your circles.

Google+ Business Pages

Google+ also offers businesses the opportunity to set up profiles, called Google Plus Business Pages. Firms and organizations should consider consider setting up profiles on the site because there are many advantages to having a presence on the network, and Google is investing more time in business pages, as can be seen by the recent release of the Google dashboard discussed below. In addition, as mentioned above, Google wants more people to begin using Google+, and it has begun ranking posts to the network very high in its search engine. If you are at all concerned about optimizing either your personal or professional appearances in search engine results, this may be the main reason to set up a Google Plus account.

Google+ business pages can have multiple administrators, just like Facebook business pages can.

Google dashboard

Google has now made things even easier for its users by creating an integrated dashboard to help you manage your information across all of Google’s services, including not only Maps and Search, but also Plus and Local (formerly Google Places).

If you set up a Google Places account so that your firm could be seen on Google Maps and for purposes of Google search, the look of your business listing has changed to be more consistent with the look and feel of Google+, and the name has changed to Google+ Local. Now you can also combine your Google+ Local page and your Google+ Business page into one complete page that is both listed on Google Maps and incorporates the social features of Google Plus.

According to Google Engineer Pavni Diwanji, using the dashboard businesses can now:

  • Update core business information (hours, location, etc.) to Google properties such as search, maps and Google Plus.
  • Monitor notifications on their Google Plus page and manage their account
  • See “at-a-glance” data about their AdWords Express account
  • Create and manage special offers through Google Offers
  • Conduct hangouts (video chat) with fans and customers

Google+ Integration

Another advantage Google+ offers users is the ability to link to every single other one of their online profiles and websites. (Other social media sites allow the following number of outside links: Twitter-1; Facebook-2; LinkedIn-3). Google+ is the only one that allows its users to create a complete profile of all of their online activities in one place. This is also important for Google authorship, which is discussed in a bit more detail below.

If you are already using other Google products, including YouTube, Gmail, GoogleDocs, Google Calendar, etc., you can easily share anything from them with your Google+ Circles. If you use Google Ads, your click-through rates will improve if you include Google+ material. Google+ Local (formerly Google Places) allows users to post reviews and photos of places and businesses directly to their Google+ pages. Google+ Events allows users to create events and invite people to them, then share photos and videos in real-time as the events take place, and it integrates with Google Calendar.

Google+ Hangouts

Hangouts used to refer only to the Google+ free online videoconferencing feature (which supports up to 10 participants), but now hangouts encompass what used to be Google Talk – essentially a chat service which supports photos and emoticons. You can invite anyone to join you in a video hangout (whether they are a Google user or not) on the spot or you can schedule hangouts for some time in the future and invite others to attend. You can even live stream your hangouts (called Hangouts On Air). Your hangout will be recorded and then you can easily share it on YouTube and Google+.

You can host or participate in a hangout from your computer, tablet or smartphone (iOS and Android).

You can also add apps to your hangout to collaborate through Google Drive, watch YouTube videos together and more.

Google Authorship

One additional reason to consider a Google+ account is Google Authorship.

As a recent post on Copyblogger points out, Google’s purpose is to encourage great content on the web. Their algorithm is built to return the pages or sites with the best, most current and most relevant content in search results. But they’ve also started evaluating content not just based on the site and the site’s reputation, but on the reputation of the author of that content (where that information is available). To take advantage of this feature, you need to have a Google Plus account.
When you search on Google, you may have noticed that some of the search results include a thumbnail photo of the author of the article or web page, like this (you’ll see one of my blog posts listed in the results with my thumbnail photo, my name and my Google+ stats):

Google search results on LinkedIn for lawyers

This is only accomplished if you have a Google+ profile and if Google can recognize that what you write on other sites is indeed written by you. Google outlines the steps for making that happen here. Essentially, you’ll need to have a Google+ profile with a recognizable headshot first. Then you’ll need to make sure that your byline appears on the articles you write on other sites. Your byline should match your name on your Google Plus Profile. Then you’ll go through a verification process on both ends.

To learn more about Google Plus, you might want to check out these links:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/
http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2013/06/google-releases-google-plus-dashboards-for-business-pages.html
http://webmarketingtoday.com/articles/Basic-Checklist-for-How-to-Rank-in-Google-Places/
http://www.copyblogger.com/google-plus-authority/
http://www.mycase.com/blog/2013/06/guest-post-kymeshia-morris-google-authorship-for-lawyers/

Are you using (or have you considered using) Google+? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Slideshare: A Content Tool Worth a Look for Lawyers

Slideshare logoEvery day it seems there’s a new tool or a new piece of technology that’s being touted as the ‘next great thing.’ Is Slideshare really worth a look for lawyers?

A couple of months ago, I did a post on content marketing on the Legal Ease blog which made the point that there is an increased demand for content in part because of the huge SEO (search engine optimization) boost it brings. That means there will be lots of people out there selling content, and much of it will be of poor quality and may not bring the desired results. (This is especially dangerous for lawyers who have specific ethical rules that must be followed – but that’s a topic for another day.) And you’ve got to keep it interesting, with different kinds of content that engages audiences in different ways. This is where Slideshare might help.

Although I’ve had an account for some time, I’ve only started actively using SlideShare recently. Here are some of the reasons I think SlideShare might be worth looking at:

  • Creating presentations forces you to convey information succinctly and more visually – both of which should improve comprehension and retention for your audience
  • Slideshare makes it easy for you to upload your presentations
  • If you already give presentations to demonstrate your expertise, SlideShare provides an extended audience for those presentations over and above those who were in the room (or on the webinar) for your presentation
  • Presentations can be a good way to educate clients and potential clients not only about what you do, but about the legal process
  • Slideshare is already optimized for search engines, so your presentations get greater visibility than if you just post them on your own site
  • Slideshare makes it easy to share or embed your presentations into a blog post, website, etc.
  • Slideshare has tracking capabilities (called Send Tracker) so that you can send a presentation by email and then see how it is viewed
  • Slideshare sends you analytics information by email so that you can see the performance of each presentation you upload – how many views, comments, tweets, likes, and downloads each presentation receives
  • You can easily update your presentations, which will automatically update embedded versions, too
  • Slideshare is not limited to presentations alone – you can upload and share PDFs and video, too
  • You can save or share presentations by others – another great content and educational resource!

To demonstrate, here’s a presentation I’ve embedded from Slideshare that might inspire you to create new (and better) presentations of your own:

If you want to see my fledgling Slideshare page, you can find it here.

Goodbye Google Reader, Hello Pulse?

LinkedIn and Pulse

By now you have probably heard that Google is de-activating its RSS feed reader, Google Reader, effective July 1, 2013. For those of us that rely on RSS to keep up with current news, to follow blogs or websites, this is a huge problem, whether you use Google Reader as your RSS reader or not. Why? Because many RSS readers were using Google Reader to power their own feed readers (FeedDemon is one example).

There are alternatives feed readers to explore, some of which are free (just as Reader was), and some work through paid accounts. The ones being recommended most across the web seem to be Feedly, NewsBlur and The Old Reader. You’ll want to decide which you want to use, and part of your decision may be based on whether there are apps available for you to consume your content across different platforms (desktop, smartphone, tablet, etc.)

But while Google is shutting down its reader, LinkedIn has made an announcement this month that it has acquired Pulse, a “leading news reader and mobile content distribution platform.”

As you can see from the presentation below, LinkedIn wants to “be the definitive professional publishing platform where all professionals can:

  • Publish: Updates,comments,presentations
  • Discover: Influencers, Groups, news, Company Pages
  • Share: Share, like,comment

Here  is LinkedIn’s short slideshow announcing the news:

It remains to be seen how LinkedIn will integrate Pulse into its platform and what this will mean for both Pulse and LinkedIn users. Perhaps it will integrate into LinkedIn’s LinkedIn Today feature, which aims to deliver news daily to LinkedIn users, tailored to their interests.

Pulse has an interesting, tile-based layout that may appeal to those who respond to visuals. See below for an example:

Pulse screenshot

It’s important to me to stay up to date on industry news that affects both me and my clients, so I rely on news aggregators or feed readers to push me content that’s relevant and that I can skim through or bookmark to read offline.

As you can see, I’ve signed up for Pulse just to see what it’s like – I’m still exploring my own alternatives for Google Reader, and I’m a LinkedIn user, so I thought I’d try it. It was easy to import my existing Google Reader feeds, and I can add new ones easily using the Chrome extension (I use chrome as my web browser).

Google Reader probably won’t be the last free web application to bite the dust, and there are sure to be more changes on the horizon for LinkedIn and other social media applications. I’ll keep trying to update you as I see changes coming.

For more of my recent posts on social media changes, see:

Is the “Professional Network” Becoming More Social? (slaw.ca)

LinkedIn Endorsements 101 (Law Technology Today)

New on Facebook (Legal Ease Blog)

Using Visuals in Lawyer Marketing: Lawyer Meltdown Newsletter October 2012

Using Visuals in Lawyer Marketing

Visuals - eye

Whether you believe the theories about the differences in learning styles (some people learn better visually, some by listening, etc.) or not, it is hard to deny that the world has become more and more visual. This may be due in part to the massive increase in online activity; people read and consume information differently online than they do offline, skimming and scanning more than reading. This is further bolstered by the explosion in the use of mobile devices, which were not built for reading lots of text.

Visuals Capture Attention

If a picture really is worth a thousand words and you only have a small amount of time to capture attention and get your message across, pictures may be able to do it faster. John Medina, author of the bestseller Brain Rulessays, “vision trumps all other senses.” In terms of learning and memory, there is no comparison.

Experts writing for Psychology Today say that visual cues help us to better retrieve and remember information, which “make complete sense when you consider that …. the part of the brain used to process words is quite small in comparison to the part that processes visual images.”

The lesson? If you want clients and potential clients to remember you, visuals are key.

When exhorting marketers to invest in visual content creation, Hubspot cites a Shareaholic study that revealed that Pinterest (a highly visual, photo-dominated platform, with very limited text) generates more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined; only Facebook and StumbleUpon generate more. Studies have also shown that visuals attract more attention in Facebook posts. And even LinkedIn is changing its look and feel to a more visual layout for Company Pages.

According to an article from the editors of CRM magazine, Generation Y is more likely to read news online, and 2/3 watch TV online. Most have a smartphone or other device with them at all times. That makes it more and more likely that your website and other marketing information will be viewed or accessed from a mobile device, where text is difficult to read and visuals rule. The article quotes Kit Yarrow, a psychology and marketing professor at Golden Gate University and author of the book Gen BuY, who says, “With this generation, everything has to be visual and contextual.”

As a result, it may be time for lawyers to learn how to use visuals, graphics and images to support their marketing and their overall message.

Make Visuals Match Your Purpose

As with all marketing initiatives, any analysis of what you are doing currently or what you are considering doing in the future needs to begin with your purpose. It is only once you have a clear idea of the goals you would like to achieve with your marketing that you can determine whether to embrace something new and how to implement it.

Let’s take your law firm’s website as an example. Most law firm websites are text-heavy, with few, if any graphics, images or visuals. If you want to add visual elements, the purpose of your site (and the individual pages on that site) can help you determine which content or message is most important for your visitors to receive at that time. Then you can determine how to incorporate visual elements t support and highlight that message.

You site may serve several functions, including:

 

  • Educating potential clients about the issues they may face when making  a particular business decision
  • Describing your solution to those problems
  • Establishing your expertise in the area
  • Educating potential clients about the issues they need to be aware of when looking for a lawyer

 

Each individual page of your website cannot possibly try to meet all of those functions at the same time, and if you simply add visuals to your existing text, you may be creating more of a distraction for your web visitors, with consequences like causing them to leave your site, or distracting them from the most important information that you want them to learn and/or retain on the page.

For example, although social media can be a helpful tool for spreading your content and engaging with potential clients and referral sources, too many social media sharing buttons do more harm than good. They can slow load time, actually prevent sharing by presenting too many options, leading to confusion, or they may generate traffic but decrease actual engagement.

Graphic and visual elements are important, but only once you have determined the purpose for your site (and each page) and the most important content on the site. Then you can use visuals to enhance and draw attention to the important elements and content on the page.

If you need help incorporating visual elements into your marketing, contact me atAllison@LegalEaseConsulting.com or call 631-642-0221 to see how I can help.