What if I Were Just Getting Started with Social Media Marketing

As President-elect Obama makes ready for office with his $136 billion economic stimulus package in-tow, I wondered, what if I were in a legal firm specialty area and just getting started in the social media conversation right now?

You’ve probably heard it can help in the economic downturn, and that Twitter is good for business, but there’s a lot to it.

If I were just starting out, I’d take the same analytical approach I did when I took-on graduate school three-years ago, and do my research… Well.

No matter what your profession or area of practice, this approach is a good one. As long as you don’t get caught-in “over-analyze and no action” mode. (If you’re one of those folks who gets stuck — Setting up “What’s Gets Done By When’s” and a folder to hold ideas, are good practices to keep moving.)

I’m going to build on the three scenarios Chris Brogan presented when he was contemplating this…

Before beginning to write: Listen

Go to the blogs that are out there and read them. That’s the first step to understanding social media. Read them from different genres. Go to Twitter.com and more importantly, search.twitter.com, and see what people are saying. Search via Google and Technorati.com. Google Reader blogs cover legal marketing, social media, web design, advertising, graphic design, etc.

Then, get started…

The Foundation: A Blog

Most importantly, this is the primary platform of social media that runs the machine. I wouldn’t start anything else before this. It is a website, with a ton of features that make it extremely attractive to search engines, and very easy to use creatively from a content perspective; which is NEVER a bad thing…

Don’t worry about adding all of the features and fancy gizmoes that go beyond content publishing. But bear in mind, that not adding at least a little branding ingenuity to a packaged template will make your blog as tantalizing as a melba toast on white-bread sandwich.

So, here are the 3 scenarios:

Personal branding: I’d by my own domain name, and host it on a good but inexpensive platform

Company Communications: I’d use and off-brand domain, with a “powered by” mindset, similar to Digital Nomads by Dell. Unlike most legal firms, I wouldn’t do a typical “legal services blog”, or necessarily even write in standard “corporate voice”. More-so, I’d want to do a “something that’s useful to people blog.” Exceptions: really large firms with potentially lots of bloggers, like White & Case or Shearman & Sterling.

A small group of Michigan attorneys have created a new blog
Legally Blogged.com that’s incorporating the concepts of off-branding and providing interesting, useful information, extremely well.
Kudos Pete, Mike & Gary!.

Pro bono/ Non-Profit: I’d start a storytelling a pictures blog about the causes I was supporting. No question about it, stories and pictures are powerful contributors to both pro bono and nonprofit experiences.

For creating blog topics, I collected the best advice available, so that’s a great place to start.

Second Step: Outposts
I’d build outposts which help me reach into lots of different places and communicate with people from where they are. For legal, at the very minimum, I’d start accounts on:

  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
I would also regularly make comment on blogs writing about topics that relate to my practice and areas of interest, with a link back to my blog as reference.

Personal: Use Twitter to build relationships and share interests and learn which applications are the most effective for attaining contacts that are pertinent to your business interests.

Use Facebook to learn about groups and events of interest. Keep LinkedIn active and updated, and stay involved in the answering of questions on the site. The Goal: Keep your name out there, far ahead of when you may need something from someone.

Law Firm: Use Twitter as a way to show that you’re all humans in there!


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