Online Marketing for Lawyers: How to Build a Professional Image Online
If you are serious about online marketing, you need to first assess your own online persona. It’s easy. Go to Google and in the search bar type in your name in quotation marks. If you use different versions of your name, then run more searches. Here are my results:
My website comes up first and second, followed by a couple of my directory listings, my Yelp reviews and my Facebook profile. This tells prospects that I am engaged online and where they can find me. I like my results and I worked to get them. Do you like yours?
If you’ve been using professional SEO practices for awhile as I have, then you are probably satisfied. But are there some surprises lurking in the first couple pages of your search results? Perhaps some negative reviews from former clients that you’ve never seen before? Images of you from that party you’d rather forget? An angry letter you let fly to the local newspaper and now regret?
Is it easy for someone who Googles you to tell immediately what type of law you practice and where you are located? Or do old pages from your former practice pop up to confuse the picture? Are there social media profiles that don’t have a photo and have never been filled out properly so it looks like you abandoned them? Are your blog posts two years old?
If your online profile could use some polish, then this is what you need to do:
Scour all your social media pages and eliminate posts with bad language or references to tasteless humor. Take down any cross-dressing for Halloween photos. Look over any photo sharing sites you’ve used like Instagram and Pinterest as well as video sharing sites that may contain content that is unflattering. Search for photos on other people’s pages where you’ve been tagged -- if they are sketchy, ask your friend to remove them.
Check your privacy settings.
Every social media site has privacy settings that allow you to control who sees your content. If any of them are set to “public,” change the setting. You don’t have to shut everyone out -- after all, it’s social media -- but you want to only promote content that reinforces your brand image.
Update your profiles.
First, review your website bio page. Attorney bios are the most frequently visited pages on law firm websites and are one of the first things prospects look at when researching you online. Unfortunately, many of them are as dry as the desert. Your bio is a great opportunity to showcase what you have to offer potential clients and convince them to reach out to you for a consultation. Your bio should:
- Explain who you are and what you do
- Tell your story in an engaging manner, relating any personal anecdotes that have led you to the practice of law.
- Include any community activities, hobbies and charitable work.
- Have some personality.
- Include a good photo.
Be sure your bio reflects all your good qualities, not only on your website but also on your social media profiles. Be sure to load it with keywords that prospects use when searching for a lawyer who practices the type of law that you do.
Now turn your attention to your social media profiles. Here’s a blueprint for the perfect LinkedIn profile:
Name: Use your professional name, no nicknames or other superlatives.
Headline: Under your name is your headline, the most important piece of real estate on your profile. Use keywords that people would use to find you -- i.e., Sacramento Estate Planning Attorney.
LinkedIn URL: Customize your LinkedIn URL to make it easier for people to find you. You’ll find it in the light gray box below your name.
Profile photo: Use a professional head shot with a neutral background. Have your photo reflect what you do. Look friendly, not stern.
Summary: Develop a succinct description of what you do, using keywords that other people would use to search for you. Add contact information -- website, email, phone, etc. Add video if you have it that gives an overview of your experience.
Experience: Again, if you have video, use it. People engage much more with video than text! Add any content you’ve produced that is pertinent to your professional life. Be precise in listing your past and current roles.
Education: Including information about degrees acquired and schools attended provides an opportunity to connect with other alumni.
Featured Skills & Endorsements: Include skills that define your professional role and experiences. Get endorsements from peers and others you’ve worked with to validate your skills.
Recommendations: Recommendations are written by other LinkedIn members -- typically people you’ve worked with or know professionally. They add credibility to your profile. You can solicit recommendations within LinkedIn by clicking on the “Ask to be recommended” link in the Recommendations box and selecting up to three people to receive your request.
Accomplishments: Here is where you list any awards, honors or other recognition you’ve received as a professional. You can also list anything you’ve had published -- articles, e-books, etc.
Refresh your pages with new images.
If it’s been awhile since you updated your images on your website or social media pages, it’s time to refresh. And put that updated photo on all your online profiles. Make a note to yourself to refresh your cover image on Facebook quarterly.
Visit your competitors.
Look at your competitor’s social media pages and see how you compare. Try to view them with the same eye as your prospects. Then make the necessary improvements to your pages to outdo them.
Use social media apps to keep yourself organized.
There are several good social media management tools out there like BufferApp and HootSuite that let you view your social media landscape on one page. This not only makes it easier for you to be sure you maintain a consistent branding message, but also makes managing all your accounts and scheduling posts much easier.
Did you sign up on every possible social media site as soon as they came out? There’s no way you can maintain all of them, so consolidate into two or three where your prospects are most likely to be found.