Immigration Practice News

January 2014 (Vol. 5, No. 2)

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6 Keys for the Effective Use of Social Media by Nathan R. Bogart W ith the estimated number of social media users in the billions, it is only natural for business owners to wonder how this relatively new medium of communication can be used for marketing purposes. Harnessing technology, such as social media, to market legal services can be a tremendous benefit, not only in terms of reaching clients, but also in cost efficiency. Even better, social media and related technology allow a high degree of creativity and connection with prospective clients, something traditional forms of advertising fail to achieve. Even so, as with any mode of communication, social media has challenges and pitfalls. While there may not be a one-size-fits-all approach, there are some basic rules that can help create an enjoyable, safe and effective social media experience. DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST. Social media is far from an exact science, a fact made more complicated by the new and ever evolving nature of technology. There are a number of factors to take into consideration. Check with the rules of professional conduct in every state in which you are licensed. Even if your state has not moved to address social media marketing, any communication can be subject to the rules. Also, think about the social media sites on which you want to focus. Do not spread yourself too thin. Which social media sites do your potential clients use most frequently? Give one or two sites a try and then expand accordingly. HAVE A PLAN AND EXECUTE IT. As with anything, jumping into social media when you really have no idea why you are getting into it or what you want to get out of it will not do much for you in the end. Set specific goals, figure out how to measure those goals and have a plan in place for how to achieve them. BE CONSISTENT. Social media accounts require time and effort, which come at a premium when you may already be busy with clients or running a business. Still, if you fail to consistently use your social media sites, the benefits may elude you. Unless you can afford to pay someone to do your social media, you need to make it a routine. Schedule time every day or every week to address your social media responsibilities or risk falling behind. GET EVERYONE INVOLVED. If there is more than one attorney or staff person in your firm, you need to have everyone participate in your social media strategy. By dividing the labor between everyone in the office, you can help reduce the difficulty of frequent and regular social media content. ENGAGE YOUR FOLLOWERS. As in any other form of marketing, engaging your audience is key. In social media, this is a two-fold strategy. First, you want to engage your followers by posting interesting, original content. Second, when your followers express interest in your content, respond to their comments. This shows that you value their opinions and are keen to engage in a dialogue. Your response also gives them a preview of what can be expected if you are engaged in the real world. CROSS PROMOTE FOR INCREASED VISIBILITY. The main goal of social media marketing is visibility. Simply put, by engaging in a multitude of platforms, you are casting a wider net. Look for technology tools that allow you to cross-post your blog articles on your Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. Social media also plays a pivotal role in search engine optimization (SEO) and branding. If your website and blog are your home base, your social networking sites serve as outposts guiding prospective clients home. Place social media icons on your blog, website, e-mail signature lines, or even in your office. Link your social media sites back to your website and blogs. Promote content from your website and blog on your social media sites. In doing this, you are creating a much stronger, farther reaching presence on the internet. This increases your chances of being found. In the end, this is what marketing is all about. Nathan R. Bogart is the managing member of Bogart Immigration Law, LLC, in Mission, KS. He serves on AILA's Practice Management Committee and is the New Member Division liaison for the KansasMissouri Chapter. www.aila.org 3

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