Media Masters Online

Social Media Bible for Lawyers

SOCIAL MEDIA BIBLE
Everything Legal Professionals Need To Know About the New Media Revolution

High-profile cases in almost any jurisdiction have always faced issues in terms of jury selection - the primary concern being the media coverage and how that may influence a potential juror's views and opinions. Media coverage is also playing a big role in the legal services marketing arena. In the past, legal marketing revolved around the predictable avenues including newspapers, radio and television, but that's not true anymore.

Today, social media is a huge instantaneous mass media system, and its impact on juries, judges and potential clients is only just coming to the forefront. Should lawyers be concerned? You bet. But one thing's for sure - you must first be aware of this phenomenon and get up-to-speed on this new way of communicating. Lawyers must ask themselves if blogging and consumer-generated media has the potential to affect their jury; even the potential to affect their reputations.

Media Masters has broken down the elements of social media important to the legal professional in easy to understand terms of: What is it? Why do I need to know about it? How does it work for me? The answers are critical for lawyers to understand as they communicate with a 21st century world about their cases and their profession.


BLOGGING

What is it?
Blogging: The word blog is a short form for the term web log. A blog has traditionally been a journal or diary with dated entries. Law "blawgs" are rampant online.

Why do I need to know about it?
Think of blogging as educational-marketing. It drives people seeking information about a particular area of law to you as the expert on the subject. That, in turn, leads potential clients to your website.

How does it work for me?
By sharing your expertise online, not only are you providing Internet users valuable legal information, you are driving traffic to your website and improving your search engine optimization.

Visit www.blogger.com to set up your own blog. Make it look as much like your own website as possible. Try and create a blog short version of what is on your website homepage in the blog header. Be sure and add a social bookmarking widget to the page, click here to do this: http://www.addthis.com/You will need a strong appeal to get people off your blog and onto your website- so make the link easy to find.Offer fresh content as often as possible, twice a week at least.A great example of a blog with an RSS feed can be found here: http://www.enronfraud.com/

SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT
Make sure anything you post is in easily digestible bites of info - like top ten lists- not a long, drawn-out synopsis. The key is to update postings early and often. Make sure the information posted answers the "What's in it for me?" questions for the reader.

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ONLINE NEWSROOMS

What are they?
A page online where you can post all the news about your firm, case, or yourself.

Why do I need to know about them?
Journalists rank online press rooms as their first stop when looking for information about a firm, or a company, and keeping the content fresh improves your search engine optimization ranking.

How does it work for me?
Online newsrooms don't have to be fancy endeavors. Simply designate a page on your site as a "newsroom". Make sure your newsroom includes contact information, firm background, announcements and accolades, a multimedia gallery and a search capability to allow journalists, consumers, investors and other visitors to easily find information they need. Post news releases on the page on the firm website. Be sure and make the newsroom RSS compatible. Offer users news alerts via email updates or RSS feeds. Here is a good example of an online newsroom.

Improve your site's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by:

Creating a library of company press releases and submit a sitemap of that portion of the site to Google. Place the release on your website and create a direct link to it from your homepage to improve a site's Search Engine Optimization.

If your IT department can't do this for you Vocus is a good resource.

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social bookmark

PUBLISHING TO SOCIAL BOOKMARKING SITES

What is it?
Opening accounts at a number of social bookmarking sites and posting your own content to reach a wider audience of people.

Why do I need to know about it?
Publishing your own content to a number of social bookmarking sites disseminates the information to a large number of people and greatly improves the search engine optimization of your content.

If you have written a good article or your client has a press release everyone should know about, consider publishing it in this way.

How does it work for me?
First set up free accounts at each of these social bookmarking sites:

Stumbleupon.com
Reddit.com
Tagza.com
Fark.com
Newsvine.com
Furl.net

After you upload content, Go visit socialmarker

All you need to do is simply drag a button (see homepage under "how to use it") to your bookmarks toolbar, in order to create a submission bookmarklet. When you are on a website that you want to socially mark, simply select the text and click the SocialMarker button to pre-populate the submission form with the selected information. Go to the section on the homepage that says "select the Social Bookmarking sites you want to submit to". Click the word "Best" under that title. It wll take you to the Bookmark Details box at the top- type in the Title of the Article- the link of the blog posting, a brief description of the article and the tags- these are very important- they tell the RSS feeds and search engines what to look for.Social marker will take you to each of the sites checked where you will enter your username and password you've set up- click "remember me on this computer" and you'll only have to type the whole thing in once.

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SEO
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

What is it?
SEO ranks your site higher in search engine listings when someone searches for your practice area, your firm or you.

Why do I need to know about it?
Because the higher your site is listed on search engines the more people will visit it.

How does it work for me?
Meta tag every page of the website up to 250 words per page. A content management system is good for this or the IT department can do this for you. Also, by adding RSS feeds and encouraging others to link to your site via social bookmarking, your site will rank higher in search engines.

SELF-SYNDICATING ARTICLES

What is it?
If you take the time to post an article on your blog, or take the time to write an article for a legal publication, why not make sure as many people as possible see it?

Why do I need to know about it?
It is estimated that 80% of people looking for an attorney or legal service Google that individual first. The more places online a legal professional's name appears, the more credibility they generate in the client.

How does it work for me?
All you have to do is write an article, making sure it has a bio with your website link or contact information, and send it off to content eZines such as:

Alumbo!
Article Alley
Article City
Article Marketer
Associated Content (this one pays!)
Ezine Articles
Go Articles

Be sure to list recent articles on the firm homepage and write anyone is welcome to re-publish your article as long as your bio is intact.

You have permission to publish this article electronically in your eZine and website free of charge, as long as the author byline and "About the Author" are included. Please note this is a non-exclusive submission, and this article may appear elsewhere.

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Twitter

TWITTER

What is it?
Primarily designed for mobile devices, Twitter or "tweet" is a micro-blog for people who want to write about the little things that happen in their life. Twitter's greatest asset is its mobility as it is optimized for Blackberrys and other PDAs.

Why should I know about it?
Twitter pages look like blogs with very short posts. Twitter is a useful tool for groups that need to easily stay up to date with daily events when they are on the go. This is a very useful tool for ongoing trials and settlement agreements that can change from minute to minute. Twitter is full of influential bloggers, as well as people who pass along messages.

How does it work for me?
For lawyers- Twitter can be very beneficial during trials to keep the legal team updated as to minute to minute proceedings during trials and settlement discussions. Click follow on the friends you want to keep up with, and all day- your page will be updated with the minute details of your friends on your page. Posts are under 140 words.
www.twitter.com

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YOu TUbe

VIDEO SHARING SITES

What is it?
Video sharing refers to websites or software where a user can distribute their video clips. Some services may charge, but the bulk of them offer free services. Many services have options for private sharing and other publication options.

Why do I need to know about it?
Video sharing is a very effective tool for communicating a client's message. Video gives a message more of a presence to a wider audience as videos can be bookmarked just like written web content.

How does it work for me?
User-generated sites mostly offer free services whereby users can upload video clips and share it with the masses. Many sites place restrictions on the file size, duration, subject matter and format of the uploaded video file.
Here are the top video sharing sites:

You Tube
Metacafe
Vimeo

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WIki

WIKIS

What is it?
A wiki is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language.

Why do I need to know about it?
Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. For example, the collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best known wikis.

How does it work for me?
Wikis are used in businesses to provide affordable and effective intranets and for Knowledge Management. Ward Cunningham, developer of the first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, originally described it as "the simplest online database that could possibly work".
Sign up for free WIKIS at:

pbwiki.com
wetpaint.com
wikispaces.com

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PRESS RELEASE DISTRIBUTION SITES

What are they?
Why wait for a traditional media outlet to pick up your story and make it newsworthy? Do it yourself by creating a press release and distributing it online.  All it will cost you is time.

Why do I need to know about them?
Press releases are great ways to improve your search engine optimization because you can post them to highly trafficked sites and embed up to three hyperlinked keywords in your copy.  For instance, "Houston auto accident attorney Bob Smith (Hyperlinked to the lawyer's homepage) says, "These kinds of accidents are avoidable and unnecessary with the right kind of traffic control."

How do they work for me?
First, sign up at these press release distribution sites for easy uploading.

http://www.articlealley.com/
http://www.articlecity.com/
http://www.articledashboard.com/
http://www.associatedcontent.com/
http://ezinearticles.com/
http://goarticles.com/
http://www.ideamarketers.com/
http://www.isnare.com/
http://www.selfseo.com/

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About The Author: Miranda Sevcik is a former television journalist and current principal of Media Masters, a Houston-based litigation communications and legal PR firm that caters exclusively to lawyers and legal professionals. Contact her at: miranda@mediamastersonline.net

You have permission to publish this article electronically in your eZine and website free of charge, as long as the author byline and "About the Author" are included. Please note this is a non-exclusive submission, and this article may appear elsewhere.

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