Moving Beyond A Basic Website – Your Questions Answered

In our recent webcast, I addressed some of the logical next steps for attorneys to improve upon their basic website presence. The webcast archive is available here if you missed it, but during the Q and A session, there were several good questions I wasn’t able to answer in the time allotted.

Q. Regarding social media engagement, what do you talk about to generate clients regarding divorce, family law? These are not easy or happy topics to discuss.

A. This is a classic messaging challenge —how to engage potential clients regarding emotional issues. The answer in social media is no different than in the rest of your marketing. In fact, the answer is no different in marketing than it is in your face-to-face interactions.

Acknowledge the powerful emotions and offer your support. You are uniquely qualified to provide the perspective, guidance – and most important, hope – that your potential clients are looking for. Ultimately, individuals facing difficult life situations want to know that it gets better. And you can honestly tell them that, with your help, it can.

On a technical note, Facebook’s new reactions allow people to show a broader, more appropriate range of responses to posts; for example, they can express sympathy at a message designed more to tug on the heartstrings than to produce a smile. While I still wouldn’t recommend focusing on negative or “bad news” stories, if there is something sad or concerning and worth sharing, you might see a better response than you would have a year ago.

Q. What about online video? Do you consider YouTube a social property that we need to update like the others?

A. This depends on how your firm intends to use YouTube. If you’re simply housing the occasional video on the site, then you probably don’t need to do much regular updating. Trim your old dated content on occasion and you’ll probably be fine.

Now if your firm is trying to create a channel with broad reach and (dare to dream) regular followers, then you should absolutely develop a broadcast schedule and stick to it. Give your audience a reason to check back regularly and spread that word far and wide. This approach will require a fair amount of time and creativity to live up to the expectations of your audience so be warned. It might work, but it won’t be easy. The most important tips here are:

  • Create video content in short, digestible chunks
  • Make sure your content is designed to inform, engage or entertain your target audience, rather than “mini-ads” extolling your firm’s virtues
  • Remember that YouTube is social – you will need to be prepared to respond to and engage with commenters
  • Consider promoting your videos through other channels, either organically or through paid ads

Q. Some of these social media sites are quite complicated to learn if you don’t use them all the time. Are there tools to teach you to use Twitter for instance?

A. There are absolutely resources (online and in print) that will show you the ins and outs of Twitter, Facebook, etc. This information can get outdated quickly, though. So look for publish dates on whatever resource you use.

One other piece of advice? Look beyond learning the mechanics of the platform. Twitter could move the location of their “tweet” button tomorrow and it wouldn’t affect the success of their most popular users. What attorneys need to understand about Twitter, for example, is the broader purpose of the platform and the expectations of the user base. Once you know why your followers are there and what they’re looking for, the act of publishing becomes a simple matter.

Q. If the law firm starts a blog, do you recommend that it also purchase a domain name for the blog or will work just as well?

A. I generally recommend hosting your blog on a branded domain – meaning, your law firm’s website – rather than on blogspot or any other free provider. Remember, your blog is a branding and visibility play. Choosing a “freebie” option for hosting your blog might not convey the degree of professionalism and success most clients are expecting.

Regardless, make sure that the user experience and branding elements (logos, color scheme, key messaging, etc.) are consistent between your website and blog.

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