Influencer Marketing – What It Is and Dos and Don’ts

Influencer marketing is a great way to reach a captive audience and leverage the trust that influencers instill in their followers. Wait…what? Influencer marketing? I digress. Influencer marketing is a buzzword in our industry to describe a form of marketing which is focused on key individuals to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. You are essentially hiring, or inspiring or paying an influencer to get the word out.

Let me give you an example. You have 1,734 followers on Twitter, which is nice and you are proud of it. Plus, it took you some time to get there. An influencer on the other hand, who reaches the same market, has 465,799 followers. It would be difficult for you to reach that number of followers and may take much time and effort. Instead, you hire, inspire or pay them. By connecting your brand to a trusted influencer, some of their credibility inevitably rubs off on you.

Now that we’ve covered that, I’ll continue. Like anything else in this world, this tactic can backfire. For every well-done influencer post, there are a dozen that are forced, nonsensical or downright tacky. And while influencer marketing might seem like it should be easy, Adweek notes that there is a science to developing good influencer content. Avoid the pitfalls of bad influencer marketing, and you’ll likely see strong engagement. Here are some considerations to make if you’re going to include influencers in your marketing plan:

• Do allow influencers to give their own opinions. To get the most out of influencer marketing, you have to be willing to give up some control. Readers can tell if a post is forced, and that will negatively impact your results. The most realistic, engaging and successful posts come from influencers who are allowed to be honest and creative.

• Don’t be misleading. All sponsored content has to have a clear disclosure statement. If you fail to meet their requirements, you could face consequences, including a fine from the Federal Trade Commission. Luckily, according to AdWeek, disclosure statements don’t deter viewers from reading and engaging with your content—in fact, they can actually increase positive sentiment.

• Do use great visuals. Photos and videos draw readers in and illustrate your point much more effectively than words can. Of course, you can supply images and your logo, but it’s also a good idea to let influencers take their own photos. Authentic photos, taken from the influencer’s perspective in their own style, will enhance the post.

• Don’t let branding get in the way of relatability. Most companies have strict brand guidelines, from naming standards to trademark usage. And while branding is important, working with influencers is one case when brand sticklers should relax. Insisting that influencers adhere to every brand standard completely can ruin a post’s flow and conversational tone. I am speaking to law firms on this one – no, it’s not necessary to include LLP, Corp, PC or whatever other extensions you have.

• Do offer readers a valuable takeaway. Ultimately, readers should gain some usable knowledge from your content, whether it’s sponsored or not. Encourage influencers to include a review, tutorial or easily saved and shared how-to guide as part of the post. Readers won’t mind the “sponsored content” label if they get something valuable from the article.

Dos and Don’ts to Create an Authentic Law Firm Twitter Account

Law firm Twitter accounts often suffer from one major issue: they’re downright stale. That’s not a knock on the people who manage the; making the law sound exciting on social media takes a lot of time and practice, because there’s a fine line between sounding professional and sounding boring. And while it’s important to have an air of professionalism on social media, it’s okay to let loose a little. Try some of these dos and don’ts, and let your firm’s personality shine through on social media.

Do leverage the voices of your key attorneys

Law firm Twitter accounts often seem dry and robotic because there’s no humanity behind them, but it doesn’t need to be that way. You have a team of attorneys, each with their own expertise, perspective and opinions. Perhaps a few of them even have their own personal social media following. Pull back the curtain and take advantage of attorneys’ thought leadership by announcing who’s tweeting in your bio, or have attorneys sign off with their initials when a tweet comes from them.

Don’t connect to other social media accounts

Sure, it’s fine to cross-promote. But don’t set up accounts so the same message is posted on every platform you have. This is ineffective (and to put it bluntly, annoying) for a few reasons. First, it discourages people from following you on different platforms. If they’re going to see the same message, why would they follow you in multiple places? Second, the regular, constant posting that works well on Twitter can be irritating on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Do use a unique hashtag

Hashtags are a great way to jump into an existing conversation or create a new one. That doesn’t mean just hashtagging your firm name, however. The trick is to create one that’s more general and based on a common topic or issue that people beyond your firm care about. Legal Marketing Review uses the example of a DUI lawyer using #nevertakeabreathalyzer. It works because it quickly explains what the attorney specializes in, and it’s universal enough that potential clients and other attorneys will want to use it as well.

Do be selective in who you follow

Don’t clog up your Twitter feed by blindly following everyone who follows you—some of those accounts are spammy. Don’t waste your time by following a lot of million-follower accounts that aren’t likely to notice or interact with you. And don’t go on a following spree so that your ratio of “followers” to “following” gets out of whack. Identify and follow people who care about your practice areas and are more likely to retweet and favorite your tweets.

Don’t tweet when you have nothing to say

There’s a common misconception that business accounts should tweet as often as possible, but the quality of content often suffers under this strategy. If you’re grasping for things to tweet about just because you feel like you have to share something, your followers will notice. They don’t care if you tweet exactly five times a day, but they do care whether you’re posting content they like to read. It’s a 21st century twist on what your mother used to tell you; if you don’t have anything interesting to say, don’t say anything at all.

Increase Your Marketing Power with SMART Goals

In the business world, it’s not uncommon to hear people speak about the importance of setting SMART goals. The phrase was coined more than 30 years ago, but it’s no wonder why people continue to use it as a guide today; it’s a great tool for creating objectives that you can actually accomplish.

The problem many firms face when determining marketing objectives is that there’s no magic bullet. What works for one firm won’t work for another. Finding the right marketing mix takes time and experimentation, and since results don’t happen right away, it’s easy to get discouraged and give up. SMART goals can help keep you on track.

Whether it’s increasing website traffic or converting more leads, every company has at least one area that needs to be improved (and usually several more areas that they would like to improve). SMART goals can help you prioritize and evaluate your goals before sinking a lot of time and energy into them. So before jumping into a marketing plan that may not work, or before giving up on meeting your marketing goals altogether, take some time to make sure your goals fit the SMART criteria:

S – Specific:

The more explicit you make your goals, the better. Just saying that you “want more leads” is a quick way to fail. What percentage increase in leads do you want to see? What type of leads do you need more of? When is your deadline? Really pinpoint the exact results you want.

M – Measurable:

How will you know you’ve reached your goal if you don’t measure how far you’ve come? Choose key indicators that are easy to track, and paint a clear picture of improvement. And don’t wait until your deadline to measure change—check in periodically to make sure you’re moving in the right direction.

A – Attainable:

It’s important to aim high, but don’t make your goals too lofty. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how hard you work; there are just some goals that you won’t be able to reach (at least not overnight). Make sure it’s actually possible for you to attain your goals.

R – Realistic:

Reaching your marketing goals exactly in the way you anticipate is not only hard—it’s virtually impossible. Understand that some objectives will be easy to meet, some will be challenging, and some you’ll never reach. That’s okay! Be honest about what you’re capable of and don’t get bogged down in goals that don’t come out as planned.

T – Time-bound:

Give yourself a hard deadline and stick to it. Beyond just choosing a final date, break down your objectives into small, actionable tasks and block off time on your calendar to work on them. Without making time to reach goals, it’s easy to let them slide.

Media Training: Interacting with Media

Journalists are always looking for experts to contribute to their stories. The key to being called upon regularly is approachability and availability. Getting your name in the media isn’t rocket science, but leveraging every opportunity takes strategy and preparation. Most professionals crave media opportunities but clam up when it’s their time to shine. An attorney I’d been working with for a few months finally got the big verdict the firm was pushing for. We sent out the release and within minutes multiple reporters were calling both the law office and me. She was paralyzed. “They want to talk today? Why don’t we wait until I can have one of the partners fill in,” she asked.

This happens more often than you think. You know the old saying “be careful what you wish for”? Well, once you have a reporter on the hook, your dream has come true and you have to be ready. Most people have a fear of being looked to as an expert and saying something wrong. The people who are quoted as experts in your industry don’t have stronger qualifications than you. The perfectionist approach is engrained in most of us.

Getting past the fear of “I’m not an expert” allows you to claim your place in the spotlight as a knowledgeable professional so that your competition doesn’t claim it first. I said to this very accomplished attorney, “It’s now or never, and you are fully prepared. Let’s practice.” We developed three communication points that she wanted the media to know and went over them (repeatedly). She had the benefit of having a media coach, but if you don’t, prepare in advance and during the interview remember: S.O.S.

Keep it succinct: Soundbites are golden. Consider how you can express your message in a short and memorable way. Every interview is cut down – whether it’s in print or on TV. As a former reporter, I will tell you no matter how much time I spent with you, by the time we got to the 5 o’clock news — the story is always one minute and fifteen seconds.

To eliminate stumbling, observe what causes you to stumble and if you have an audience, observe what resonates with them. Practice with friends or family if you can. There is no trick to eliminate stumbling; you have to practice, practice and practice. Start by speaking about a single object (or topic) for 30 seconds. You’re not allowed to use “uhhhs” or “ummms,” but you CAN briefly pause between sentences.

Slow down and speak naturally- don’t let the nerves get you.

Our client’s interviews went swimmingly. She was on the radio, three television stations and in the local newspaper! If you want additional media tips or to find out what to do after the interview, check out Berbay’s recent webinar here.

Not Sure What Your PR Team Does? Here Are Five Things to Know

According to the Public Relations Society of America, the official definition of public relations is, “a strategic communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics”. If that doesn’t mean much to you, you’re not alone. PR professionals often joke that we have no idea how to explain what we do to our friends and family.

PR is a vital but often misunderstood promotional tactic, which boils down to “persuading an audience”. If you’re considering hiring a PR firm but you’re not sure if it’s worth it, or if you already have a PR team but don’t know what they actually do all day, here are five basics to know.

  1. Public relations isn’t advertising.

If you’re looking for a magazine ad, a radio jingle or a TV commercial, at most PR firms you’d be out of luck. All of that falls under advertising. Instead, PR is centered around “earned media”; the process of developing an interesting story and convincing reporters to cover it without paying for the exposure. As consumers grow more skeptical of traditional advertising, earned media plays an important role in your marketing mix because it’s verified by the media and, therefore, more trusted by consumers. Plus, PR is typically much less expensive than paid advertising.

  1. PR professionals have many tools at their disposal.

If we’re to believe movies and TV shows, PR professionals must spend their time schmoozing with celebrities and planning parties, right? While there are some PR pros who might spent some of their time doing those things, the vast majority of PR jobs are much broader (and much less glamourous). In a typical day, a PR pro might write a press release, conduct research, develop a blog post, reach out to reporters or create a social media strategy; ultimately with the goal of generating positive publicity for clients.

  1. PR relies on the media.

Earning media coverage is the cornerstone of PR. And according to public relations pro Robert Wynne, the only two ways to make it into the news are to create a story or follow a story. No matter how much you beg, plead or bargain with a reporter, in the end it’s up to them (and their editor) if they want to write about you. So when your PR team shoots down your story idea or says that making the cover of the New York Times is a little too lofty of a goal, it’s nothing personal. It’s actually a good thing; it means that your PR rep understands what kind of stories pique reporters’ interest and successfully make the news cycle.

  1. PR isn’t just social media.

While social media can play an important role in PR, it’s not going to replace traditional media anytime soon. Your PR team can help you develop a social media strategy and manage your online presence; however, it shouldn’t be their only focus. Instead, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram should be used to enhance other PR activities and expand the reach of media coverage.

  1. PR is measurable (even if it’s not perfect).

Most CEOs don’t have the time to understand the nitty gritty of what their PR team does, and that’s O.K.; so long as the results are measurable and positive. While measuring the impact of PR can be tricky, it is possible. And it certainly doesn’t mean that businesses should skip PR in favor of marketing tactics that are easier to track. Measuring something intangible like positive sentiment will never translate into numbers easily. However, you can get a good idea through press clips, media impressions, surveys, website traffic and social media mentions.

Five Essential Tools to Get Your Content in Front of the Right Audience

Getting the right message across to the right people at the right time takes a certain amount of skill. And mastering that skill is particularly important if your firm has embraced content marketing. You can spend all the time and energy in the world producing amazing content, but if you never get that content in front of the right audience, it’s all gone to waste. So, how exactly do you get your content out there? The Buffer blog recently did a roundup of the best content distribution tools, and we’ve narrowed it down to our favorites. Below, find five easy-to-use tools to help you get the most out of your content.

Storify

Storify allows users to gather social media posts, blog entries, videos, articles and more onto one web page to create a cohesive story. This tool is particularly useful to recap events and conferences, or to gather a range of viewpoints on one topic. Use Storify to mix and match your content with other posts from around the web to extend its shelf life—then, you can easily save and share the link with your audience.

Sponsored social media posts

Boosted Facebook posts, promoted tweets and other sponsored social media posts are a simple, effective and generally inexpensive way to get more eyes on your content. The biggest benefit of advertising on social media is that you can make your audience very targeted and specific. You can take different demographics, interests, life stages and even political views into account when targeting your posts.

WiseStamp

Maintaining a blog is hard work—don’t let that hard work go to waste by failing to promote it. WiseStamp is a customizable email signature that can include your contact information, links to your social media accounts and, critically, the link to your most recent blog post (or the content of your choice). With a link to your latest post in every email you send, your colleagues and clients can’t miss it.

Goodbits

Newsletters are a great marketing tool, but developing content for a monthly or quarterly newsletter is a huge time commitment. Goodbits helps solve that problem. The service allows you to send out a newsletter with a roundup of links from around the web; including your own, of course. You can make a great newsletter in half the time by reusing your own, already published content and supplementing it with other content from around the web.

OnePress Social Locker

One surefire way to get people to share your content? Don’t let them view it until they share it. OnePress Social Locker is a WordPress plugin that locks your content behind a popup, which requires the reader to share it on Facebook, Twitter or another platform before they can view the whole article or post, which is most certainly effective.

Is Your Firm Making These Twitter Mistakes?

You don’t have to look very hard to find terrible Twitter accounts. The signs of a bad account are easy to spot: hashtags on every other word, robotic tweets devoid of any emotion and tone-deaf promotional copy. Unfortunately, on a platform that offers so much potential for engagement, few companies have truly learned how to refine their strategy and use Twitter effectively. Don’t fall into this trap. Your firm is better than that! Sit down, pull up your Twitter account and double check that you’re not making any of these common Twitter mistakes:

  1. You’re too egotistical.

Twitter isn’t all about you. The point of social media is to build community and allow for two-way conversation. If you’re using Twitter just as a megaphone for your ideas, no one is going to want to follow you. Interact with your followers, and avoid tweeting only promotional content. Throw in interesting content from other sources that relate to or support your message.

  1. You’re not tweeting consistently. 

More so than any other social media platform, Twitter feels cluttered. It’s a constant stream of thoughts and conversation, and if you’re not engaged in it regularly, your voice is going to get lost. The only way to grow and engage your followers is to tweet consistently. Try to tweet at least three times a day, even if it’s just the same idea reworded.

  1. Your tweets are the wrong length.

Twitter only gives you 140 characters to work with, so you might think that it’s impossible to make a mistake here. Wrong! It turns out that there is, in fact, a tweet length sweet spot (say that five times fast). Too short, you risk writing a message that’s not engaging enough. Too long and it’s difficult to retweet, so followers will either alter your message or skip retweeting altogether. Aim for around 100 characters. I know, I know…100 characters?! You are used to writing 1,000 words, but we don’t live in that world anymore.

  1. You resort to spam.

Whether it’s a date, a friend or a coworker, no one likes a desperate person. In the same way, no one likes a desperate Twitter account. Tweeting at people asking directly for a follow, constantly retweeting someone, or tweeting the exact same message over and over again are all bad ideas. It makes you look like a spam account, rather than the great firm that you are. Don’t do it!

  1. You’re using hashtags incorrectly.

Ah, hashtags. This seems to be the issue that stumps people the most. It’s tempting to pack as many hashtags as possible into every tweet, or to piggyback on any popular hashtag regardless if it’s related your brand. The bottom line: pick a maximum of three relevant hashtags per tweet. If you’re not convinced that this is a better strategy, read number four on this list again.

  1. You’re not using images.

Twitter has come a long way from its beginnings as an SMS-based network. Pictures and video are the norm on the platform now, and it’s no wonder why: tweets with images see two times the engagement. It really is true that a picture is worth a thousand words—or at least 140 characters.

Plaintiff-Attorney Advertising and Its Impact on Litigation. Is It In, Or Is It Out?

Legal Advertisements and Their Impact on Litigation

Legal advertising seeking persons injured by medicines, medical devices, sports helmets or airbags have saturated the airwaves and dominate cyberspace. Stephen G.A. Myers introduces, “The Impact of Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Advertising on Mass-Tort Litigation,” by telling his audience that this is no coincidence. There has been prevalent and increasing evidence of the impact of these advertisements; however, courts have been generally reluctant to allow evidence of that impact into the courtroom.

Stephen’s presentation discusses an abundance of information; the existing legal precedents on the subject and the evolution and current landscape of legal advertising. He also brings to light new information that is available on legal advertising in this age of “big data,” and the ways that defense counsel might use these data to overcome the courts’ collective reticence to allow this sort of data into evidence.

What the State Bar’s New Ethics Opinion Means for Your Law Blog

 

The State Bar of California’s new ethics opinion finally addresses a fuzzy issue: whether attorney blogs are considered advertising. The Bar has decided that personal attorney blogs that are separate from a law firm website do not count as advertising. Well, in most cases. Clear as mud, right? In any case, if you blog, here’s what you need to know to ensure that it meets all ethical standards.

Do not use a personal blog to advertise.

You can write as many posts as you want about legal issues, the consequences of potential legislation and your own opinions about current events. You can write specifically about your area of practice. Your blog can even link to your firm’s website in the byline. But the one thing you definitely can’t write on a personal law blog is, “hire me”. Keep any blatant appeals to new clients off of your blog entirely.

If you’re writing about your case results, you’re probably advertising.

The new opinion also defines and advises against “implicit solicitation”. Even if you never explicitly tell the reader to hire you, if you write about the services you offer or include, “detailed descriptions of case results,” you’re implicitly advertising. Save that for your website, and use your blog to speak more broadly about legal issues.

It’s completely fine to identify yourself as an attorney on any blog.

You’re free to write a personal blog about any topic you want, from food to sports to politics. And according to the Bar, there’s no issue with saying that you’re an attorney on any blog, whether it’s related to the law or not. It’s also acceptable to link your personal blog to your firm website and vice versa.

The Bar automatically considers law firm website blogs to be advertising. 

If your law firm’s website hosts the blog, all of the guidelines I just explained will no longer apply. According to the Bar, blogs on law firm websites follow the same rules, “as the website of which it is a part”. Since your website is considered a form of advertising, any content posted on it is advertising—so anything is fair game.

Berbay Marketing & PR
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