Marketing on Facebook continues to evolve before our eyes. With the most recent and seemingly ongoing algorithm changes, agencies and marketers are being forced to roll with the proverbial punches as they navigate the uncertain waters of drafting paid and organic content strategy plans and tactics for each new quarter. Businesses are constantly being challenged to increase followers, foster engagement, (ultimately) generate leads, and stay competitive and relevant amongst the changes that Facebook continues to throw our way. All this in an attempt to justify ROI and ensure that the platform is benefiting the business.
So, what does it take to succeed on Facebook and see results from tireless efforts and the countless (billable) hours of content development and paid ad spends? Starting with a solid foundation and getting back to basics can help answer this question. Throughout the year we’ll be identifying best practices on each platform to assist in your marketing approach to help put (or keep) your strategy on the right track.
But first, let’s dive into the top five practices your business needs to master in order to get the most out of Facebook marketing.
Facebook Best Practices
Know Your Target Audience: Utilize Facebook insights or a third-party social media management app to get to know your audience demographic inside and out. Doing so will help you focus on developing content and advertising for those who are most likely to engage with and benefit from your brand.
Keep It Short and Sweet: Keeping your audience’s attention is critical. When developing content for Facebook, you want to keep in mind that your sole purpose is to educate, inform and entertain your audience about your brand with the objective of increased brand engagement or conversions. While the Facebook character limit caps out at 500, sources suggest maintaining characters at 100 or less. Let the visuals do the talking through dynamic images and videos. Also, remember to keep the hashtags at bay.
Be Engaging: This holds true for both the type of content that you post and when responding to your customers. Asking open-ended questions, posting interesting and fun live videos related to trending topics–these are the cornerstones of content tactics on the platform as they exist today. Being social on social media and communicating with your audience is what develops trust and loyalty, inviting referrals and new customers to buy into who you are as a brand and what you can do for them.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: Taking chances on social is an approach countless brands are making to differentiate themselves from the competition and garner interest and intrigue. Utilizing the tools that boost organic engagement (Facebook Live, anyone?) will put your brand and spokespeople on center stage to reach your audience in the moment with live chats and behind-the-scenes moments exclusive to your brand. Giving users a sneak peek into what you’re all about humanzies their experience and interaction with your brand.
Pay to Play: Even with the recent changes to the algorithm, paid advertising on Facebook continues to be one of, if not the most, beneficial and measurable forms of digital advertising. With over two billion users, the opportunity to develop brand loyalty and awareness and eventually acquire new customers and conversions is staggering.
Knowing your audience, keeping your messaging concise, engaging your fans, experimenting with live streaming, and dabbling in the Facebook Ads platform are all perfect ways to leverage the power of this social media behemoth. Even through the recent controversies over suspicious data collection practices, Facebook will continue to be a valuable resource well worth leveraging for years to come. With these best practices in mind, your business can craft content that breaks through the marketing filter and reaches fans on a more personal level than ever before.
Ah, social media. Like death and taxes, social media’s constantly changing nature is perhaps the only other absolute in this life. Though unsurprising, the new Facebook algorithm update is absolutely worth digging into, especially if you promote your brand on the social platform.
To help guide the way through this substantial update to the top-secret Facebook algorithm, I’ve enlisted two of our digital marketing maestros to help wrap our heads around what this change means for how we market and interact on the platform. Did Zucks (yeah, we’re close like that) and co. hit a home run or strike out? Along with Heather and Robyn, I’ve set out to see if it’s a change worth “liking.”
Three Ways Your Business Should Embrace the Facebook Algorithm Change
Quality (Content) Over Quantity
Anthony Charmforoush, Digital Marketing Manager
The newsfeed algorithm change comes down to something we have always preached: quality over quantity. Facebook has started prioritizing content that creates “meaningful interactions” between its users. So what does this mean? Long gone are the days of posting in order to fill a feed, and say goodbye to those vanity-likes. Welcome to the age of meaningful engagement.
If you want to get noticed you’ll have to devote time to creating content that is highly shareable and starts conversations with your audience. Focus on content that is actionable but be careful not be perceived as comment or share baiting. You will want to double down on your audience insights to ensure that your content subject matter resonates with and is relevant to your readers. When crafting content, it is no longer about whether or not a page fan is likely to “like” it but rather, are they likely to comment on it or share it with a friend.
Facebook has stated that live content is one of the main drivers of engagement on the newsfeed. With this algorithm update, that is even truer. If you’re a brand that can leverage live events then you’re already a step ahead of the rest. If not, you might need to become more creative. Things like hosting a weekly live blog or influencer takeover are just some of the ways that brands like Adobe have taken advantage of the Facebook Live feature.
With this emphasis on user-to-user interaction, now more than ever, you are driving your own reach on Facebook. This will initially reduce the amount of your brand’s content that is consumed directly on the newsfeed. However, by focusing on creating content that gets your audience talking, you can ensure that your brand is better positioned to overcome the latest Facebook hurdle.
Influencing the Algorithm in Your Favor
Heather Britt, Digital Marketing Manager
As defined by Sprout Social, influencers are “power users who can help your potential customers make a buying decision through social networking”. Influencers can come in a variety of formats, from celebrities to experts to hyperlocal bloggers. Regardless of why, influencers have a wide reach to an audience who is important to you and your brand.
Traditionally, we know influencers to be pivotal in marketing on Instagram, Snapchat and maybe even through their own blog. However, the Facebook algorithm change has created a new need for influencers on Facebook. Facebook users with a large number of friends or followers can help garner attention for your brand now that brand posts are essentially receiving less exposure in overall Facebook newsfeed reach.
Here are a few reasons why an influencer’s post could see more reach than a post from a brand page:
Real people’s posts are automatically going to reach a higher percentage of their followers than a brand page’s post would.
More people trust the opinion of a person, even if it’s a brand evangelist, rather than a branded account.
Oftentimes, posts by real people and celebrities create genuine interactions–comments and conversations, likes, and shares. These types of interactions are what Facebook is currently optimizing towards, which will dramatically increase reach.
If an influencer campaign seems like a lot to take on as a smaller brand, that’s because it is. Finding the appropriate influencers for your target audience is no small task. An easier method for a brand looking to dip its toe into the influencer strategy pool, is to start with a brand evangelist program. Brand evangelism can be as simple as setting up an in-store selfie station (see Riley Rose) or creating a hashtag for your customers to share their experience with. Even brand evangelism will help defeat the Facebook algorithm change blues. While unpaid consumers may not link directly to your brand, you can be assured that there will be additional brand impressions outside of your page.
The jury is still out on the effect that the Facebook algorithm change will have on social advertising in the near future, but with brands fresh into 2018, the main questions are: “How will this change affect my business and bottom-line?” and “How can we ensure that our fans and followers still see our content?”
There is no doubt that Facebook’s main wealth generator will continue to plug along unscathed and could (now) be more important than ever. We are well aware that Facebook has pushed down organic reach to almost zero, and is funneling brands into pay-to-play x 1,000 to achieve meaningful growth and (hopefully) engagement. If you wish to continue to achieve on Facebook, it would be wise to master the art of ads to reach and engage with your community and new audiences–testing, optimizing, and investing in what you know works. With demand high and inventory low, the right fit could take a few tries to get on track.
Along with website click and conversions, brands would be wise to adapt “brand awareness” as a new and vital addition to their social media marketing vernacular. Diversifying your ad spend and traffic sources to locate your audience through different avenues won’t hurt either.
What does the new Facebook algorithm change mean for your business? According to the educated opinions of my colleagues and myself, quite a lot. Whether pivoting to social media influencers, putting a new emphasis on quality content or renewing your efforts in Facebook ads, actions must be taken in order to keep your brand up to speed on this rapidly updating platform. Though change is inevitable, the most important thing you can learn from this blog is that you don’t have to fear the change–that is, as long as you’re willing to be flexible with your social media strategy.
Orlando digital marketing firm enlists help of local clients to relocate headquarters ahead of anticipated agency growth
Findsome & Winmore, the classic digital marketing agency that helps clients find and win new customers, announces today plans to relocate its headquarters to an 8,000 square-foot, full building located at 1550 South Lakemont Avenue in Winter Park. This announcement comes as the company prepares for continued strategic growth in 2018 and beyond.
In searching for and finalizing the purchase of its new space, Findsome & Winmore enlisted the help of clients Foundry Commercial, Fountainhead Commercial Capital, and Sloane & Johnson. Additionally, Baker Barrios Architects, another Findsome & Winmore client, will oversee the remodeling of the building.
“We have always considered ourselves to be an extension of our clients’ teams, so involving them in the process of finding our new home was very special for us, ” said Matt Certo, CEO and principal at Findsome & Winmore. “With their assistance, we have found a space that will not only allow us to grow our agency significantly over the next 18 months, but will also provide our team members with a creative, interactive environment they can thrive in. We thank Foundry Commercial, Fountainhead Commercial Capital and Baker Barrios Architects for their continued, invaluable insight as we embark on this journey.”
Findsome & Winmore’s decision to relocate its headquarters comes just two years after the company expanded its current office space, increasing office capacity from approximately 15 people to 25 people. Now, the company is moving to a building that will sustain its steady growth trajectory while permitting extra room for a kitchen, coffee bar, multiple meeting spaces and more.
Soon, we could all be saying goodbye to the days of reading and re-reading our would-be tweet to find out what words are actually necessary to convey our important thought. In a surprise update, Twitter has announced it will begin to roll out a 280 character limit to some users, doubling the original 140 character limit.
The micro-blogging platform provided some pretty sound reasoning for the update, namely, equality across languages. Users who tweet in Japanese, Korean and Chinese are able to convey more information using fewer characters. In other words, they can say twice as much while using half the characters as users who tweet in most other languages. According to Twitter, Japanese users hit the character limit only about .4% of the time while 9% of tweets in English use all 140 characters.
How does this change the way we use the platform?
Twitter will always be about brevity, but the 140-character limit was conceived at a time when flip phones and SMS messaging reigned. As society has moved on to smartphones and data plans, the platform has been hesitant to adapt, slowing user growth, and scaring away some investors.
This shift to an increased character limit will hopefully invigorate user growth on the platform, leading to more meaningful and engaging conversations between users.
The formula is simple:
This increase is especially helpful for brands that routinely feel the pain of links depleting their already scarce character count within tweets. While links will still count toward the character limit, an increase from 140 to 280 characters leaves more room for brands to tweet without skimping on their message or leaving out an important link.
So this sample tweet about our client:
We are loving all of our new apparel options. Are you? Shop the collection and show the world that #WeWillNotLetHateWin http://bit.ly/2r9qft0
No longer has to be this:
We are ❤️ all of our new ?? options. Are you? Shop the collection & show the ? that #WeWillNotLetHateWin http://bit.ly/2r9qft0
Social media is a constantly updating medium, so, only time will tell if this change becomes the official standard, and for how long. For my money, the promise of major benefits and ease of use for countless users around the world just might make Twitter’s increased character limit a big winner by allowing people and brands more “real estate” to get their messages across. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping a close eye on whether this change is worth a “like.”
It hits you when you least expect it. There you were, picking up your annual report from the printer when you notice a few of your coworkers crowded around Bob-from-accounting’s smartphone. Intrigued, you peer over their shoulders.
“What are you all watching?”
“Wait, you haven’t seen this yet?”, a coworker jeeringly asks, “It’s SodaStream’s new ad campaign with Paris Hilton.”
Oh yes, you had seen it. How could you not? In a matter of days, every one of your social feeds was inundated that ridiculous video, featuring a reality star trying to vaguely sell you that odd contraption you pass by at the superstore. Despite the video’s vague, soft sell of the actual product, it worked–they gained your curiosity and your attention.
The video in question is quite perplexing. One drop of a miracle liquid is said to have the hydrating effect of one full glass of water, putting an end to the disastrous environmental effects of plastic bottles. The claim is preposterous, but you are thirsty for more information and follow the link to purchase a SodaStream, the in-home soda and sparkling water maker.
The question is, how did a campaign that was intentionally misleading and only tangentially related to the actual product become so pervasive on social media? Why do some campaigns go viral and others never seem to reach the ever-important untapped target audience? There really is no one-size-fits-all solution that will tell you how to go viral. However, successful viral marketing campaigns have a few commonalities that can be replicated and turn ripples into waves. Viral marketing campaigns act very similarly to their etymological counterparts, viruses.
Attachment: Viruses are useless without their host and must identify, then attach themselves to a living cell in order to reproduce. If you want your social media campaign to spread, you must identify, and “attach,” to the target audience who is most likely to engage and spread your message. In the case of Soda Stream’s campaign, their target audience was the environmentally conscious and social-media-obsessed millennial. SodaStream not only ensured that the subject matter, messaging, and aesthetics of their campaign appealed to their target audience but also understood the economics of that audience. SodaStream understood that a larger portion of the millennial audience is beginning to acquire more disposable income to spend on products they want, instead of just need. To put it bluntly, SodaStream’s Nano Drop is essentially how to go viral 101.
Entry (Into the Market): In order to spread, viruses must enter an unsuspecting host cell by penetrating the protective membrane and then releasing the nucleic acid that will facilitate further growth and development. In order for a social campaign to penetrate the market and begin proliferating the brand’s message, one must take the information gathered in the stage above and ensure that it is released at the most optimal time. Start too soon and the message will fizzle, too late and you’re simply riding in the wake of someone else’s success. Timing is vital. If you want your campaign to go viral, you have to be willing and able to follow and seize the opportunity that comes with popular trends at a moment’s notice. SodaStream understood that millennials LOVE their reality stars, past and present. SodaStream also understood that millennials value brands that are environmentally conscious. By taking a non-essential product, packaging it with a socially conscious mission, and using a pop culture icon to spread the word in a tongue in cheek way, SodaStream capitalized on phenomena particular to the times we are living in.
Replication and Assembly: Once a virus penetrates the host cell it must replicate to ensure it spreads. In order for social media content to go viral, just like the virus, it must be replicable. In other words, it must not only attract the attention of the audience but also be engaging enough for it to be shareable. All viral content on social media has one thing in common: It’s enjoyable enough that users want to share it with the rest of their peers. This piece is vital. Unlike most traditional marketing tactics, the success of viral content is not rigidly tied to the amount of money behind the campaign but rather the intrinsic likability of the subject matter. It’s not about how much money you spend, it’s about creating the right content that moved the company’s target audience to like and share the content for FREE.
The bottom line is, the question should NOT be how to go viral, but how to produce beneficial and relevant content that appeals to your target audience. If you do it right, the audience will do the work for you!
More than just a place to keep in touch with old college roommates and Aunt Joanie (you really should call more, you know), Facebook has become quite the marketing tool for companies around the world. Offering a free marketing channel allowing potential customers the chance at product discovery and fans the ability to interact and share their love for the company and product.
As a user of the social media channel in your personal life, you may be familiar with likes, shares, comments and other basics of the platform. However, many marketers and business owners don’t know where to begin when it comes to utilizing Facebook ads for their business. Luckily, the process is simple as long as you can define a few simple questions.
Using our client, Old Town, as an example, we can explore our process and strategy of successfully crafting Facebook ads that work.
What is Your Objective? This goes beyond making money – you must think a bit deeper in order to make the greatest impact. Was the ad created to get more eyes on your brand? Perhaps you want to increase clicks to your newly rebranded website, or maybe directly improve online retail? Regardless of the answer, your ad starts here. For Old Town, a Central Florida amusement, shopping and dining hot spot, our objective was simple: attract more visitors to the attraction, specifically for the “BBQ Throwdown” event.
Who is the Audience? Facebook ads are wonderful at targeting audiences with pinpoint accuracy. Age, workplace, job title, education gender, location, device used, purchase behaviors and personal interests are all factors you can use to define who, exactly, you want to see your ad. Furthermore, though this post is specifically focused on Facebook, Instagram is also under the social media giant’s umbrella, allowing you to share ads on that image-based platform as well. Understanding that Old Town’s audience is largely baby boomers and those who enjoy traditional American fare, we were easily able to target these folks for a free, BBQ-filled event.
What is Your Budget? Facebook ads are just as substantial as traditional ads and you must treat them as such. They require just as much well-considered strategy when it comes to budgeting, as well as a real budget to boot. Though Facebook’s internal “bidding process” can seem substantially complicated, the process of budgeting for your ad is made easy, allowing for some flexibility based on daily or lifetime run times (budgeting for single 24-hour periods or as one lump of overall time). Keep in mind, a bigger budget does not guarantee a higher success rate. Throwing big bucks behind an ad that’s simply not engaging to your audience is a waste of money. The money that was dedicated to our Old Town ad was distributed evenly across four weeks, each week utilizing the similar text but a different image to attract fresh eyes.
What’s Your Format? Facebook ads allow you to choose from a number of different styles, including Photo (utilizing a single image), Carousel (multiple images or videos), Video (a single video), Slideshow (multiple photos for lower connection speeds), and Canvas (a mobile-friendly ad experience) ads. One thing to consider, however, is the growing prominence of videos and gifs as a way to catch an audience’s eye. Carousel is also often utilized, giving companies multiple visuals to share at once and adding a bit of interactive “clickability” to the ads. In this specific example for the Old Town event, we used a visual that we knew our audience would eat up (pun intended): a photo of sausages sizzling on a grill. This photo does the job of evoking the summer season and whetting the appetites of their audience for the BBQ event.
Because we took on the task of crafting our Old Town Facebook ad with a clear objective in mind, targeted audience locked in, adequate budget secured and effective format chosen, we saw the ad’s relevancy score (which combines impressions, results, reach, feedback and more) climb into a range we were proud to share with the client.
With the above four questions carefully answered, you too can design and employ Facebook ads to reach new audiences, drive online sales or simply get your message out there. If you want to dive deeper into learning the basics of Facebook ads, we recommend hearing it from the horse’s mouth. Facebook has some fantastic tutorials and support resources, making the social media marketing platform quite easy to “like.”
Findsome & Winmore, the classic digital marketing agency that helps clients “find and win” new customers, had a successful first half of 2017, adding eight new clients across numerous industries during the first two quarters of the year.
Clients enlisting the services of Findsome & Winmore during the first two quarters of 2017 include Orlando Health, a network of community and specialty hospitals, Tijuana Flats, a national Tex-Mex restaurant chain, onePULSE Foundation, an organization dedicated to honoring those that lost their lives in the Pulse Nightclub tragedy, Westgate Resorts, one of the largest privately-owned timeshare resorts in the world, Kore Alliance, an investment group, National Christian Foundation, a Christian-based non-profit organization, Centurion Business Finance, a financial lender, and D+H, a global payments and lending technology provider. D+H was later acquired by Finastra, the third largest Fintech company in the world.
In addition to the successful onboarding of each of its new clients, Findsome & Winmore also launched two websites, including Children’s Home Society and Lake Nona. Findsome & Winmore also added four new employees with backgrounds in event planning, social media, and website maintenance to its growing team.
“We definitely got off to a great start in 2017 and are excited to have new clients from such diverse backgrounds,” said Matt Certo, CEO of Findsome & Winmore. “Having such prominent businesses turn to us for assistance in accomplishing their goals gives us a great feeling. As the year progresses, we look forward to continued growth and expansion of our portfolio.”
In addition to Findsome & Winmore having a successful first half of 2017, Certo also published a book, Formulaic: How Thriving Companies Market From The Core, in January. Formulaic reveals the ordinary things that even one-person firms can implement to achieve the extraordinary over time and brings to light several key elements that drive brand marketing momentum.
Imagery has proven, time and time again, to be a vital element of catching your audience’s eye; this does not change when it comes to your company’s social media profiles.
Many social media channels contain page-spanning images that add a huge opportunity to quickly draw attention and add some branding flair to your page. Unfortunately, if your dimensions are off by just a hair, you can wind up with a pixelated, poorly framed mess that does more harm than good.
Consider this fair warning: LinkedIn is about to drastically update how header images appear on your company profile.
Instead of a banner-like cover photo (which businesses typically use to showcase their tagline or company name) this image will be a 1536 x 768px background-style image, which may be a big problem for those whose current image is designed to fit the old standards and dimensions. Moving forward, background images should avoid using text or logo treatments, as these additions are sure to clutter up the page, or worse, will be cropped out on various devices. Instead, we suggest choosing an image that is both clean and keeps to your brand standards.
Here’s a look at the current company page layout:
And here’s a glimpse at the new one. You can see that the focus is more on the aesthetic of a background image, rather than that of a traditional “cover photo:”
Looks aren’t everything, but they definitely matter when trying to woo new customers with an attractive social media page.
Change is hard and the internet can be, well, let’s call it, “judgmental.” From the knee-jerk hatred for any and all of Facebook’s usability updates to Instagram’s recent algorithm change, there seems to be an immediate and impassioned push to slam even the proposition of change in the social media apps we use every day. The designers behind the new Instagram logo must have said some prayers, taken a swig of something strong and practiced a few mental relaxation techniques before the big unveiling.
You have no doubt seen much ado about this new design. Everyone, from professional designers to, oh, I don’t know, your mom, seems to have an opinion, critique, praise or four-letter word for this simple, gradient redesign. Of course, you don’t have to be a designer to have an intelligent opinion about the new Instagram logo — but it sure doesn’t hurt. That’s why we asked our creative director, Andy MacMillin for his take now that the smoke is clearing on the initial controversy.
3 Thoughts on the New Instagram Logo
It’s neither bad nor groundbreaking. Instead, it is simply on-trend with modern logo designs, ditching the outdated, skeuomorphic logo.
The controversial, bold gradient is actually a good design choice, since the rest of the design is a textbook, flat design.
The need to stay relevant probably sparked the Instagram logo redesign — something important for an app as popular as Instagram. Though keeping to current trends is helpful with relevancy, a designer must also find a way to make a design stand out.
Overall, I think we can call Andy’s overall opinion of the new Instagram logo something along the lines of, “meh.” The bold addition of the colorful gradient is a plus, but the design itself falls a bit flat. On the other hand, if the goal was to modernize Instagram’s logo, it seems to have done just that.
Though not everyone is so happy with the change, the internet outcry, at least for now, seems to have dulled to a sneering whisper. Change is hard, especially for big brands with a lot on the line. The lesson that we can pull from all of this is that change can be painful, but is always necessary in order for brands to remain relevant to their audiences. As long as your design is well strategized and represents the soul and essence of your brand, you should go into a redesign with confidence — come hell or heavy internet criticism.
Speaking to a group of Central Florida’s top litigators, our CEO and Founder, Matt Certo, breaks down how social media can help law firms grow and develop. Though this joint meeting between LMA and CFCALA is centered around lawyers and law firms, this social media advice can be useful for any brand looking to expand their ever-important social media presence.
How Social Media Can Help Your Law Firm Grow and Develop
Speaker: Matt Certo
It is an honor to be here, especially a joint meeting of the LMA and the ALA. Is that kind of like the Clash of the Titans? It seems like you all work together well, which I think is pretty cool.
The topic they’re asked me to talk about today is really social media and law firms, was really where we started the conversation. In a brief period of time, because I know that we’re all busy and you have offices to get back to, we try to connect social media with what you all want to do, which is to help your law firms grow and develop. Hopefully this is social media, not just for the sake of social media, but social media for the sake of helping your law firms get more cases, develop more cases more efficiently, bill more hours, which helps everything grow.
I was just having a conversation with Jason, who’s working with law firms and the financial model. We all that case load and good cases and good client relationships drive the success of your law firm, so that’s what we to try and cover today in a brief period of time. It was a very kind introduction. I always think it’s good for you to know who you’re hearing from so that before you decide whether or not you agree, you know the perspective that I’m bringing to the table.
I’ve been the CEO of an agency, a digital marketing agency, called Findsome and Winmore here in town. We have a few of our folks here with us today for moral support, so they’re here. I’ve been doing this for about 20 years across a lot of different industries, but law firms have been a bit of a concentration for us. It didn’t start out that way. It wasn’t the intention but over the years we’ve picked up law firm clients, had an opportunity to learn from successes and failures of law firm marketing efforts. This has everything to do from website development to social media to search marketing, so we blend all those areas of our practice together to try and learn and then help clients grow in the future.
I have spoken to a lot of these groups and organizations and try and make these as helpful as possible, especially if you’ve heard some of this before. I try and keep going and developing with some of the content.The agency itself, just so you know, where we’re coming from, we’re about 25 people and we do web development, search marketing, social media marketing, content marketing … which we’ll talk a little bit more about today … and we do a lot of strategy work. It’s a fun group. I think of it as a living laboratory. I am a product of two parents who are both educators so I was raised to be a learner. I love to absorb what I’m seeing and try and formulate a model around how it could help others.
One of the ways I do that, I have a weekly email I send out every Monday, called Marketing Tip Monday. It’s just one marketing tip that goes out that, hopefully, is practical to a client. It’s not an ad for the firm or anything like that but would encourage you all to sign up for that. I know some of you are on that list already. It’s a website, MarketingTipMonday.com, where you can sign up and hear more of this if it’s helpful.
As was mentioned, about a year-and-a-half ago I put out a book called Found: Connecting with Customers in the Digital Age. It’s a quick read. If you’re interested, it’s very inexpensive on Amazon. To me, it’s designed to answer some of the questions we’ll be talking about today. These are the biggest ones I get from my clients, which is where I try and drive our efforts. Should my company or my law firm be on Facebook? Does anyone really use Twitter? How do you get to the top of a Google search? Should I have a blog? Is Google+ important to me anymore? Should I post on social media? What should I put on social media once I’ve made that leap? These strategic lessons I outline in that book, and I’ll do some of that today. You’ll see a blend of both our agency intellectual property as well as some of the material in the book, which I hope is helpful.
Brief rundown, four key items. I know we’re on a tight schedule but we’re going to save Q&A for the end, hopefully. I’ll talk fast, hopefully not too fast. I want to talk a little bit about social media 101. I’m not going to talk too much about it because for reason number one, probably a lot of you already know social media 101 and if you don’t there are lots of resources out there to learn the bare bones of social if this is a brand new topic for you. I also want to look at some misconceptions about social media, which I think are important. Those two things is a backdrop for the common law firm problems that I see when I go in and work with law firms, and then some recommendations about what to do about some of those.
I believe social media is the new news cycle. If there even is a news cycle anymore, social media really is it. I feel like television is mirroring that as opposed to the other way around, which used to happen. I say all these things, not to say that I like it this way or dislike it this way, but just that it’s where we are now. I say these things without endorsing it, because personally we don’t all like that we’re always on our phones all the time or that every aspect of our lives seems to be published. It’s not endorsement one way or the other. We’ll make these slides available to you, so you don’t have to feel like you have to write all these down. Some of the key things, just bare bones, is to have some goals, to build a team around your social media, to identify the right social networks for you, to set policy, especially in law firms where you’re dealing with regulation.
We deal with a lot of organizations that aren’t regulated any way, shape, or form, but I know that different state bar associations have different rules, different requirements, recommendations, best practices, making sure that your organization has a policy so that people understand, “When I am posting on social media I am an employee of this firm. Here’s what I should or should not be doing.” That’s very important to have in place. Is there a way to measure the success of the goals that you’ve set? Then, also, how do you, as an organization, begin to adjust once you see how the actual performance of your social media efforts are comparing against the goals that you set?
101, just a handful of things. Again, I don’t want to spend too much time on it because there’s a lot of material and resources out there, some of which I’ll point you to here in a minute. What I do want to do is address some misconceptions as a backdrop to some of the best practices, just a few of them. I’m going to frame this in terms of some things that social media is not and some things that social media does not do. The first thing I want to say is that social media … and as you’re communicating to your law firms … is not just another advertising medium. I’m not saying it’s not an advertising medium, because it certainly is a place where you can go buy an advertisement or you can sponsor a piece of content, but if you look at it, or a law firm looks at it, just like they look at a phone book advertisement, which I hope none of you are doing anymore, or an advertisement in a newspaper, you’re going to get a different behavior. You’re going to get a different reaction to that.
You have to understand that social media, it’s a community. It’s not just a place where you throw an ad out. It’s a community where people might respond. It’s a place where there is two-way feedback, communication between one another. It’s also a place where the ad doesn’t typically die or go away. Things that are put onto social media tend to stay. Good, bad, or indifferent, they will stay there unless you delete them. If they are deleted and they’re a big deal, chances are someone has already screenshotted that piece of content and it’ll come back to haunt you.
Social media is also not a jukebox. What I mean by that is … some of you that are maybe younger in the audience have never seen one of these, but a jukebox is something where you would walk up into a restaurant or a bar and you’d put a coin in and you’d press a button and you’d get exactly what you expected. You’d get a song to play. You’d get a result after you had ordered it up and paid the price. Social media doesn’t work that way. You can’t guarantee a result. You can’t guarantee a metric. You can’t guarantee an immediate return.
When you have a firm, or if you’re used to gauging, “What’s the result that’s happened as a result of a marketing activity that I have invested in,” and it doesn’t return something into a pretty spreadsheet that’s being graded by the partners, then that shouldn’t be a surprise. Social media tends to work organically. It tends to work over time. It tends to build. You can’t always get the result, you won’t always get the result, immediately. You’ve got to take more of a long-term approach.
Another thing social media is not, is it’s not linear. It doesn’t happen according to a plan that goes A, B, C, D, E all the way down to Z. Social media, back to the jukebox analogy, it may surprise you down the line somewhere. A great book, if you haven’t heard of it, is a book called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. This is written by a gentleman named Gary Vaynerchuk, who’s a big internet entrepreneur, and he talks about this very thing. Like a boxing match, you don’t exactly know which punch to throw and when, or when you’re going to get punched. You have to improvise. You have to go in knowing that the first step of the plan is pretty much the only thing you can count on. You don’t know what you’re going to encounter and how you have to react. You have to go in not expecting that things are going to play out in a linear fashion.
This is a really good example of it. How many of you remember a couple years ago when the lights went out at the Super Bowl? No one could plan for that. Oreo, who happens to be there, happens to be on the spot, decides to put this up when there was an outage. If you can’t read that, it says, “You can still dunk in the dark.” No one could have ever planned for that, but it was a huge success. The reason it was a huge success is because they were aware. They were active. They had a group that was organized. They probably had a policy in place and things really, really came out well. It was a good result they never could have planned for.
Here’s another example, and hopefully you can read this. This is more in the restaurant world. Here is a tweet from a woman named Destiny. It says, “If your boyfriend won’t take you out for pasta, is he really your boyfriend?” The hashtag is #AskAlfredo. Has anyone heard of this hashtag? It became a big deal in PR. It was talked about. The hashtag is actually one Olive Garden invented. Olive Garden said, at one point, “What if we started responding to all these crazy questions that we’re getting with a hashtag?” Olive Garden’s response was, “He may need a little hint, Destiny. His adoration for you is probably overshadowing delicious pasta meals.”
Why is Olive Garden doing this? Because they’re improvising. They’re seeing they’re getting these questions and they’re having fun. This is a publicly traded corporation with rules, regulations, and restrictions. The gentleman who is behind this, a gentleman named Justin Sikora, and he’s a VP of marketing communications there … we talked about this example and he said, “We never could have planned for this, but this is probably one of the biggest things that we’ve ever seen develop results,” was this #AskAlfredo thing. It was not only big on Twitter, and is big on Twitter, they’re tying it in to the Bachelor television show, which is huge on Twitter, and it’s been a big PR hit. Again, you can sit and you can plan and think about this linear idea of results, like we all would love to have but, unfortunately, the world of social media just doesn’t work that way.
The other thing is that social media doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You can’t just have a social media team. This is a diagram of four gears, which really is the essence of this book here. I believe that four things have to happen together. You have to understand who your audience, at the top. You’ve got to create original content via a blog. You have to optimize for search engines. That ties in with social media. All those four things, like four gears, have to work together. If only one of them breaks down then this entire marketing mechanism breaks down. Social media doesn’t exist on its own. It is a part of a mechanism, part of a machine, that a sound marketing company has working together for it.
I want to go in, now, to some common law firm problems and solutions, so some things that I encounter when I’m asked to look at a law firm, or our team is asked to look at a law firm, and help with communications. One of the first problems that we see is a firm website with either no blog or a weak blog. The reasons for that are many. A lot of people still don’t believe in blogs. A lot of partners who drive social media and marketing efforts have never done this. It’s a practice that they’re getting more comfortable with but they haven’t been big believers. They haven’t been believers in the process and they haven’t seen it work and they haven’t existed with it, so there’s change that comes into play here that has to be ushered along, a lot of times by leaders like you.
One of the things I always encourage you to do is to share data. Here’s a piece right here. Clients spend 16 minutes of every hour on some form of social media. Explaining to a marketing group of attorneys or partners that the audience is there is often helpful. Share more data. Share anecdotes. Share anecdotes with them about either other firms that have had success that you’ve heard about, or when you have posted something on social media an attorney has gotten feedback from the marketplace that it was seen, or a case was developed or a client relationship was developed in some or fashion with the help of social media. It may have been a LinkedIn message that was exchanged. That kind of feedback and data is often helpful.
The biggest one is to ask someone who is against blogging, because it does sound eerily like teenage narcissism when they think about a law firm and a blog, why would you do that? Ask, really, if they would like to be found on Google because, ultimately, that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The example I think of is in the fall I was visiting my doctor for a checkup and the doctor looked at me and said, “Have you had your flu shot yet?” I said, “No. I haven’t had my flu shot yet. I don’t really believe in that.” He said, “All right. I guess call me when you get the flu,” was his response. He was right. Sometimes just doing the right thing is the right thing to do. This question is very similar to that. If you want to be found on Google you’ve got to be active in blogging.
A lot of you will recognize the signer of this quote. Tom Peters has written a ton of business work. In Search of Excellence is one of his biggest pieces here. This is really what he does as a consultant to drive business, is blog. It happens to cost nothing. Now, it costs your time. It costs creativity. It costs energy, so it costs something, but it’s not the equivalent of taking an ad out or sponsoring an event, so that often is helpful, too. There’s data here from third-party sources that really connects this idea that those that blog, blog frequently, and blog well are in a better position to actually generate business leads. A lot of different ways that that does happen, but the data, it can be helpful to you to share with the partners.
This ties very closely to a previous point. The other problem I run into, that I see, is that there’s a reluctance to give away free advice. This is very understandable because attorneys are paid to give advice, so why is it that we would give our advice away for free? This is a difficult one to get over, but there is an anecdote that I think is really great. A lot of you are familiar with Geek Squad. Geek Squad is the group that installs … if you buy a flat screen at Best Buy, Geek Squad will charge you a couple hours time to come out and install it. The Geek Squad exists to help people that don’t know how to install things or plug things in or they just don’t want to do it, and yet they provide tons of videos, blogs, tips, tweets, about how to do things yourself.
When the CEO of that company was asked one time, “Why is it that you are giving away the answers to what it is that you’re trying to do?” his response was very simple. He said, “The people that are trying to fix it themselves are our best customers because they end up not doing it well the first time or not doing it right. They’ve seen our video and they said, ‘I’m just going to call,’ when they get frustrated.” Not quite the same with attorneys, although I will say … I won’t say that. I will just say to you that I have a colleague that recently tried to use one of these services where you go on and do your own legal documents for free. He’s had the most difficult time over the past month and he just said, “I don’t know why I just didn’t call an attorney to do this for me. It would have saved me a lot of heartache.” We’re recording this, that’s why I’m not using the actual name of the company, but you could probably guess which company he used to get his free legal work.
There’s this reluctance to give free advice but, yet, if you really think about this practically, we’re all going to the internet to help us solve problems. That’s just what we’re doing now. It doesn’t mean that we won’t call a family member or a friend to help us out of a jam but it’s easier, sometimes, to put into Google, “How do I get here? How do I fix this? How do I know this? What time does so-and-so open?” This is where we’re going. This is where the consumer is. This leads into what we call content marketing, which you mentioned here. By the way, this is a great sheet. I don’t know who did it. The Legal Marketing Association provided this. Somebody did it. Raise your hand. All right, there you go. I didn’t know that. These two happen to be the ones who invited me to do this, but that’s just a coincidence.
This is pure information for legal marketers. There are lots of great terms on here if marketing is now what you wake up and think about, things like the Association of Legal Administrators, contingency fee, pro bono. If you look on the back, PR, boiler plate, one-pager, pitch, proof, on background, off the record, embargo, editorial calendar. This is content that’s being provided by an organization. This ties right into this definition of content marketing, which is information, or the distribution of information, by a company to inform or influence, not advertise or sell. This is information that informs and influences you. This is an ad. We’ve got an after-hours coming up, it looks like, which looks like a lot of fun at this rooftop. This is an ad. There’s nothing wrong with either one of them but it’s important that you understand the difference.
If I’m a law firm marketer and I’m posting something and asking someone to do something, to write me a check for something, or go out of their way for something, I’m advertising, but if I am providing information that helps, that informs or influences, then I’m in a position to connect more closely with that customer. Going back to the first couple slides about social media 101. We’re waking up and not going to our curb to get the newspaper. More of us are waking up and looking at Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get our news. Whoever provides the content is going to be in a better position to win. That’s why it’s important to think about these two fliers when you’re posting. You want to get aggressive about social media, you want to see a return, don’t post ads, although people will want you to post ads because we want checks to be written. Post content that helps, that informs and influences.
This goes back to that flu analogy. You’ve got to post answers to questions that your clients have. That’s the future of search marketing. I was asked this recently. This was a contest that was out by Search Engine World: Fill in the blank. What represents the future of organic search? My answer to that, which was one that they acknowledged, was solving your customers problems through innovative content creation represents the future of organic search. You, as legal marketers, need to be solving your customers’ problems, yes, giving away free advice; yes, investing in giving free content away, in order to be visible on Google Search. Google looks to see who has valuable content, who’s being re-tweeted and shared on social media. I would bet you the last time you shared something on social media that you saw and said, “I want to show my friends,” it wasn’t a coupon or an ad. It was a piece of content that you either found funny or you found endearing or you found informative or you found inspirational.
As brand publishers … which is what you are, whether you like it or not … as brand publishers you need to be producing that kind of content that people are interested in, that’s not self-serving, that’s not an ad, not an inducement to write a check, but something that helps, something that solves their problem. I think this quote sums it up. Your currency, as a law firm, is your intellectual capital. Now, you don’t want to give away everything. That doesn’t work anyway and no one will ever be able to look at your Tweet and then all of a sudden be a Bar Certified Attorney. That’s not going to happen, but they can judge you and they can get a gauge of your credibility versus your competitor based upon what you’re sharing and what you’re involved with.
Here are a couple of questions that you should be answering on that blog that is free that we talked about, depending on what your practice area is. What should I do if my employer isn’t paying me overtime? Someone who asks that question is having a problem. If your firm can solve that problem, among others, you ought to be helping them with the first steps. What should I do if I get a DUI? That person has got a problem. They are ripe for someone to help them, back to the practicality of a case load or a new case. How is alimony calculated in the State of Florida? All these questions that your clients have, whether it’s family law, corporate litigation, all those things are questions that you should be answering.
The other issue is inactive attorneys. I often see a legal marketing group that is all bought in on this and they’re all excited about representing the firm and diving right in and then attorneys, the partners, don’t seem to really be on board with it. “I’ve got too much to do.” That’s understandable, but it’s a problem that holds back and it’s that missing link that, I think, prevents some legal marketing efforts from going from 20 miles an hour to 50 or 60 miles an hour, is not having that group involved.
This takes time but a few tips that I’ve seen work is, enlist senior partners in that process. Enlist junior partners, also, but once you’re engaging the senior partners and they are “encouraging” the junior partners or the associates to be involved in this, the more of a snowball effect you can get. Training and educating. Once they’re able to see how this works and some of the efforts that have materialized as a result of investing in this activity, that can result, once they understand the possibilities and that it’s not just for teenage bloggers, then they begin to come on board and then become real cheerleaders. I’ve seen that happen. Showing the link between activity and efficiency. Everyone is pressed for time but if you can demonstrate that this will help you be more efficient with your business development or help you to be on the pathway to getting more attention from people, that’s helpful.
Then, also, that people buy from people. When I see law firms get business it’s usually because the attorney gets the business. Not always the case, obviously. The brand is important, who they are, and the cache, and the history, and the longevity, credibility. All those things are important, but I often see a problem referred to someone that I know, someone who I go to church with or someone that I know from playing golf or someone I’ve traveled with or met. I know that person. If you encourage them that it’s not just that the company, or the firm, social media presence has a couple of new posts on it. It’s that you are out there and you’re active as an attorney and the people that you are connected with are seeing what you’re doing and they’re keeping you top of mind by sharing content, not advertisements, not hire me. I see that and that doesn’t look good. It’s, “Here’s something that just happened, alimony reform. This is what just occurred at the state level. Might want to be concerned about this. Here’s what you need to know.” Those are the things that drive engagement.
Then, also, appeal to the competitive element. Most attorneys, if not all attorneys, I know are pretty competitive people. Showing them what other firms are doing or successes that other attorneys are having oftentimes drives activity. Here’s the other one, often an overwhelmed staff. “Okay, we’re in on this, but where do we start? How do we get our arms around all this effort? We’ve got writing. We’ve got posting. We’ve got timelines. We’ve got sponsorships. We’ve got responding to feedback. We have policy. We have planning.” The list goes on and on. That can very quickly overwhelm an internal staff. A lot of times inside a small firm that might just be part of the administrator’s job. Larger firms might have a team and it’s still a big effort when you’ve two or three or four people inside your firm looking at the marketing.
Here are a couple of things. Look before you leap. Before you just jump in plan a few things you might want to do. Start small. Think about where you could start with one channel or one post a month. You might ultimately want to be at four or five posts or six posts a month along with a presence on LinkedIn, a presence on Twitter, a presence on Facebook, but starting small and thinking: crawl, walk, run. Developing a content calendar, which is on your list here.
Most of you are pretty familiar, I’m sure, with what an editorial or a content calendar is, but it’s just planning out a year in advance, or six months in advance, “Here are the things we want to talk about as they relate to what’s going on around us.” It might be the legislative session that you want to tie in to. It might be events that are happening here locally that you want to tie in to. It might be cases that you’ve won or been awarded. Having a calendar to help you schedule out when these things need to happen helps to reduce that feeling of anxiety of, “What am I going to post next week?” Just think about it in advance.
Also, engage others in the process. This really should be a joint effort across your firm. If you don’t have the resources internally to do it you engage others sometimes. That’s why people like me have jobs. If we don’t have the resources we’ll find someone who does, either a freelancer or a firm that can help us with this. My caveat to that is, don’t give the strategy part to an intern or a student just because they know how to use Facebook and post something. That’s something that I use as a refrain sometimes. One of our most popular blog posts has been about social media and interns, because it often can go wrong.
Then, also, use tools like HootSuite and Sprout Social. If you haven’t heard of those tools, they are platforms that allow you to manage all these social media accounts across your enterprise so you don’t have to feel like you’ve got to memorize every password and go to this application and that application. It’s not as simple as I’m making it sound but there are tools that help you to do that. The other thing I see a lot is boring content. This is hard because how do you make things interesting? We struggle with the same thing. We see more success out of posts that aren’t just about marketing, but they’re about marketing and something else that people find interesting.
I saw the stadium, the Orlando City soccer stadium, on the horizon. We recently did a post on marketing and the success of the marketing efforts of Orlando City Soccer. That’s been one of our most popular posts. It’s gotten a lot of attention. We like to think it’s because we’re great, but we really know it’s because people are interested in this town in the phenomenon of Orlando City Soccer. Like a newspaper, we actually called them and interviewed them and did some analysis. There’s no reason you all can’t be doing that. We find those kinds of posts are more interesting to people. How do you do that? Back to this idea of content marketing, don’t advertise, but think about something that will inform or influence the audience.
Another thing we encourage you to do is to profile your different audience segments. Think about your areas of law that you practice. I made this up, but you got Herb, Nancy, and Thomas. Herb is 64. Nancy is 29. Thomas is 42. Herb is about to retire, Nancy is about to get married, and Thomas is in-house council for a publicly-traded corporation. The motivational overview, or what they care about: Herb is interested in estate planning issues as he heads into retirement. That’s what’s on Herb’s mind right now. Nancy is interested in the ins and outs of prenuptial agreements as she prepares for marriage. That may be something that hopefully she doesn’t have to worry about, but family law is family law. Thomas wants to know more about creative ways to manage his caseload effectively because he’s got all these cases that he’s managing and dealing with and he’s trying to figure out how to do that better, how to do it more efficiently. A law firm is in the position to answer all these questions because those are the ones that are being asked.
Again, if the attorneys want traffic from Google they have to produce content that is interesting. They can’t produce content that’s interesting unless we know who these people are and we’ve really thought about what it is they care about. That’s the essence, in my opinion, of how you develop a good corporate blog. As you look at this intersection about what’s happening in your business or your firm and what these people actually care about. It’s an overlap. There’s a small area. It’s not everything you do as a firm, and it’s not everything they care about, but let’s look at the motivational profile of our prospects, or our clients, and then let’s figure out, how do we write content to those pieces, to those areas of their concern or their interest.
Here’s just some dos and don’ts in general. I don’t know if that’s easy for you to see. On the left side is the things you should write about. The right side is things you shouldn’t write about. These are based upon what we see. Let’s start with what you shouldn’t write about, because we don’t care, back to the what do we care about. We don’t care about staff birthdays or summer vacations or a profile on the interns or your favorite coffee drink or your pet names, hobbies, off topic musing, or how great you think the firm is. We’ll be the judge of that, as consumers, of how great you are.
You’ve got to be in a position where you talk about things that really matter, that they care about, things like industry shifts or problems that you have solved recently; ideas that help your clients prepare either for tax season or a change that’s happening in the environment with regard to eminent domain, any of these areas, alimony reform is another one; third party endorsements that you have, to the extent you can do that within your Bar regulations; testimonials; important personnel changes that you’ve made; new products or services; or just anything original where you’ve just said, “I think our client base as a whole is interested in this. We should be the ones writing about it, even though we’re a law firm and that doesn’t feel necessarily right. If we can tie our business to a topic of interest then we’re in a very good position.” That’s what I have in terms of misconceptions. Thank you very much.