Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin,
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
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Does Your Online Reputation Need Tending?
Sometimes lawyers and law firms need to clean up online reputations sullied by lawsuits, bad press, negative reviews or poor social media choices. While there’s no magic bullet, reputation management is possible. There are two approaches you can take: Either hire a company to help you, or do it yourself. Here are the pros, cons and considerations.
Reputation.com, which has been around since 2006, is the oldest of a growing number of services that advertise help with managing or cleaning up online reputations. These services purport to employ strategies to make positive information about you rise to the top of search results, but a few words of warning:
- They can be expensive, adding up to thousands of dollars annually.
- A few are scams — companies that will take your money and run — so be careful.
- Critics argue that they don’t provide anything above and beyond what you can easily do yourself to protect your online identity.
However, such services can be a good choice if you have plenty of money, are strapped for time or have a complicated problem that can’t be buried by other means.
Do It Yourself
With time and a bit of work, it’s possible to safeguard your online reputation on your own. Here are six tips to help if you choose to go this direction.
1. Begin monitoring. Set up a Google alert on your name, or if you have a complicated issue such as a lawsuit, consider a service such as Zignal, Klout or Brandwatch that will provide social media as well as general web monitoring.
2. Google yourself. When you get a handle on online content about yourself, you can start to change it. A typical order of appearance for top search engine results is:
- LinkedIn profile
- Company or law firm web bio
- Facebook profile
- Twitter profile
- Images of you from around the web
- Articles about you or by you
Start with the first four items on this list. The good news is that they are completely within your power to edit.
It’s especially important to keep your firm web bio/profile up to date. Google rewards pages that are recently refreshed over stagnant ones. Every time you write an article or complete a major project, make sure your bio is updated and you’ll help your page to stay high in rankings. This pushes pages with unflattering information lower in your search results.
3. Protect what you can. Pay attention to social media privacy settings, and lock down as much as you can. Then go through your personal networks and eliminate language or photos you don’t like; this ensures that inappropriate content falling outside the privacy shield won’t be visible.
4. Address negative reviews. While there are competing opinions as to whether you should claim your Avvo listing, for example, unless you do, you do not have control over content published there. However, one thing you should never do on Avvo (or any other site) is respond in anger to a negative review. Not only will this look bad to potential clients, it may get you reprimanded by your state bar. A measured response is a more appropriate choice and will often actually make you look better and more professional in your online profile.
5. Combat negative or fake news. The rise of fake news complicates communications today, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach when addressing it. While you might be able to approach a professional journalist to ask for a retraction (though only if it’s categorically wrong, and if other options, like pitching an update, are off the table), approaching a blogger intent on digging for dirt will make your situation worse. Nefarious bloggers have been known to publish and sometimes alter correspondence with their targets, so your only option in such a scenario is to try to bury them in a flood of other press.
6. Get proactive. While you can’t control everything that is written about you, you can control what you write, create or produce. Content in credentialed publications appears high in search engine results. Ensuring you have a stream of this content (bylined articles, features on pro bono work, podcast appearances, etc.) will be one of the most powerful gifts you can give your online self.
Whether you have something as serious as a malpractice suit or as simple as photos from a party you’d rather forget, know that clients are searching for you on the web. Even attorneys without reputation issues need to regularly attend to their digital identity. Monitoring your online reputation and keeping it clean are integral parts of building and sustaining your practice, and should be ongoing priorities.
Helen Bertelli is a marketer and entrepreneur, having helped to build two PR startups as well as founding the marketing department for a national law firm and her own digital publishing company. She is now Vice President with Infinite Global, an international communications and public relations firm serving the legal industry. Follow her on Twitter @HelenBertelli3.
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This article is from Attorney at Work’s new 80-page ezine, “Engage! A Lawyer’s Guide to Social Media Marketing.“ There’s great advice on using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and much more inside, so be sure to download your copy.
law practice management
Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin,
Monday, April 24, 2017
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“It takes twenty years to build a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
– Warren Buffet
Buffet’s quote perfectly describes the fragile nature of a business’ reputation in the modern world. In today’s mobile and social media age, consumer opinions can be shared and spread conveniently with a single mouse click or screen tap. An off day, an insufficiently trained employee, a late delivery, a politically incorrect tweet, or a small error can explode into a PR crisis—leading to scathing reviews, one-star ratings, nasty blog comments, and social media criticism.
As a small business owner, you may feel like you don’t have the time and money to invest in comprehensive reputation management solutions. Yet don’t think for one second you have no control over what customers are saying about you, because you do. Here are eight great tips and tricks to help any small business owner get started with building a winning business reputation.
1. Plant flags on your digital properties
Start with a website, but don’t stop there. Continue by securing your business name across the web and claiming your business page or profile on social networks, online forums, local business listings, community sites, local search networks, and online review sites. If you don’t have a listing, create one. This will allow you to listen in on and join online conversations about your business, wherever these conversations are taking place. A great tool I’d recommend for claiming your social media profiles and securing your brand name is KnowEm, while my company, ReviewTrackers, specializes in helping businesses listen and manage customer conversations on all major review sites.
2. Keep your business information up-to-date
On your digital properties, make sure your local business information is complete, accurate, and up-to-date. Your business name, phone number, and address are of paramount importance, but don’t forget to include other helpful information such as website URL, email address, operating hours, business category, and list of products and services, among others. At a time when 37 percent of businesses don’t even have the correct name on their listing (effectively losing a total of $10.3 billion in potential annual sales), paying attention to these details can mean the difference between gaining a customer or losing one to a competitor. Make the effort and spare your potential customers the frustration of having to look elsewhere.
3. Show your social media savvy
Social media serves as a great platform for engaging with existing and potential customers. Build a community of fans and followers on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, then keep them updated with news about your company or information about new products and services.
4. Listen and respond to online reviews
Online reviews and ratings of your business on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google+, Foursquare, and other community-based review sites can give you valuable insights into what and how customers really think. So listen in and identify any issues, concerns, and weaknesses reviews may be able to point out. Also, take the time to respond, even if it’s just a simple “thank you” or “I’m sorry”: this shows customers that you care about their feedback and that you consistently strive to make things right.
Check out the Palomar Chicago’s TripAdvisor page, for example, and observe how management responds to reviews posted by guests who didn’t necessarily have a positive experience. To someone who didn’t have a good night’s sleep at the hotel, front office manager Joseph Eames responded,
“Thank you for taking the time to review our property. We rely heavily on the feedback in forums like this to point out places we can improve upon. A basic component of a hotel stay is obviously a good night’s sleep. I’m very sorry to hear that this wasn’t your experience with us, and invite you to reach out to me directly to discuss the matter further.”
The response simple, straightforward, and effective, creating an opportunity for the business to positively change its conversation with a customer.
5. Create and share positive content
If your reputation is taking a hit—say, a bad Yelp review or a vicious critic’s blog post is showing in search engine results—you can minimize the negative impact by creating and sharing positive content. This can be in the form of blog posts, photos, videos, ebooks, newsletters, whitepapers, and even podcasts—digital assets that build your credibility, improve your visibility, and enhance your reputation.
6. Minimize jargon and marketing buzzwords
Today’s consumers are more proactive than ever, and they’re less trustful of corporate speak, sales pitches, marketing buzzwords, and promotional messages. That’s why it’s so important to make adjustments to the tone and language of your communications with customers. If you’re writing tweets, responding to reviews, or publishing a new blog post, choose words your customers understand and use. This allows you to humanize your business brand and engage more effectively with your audience.
7. Have a sense of humor
When it comes to building a winning reputation, one of the biggest challenges for a small business owner today is to cut through all the noise and stand out. You’ve got to give people a reason to notice you. Even if you’re an insurance agent or the marketing manager of a nondescript auto parts shop—even if the services you’re offering are not terribly exciting—you have to find ways to distinguish yourself from the competition. One such way is by making people laugh.
Whatever the form it takes—a funny tweet, an amusing anecdote, a meme-filled blog post—humor humanizes your business. (Check out, for example, Eat24’s Bacon Sriracha Unicorn Diaries.) It can soften the hearts of even your harshest critics and toughest reviewers. Humor is a universal language that can bridge the gap between you and the customers with whom you want to connect.
8. Be authentic
Authenticity can make you sexy and irresistible. These days, too many business owners try too hard to build up their reputation and generate five-star ratings across the board, even to the point of hiring writers in India or the Philippines to post fake reviews. But this isn’t sustainable. Focus your efforts instead on delivering excellent service and creating positive experiences for your customers. By doing so, the buzz will build itself around your business.
Key to all these tips is the belief that you have the ability to manage and influence what customers are saying about you. Don’t sit back, thinking it’s out of your control. Be proactive in finding creative ways to build and strengthen your reputation, as well as protect it in situations that could otherwise drive customers away.
Be sure to check out our other posts from Chris on managing your online reputation, “Avoid These 5 Mistakes When Responding To Negative Reviews” and “6 Keys to Successful Customer Engagement in a Multi-Screen, Omni-Channel World.”
Chris Campbell is the CEO of ReviewTrackers. He has helped tens of thousands of businesses hear, manage, and respond to what their customers are saying online.
Solo and Small
Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin,
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Updated: Monday, April 17, 2017
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Increasing Referrals for your Law Practice
Many of us rely on the marketing strategy of referrals because it is so much easier to have someone else sell our services than it is to do it ourselves. But, technology has changed the referral game. Technology can take a decent referral marketing strategy for your firm and turn it in to a gold mine.
Most of us realize the amount of time it takes to develop a substantial client network. As you build a law firm, you are doing all the work. The same is true for direct client marketing. You are the one making the pitch to potential clients and selling them on your practice. Gaining new clients on your own means you are spending a lot of time and energy generating new clients and much less time creating work product and building relationships with current clients, whom it turns out, will be your best sources for referrals in the future, if they leave satisfied and with a good impression of your practice.
All of this to say, if we develop our practices in the correct way, a strong referral base will be the after-effect of our initial marketing efforts done at the initial stages when building the law firm. The most successful law firms are 70-90% referral-based. And, this is the closest most lawyers will ever come to generating passive income.
But, to say the income source is passive does not paint an accurate picture of the marketing strategy. Attorneys must take a savvy and engaged role in building referral networks. Here are 3 important pointers:
1. Sell YOUR practice: It is easiest if you have a niche practice or a specific area to sell. You must train your referral sources to see you as the expert in this area of practice. For instance, “Oh, you need a divorce. Go see Julie! That is all she does! She is the best in town!” And, you must train your referral sources to say what you want them to say about you. They must first see you as the expert in this area of practice and the referral sources must be trained with respect to what you’d like them to say about you, and that is easier to do when a baseline exists. By refining down your practice areas, you can help provide that baseline.
2. Set yourself up for referrals by developing an Elevator Speech: Have a great response to the question “What do you do?” As a lawyer, you will want to develop different responses, different elevator speeches, for different business contacts. At the very least, you should have one approach for potential clients, and another for referral sources, because those are essential different conversations to engage.
3. Secure a strong Social Profile and Website: You should endeavor to create and manage an online presence that is in agreement with what you are personally pitching to your referral sources. When you meet someone at an event or gathering you will want to hand out a business card or direct someone to your website making it imperative that your online presence is representative of who you are, which areas you practice, what else you are involved, how to connect with you and stay connected, among other important professional information.
This Practice Pointer was derived from ABACUS NEXT
ON MESSAGE: USING LAW FIRM TECHNOLOGY PLATFORMS TO PROMPT REFERRALS visit ABACUS NEXT at abacusnext.com
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Here is a little about ABACUS NEXT:
The Abacus Professional Services team offers legal technology solutions that increase revenue, reduce costs and maximize efficiencies by customizing how you use the powerful Abacus products and services to meet your specific needs.
Our proven approach helps you assess your infrastructure and workflows, identify opportunities for improvement, design a customized plan to address your specific needs, maximize the value of your Abacus solutions, and implement cutting-edge technology to help you grow and thrive
The Abacus Professional Services process involves a collaborative discussion between you, our valued client, and our team of attorneys and technology specialists who are ready to translate your needs into custom tailored solutions that solve your business challenges and help you reach your success goals.
Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin,
Friday, April 7, 2017
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Have you ever logged into an app or service using your Facebook, Google, or Twitter account? If so, you have opened the account password security liability hole. It's easy - why create a new password when I can just use an existing account to get directly in to this site, right? But, there are security risks associated with this practice that few of us may have considered before. For instance, a recent hack on the app "Twitter Counter" showed us this vulnerability first hand. And, it shows us that we all need to shape up our security practices when using social media accounts. Here are a few tips:
Revoke as many permissions as you can and do it every few months. Every account has a way to look through what apps have what sort of access to your account. Take a minute to run through the list and remove anything you don't use and anything you don't trust.
Twitter: Click on your avatar on the top right, next to the "Tweet" button, and select Settings and privacy. Look at the list on the left side, under your name and avatar, and click Apps. Click Revoke Access next to anything you don't want or need.
Google: Google makes it easy with the Security Checkup, which automatically runs through your app permissions, app specific passwords, connected devices, and other points of vulnerability for your account. Do it now and clean out all the cobwebs.
Facebook: Click on the question mark drop-down menu to the left of your notifications icon and select Privacy. Go to the left-hand rail and select Apps. Then click Show All at the bottom of the box marked Logged in with Facebook. With Facebook especially, plenty of these apps may have read-only access to your data, so they can look but not touch. Still, get rid of anything you don't use to make yourself as secure as possible.
Any other account that supports app integrations should have a similar list as well, and it is important to keep them pruned. There's no telling what little throwaway app might come back to bite you if its security isn't quite up to snuff, so be stingy with your access. You'll thank yourself.
If you'd like to read the full article written by Eric Limer, posted by Popular Mechanics on March 16, 2017 titled "How Hackers Can Break Into Your Accounts Without Your Password" just cut and paste the link below into your browser: