Believe it or not, just about everyone has a brand online. Whether you are aware or not, if you are in business, people are probably talking about your services either on social media, on blogs, or in reviews. That means you have an online reputation you must manage to keep it positive and working for you. Negative comments, regardless of their validity, can hurt your brand.
Like most consumers, legal clients go online to do research before hiring a lawyer. While it's essential to have a legal marketing strategy, it must also include your brand management. The first step is to find out what people are saying about you and your law firm.
The best way to start managing your online reputation is by Googling yourself to see what comes up. Open a private browsing page so your search engine won't feed you things that align with previous searches. Be sure to use search terms including your name and things like "lawyer" and "law firm" to get the best search results. You may not even be aware of how many clients you are losing due to remarks made online.
Don't be alarmed if you find bad reviews, negative posts on social media, or other red flags. It just means you have some work to do to clean things up. Keep in mind that part of your legal marketing plan should be brand management, and that starts with a full audit to find out where you stand; then, you can plan how to change things.
After performing a full reputation audit, even if you don't find a lot of bad press, it is still critical to use brand management to positively affect your reputation and create momentum and brand recognition. There are many effective tools you can use to manage your online reputation. Some include:
After a particular positive client experience, ask them to post a positive review for you. Even if you have one or two negative reviews, the more positive ones you get will push those down further in search results and eventually drown out the bad ones.
If you don't already have a website, invest in a good one. Controlling your reputation online begins with you and the information you put out there. A well-designed website with the perfect balance of imagery and professionally written legal marketing copy will go a long way towards impressing new potential clients. Be sure to have a section with positive testimonials from previous clients. Anyone who requires legal assistance will want to hear from other people who have trusted you with their cases. Be sure your website is modern, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly. Most people start searching using their cell phones. Don't scare your audience off with a lot of legalese; instead, post videos, FAQs, podcasts, and other content that will interest your visitors.
Show your clients that you are an expert in your chosen field by posting informative, authoritative, helpful articles about topics your audience is interested in. Offering free advice in the form of blog posts can go a long way in terms of building trust and improving your credibility.
Hosting a law podcast can be a significant part of your legal marketing plan by connecting with your audience. Podcast interest has exploded over the past couple of years. Many reputable brands use them regularly to discuss topics of interest and connect with their audience. In addition, you can interview interesting personalities to draw even more followers.
There is no doubt that social media works. Statistics claim that a staggering number of people make buying decisions based on what their friends on social media say. Having a social media presence and posting regularly should be a critical part of your legal marketing strategy. LinkedIn can be an excellent resource for lawyers and law firms, sharing news of a big win, inviting colleagues to a legal event, or even promoting your latest blog article. When used correctly, social media can be a great asset in helping you manage your brand and create positive engagement with your audience.
Another helpful tool is Google Notifications, where you can add key phrases like your name or law firm, and whenever someone posts something online that has that keyword in it, you will get an alert. This is a great way to stay on top of negative remarks and bad reviews.
The internet has millions of websites. Find trusted, reputable legal websites where you can write articles or news pieces that will interest visitors. You can often link back to your own website or social media channel. Sometimes clients find you by looking into a specific topic, and if you have written a page that makes it clear you are an expert, they will look to you for guidance. You can also add your name and information to professional directories online such as AVVO, Super Lawyers, Lawyers.com, Justia.com, and FindLaw.com. You can create a positive profile with all your details and add valuable content of your own to help steer clients in the right direction.
Marketing for a law firm or lawyer can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be that complicated. As part of your legal marketing strategy, consider creating a helpful legal infographic and promote it on your website, social media, and other legal venues. Make it easy to understand with casual language that your audience can easily understand. Craft your message to reflect something you specialize in and how a prospective client might go about getting help.
Posting on social media, affiliate websites, and your website will drive more organic traffic to your website and law firm, but it will also create a lot of positive content to control the narrative. Tell your story in your own words, and that is what people will hear when they decide who to hire.
Although it may be upsetting to see negative comments or incorrect information about yourself online, do not respond harshly or quickly. Remember, whatever you say will stay out there forever. Instead, you could contact the person directly and address it privately. Or, if you can diplomatically post a response that corrects misinformation but doesn't address any insults, then do so. It is helpful to show prospective clients that you are paying attention and care about your reputation. Communication is crucial, and how you approach an uncomfortable situation matters.
INGAGE specializes in marketing for law firms. The agency offers a suite of premier services, including law firm advertising, PPC, legal digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing for law firms, and reputation management. Contact INGAGE today to find out how we can help manage your brand.