Tag Archives: social media

Planning your social media activity

In this article, we will look at planning your social media activity, which is an essential part of your content strategy. In a previous article, we explained that your content strategy is the high-level vision that guides your future content development to deliver against a specific business objective. A quick recap: Defining a content strategy consists of three phases: identifying your business objective, identifying your target audience, and identifying the content that your target audience needs. So, the first thing to do is to identify your business objective. What does your law firm stand for, and what do you want to achieve with the content you provide? Be as specific as possible. Then learn as much as possible about your target audience and what you have to offer them that sets you apart from the competition. Analyse what information your clients need, and where they can be found. Researching all of this will provide you with the data that will show you what to write, for whom, how, and where.

Once you have your content strategy, you can start planning your social media activity. In this article, we will look at content plans and content calendars, at tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to help you manage your posting activity, and we will end with some practical tips and reminders.

A social media content plan is an advanced directive on how to manage your content on the evolving platforms in accordance with your content strategy. Once you have set your objectives and identified and located your target audience, you start selecting the appropriate channels where you will post your messages.

Choose your channels: Many people make the mistake of thinking that distributing content on as many platforms as possible is a good thing, but it is not. It does not keep in mind where your target audience resides. So, you are better off first locating where your target audience resides. Also keep in mind that different social media channels have different value propositions, which means you often should use different channels for different purposes: reposting memes, e g., is more appropriate on Twitter or Instagram than it is on LinkedIn or Medium. Posting a bibliography of your articles makes more sense in a LinkedIn profile or business page, or a Facebook business page than it does on Twitter or Instagram.

Choose your messages: Once you identified the channels you plan to use, you can start organizing your content and decide how to distribute it over the different channels. It makes sense to create a content library. If you provide professional content, you can categorize it, and make sure you keep a balance between the different types of topics.

Also keep in mind to not just use social media for self-promotion only. You also want to curate information (i.e., share content from others), as well as interact with other users and their content: like and/or comment on content, etc. The articles listed in the sources mention different ratios you can use for your posts for the ideal blend of content from you, content from others, personal updates, and responses and replies. They all use slightly different ratios. But the only rule everybody agrees on is that number of posts containing your personal content and updates should never exceed the number of posts sharing information from others.

Plan and schedule your posts. For this, you can use a content calendar. You can plan ahead on a daily basis, a weekly basis, a monthly basis, and a yearly basis. After all, some information may be more relevant at specific times. Take, e.g., articles on tax returns, or VAT declarations, or on renting out property during holidays, etc. It makes sense to schedule those well in advance, so you won’t have to start reorganizing your schedule later on. But make sure you also leave room for unscheduled daily updates. Create a workflow where you take out the necessary time for your planning activity as well as for crafting your messages.

It is never a bad idea to get feedback from your team members and/or associates on the content you are planning to post before you post them.

You can create your own content calendar starting from scratch, or you can use existing predefined templates. There are several good, free, templates for content calendars available on the Internet.

Planning and scheduling your posts in this way has many benefits.

  1. You save time by being organized.
  2. There is more consistency in your posts.
  3. Experience shows that when you plan your posts rather than make them up at the spur of the moment, you make fewer typos, and reduce the risk of big
  4. You can get more ambitious with your social strategies.
  5. You don’t miss out on relevant moments
  6. You make higher-quality content
  7. You can track what works, and improve it

To make planning your social media activity easier, Hootsuite and Buffer are two very useful tools. They both are apps that make managing your social media activity a lot easier, by allowing you to post your content to the different channels in a centralized way. Their offerings are fairly similar, and you’ll only need one of them to meet your needs. Let’s do a quick comparison of what they have to offer.

  • Supported Social Networks: both offer access to the main channels, i.e., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Hootsuite also offers access to YouTube, which Buffer, at present does not. Hootsuite also can work with other channels, but typically you have to use paid add-ons for that.
  • Number of social media accounts available: both work with tiers where you pay a higher fee if you want access to more social media accounts, and if you want access for multiple users within your organization. They both have a limited free offer as well.
  • Overall ease-of-use: both programs have been around for several years and by now are both very user-friendly. Most users find Buffer slightly easier to use and get started with.
  • Post scheduling functionality: both offer excellent functionality when it comes to scheduling your posts.
  • Ad hoc posting options: this is integrated and easy in Buffer. In Hootsuite, you will at present need a browser add-on to do this.
  • Conversation management: Buffer has separate tool for this, called Buffer Reply, which costs extra, but it is more intuitive and complete than Hootsuite. Hootsuite has some conversation management functionality built in but is clunky.
  • Content approval features, i.e., where one user creates the posts that another user must approve. Both have the feature built in, but it works better in Hootsuite because it has a better management overview.
  • Reporting and dashboard views: while Buffer’s dashboard is lean and clean, Hootsuite’s dashboard and reporting are more advanced.
  • Content library: Buffer does not have a built-in content library, while Hootsuite does.
  • Tracking and Analytics: Hootsuite gives more analytics features away for free, but Buffer is cheaper for large business needs.
  • Third-party app integrations: both have many, though Hootsuite has slightly more. You will have to check what functionality you want. Some integrations are free, while others are not. Noteworthy is that Zapier has free predefined zaps for each, which can make automation even easier. As of August 2021, Buffer also can directly fetch graphics you created in Canva from your Canva account.
  • Extra products: we already mentioned Buffer Reply higher up, which is a paying app. Buffer also offers Pablo, for graphics, for free, and Analyze, which is a paid app for reporting and web metrics. Hootsuite has its own analysis tool built-in but more advanced features also come at an extra cost. It also has its own -albeit limited – conversation management built-in. It does not offer something similar to Pablo.
  • Team Management: Buffer works well for small teams, but for large organizations Hootsuite is the better option.
  • Advertising: only Hootsuite can create and manage ads.
  • Content Curation: Buffer more easily monitors RSS feeds, but Hootsuite is better at keeping an eye on social trends.
  • Pricing: as mentioned above, both work with a freemium tiered model for their prices. Overall, their prices are comparable.

So, what to choose? For smaller law firms, Buffer is probably the better option, while Hootsuite will generally better meet the needs of medium to large law firms.

Last, but not least, some reminders and tips. We are talking about social media, and it is important to not forget the social in social media! Do not use your social media mainly for self-promotion. And remember that you cannot plan everything in advance. Social media are about interaction, about building trust, about people getting to know you as a person they want to work with. It is also about becoming approachable. Use humour. Show aspects of your personal life. Spend time online daily to like posts, to give replies and make comments… Engage in conversations. Retweet posts you like, as you come across them.

 

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Introduction to Advertising on LinkedIn

This article will provide you with a first introduction to paid advertising on LinkedIn. If you are not familiar with it, advertising on LinkedIn can be at first confusing. The purpose of this article is to provide you with some necessary background on how LinkedIn advertisements work, and what types of advertisements you can use. The first three articles listed in the sources below provide a more in-depth introduction.

Now, why would you, as a lawyer, want to advertise on LinkedIn? LinkedIn is a social media platform that is used by professionals, so it is an ideal way to reach businesses you want to offer your services to. LinkedIn allows you to target very specific groups of individuals. You could, e.g., do a campaign for business owners of small or medium sized businesses in your neighbourhood that specialize in certain products or services. Or you could target the heads of legal departments in bigger companies. LinkedIn also is a good place to advertise job offers. If you are looking for new clients, you can use the funnel approach and create specific ads for specific segments of your target audience based on where in the funnel they are. (More on that later). You can also do something like an email campaign by sending message ads, etc. Add to that, that LinkedIn provides you with the necessary metrics to see how your ads are performing. Given all of the above, it should not come as a surprise that LinkedIn is the preferred social media platform for lawyers to advertise on.

So, how do you get started? Before you can begin to advertise on LinkedIn, there are two prerequisites. First, you must have a company page for your law firm. You cannot advertise on LinkedIn if you only have a personal profile. You need a company page. Secondly, once you have a company page, you need to create at least one account in the Campaign Manager for your law firm. The campaign manager is where you organize your advertisement campaigns. It lets you define your objectives and goals and select your target audiences for each campaign. It lets you set a budget, choose from different types of ads, and set a timeline for your ads. The platform also includes several features designed to help you meet your advertising goals. It is also good to know that you can create more than one account in the campaign manager for your law firm.

Once you have your Campaign Manager account set up, you can start your ad campaign. Typically, this involves seven steps:

  1. Choosing your objective
  2. Defining your target audience
  3. Choosing an ad format
  4. Setting your budget and schedule
  5. Starting to build your ad
  6. If applicable, providing payment information
  7. Measuring and optimizing your campaign

Let us have a closer look at these seven steps.

Step 1: choose your objective. What is your ad for? Is it a job listing? Do you want to attract new clients, or do you want to find people to attend a webinar or seminar you are organizing? LinkedIn uses a funnel approach that is common in digital marketing that involves three stages: awareness, consideration, and conversion. To raise awareness, you typically want views, or impressions as LinkedIn calls them. For consideration and conversion, you typically want people to respond to a call to action, which is measured in clicks. To convince them to respond to your call to action, you may want them to view a video first, etc. The goal you choose will largely determine the rest of your campaign.

Step 2: define your target audience. Selecting the criteria to determine who should see your ad is the same across all objectives and ads that you choose. You have more than 20 different criteria that you can combine, which allows you to be very specific in who you target. These criteria include profession / job title, company size, company name, interests, skills (including languages), seniority, etc. Reaching the correct target audience is one of the most fundamental pillars of success for an ad campaign. In the sources, listed below, you will find an article to assist you in the process of targeting the audience that is right for your campaign.

Step 3: choose an ad format. LinkedIn uses different types and formats of ads that you can choose from. You can use Sponsored Content, Message Ads, Dynamic Ads, Text Ads, or a mix of all four. Sponsored Content appears directly in the LinkedIn feed of people you want to reach. They come in three formats: single image ads, video ads and carousel ads. As the name suggests, message ads send messages directly to LinkedIn Messaging. Dynamic ads are individualized ads that use data that are available in your target audience’s profile. They are available in three formats: follower ads, spotlight ads, and job ads. Text Ads are simple but compelling pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) ads (see below, in step 4).

All in all, this means that at present, LinkedIn offers the following ad formats:

Step 4: set your budget and schedule. You determine the amount of money you want to spend. The cost of the campaign consists of three possible options:

  • Cost per Impression (CPM) refers to the cost of advertising where you pay for each time an ad is displayed. These ads are typically used to raise awareness.
  • Cost per Click (CPC) is where you pay for each time a person responds to a Call-To-Action by clicking on a link. These ads are typically used in lead generation or event registration.
  • Cost per Send (CPS) is used when you do a campaign with message ads, where you pay for each message that is sent. You only pay for messages that are successfully delivered.

Along with your budget, you can also determine the schedule of the ads. Keep in mind that setting your budget and schedule is an interactive process, called bidding, where LinkedIn will, e.g., offer a bundle of ads in a schedule at a certain price, and you can then modify that offer to better suit your needs.

Step 5: start building your ad. LinkedIn provides you with some tools to build your ads. For some ad formats, previews are available. For message ads, it is possible to send yourself a test message. Typically, though, you will want to build your ad outside of LinkedIn first, with professional tools.

Step 6: if applicable, provide payment information. If you are organizing a seminar, webinar or other paying event, you will have to provide payment modalities and information.

Step 7: measure and optimize your campaign. The Campaign Manager offers you a dashboard where you can follow-up on each one of your campaigns. You can review performance metrics, access charts and demographics, etc. It is possible to export these data as a CSV report.

With this information, running an ad campaign on LinkedIn should be less overwhelming.

 

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Instagram for Law Firms

In today’s article, we have a look at Instagram and at how it can be useful for lawyers and law firms. Surprisingly, only 25% of lawyers use Instagram for marketing purposes, even though for most young adults, it is the most important social media network.

Let us start by explaining what it is, for those of you who are not familiar with it. Instagram is social network service for sharing photos and short videos (of up to 60 seconds). It was launched as an app for smart phones in 2010. What made the app stand out, was that it allowed users to easily apply predefined filters to photos they had taken, and then share them either publicly or with their followers. It works with hashtags and locations, and users can browse other users’ public content via these hashtags and locations. Just as is the case with Twitter, hashtag topics can be trending. Users can like photos and videos, and they can comment on them. The app quickly became very popular and was bought by Facebook in 2012.

Why would a law firm consider having an Instagram account? The main reason is for marketing purposes. Instagram is the world’s third most used social media network, with over one billion monthly active users. (Only Facebook and YouTube have more, with 2.8 billion and 2 billion respectively). To put things in perspective, LinkedIn only has 260 million monthly active users, while Twitter has 187 million. More importantly, Instagram is the most used social media platform for consumers between the ages of 18 and 35. And with geolocation tagging, it is an easy way to reach local target audiences.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which are text-based social media, Instagram is primarily a visual medium. And that is one of the main reasons for its popularity: visuals are more appealing than text. And they also tend to evoke more responses: Instagram posts get more engagement than any other social media platforms. Furthermore, it is possible to link your Instagram account to your Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Facebook account, so photos on Instagram are shared on those platforms as well.

Also worth mentioning, is that Instagram can effectively be used as a recruitment tool, as well. (As mentioned above, young adults are far more likely to be on Instagram than on LinkedIn).

So, what services does Instagram offer? It started as a service to share photos and short videos, and that still is what it is mainly used for. But it offers other services as well. Let us start with Instagram Stories. In his article for rankings.io, Chris Dryer explains that “Instagram Stories are photos and videos that you can share throughout the day in a vertical, slideshow format. Unlike regular photo and video posts, these do not appear in the regular Instagram newsfeed or in the grid on your Instagram profile. Instead, they appear at the top of the newsfeed for those who follow your Instagram account.” Important to know is that stories remain available for only 24 hours.

Next, we have Instagram Live. Instagram Live is technically a part of Instagram Stories, and allows you to broadcast a live stream from your phone. These livestreams can last up to one hour. Mind you, as they are a part of the Instagram Stories, they are by default only available for 24 hours after the livestream. It is however possible to save a livestream as a ‘highlight‘, which means it will be added to your user profile.

Another video service Instagram offers, is Instagram TV, usually shortened to IGTV. Whereas Instagram Live videos do not appear in a newsfeed and do automatically disappear, Instagram TV videos are posted to your newsfeed, where a copy of them – with its own URL – remains available. Videos of up to one hour can be uploaded if done so from a web browser. If directly uploaded as a video recorded on your phone, the length is limited to 15 minutes of video.

Instagram also offers Business Pages / Business Profiles. For these, a professional account is needed, but that is as simple as activating the account as a professional one in the settings. Once that is done, the option to fill out a business profile becomes available. Now, if your law firm already has a page on Facebook, it is possible to link your Instagram Business and Facebook pages. This has to be done from within Facebook and will make the information you have on your Facebook page available in Instagram too. It is also possible for the two to automatically share posts, meaning if something is posted on one, it appears on the other as well. So, this is the place to add all the local business details of your law firm. Especially if you know that more than 200 million Instagram users visit an Instagram Business Profile at least once a day.

An additional benefit of setting your Instagram account up as a professional account, is that you get access to Instagram Insights, which provide you with detailed engagement analytics. That makes it easy to follow up on Key Performance Indicators.

As is the case with other social media networks, Instagram also offers the ability to publish Ads. And just like in Facebook and LinkedIn, it is possible to very narrowly define the parameters to identify your target audience.

How do you get started? Setting up an account is easy, and can be done from a smart phone where you first have to download the app. Or you can just sign up using a browser. If you have a Facebook account, you can use your Facebook account to sign up and subsequently sign in. Keep in mind, however, that while signing up can be done from a PC with a browser, uploading photos and videos typically must be done through the app on your smart phone.

Then you start sharing photos. The aim here is to attract leads and to do that, you use your photos to build credibility, trust, and brand awareness among your followers. In her article for Law Firm Ambition, Becky Simms gives the following advice.

  • Build a persona, show your personality and the personality of your law firm. While doing this, focus on approachability.
  • Show the people in your firm, and make sure to post some “life behind the scenes” photographs.
  • Demonstrate community involvement.
  • Look for opportunities to illustrate your expertise, without giving legal advice. Post pictures of articles you have written, webinars you have given, conferences you spoke at or attended, etc.
  • Check whether your colleagues can provide content.
  • Avoid direct self-promotion.
  • Use the Instagram app on your mobile phone to take photos.
  • Aim for a relevant image with every social networking post.
  • Use hashtags on Instagram to make your images more visible / easier to find. Don’t be shy to use many hashtags.
  • Check what other lawyers are doing for inspiration.
  • Keep a watching brief to see how the Instagram platform develops.

In an article in Forbes Magazine, Jenna Gross recommends using the following marketing tactics:

  • Create a plan of action.
  • Elicit emotions.
  • Build a visual narrative.
  • Create conversations.
  • Simplify the path for potential clients to become clients.

Two more practical tips: there are third-party programs like Buffer and Hootsuite that allow you to schedule posts in advance. They both offer free and paying plans. You can start with the free version and upgrade if need be.

As mentioned above, uploading videos and photos must be done from a smart phone. There are mainly two solutions if you want to use your PC or laptop instead. The first one is to install Bluestack which will allow you to run Android Apps on your PC or laptop. Once Bluestack is installed, you install the Instagram for Android app, and you are ready to go. Alternatively, you can use the Vivaldi browser, which allows Instagram to run as a desktop application in a web panel from where photos can also be uploaded. (See https://vivaldi.com/blog/instagram-post-from-computer/ for an explanation).

So, go ahead, and give it your best shot.

 

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Using video in your law firm

Video has become the driving force of the Internet. While the actual numbers may vary from source to source, most estimate that 80% to 82% of Internet traffic in 2020 consisted of video, and that one third of online activity consisted of watching videos. In the US, e.g., 85% of people with Internet access watch videos online on a daily basis. In Saudi Arabia, that number is 98%. Most of the videos we watch are entertainment, which is not really a surprise. People love watching videos, and marketers have noticed. In 2018 already, 87% of online marketers used video content. What is important, is that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text. The articles listed in the sources below provide plenty more interesting statistics.

The American Bar Association’s annual Legal Technology Survey Report for 2020 noticed that law firms are hardly using video for anything else than videoconferencing. Only 3% of respondents create videos that provide content, compared to 85% of businesses in general. The report rightfully points out that law firms are missing out on important opportunities by not producing video content.

Because of the pandemic, by now most law firms in the US routinely use videoconferencing. 88% of lawyers have worked remotely in 2020, and for 48% of lawyers working remotely has become their default mode of operation. Rather than have face to face meetings, they will use videoconferencing as long as a physical presence is not required. This sharp increase in videoconferencing also means the most law firms have the necessary setup to start producing videos.

So, what can law firms use video for, other than videoconferencing? Video is commonly used for testimonials, informational videos, explainer videos, storytelling, webinars, and podcast videos. Let us have a closer look those.

Testimonials: legal consumers are online consumers and will check out the law firms online that they consider hiring. Online social proof plays an important part in that. It is the second most important way for legal consumers to decide which law firm they will hire, after direct personal referrals. Potential clients relate to other people sharing their stories and experiences. The Social Media Examiner website suggests the following steps. Start by creating a testimonial questionnaire, with the questions you believe your potential clients would like to see answered. Scout for an appropriate filming location. Set up your shoot and record the Interview. If necessary, edit the video. Put it on your website in a section dedicated to testimonials. Use social media to frequently post links to your testimonial videos.

Informational videos and explainer videos: many law firms already offer a blog or articles on their website that provide potential clients with some free advice on specific topics. This could also be done using video instead of written articles. You can ask local residents to send in some questions, and answer those in short videos, ideally of approximately 3 minutes. You can also create short videos in which you explain some concepts, or how new regulations will affect people. One advantage that these short videos have over written articles, is that they are more likely to be shared on social media. And if you already have a blog, it is a good strategy to repurpose the articles from your blog as short videos. There even are AI solutions (like lumen5.com) available to automate that process.

Storytelling: people like to be able to relate to the people they consider hiring. So, they like to know more about the individuals, and they prefer hearing stories to reading dry exposés. You can create videos about your law firm, the lawyers and staff in it, past successes, etc. Individual lawyers can talk about themselves and, e.g., explain why they chose to become lawyers, or why they decided to specialize in specific fields. The goal of these video stories is to establish a personal connection between the lawyers and their potential clients and to humanize the law firm.

Webinars and video podcasts: whereas webinars are educational workshops on specific topics, podcasts are more of an informal conversation. They typically are more in-depth and last longer than the short informational and explainer videos. It makes sense to record your webinar or podcast and then post the video either on your website or on a hosting platform. Once this is done, they can be shared on social media. You can even release sections of the video as shorter clips.

The Content Marketing Institute gives the following tips for best practices:

  • Invest in the process, not just the product: the videos you post must be an integral pillar of your content marketing strategy, not a side-product. So, determine the role and goals of your video content, and plan your content strategy accordingly.
  • Keep your end goal in mind – and determine how you will know when you have reached it: what do you want to achieve with your video, and what do you want your viewers to do after watching the video?
  • Write a script your audience will want to follow. Use a conversational tone. Speak in short, concise sentences to emphasize key points. Avoid jargon. Do a “table read” test run where you read it out loud before recording to discover where the script may need tweaking.
  • Know when to host and when to post. You can post your videos on your own website, or you can host them on available platforms. For webinars and podcasts, you can consider live streaming platforms and apps. There are dedicated services, but most social media platforms also offer the option these days. And shorter videos can also be posted directly themselves on social media.
  • Set the right stage for social plays: you may have to perform several tests to determine what to post where and when. Some content will, e.g., work better on a platform like LinkedIn, while other content may work better on channels like Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok.
  • Include a transcript: search engines are not good at finding content in videos, and your viewers may want to quickly reread something that was said in the video.
  • Tag your work: if you want your video to be found by new viewers, add the relevant tags, titles and descriptions to your videos.
  • Push your videos to influencers, subscribers, fans, and followers to expand your viewer base.
  • Track attention span to identify optimization opportunities: “Engagement data and other key performance indicators can provide important insights on your audience’s preferences and behaviors, which you can use to refine and customize your video strategy. For example, if you notice that prospects are dropping off 10 seconds into your videos, your intros might need to be trimmed.”
  • Monitor viewer reactions to gain additional consumer insights: on a platform like Facebook, e.g., you can not only keep track of the number of engagements, but also of the type of engagement: did they share your video? Did they “like” it, or did they respond with “love”, “sad”, or “angry”? Access to this type of metadata can help you determine whether you are getting the desired response to your video.

Keeping these best practices and tips in mind will help you optimize the success of your videos.

 

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The 2020 Social Law Firm Index

As usual, some weeks ago Good2bSocial (www.good2bsocial.com) published its annual Social Law Firm Index. If you are not familiar with it, it is study of social media marketing adoption, use, and practices within the legal industry. It analyses each firm’s presence on the internet and across social media and evaluates their social usage to extend thought leadership content and to engage with clients and constituents. It measures social media reach, engagement, and marketing performance on platforms that include Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Based on this information, the report also publishes rankings of America’s Top 200 law firms for best social media achievement.

Due to the coronavirus, 2020 was a different year, and this shows in the findings of the report. Here are the key takeaways.

  1. Firms bulked up their digital marketing strategies during the pandemic: In the olden days, lawyers mainly relied on ‘social marketing’ to gather clients through, e.g., person to person interactions at social events, etc. Even in this digital age, it was a quite common and important way to reach potential new clients. But in 2020 the coronavirus made sure that no longer was a viable option. As law firms had to shift their entire practice online, they also were forced to embrace digital marketing strategies to extents never witnessed before. In 2020, “we saw firms embrace webinars, write and promote content, increase their social media advertising budgets and launch podcasts. Digital marketing is here to stay and it’s great watching firms embrace it and learn from best practices and opportunities to grow.” (Guy Alvarez, CEO Good2bSocial).
  2. The year of the webinars: In 2020, webinars became one of the most important tools for law firms to continue marketing and providing valuable content for their clients and potential clients. Where webinars have always been an effective digital marketing tool for law firms, in 2020 they became a necessity.
  3. The rise of podcasts: 2020 also was the year law firms started embracing podcasts. An unprecedented 38% of the top 200 US law firms are producing podcasts, and that percentage is expected to keep increasing in 2021. Podcasts allow law firms to tell their story, demonstrate their expertise and subject-matter authority, while potentially reaching brand-new audiences.
  4. Increased interest in SEO: in 2019, Google made some fundamental changes to its search algorithms. The underlying idea is that people are looking for answers to questions. So, the algorithms were adapted to prioritize web pages that provide the relevant information to answer those questions. In other words, the focus shifted from key word search to relevant content search. This forced many law firms to re-evaluate the content they were providing and to shift their SEO efforts to emphasize the most useful, relevant and targeted content they are providing.
  5. Paid LinkedIn goes mainstream: law firms noticed that their advertising on LinkedIn was far more effective than on other platforms. “The platform’s major selling point for marketers is its ability to target an audience by their industry, job title and work experience and more, not just their demographics.” As a result, paid advertising on LinkedIn has become the new normal for law firms.

Apart from these key takeaways, the report also contains several predictions for 2021:

Technology adoption will be at an all-time high: the adoption of technology by law firms was spectacularly accelerated by the pandemic. Because people could not meet in person, they met in cyberspace, and the legal profession followed suit: not only did lawyers start having virtual meetings with clients, but court cases too were handled online. As a result, law firms have relied on technology like never before and that is expected to continue in 2021. As they are getting familiar with all these new technologies, they will continue to reap more benefits from it. Law firms started embracing creativity and incorporating artificial intelligence, which also became a tool for data-driven marketing campaigns. It also allows to extract the right insights from the data they already have collected in their different software platforms. All of this is expected to contribute to increased operational efficiency, and better risk management.

Greater adoption of account-based marketing: one of the shifts we are witnessing is the new focus on account-based marketing. Account-based marketing is also known as key account marketing. The idea is to identify key accounts and then customize your marketing strategies for each one of them individually, rather than having one general marketing strategy for all accounts. It is more effective, and makes it easier to track and measure goals, and identify a clear ROI. As it focuses on the client’s journey and experience, it also results in a boost in client loyalty.

Increased use of social media advertising: the pandemic has led to an increase in social media advertising and this is expected to continue in 2021. LinkedIn saw its market share among law firm increase, and Facebook wants to remain competitive and is modifying its offerings. The result will be that it will be easier and more effective to use social media advertising than before.

Greater emphasis on website seo + cro: as attracting new clients online is becoming the new normal, more attention will be paid to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Where websites used to be online brochures, they are now full-fledged tools for acquiring new clients. The conversion rate is the percentage of your website visitors or leads that become actual clients, and CRO focuses on strategies and technologies to optimize those conversion rates. It is a step-by-step process that includes looking for ways to engage clients, including Calls to Action (CTA) on web pages, etc.

In previous years, the report also included a list of best and worst practices. This year’s report is slightly different in that it still contains a list with worst practices to avoid, but no longer contains a list of general best practices. Instead, those best practices are now analysed per specific platform, which falls beyond the scope of this article. We do have the time to go over the list of the worst practices that should be avoided.

Websites aren’t optimized for conversions: the primary function of a website should be to attract new clients, and for that reason the focus should be on conversions.

No true clarity on target audience or business goals: a website should not be a mere presence on the Internet, aimed at the public at large. Law firms need to identify their target audiences and ideal clients, and they need to clearly define what they want to accomplish with their website.

Not using data/ technology to evolve: to effectively use your website to attract new clients, you have to keep track and follow-up on all kinds of metrics: what works well, and what does not, when it comes to standing out, attracting the attention of potential clients and ultimately converting those leads to clients?

Only focusing on the top of the funnel: CRO strategies use the analogy of a funnel, where at the top of the funnel, you have all the potential new clients, and at the bottom of the funnel, you have those that become actual clients. The CRO strategies are aimed at guiding the leads through that funnel. Many law firms make the mistake of only focusing on the first step, or the top of the funnel. They also need to pay attention to the next steps, or the middle of the funnel. “Middle-of-funnel prospects are already in the buying funnel and are perfect candidates for targeted marketing campaigns. They need attention that is unique and relevant to them. When law firms build a collaborative relationship with the prospect, they can acquire more data about them to better understand their problems and needs and offer them the personalized approach to close the deal.”

That concludes the quick overview of the 2020 Social Law Firm Index. 2020 surely was an interesting year from a digital marketing point of view, where the pandemic became an unexpected catalyst for faster digital marketing adoption. That evolution is expected to continue in 2021.

 

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Social Media for Legal Research

We live in a connected, online world like never before. This opens up new opportunities that are not always obvious. Have you, as a lawyer, considered using social media for research? Sure, you can use social media to check out what your competitors are doing. But there is so much more that you can do. You can use social media very effectively to stay up to date with what is happening in your field of expertise. You can also perform research that pertains to a case that you are handling. And if you are a litigator, you can research your client’s opposing party, witnesses, jurors and even – when warranted – judges. As the example of the judge suggests, there also are ethical considerations to consider. Let us have a look at all of these.

Ongoing research – staying up to date

Social media provide an excellent way to stay up to date with what is happening in your field. Personally, I use Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, and Quora for this constantly. In Twitter, you can follow the authors and publications that are active in your field. Look for key clients and service suppliers, thought leaders, industry heads, etc. I would recommend creating a list in Twitter that you add them to. That way, you just have to check your list to find the relevant tweets. Noteworthy, too, is that by default lists are public, which means you can follow other people’s lists.

You can do the same in LinkedIn. Even if a person or publisher is not a connection, you usually can follow them. And as is the case for Twitter, you can create custom lists that make it easy and convenient to quickly go through the relevant material. The same goes for Facebook, where you can follow people who are not friends, and you can create custom lists. Typically, though, LinkedIn and Twitter tend to provide more useful information, as lawyers tend to be less likely to put legally relevant articles on Facebook.

LinkedIn and Facebook both have a Group feature, where you can create your own group or join an existing group. Both have plenty of groups that are dedicated to legal topics or fields of expertise. Again, the LinkedIn groups generally outshine the ones of Facebook when it comes to the quality of the information that they are providing.

Quora is a social media platform that focuses on answering questions, but where authors can also publish links to relevant information. Quora has sections that are dedicated to legal topics, and you can configure the email notifications to receive notifications when new information or questions are available.

Medium largely is a blogging platform. Like Quora, it offers the possibility to subscribe to certain topics where you get notifications when new information is available.

Also of interest in this context is Pinterest. In Pinterest, users can create boards that they can ‘pin’ information or links to information on. You can also create sub-boards. If you are interested in legal technology, e.g., you could create a board legal tech, with possible sub-boards for artificial intelligence, office automation, social media, etc. What makes Pinterest even more interesting is that you can also follow other users and/or their boards. So, you can share the benefits of work others have done.

Legal research for a case

A second area where social media are useful is to look for relevant legal information for a specific case. One caveat is that a lot of social media content is not indexed by search engines. So, you may need to perform your research on each platform separately! Quora, Medium, and Pinterest are notable exceptions in that most search engines do index their content. So, for those, it is not necessary to perform separate searches. With LinkedIn, articles that are published on its platform typically do get indexed by search engines, but regular posts and the content of groups, e.g., are not.

Both Twitter and LinkedIn have advanced search features that allow you to perform focused keyword searches. In Twitter, one would typically use hashtags for that. In theory, it is possible to do the same on Facebook, but thus far in practice this has rarely yielded useful results.

Social media for litigation research

A third area where social media can be particularly useful is for research for litigation purposes, in several different ways.

A first way is that social media could be used for opinion mining, i.e. to measure the public opinion on a topic. This typically is useful in criminal cases, especially if a jury is involved. You may want to avoid basing a defence on a narrative that people respond negatively to.

Similarly, you can use social media for reputation research, either on your clients or on their opponents. Apart from profiling litigants and opposing counsel, you can also profile prospective jury pool members, as well as witnesses. Based on the information you find, you can excuse prospective jury members, or impeach witnesses.

You can also check whether the judge has any connections to the parties or their counsel. There have been several instances where a judge had to recuse him- or herself because they were Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections with one of the lawyers.

Furthermore, and importantly, social media are useful when gathering facts and evidence. People have e.g. been fired, lost insurance claims, and have been convicted or acquitted, based on evidence that was found on social media. When looking for facts and evidence, keep in mind that it can be spread over all platforms. You may have to spend some time going through accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, … There already are third party service providers who can do this for you.

Ethical considerations

Finally, there are ethical considerations to take into account. As a first rule of thumb, any information that is publicly available on the Internet for all to see can be used in court. As a second rule of thumb, it typically is not admissible to directly communicate with opposing parties or witnesses: do not send them friend requests, do not follow them or communicate with them on social media. It is wise to apply the same rule of thumb when it comes to judges, as it can result in their recusal or a ground for appeal.

In short, social media can be useful for research purposes in different ways. When researching facts and evidence for specific cases, they can offer a wealth of information, but there are ethical considerations to take into account. When in doubt, contact your local bar association.

 

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Introduction to Twitter for Lawyers

The 2019 Tech Survey Report from the American Bar Association revealed that while on average 25% of lawyers uses Twitter personally, only 14% of law firms use Twitter. Which is surprising as it has a lot to offer. So, in this article we will have a closer look at the benefits of using Twitter, and how you can get started. First, for those of you who are not familiar with it, let us explain what it is.

The Wikipedia describes Twitter as a “microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as ‘tweets’. Registered users can post, like, and retweet tweets, but unregistered users can only read them. Users access Twitter through its website interface, through Short Message Service (SMS) or its mobile-device application software (‘app’)”. Apps are available from third party service providers as well. It was launched in 2012, and in 2019 had 330 million active monthly users. In May 2020, Twitter was the third most visited website in the world, after YouTube and the Wikipedia.

The word microblogging refers to the fact that tweets are limited in the amount of characters they can contain. Originally, in line with SMSs, Tweets were limited to 140 characters. In November 2017, that amount was doubled to 280 characters. URLs are typically not counted as characters. If the URL refers to a page that has the relevant tags in its header, a preview of the page will be shown. Apart from text characters, Tweets can have emoticons, often referred to as emoji, in the text. They can also have images and short videos as attachments that will be shown along with the tweet.

What are the main reasons to use Twitter as a law firm? A first reason is that it is a platform with 330 million active monthly registered users. On top of that, it gets a 200 million non-registered visitors per month. Chances are your law firm may have potential clients who use Twitter. A second reason is that Twitter is an excellent networking tool where you can interact with attorneys with similar practices. If you have a blog or publish articles, Twitter is a place to promote those articles. It also allows you to connect with members of the media. Twitter can be an excellent news source too (if you follow reliable sources) and it allows you to obtain information that will be useful in your practice.

A reason to use Twitter as a law firm that is often overlooked is for legal research. Apart from just following legal authors whose articles you’re interested in, you can also create lists in Twitter that you dedicate to one or more topics. You could, e.g., create a list for legal technology, and add the lawyers, researchers, and companies who offer relevant information to the list. Such lists offer a quick and convenient way to get an overview of what is going on and make it easy to stay up to date. When dealing with a specific problem, you can also perform searches on key words by using hashtags. (We dedicated two articles to hashtags in the past. You can find the links in the sources below).

Also noteworthy is that Twitter has been used to serve subpoenas. In August 2018, e.g., Wikileaks was served a subpoena over Twitter. And there also was the case in 2017 where a personal injury letter was allowed to deliver a spoliation letter (i.e. a letter to preserve evidence) to Uber via Twitter.

So, how do you get started? Signing up is free, and can be done at https://twitter.com/signup. You have to choose a unique username (or ‘handle’ as they are often called). Preferably choose one that makes it easy to remember or recognize you by. Some authors advise something related to your personal name, while others advise rather signing up with your law firm’s name. Online consumers typically want to get to know the personality of the person they are dealing with. So, my advice would be that if you set up only one Twitter account to go for an individual one, as it will be easier to relate to. Keep in mind, though, that usernames can only be a maximum of 14 characters long.

You can sign up with an existing email address (that stays private) or with a cell phone (the number stays private, too), and you will be asked to verify your account.

Once you have signed up, you will want to fill out the details for your profile. You can provide a brief Twitter biography. It is good to combine both professional and some personal information in there. You can mention your law firm, as well as some of interests and/or social activities. Remember that people want to be able to relate to you. Stacey Buke recommends a) using a high quality photo for your profile picture, preferably the same professional headshot as your website biography and other social media channels; b) a link to your law firm website to obtain a high value backlink and to drive traffic from the social network to your main digital asset; and c) to complete the information on your location so people know where to find you in case they want to hire you. You may also have a first look at the settings to add more information and to customize privacy and safety settings.

Next, you will want to choose who to follow on Twitter. There are several ways to do this. You can import your existing address book, or you can manually add accounts you want to follow. You can include people you know, clients and potential clients, attorneys with similar practices, service providers you are using or are interested in, people with similar interests, etc. You can also see who people that you follow, follow, and/or who they included in lists they may have created.

If you have more than one Twitter account, or more than one social media account, you could consider using a tool like Tweetdeck (for multiple Twitter accounts) or Buffer or Hootsuite (for multiple social media accounts). These tools typically have a user-friendly interface that allows you to manage several accounts at the same time. Both Hootsuite and Buffer work on a Freemium model, where basic functionality is free for a small number of accounts, and you must pay for the ability to manage more accounts and for premium functionality.

Then it is time to start tweeting. If you have a blog, you can put up links to articles on it. You can use tweets for announcements and news. You can tweet about things that interest you. Keep in mind that social media are not just for self-promotion. They are meant to interact with people. You can reply to tweets, retweet or like their tweets (it is a simple as pressing a button). One author recommends a ratio of 50% retweets or tweets to other people’s content, 30% interactions, and only 20% promotion. Make sure to include some humour in your tweets.

Stacey Burke suggests ten ways lawyers should use Twitter:

  1. Networking
  2. Content promotion
  3. Media coverage
  4. Sharing news of interest to you and your followers
  5. Getting a little personal
  6. Engaging with hashtags
  7. Sharing images and videos, as tweets with images get 150% more retweets than those without.
  8. Live tweeting events
  9. Joining in conversations
  10. Analyzing your competitive landscape

So, give it a go. In a future article, we will focus on how you can use Twitter for marketing purposes, and on how you can grow your own following.

 

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An Introduction to Facebook for Lawyers

A while ago we wrote an introduction for lawyers to LinkedIn. In today’s article, we’ll focus on Facebook, and how it can be useful for lawyers. From a professional content marketing point of view, both LinkedIn and Facebook have similar offerings. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. When something works well on one platform, the other is likely to implement it as well.

Let us first, in the unlikely event the reader isn’t familiar with Facebook, shortly explain what it is. The (Dutch language) Wikipedia defines it as follows: ” Facebook (formerly Thefacebook) is the name of an online social networking site and the eponymous company headquartered in Menlo Park, California, United States. After registration, users can create a personal profile, add friends (contacts, contacts), send messages, post statuses, post photos, share videos, and receive notifications from ‘friends’ who update their profile. Users can also join different groups and categorize their ‘friends’ into groups, such as ‘Friends at work’ or ‘Good friends’.”

When it comes to using social media for professional purposes, Facebook is the second most used website among lawyers. LinkedIn, with its focus on professional connections, is the most used. It’s worth noting, however, that smaller firms and firms that offer their services to individuals rather than companies, tend to prefer Facebook over LinkedIn. (People used to joke that mainly personal injury lawyers were advertising on Facebook).

Why would you, as a lawyer, choose to use Facebook for professional reasons? Carolyn Elefant gives 5 reasons:

  1. Everyone’s on Facebook. As Lexblog’s Kevin O’Keefe also points out, Facebook is by far the largest social media website. Whereas LinkedIn may have 260 million active users worldwide, Facebook has an estimated 2.38 billion active users worldwide. If you want to meet people online, Facebook is good place to start.
  2. Users on Facebook are engaged. Online legal consumers love engagement, and Facebook thrives on engagement: messages are liked, shared, commented upon. Many lawyers first meet their clients through social interactions, and Facebook is designed for that.
  3. Facebook is mobile. Online legal consumers love their mobile devices, and Facebook accommodates them.
  4. Facebook is the most versatile platform, that offers the most tools to interact with people in different ways. And that includes tools for advertising to very specific target audiences.
  5. Facebook isn’t all about the law. Legal consumers prefer to work with people they know and feel they can trust. By having a glimpse at lawyers’ personal lives, relationships and trust can be developed.

 

So, what does Facebook have to offer? As mentioned above, it’s similar to what LinkedIn does, i.e. personal profiles, company pages, groups, advertising & metrics. Apart from those, it also offers Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and chatbots. Let us have a closer look.

 

Personal profiles: the first thing you do when you sign up to Facebook, is to create a personal profile. Where on LinkedIn your profile is more of a résumé, your Facebook profile is more personal. You can post messages, add photos, videos, etc. You also want to connect with other people by asking them to be your ‘friend’. Once people are part of your friends you can start interacting with them in several ways. It is possible to post entire blog articles as messages on Facebook.

 

Company pages: Facebook also allows you to create pages. These aren’t just company pages but can also be dedicated to certain causes, or even certain products or services. As a law firm, you’ll want to make sure your law firm has its own company page where you can provide information about the firm and interact with anyone who decides to interact with you through the page. What makes company pages even more interesting, is the metrics Facebook provides for them (see below). Facebook also offers chatbot functionality, and it’s fairly easy to add a chatbot to your company page.

 

Groups: Facebook also uses groups, where people discuss the topics the group is dedicated to. If you want to build a positive online reputation for yourself, actively participating in groups in a helpful way is recommended. You may even consider starting your own group and inviting people to it.

 

One of the points where Facebook excels is advertising and metrics. When you post a message, photo or video on your company page, Facebook offers you metrics on how many people saw them, shared them, interacted with them, etc. When you sign up to advertise through Facebook, it opens up a whole new world of metrics, and it allows you to use different criteria to target specific users. Say you have published a book, and created a page for it, you could have Facebook show ads to people within your geographical area that have interacted with the page in some way (liked it, commented on a message, etc.) But you could even be far more specific and use anything Facebook knows about its users to target them with your ads. If you’re a divorce lawyer, you could, e.g., target anybody in your geographical area who changed their marital status from married to it’s complicated.

 

Facebook also offers secure communications through Messenger and WhatsApp, which are more secure than non-encrypted emails. Worth noting is that chatbots can be integrated into these, too.

 

How do you get started? Tammy Cannon of the Social Media Examiner suggests the following three steps.

  1. Support your business with a Facebook personal profile.
  2. Market and advertise your business with a Facebook Business Page.
  3. Engage a narrow audience with Facebook Groups.

In follow-up articles, we’ll explore more in detail how you as a lawyer can use Facebook, including how you can effectively market yourself on the platform.

 

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The 2019 Social Law Firm Index

Good2bSocial (www.good2bsocial.com) recently published its annual ‘Social Law Firm Index.’ It is study of social media marketing adoption, use, and best practices within the legal industry. The Social Law Firm Index analyses each firm’s presence on the internet and across social media and evaluates their social usage to extend thought leadership content and to engage with clients and constituents. It measures social media reach, engagement, and marketing performance on platforms that include Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Based on this information, the report also publishes rankings of America’s Top 200 law firms for best social media achievement.

The report observed the following trends for 2019:

  • There is a notable rise in ‘Paid Social’, especially on LinkedIn. When you publish an article, your followers or connections can read the article. That is referred to as organic social or organic reach. Paid social is when you pay the platform to promote your content as ‘sponsored content’ on other people’s accounts. The amount of law firms that uses paid social tripled over the last year, from 10 to 30%. LinkedIn remains the most popular platform for lawyers to publish and promote their content.
  • There is a decrease in the use of Facebook, and an increase in the use of Instagram. This reflects a general trend that is not limited to law firms: younger users prefer Instagram to Facebook.
  • People use more videos and podcasts. Traditionally, law firms mainly use blogs. But to stay competitive on social media, video is now a required medium, and law firms are increasingly starting to use video. There also is an increase in podcasts. (Our recent article on podcasts explained the benefits).
  • Law Firms continue to invest in marketing automation. “With marketing automation, your law firm can utilize various tools [to] save time, free up bandwidth and ultimately improve ROI. Time-consuming processes can be replaced by a system that can automatically send out emails based on an email response or website visit. When firms combine content with marketing automation, they can analyze what their clients engage with and how. By knowing more about your client, you can deliver better customer service.” (Legal Newswire)

The report always selects the best performers, and based on their performance, distills the current best practices.

  • Measurement and ROI: the law firms that score well clearly identify their goals and develop clear metrics to evaluate how well different strategies work.
  • Think like a leader: “Most Law firms produce client-centric content that discusses pain points or issues that their clients are facing. They are also publishing content that provides added value to their existing clients. Thought leaders also produce content on a regular and frequent basis, written in an easy-to-digest and understandable style and length.”
  • Employee Engagement: legal consumers want to know the people who will represent their interests and use social media to learn about them. The best performing law firms are investing time and money to properly train their lawyers and employees on the use of social media and digital marketing. They also use specialized platforms that offer employee advocacy tools, like LinkedIn, Elevate, PostBeyond, and Clearview Social.
  • Automation: as was mentioned before, more and more law firms invest in automating their marketing efforts. Notable is the increase in law firms using chat bots on their websites to engage with new leads, 24/7.

The report traditionally also focuses on the worst performers. These are the mistakes you want to avoid.

  • Making marketing decisions without data: The majority of law firms don’t use any metrics to evaluate and improve their marketing efforts. (Confirming what this year’s ABA Tech Report called ‘random acts of marketing’).
  • Having home pages and practice area pages on your website that offer low content. One important criterion, e.g., is whether the page answers the searcher’s query. Avoid pages that are thin on content or merely copy content that can be found on other pages. Are you using the right key words that will attract potential clients? “In today’s marketplace, firms need more than just a sharply designed website—they also need to make sure that they’re using appropriate key terms, that they have content that is both useful and relevant, and that there is an organized and logical home page.”

The report expects the trends it identified (and mentioned in the first part of this article) to continue in 2020.

 

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How to use Hashtags

In a previous article, we explained what hashtags are, and where you would use them. In this follow-up article, we’ll explain what the best ways are to use them.

Let us recap that hashtags typically consists of one or more words, preceded by the #-sign. They can only contain alphabetical characters, digits, and underscores. They cannot contain spaces. Therefore, if your hashtag consists of more than one word, it is a good habit to start each word with its own capital letter. It is best to keep your hashtags short: don’t combine more than two or three words into one hashtag. It is also best to use them in moderation: for most platforms, the rule is that one or two hashtags per post work best. Instagram and Pinterest are the exceptions to that rule, where it is common to use a dozen or more hashtags.

What hashtags do you use, and how do you choose them? The following guidelines are considered ‘best practices’:

  • Be specific: if you post an article on a divorce settlement, then use #DivorceSettlement rather than #CivilLaw.
  • Use relevant hashtags only: most platforms will punish the use of irrelevant hashtags by excluding them from search results or by ranking them lower.
  • Keep it simple: if you’re writing about human rights violations in Europe, use #HumanRights rather than the article and subsection of the ECHR that most people won’t be familiar with.
  • Use hashtags that your audience is looking for. Look at what influencers are doing, i.e. research what other lawyers are using, and choose those hashtags that are used by people who are considered authorities in the field.
  • See what’s trending: if your post addresses topical items, you will get more readers when you use a hashtag that is trending.
  • If you want to raise brand awareness or name recognition, use a unique hashtag.
  • Mix it up: don’t make posts that all use the same hashtags.
  • Avoid ‘bashtags’, i.e. hashtags used to criticize something or somebody.
  • Track how your hashtags are doing.

Twitter, where hashtags were first used, gives its own sets of Dos and Don’ts that is useful, too.

Do

  • Make it easy to remember — and spell. Don’t leave room for possible typos, which will make your Tweet undiscoverable.
  • Be realistic. Don’t expect people to start using your brand slogan or other one-sided hashtags in their Tweets if it doesn’t fit naturally and there is no incentive for them to do so.
  • Do your research. Check and see what hashtags people are already using when talking about your brand and capitalize on those. Also, make sure to check if your desired hashtag is already being used. If so, ask yourself if it’s still relevant to your brand.
  • Give people a reason to use your hashtag. Whether it’s an actual prize or just recognition in the form of a Retweet, your audience will respond better when it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Partner with influencers. Influencerscan help gain exposure and visibility for your hashtag.

Don’ts

  • Don’t over hashtag. One to two relevant hashtags per Tweet is the sweet spot. Remember: character count matters.
  • Don’t expect your brand slogan to translate to a hashtag. A hashtag is meant to be inclusive, shareable, and discoverable. If it doesn’t organically fit within a Tweet, it’ll feel forced and lose its intended purpose.
  • Don’t expect people to use your hashtag without a reason or incentive. The best hashtags have the ability to draw people in and invoke curiosity to explore and join in on the conversation.
  • Don’t neglect to educate on what it is and how to use it. Make sure you’re clearly communicating the hashtag and more importantly, why someone would want to include it in their own Tweet.
  • Don’t use all CAPS LOCK. Unless it’s an acronym, this feels like shouting and also adds unnecessary work.

Apart from these general guidelines, there are also best practices per platform.

Hashtags are fairly new to LinkedIn, and there hasn’t been a lot of research on metrics to see what performs best. LinkedIn typically suggests up to six hashtags when making a post. It is possible to weave them into the body of your LinkedIn articles, or to list them as article keywords at the end for wider reach. You can also incorporate hashtags into comments you make on other people’s posts. LinkedIn allows you to add hashtags to your profile for more visibility across the platform.

On Twitter, the ideal number of hashtags per tweet is one or two. Make sure to consolidate your tweets. Aside from normal Tweets, other common ways to use hashtags on Twitter include:

  • Using a single hashtag consistently to categorize all of your content over time
  • Hosting or contributing to a Twitter chat
  • Being a part of Twitter Moments to create or curate a story
  • Researching trending or competitors’ hashtags

Hashtags are still not commonly used on Facebook, but they are supported. Anywhere between 1 to 3 per post are recommended. Don’t forget to make the post public if you want to attract readers outside of your circle of Facebook Friends.

If you upload a video to YouTube, you can enter a hashtag in the title or description. These are hyperlinked, and similar to Pinterest, are clickable to bring up related videos with that tag. Here, too, the rule is to add hashtags sparingly and to make sure they’re directly related to your content. The more tags you add, the less relevant they become.

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags, but research shows that using 9 to 12 creates the highest engagement. Hashtags between 21 to 24 characters perform best. Since many hashtags are allowed, it is best to put the most valuable hashtags first. As is the case in LinkedIn, you can add them to your biography section.

Hashtags on Pinterest identify pins about specific topics. Related Pins can then be discovered by clicking on a hashtag in a Pin description, which takes users to all the Pins that share that hashtag. Here, too, it is better to not go overboard, so don’t add more than 20 hashtags per Pin. As with all the other platforms, make sure they’re all relevant, specific, and descriptive. Pinterest hashtags only work within the Pins’ descriptions.

 

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