Friday, November 6, 2015

5 Steps to Shaping Your Online Brand


The Internet is the primary means of searching for and vetting attorneys. What does your online brand say about you?

Most lawyers develop their brand by chance. But by taking an active strategic approach you can shape your online brand. Here are 5 steps to help you get started.

1.  Define what you want your brand to say about you. What is your message?
  • Consider your specialty areas, geographic area, industries, types of clients, professional reputation, your personality, hobbies and interest, etc. 
  • Think about if there is an area of law where you want to expand your practice. 
  • Start drafting your message.

2.  Conduct an audit of your current online presence. What does it say about you? Does it match what you want your message to say?
  • Ask friends, family and colleagues to describe you. Does it match the message your defined?
  • Google yourself. Where do you show up in the search results? Where don't you show up? The checklist below may help you identify how your online brand is working for you and what you need to change.
  • Search your competitors. Do they rank higher in the search results than you? What does their online brand say about them? If you compared your online results with your online results, who do you think a prospective client would call first? Why? What sources are your competitors using - are they active bloggers or do they have a Google Ad? Consider if these sources would be beneficial for you to use.

Audit Checklist


Website
What does it say about you?
Does it fit your brand?
What needs to change?
Firm website



Blog



LinkedIn



Facebook



Twitter



Google +



Images



Reviews on Yelp or Google



Pintrest



Associations & Organizations



Avvo



YouTube



Super Lawyers/ Other



Other



Other



Other




3.  Communicate your message. Now it is time to tell your story.

  • Update your online profiles starting with your bio on your firm's website, LinkedIn, your blog, Google+, SuperLawyers, Avvo, etc.
  • Create new social media accounts. Have clients given you a review on Yelp or Google? Be sure to claim your business listing and the review.
  • Include LinkedIn, Twitter and your blog in your email signature and law firm bio.
  • If you are a member of an association or committee, ask to be listed on the site with a link to your bio.
  • Make sure your photo is tagged so Google it will display in search results (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/114016?hl=en)


4.  Raise your visibility. Become active online using your website, blog and social media.
  • Increase your network: connect with as many people as you can and join groups
  • Create content for your website: update your bio, provide news items, assist with updating practice group description
    • What counts as news? Speaking engagements, new committee or board appointments, quoted in the press, client wins, volunteer work, sponsorships, attendance at industry conferences, almost anything can become a news item.
  • Establish thought leadership: write blog posts or articles
    • Include keywords in the title and first sentence
  • Share information: post industry news, articles and events on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+
    • Set Google search to notify you when new stories are posted online; monitor listserves and industry newsletter
  • Be engaged: like your contacts’ posts; your firm’s posts; your associations’ posts
  • Be thoughtful: congratulate a new job, send holiday cards, remember a birthday


5. Repeat the process. Revise your message and tactics as your goals and practice change.

Shaping your personal brand is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes planning, effort and time to develop. Here are some final Dos and Don’ts to help you in the process:

Do:
  • Define your goals and message
  • Know your competition
  • Be authentic
  • Be consistent 
Don’t:
  • Pretend to be someone you are not
  • Give up too soon



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