Staying social: tips for organizing your online brand

 By Jeanine Matlow

Legal News
Just when we thought the world couldn’t possibly move at a faster pace, along came social media. This unique form of communication keeps us on our toes, especially those in competitive industries like the field of law. 
Kyle Liechty, co-op/intern coordinator for Michigan State University College of Engineering, recently covered this topic at a National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Michigan chapter meeting in Northville. 
“If you’re using a social media page, you have to have a social media plan,” he says. “For instance, if you don’t post consistently on Facebook, you’ll get lost in the shuffle and you’re wasting your time.”
Consider the big picture when determining your goals, such as enhancing and expanding your brand name and connecting with customers, according to Liechty.
“Why are you even thinking about doing this should be the first question to present to yourself,” says Liechty. “Understand what your goal is and then develop a set of routines from there.”
While he says it’s okay to post something every day, you don’t want to overdo it. You also need to understand the time commitment that’s involved. Don’t expect people to “like” everything just because of a prior relationship. 
“Find a path to engage them while also creating exposure to keep them clicking and help solidify your spot on different newsfeeds,” he says. 
Today’s content is all over the place, Liechty says. 
“You don’t have to create your own. You can share articles, short videos and powerful pictures of popular topics,” says Liechty. 
Every network serves a different purpose. 
“LinkedIn is a natural for professionals. It’s more of an online portfolio. It’s a great way to connect professional to professional, share resources, find clients and promote your stuff,” he says. “Twitter is just to give information and Pinterest presents a deeper view of the business, like an advice series.”
As a business, make sure you engage with the page, according to Liechty. One way to do so is by making your content more interactive. Track your progress and see how you’re doing. Ask people: how did you hear about us? And be sure to check for typos. 
“It’s how you present yourself to the world,” he says. 
Brandon Chesnutt, social media director for Identity, an integrated public relations firm in Bingham Farms, works with a number of law firms. 
“It’s a new form of communication that many are including in their structure or strategy,” he says. “Anybody can see it, so there are some guidelines as to how we approach it.”
Businesses are always attracted to shiny new objects, says Chesnutt, and social media is no exception. 
Though it offers a big opportunity for law firms of all sizes, he says it’s important to get educated first. It’s been such a hot topic; you can choose the means based on how you like to learn with classes, blogs, etc.
“It’s not always clear why someone is using social media. Is it a networking tool, a business development tool, a hiring tool? It can be all of the above,” Chesnutt says. 
“Social media is a lens through which people see the culture of a company. It’s important to be consistent with your existing brand.”
If your brand is boring and you try to be something you’re not on Facebook, like bright and colorful, you have to live up to that image in person.
“Your brand guidelines should apply to your digital footprint,” Chesnutt says. “Make sure what you put out there is accurate and up-to-date. It’s all about perception.”
Though he doesn’t see websites going away anytime soon, Chesnutt says some businesses treat them like brochures that you create only once, but they need to be updated.
For attorneys, he says the most popular social network is LinkedIn because it’s a professional network that is a great tool for research, finding contacts, hiring, and more. 
His advice is to treat LinkedIn like a business networking event and Facebook like a backyard barbeque. 
“Be aware of both types of audiences,” says Chesnutt.
Lastly, he suggests, “A good first step is to search online for your firm name and see what people are saying.”

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