Good marketing or bad spam?
During my time on Facebook I have noticed an interesting phenomenon. Sometimes I will see five or more law firms post the same exact thing. The firms seem to be located in the same state and normally the post in question is news from that state with a link to a newspaper article.
The posts come one after the other, so they are either being posted automatically or someone is physically going through some kind of list, and then pasting the post over and over again on the walls of these firms.
In the past, aside from a flash of irritation at being spammed, I haven’t given this much thought or done anything about it. This time I happened to be working on cleaning up my friend list and so I went to all five of these firms and unfriended them.
Therefore, if the goal of these posts was to encourage business or interaction, it did the exact opposite.
What’s the point?
Based on what I am seeing, I believe there is one company responsible for all of these posts. My guess is that some law firms, all from the same state, have hired this company to create Facebook content. This spam is what they are getting in return for their money. I hope they aren’t spending much on this service.
Social media, by its nature, has to be social. It has to be engaging. It has to be sincere. And the same item posted over and over on Facebook isn’t fooling anyone. What is the point of hiring someone if all they are going to do is take the exact same copy and post it on a bunch of Facebook accounts or pages?
If you are going to go to the trouble and expense of hiring someone to write your Facebook posts, make sure at the very least, that they aren’t posting the same thing all over the place.
The best ways to handle Facebook & Twitter
The absolute best way to put content on your firm’s Facebook/Twitter page is to do it yourself. This enables you to communicate with your potential clients. Think of it this way. Would you send someone else out to have coffee with a potential client? Especially someone who isn’t an attorney and doesn’t know the ethics of practice or your area of law? Of course not. You would go yourself, or send one of your younger associates. Since Facebook is just another form of networking, it is best to handle it the way you would any other networking and keep it in house.
Posting doesn’t need to be a monumental task. Simply post something once a week on Facebook and have it automatically post to Twitter. Set your accounts so you can see when you get responses and then you don’t have to check every day.
I understand everyone is busy and adding yet another form of networking, another daily or weekly task can be difficult if not impossible. So there is still a way to have a Facebook and Twitter presence without doing it completely by yourself. The second best way to put content on your firm’s Facebook/Twitter page is to hire someone who takes the time to get to know your practice, understands the ethics, and can write original, relevant and engaging posts. This will require communication with someone from your firm on a somewhat consistent basis. If we take this to the offline world, consider this step being analogous to hiring a solid PR firm that works with you and your firm to create a positive impression of you in the community.
Another way to post on Facebook and Twitter is to hire someone to put content on your site that isn’t particularly unique, but at least is not repetitive to other firms of the same type. But keep in mind, while this type of thing works well to increase blog rankings (see my post tomorrow on blogs) it really doesn’t work all that well to encourage “likes” and engagement on Facebook. Don’t expect much of a response. However, you will have a wall that looks robust, so you will have a presence. So if all you are after is a presence, this will work just fine.
Create a Facebook presence and simply treat it like another Website. In this case have someone who knows what they are doing create a nice looking Facebook page for you. By a nice looking page I do not mean that someone creates a page with the firm’s name, puts in a picture, fills out the info and calls it a day. I mean a pleasing welcome page, bios for your attorneys, information about the firm. Then have the attorneys from your firm recommend the page and encourage their friends to like it. In essence what this creates is a static presence for your firm on Facebook. What this means is that if someone is looking for an attorney in your area of practice, and that person searches on Facebook (which a lot of people do these days) s/he will find you. By having a robust page, with a lot of information, you are encouraging potential clients to contact you.
Don’t do this
Don’t do what the firms I mentioned at the start of this post are doing. Don’t hire a company that posts the same thing for a whole bunch of firms. You might as well not have a Facebook presence at all, because you will end up doing more harm than good by irritating potential clients. Just create a nice page and forget about the day-to-day engagement.
A note on the pages/accounts
Regardless of whether you plan to engage on Facebook yourself or have someone else do it, you should make sure you have a nice looking Facebook page as described in choice four. Please make sure it is actually a page, not an account. Accounts are for individuals. Pages are for companies. By using an account for a firm you are (1) violating Facebook’s terms of service, (2) making people take the step of requesting to be friends instead of just being able to follow you, (3) making you harder to find, and (4) not taking advantage of the myriad tools available to pages but not to accounts.
On Twitter, make sure your Twitter account is well set up with a professional picture of you or your firm, a correctly written bio and appropriate contact information.