If you set up these five internet tools, you will have completed the essentials of a social media presence on the internet.
But without them, you are invisible to a large and growing population that will not pick up a phone directory or call a referral service to find you.
Here is why you have to be on the five. They're...
- Free (You don't need to pay or upgrade for them to work.)
- Effective (They make your practice available to those who need legal services.)
- Easy (All you need to get started is a photo of yourself -- the rest of the information you already know by heart or have it on your business card.)
- Ethical (You can comply with bar advertising ethics just like you do in the rest of your practice.)
- Personal (Each attorney in your firm can have their own profile.)
|LinkedIn Example for an Attorney|
Maintain: Check and update every three months, or make it the hub of your online social world and spend 15 minutes a day on it.
This is the new standard business directory. Simply open an account and set up your profile.
Notice that one of the categories in the example screenshot is Specialties. The lawyer did not label this, it is an unchangeable profile category in LinkedIn. To comply with ethics rules, you have to put in a note that says something such as,
Practice Areas (lawyers can't legally call them "specialties"): real estate, property, landlord/tenant, business...
You can see this in the example screen shot.
Go to Linkedin.com and begin.
2. Google Local Search
Time needed to set up profile: 30 minutes
Maintain: Check every couple months.
|Google Local Example for Law Firm|
If you haven't done this yet, do it right away -- it is the single best way to help those in need of legal services in your local area find you.
Go to Google maps and search for your firm or attorneys in your city (such as "attorney Tacoma") Click on your business. Click on edit. You will see a question, "Is this your business?" Click on it and claim your business by following the directions then fill in your profile.
As on the other sites, remember to list your "Areas of Practice," not "Specialties."
Go to Google Maps
Time needed to set up profile: 30 to 60 minutes.
Time to figure it out: a few days of playing with it.
Maintain: Daily to weekly depending on the involvement you want to have.
|Facebook example for Law Office|
Will interacting on Facebook accidentally put you in an attorney-client relationship? Attorneys tell me that they treat it the same way they treat any other conversation, phone call, email, or question from a neighbor -- they control what happens next, and either end the conversation or pursue it in person according to standard ethical guidelines.
If you are not already on Facebook, I recommend that you begin using it on a personal level. Just set up an account, look for your friends and family already on it, and begin connecting with them with photos and comments. I found that if you just get started, then your kids, friends, grandparents, and everyone else will find you and draw you in.
When you feel comfortable with it on a personal level, you have two choices on how to include your practice.
One way is keep using your main page. You can set up categories (groups is the Facebook word for it) to separate the information you share with professional contacts from your family and friends. Once you do this, you can add more professional information. You will find that this alone will result in referrals from other professionals, schoolmates, etc.
The other choice is to set up an additional, separate page for your practice or firm (a fanpage.) Although this sounds like a better way to keep things separate, it might not be right for you if you don't intend to maintain and interact on it. If you don't use it regularly (and enjoy it) you will lose the public interaction that makes Facebook so useful.
In the example, Fox, Bowman, Duarte has a great mixture of friends, family, and professional people. This is the direction you want to go in. Being active on Facebook will help the public see you as a person while making yourself available in case they need your legal services.
Is it worth your time? Facebook has over 500 million users.
Begin on facebook.com
|Example of lawyer search on Avvo|
Maintain: Check twice a year.
One of the main online lawyer referral sites. Just go to the site and click on the button in the top right corner "for lawyers." Follow the directions, add your info and photo and you're done.
Set up your profile at Avvo.com
|Example of lawyer search on Justia|
Maintain: Check twice a year.
Another main online lawyer referral site. Go to the top right and click on the button "get listed."
Get listed at Justia.com
Done with the essentials? Now you are ready to really get things going by creating your own blog.