Roberta M. Gubbins, Esq.
I Write Content--You Practice Law

Draft Three / blog

Posts tagged Twitter
The Social Media

The lawyer sitting next to you at the conference is busy writing a tweet for Twitter, another is taking a selfie to post on Facebook. It seems that everyone except you are busy using social media to market their practice. Should you jump into the social media pond?

Maybe, maybe not.

Social media has its good and bad points. To understand what is best for you, your first step is to analyze your practice. Understand the legal service you offer in order to know your target market—their age, demographic, economic position. Knowing your practice will help sort out the pluses and minuses of using social media and decide which social media platform is right for you.

What is social media?

Social media is defined (Merriam Webster) as: “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos)”

Think Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and so forth. Each attracts a particular audience. If that audience includes your target market, you could consider joining the group.

The advantages of using social media:
·      Social media marketing is cost effective AKA free. You can sign up, create a profile and post information without paying a cent.
·      You can reach consumers that never come to your speaking events or read your newsletter or your blog. Your tweets find new readers who will comment or retweet your tweet to their followers leading to an even larger audience.
·      You gain name and brand recognition.
·      People come to know you by your choice of words, style of writing, topics you pick. Use an easy to read style, offer real information and show them you are approachable and they will be loyal and frequent readers.
·      Social media builds relationships.
·      Use visitor analytics and readers’ comments to learn more about your audience. Knowing their interests will help you find topics for them.
·      You can post a link to social media on your website and your SBM Enhanced Profile, making it easy for readers to find you.

The disadvantages of social media marketing:

·      Time—time is money, time spent on social media is not billable time, time you don’t have, which means if you start a social media be sure you are aware that time must be set aside to continue the postings.
·      Content needs to be written, edited, revised and published—again a time issue.
·      Social media creates demands on your talent; posts need to relevant to your practice and interesting to a wide variety of readers. Fortunately, as a lawyer, you have access to a variety of topics with the weekly SBM e-journal and the SBM news-links posted daily.
·      You lose control of your content. Everything you publish is available to be commented upon positively or negatively by all who read it.
·      Social media doesn’t have a quick return on your investment. It builds relationships and firm loyalty over time so you need to decide to be in it for the long haul.

Social media can bring many benefits and increased profits to your practice, but it does come with limitations. With good planning, you’ll be successful. If you decide to start a social media account, it could be you taking “selfies” and posting news items to your readers at the next conference. You’ll be in good company.
The Wonderous World of #Hashtags
Definition of hashtag: word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text, such as a tweet. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

     For most of us, the # icon is a symbol of measurement. It stands for a pound as on 1#. But, for many, it is type of label used in social media to make it easier for users to find messages with specific content. The hash (#) character is placed in front of a word or phrase (tag) used for description and placed either in the main text or at the end of the message. 
     Historically, the pound sign was first used in information technolo
how to use #hashtags
gy to identify a special meaning. Over time, some suggested using it on microblogging sites such as Twitter and it took off in 2007 after it was used in tweets relating to the San Diego forest fires. Internationally, it became a writing style for Tweets during the 2009-10 Iranian election posts. Now #hashtag is also used on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and many more. 

     Hashtags are not registered or controlled by any one user or groups of users. They live in perpetuity and don’t contain any set definitions, which means that any hashtag can be used for any purpose and by anyone. It is also important to think about which hashtags to include with your post since they can have a huge influence on who finds or fails to find what you are writing about. Going to the wrong audience can cause great content to be lost in Internet land. 
     Keep your hashtags short. Limiting them to one or two words is best. #thisisaverylonghashtag is too hard to read. 

Hashtags on Twitter

     Because of their expanded use, hashtags have become valuable. Adding a hashtag in your Twitter post will make your content noticeable by anyone with an interest in your topic or word. For example, #unbundling. If it is mentioned and hashtagged in your Tweet, anyone searching for that word in Google or in Twitter could find you regardless of whether they are a follower or not. 
     Hashtags can appear anywhere in your Tweet—beginning, middle or end. Tweets with hashtags get more retweets and favorites than those without. Keep it simple, however, don’t use more than two hashtags per post. In other words, don't #spam #with #hashtags and only use hashtags that are relevant to the topic.  
     Clicking on the hashtagged word in your Tweet shows you all the other Tweets marked with that keyword. Twitter reports that hashtagged words that become popular are often included in trending topics. 

Hashtags on Instagram and Pinterest

     For those who like to post and tag photos, Instagram and Pinterest are the places to be. Unlike Twitter, use as many hashtags to categorize your photos as you want since using them will increase your followers. 

Hashtags on Facebook

     Hashtags are not as popular on Facebook. When you add a hashtag to your post, the people you’ve shared your post with can also see it in that hashtag's feed. For example, if you share a post with a hashtag with Friends, they can see your post in that hashtag’s feed. Remember, if you use a hashtag in a post you share to Public, and allow people to follow you, your post will appear on your public profile and in that hashtag's feed.

Hashtags on Google+

     Google+ is not Twitter so it’s important to remember that a Twitter approach will not net the same results. Google recommends that you pair your hashtags with images since photo sharing is the most popular activity on Google and limit yourself to 2-3 hashtags per post.  
     Hashtags are an organizing tool. Using them well on your social media sites can identify your content, bring more readers to your posts and expand your network of possible clients.