Using TweetDeck to Organize Your Twitter Account Using Groups

Some people’s approach to Twitter marketing is to just get all the Twitter followers you can. Some people are much more selective, and only follow those who belong to a very narrow niche. I’m in the middle. I have not done the things to generate tens of thousands of users, but I have also used some automation to build up a follower list, while concentrating on those who deal with marketing, especially legal marketing.

But even taking the middle ground and only dealing with a couple thousand followers, it can be difficult to manage. Most of us can’t really sit around all day and do nothing but read peoples’ tweets. But if you never read the tweets of those you follow, you are going to miss some opportunities.

One tool for keeping up with those you follow is TweetDeck. TweetDeck is a client side program (meaning you install it on your computer, versus running it from a web site) that presents your Twitter information in a nicely laid out, organized way using columns. By default, the tweets from all of your friends are listed in a column on the left-hand side of the screen (although columns can be moved around however you want). The next column lists tweets that mention your user name. The third column lists direct messages. The last column, by default, shows TweetDeck recommendations, which I found to be a waste of space. I use that column to build out groups.

The ability to lump those you follow into groups is an extremely useful function. The fact is, if you take the steps to build up a large list of people you follow (and who follow you), there are going to be a lot of people that you’re really not that interested in reading. Likewise, there are going to be some people who you really want to keep up with. The way to account for this is to place those you really want to read into groups. For instance, in my account, I have a group called “Legal Marketing” that contains users who discuss, well, legal marketing. If I did not have these people grouped, their tweets would just be mixed in with all the other tweets of people I follow and I would not see nearly as many of them.

An attorney might group other users by practice area, state, or any other criteria that makes sense. Or maybe you just do what I do, which is group based on marketing function. There are probably quite a few people on Twitter, like me, who blog and tweet on subjects related to Internet marketing. No book, magazine or even web site will ever be as cutting edge as information being posted in real time by practicing Internet marketers.

You may choose to use groups differently, instead just grouping anyone you find interesting regardless of their line of work or the nature of their tweets. That is fine. But however you do it, you should find a way to organize your Twitter account so that you don’t drown in a sea of random tweets.

Quick tip: After you have set up your groups, as you scroll through tweets from various users, if there is a user you would like to place into a particular group, you will see a small “+” sign icon that you can click to add the user to one of your groups. As you watch your account and notice users that belong in one of your groups, go ahead and move them. Over time, this process will result in a number of groups that are highly focused.

Blog/Twitter/Facebook Integration Using Ping.fm

Blogging, micro-blogging and social networking can be an integrated process if you use the right tools. Integration, as intended here, means dynamically combining content from multiple sources into content for a third or more source.

How about an example?

I am Director of Marketing for a small law firm in Austin. I update my firm’s blog every Tuesday and Thursday. A couple of times per day, I also update our Twitter account. At five minutes per tweet and about an hour per blog post, my weekly time investment is about three hours.

For those three hours, in our original configuration, I am just updating my blog and micro-blog periodically. However, I can get much better leverage on my time if I stream that content to different places, such as a Facebook page.

Using a tool like Ping.fm, I can configure my firm’s Facebook status to update every time I update Twitter. Taking it a step further, I can use the Facebook Notes application to update my Facebook account every time I update my blog. Now I not only get my blog and Twitter account updated in a three hour time frame, I get my Facebook page updated as well.

We have left out one important component of Facebook, which is acquiring friends. So I may need some additional time to periodically log into Facebook and search for new friends. I could even automate that part using a tool like Facebook Blaster. I will still want to log into Facebook periodically and check on things.

Since I’m using Ping.fm, I could also choose to set up some more social media pages and have them update every time I update my blog. In this case, it will be important to separate blogs from update sites using groups. Otherwise, I will end up with a bunch of extremely short blog posts with no titles.

Assuming I just stick to one blog, a Twitter account, and a Facebook account, I can still merge the information created from two of them (my blog and Twitter) into my Facebook account, thus having a Facebook account that remains fairly active without requiring any additional work on my part.

An Important Lesson from the Twitter Meltdown

Yesterday Twitter blew up. From what I understand, there was a “spamcloud” (whatever that means), and in response, Twitter suspended many thousands of accounts of innocent users (including mine).

It goes without saying that this is very poor policy on Twitter’s part, and the kind of thing that could kill the app. I think Twitter needs to keep in mind that there will be competitors come along to try and knock it down, and this kind of policy is the kind of thing that will hasten its demise.

Here is an important rule of Internet marketing that this episode highlights:

You should spend your time and resources promoting properties that you control.

Twitter owns your Twitter account. Do you own your Facebook account? Nope. Your LinkedIn account is not yours. You are at the mercy of those sites to stay in business and keep your account live.

A simple solution is to point your own custom domain names to your social media pages. For instance, if you have a Facebook Pages page, then you could register a domain name that point to that page. If Facebook goes down or just decides that it doesn’t like you any more, then you can just repoint the domain name somewhere else. If you have promoted a particular domain, rather than the default page name, then you have control. Facebook owns you if you have spent all of your time promoting the default Facebook URL.

So be proactive. Do not let yourself be a victim to the whims of whatever social media sites you like to use. Spend your time optimizing and promoting your own web site, and use custom domains for promoting your social media pages. Then maybe you can avoid the next meltdown such as what happened with Twitter this weekend.

As always, get in touch with me if you need some help implementing an aggressive Internet marketing campaign for your law firm. Contact 888-299-4837 or www.WorkMedia.net.

And I invite you to check out my favorite Twitter management tool for free at www.TryTweetLater.com.

Three Criteria for Judging Keywords for a Law Firm SEO Campaign

With regards to search engine marketing, targeting the correct keywords is vitally important. One mistake that many businesses, including law firms, make is that they pick an arbitrary keyword or two that they think they should rank for and concentrate their efforts (or the efforts of people they hire) in ranking for that keyword. Don’t make that mistake.

On the other end of the spectrum, some businesses or firms want their web site top-ranked for every possible relevant keyword. Don’t do that, either.

So just what do you do? Let research guide your decisions, and pick keywords that meet three specific criteria.

For any potential keyword, judge its effectiveness based on the following three criteria:

1. Relevance. Relevance refers to how closely the keyword is related to the subject of a web site and the content on a particular page of the site. You want to target keywords with a high degree of relevance.

As an example, if a law firm in Miami has a page on its web site about maritime accidents, then a good keyword for that page might be “Miami maritime accident lawyer.”

2. Search volume. The more search traffic there is for a particular keyword, the more potential traffic the keyword could drive to your web site.

3. Competition. Keywords that have fewer competing web sites offer the opportunity to get your site ranked quicker.

So the three major criteria for any keyword you are considering targeting is relevance, traffic and competition. You will have to use some judgment for the relevance component, but you know your business better than anyone – you know when something is not relevant. Google’s external AdWords keyword tool, found at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal, is one of the best sources of finding competitive data. The competition criterion can be based on a couple of things: either the number of results of a Google search for the keyword surrounded by quotes; or the number of results of an “allintitle:” search for the keyword in Google.

So to begin creating your target keyword list, start by using the AdWords external keyword tool referenced above, eliminating the ones that are not relevant, and then ranking them by search volume. Then highlight the ones that are not overly competitive (less than 1,000 competing sites is good). Your highlighted keywords at this point are your best bet for generating targeted organic search engine traffic in a reasonable amount of time. Your chance of ranking for those keywords, and thus generating visits to your web site, is excellent.

Check back here often for more law firm internet marketing strategies. If you need some help today, contact Work Media at 888-299-4837 or email Info@WorkMedia.net.

Integrating Your Law Firm Blog and Facebook Account

You must blog. If it is your intention to use the Internet to generate leads for your firm, one of the most basic components of an online lead generation campaign is a blog. Just a few reasons why you should be blogging include: the process creates lots of text content that can be indexed and ranked by search engines; your blog content can be used for many more purposes; and you can use use it to prove your expertise. So you or someone at your firm must blog.

Another reason for blogging is that blog content can be streamed to other web sites, such as a Facebook Page (note the capitalized “P” indicating we’re talking about a business page). As painful as it may seem, you might as well go ahead and set up a Facebook Page and put someone in your office in charge of that, too. Spend some time setting up your profile, telling who you are and what services you provide. Go ahead and tell all about your firm. If you have video or photo content that would make your Page more interesting, go ahead and add that. If you know other lawyers or business professionals who are on Facebook, go ahead and send them a friend request.

Once your account is set up, set up your blog to stream to your Page. The Facebook Notes application can be used to stream your blog to your business Page. Notes supplies the functionality to add your blog as an updating note. Your Facebook Page will then be automatically updated every time you post a new blog.

If you get a hang of blogging regularly and integrating your blog into your Facebook page, then you might want to explore some more advanced options such as using an application like Ping.fm to update your blog and multiple social media sites all at once. In this scenario, you would actually post your blog content to the Ping.fm interface, and the program would then update your blog as well as all your social media accounts.

However, when using Ping.fm, you have to be very careful about NOT updating blog style content and “update” style content all at once. You will end up with lots of very short blog posts with no titles. A blog post needs to be substantial and substantive, which requires far more characters than you are allowed in most social networking update boxes.

The Sticking Point Solution by Jay Abraham: Marketing Brilliance

I was contacted a few weeks ago, along with lots of others, about helping pre-sell the new book, The Sticking Point Solution by Jay Abraham. Well, at the time I just didn’t have any time to devote to it. But Jay’s son, Troy, was kind enough to send me a copy, and I have to say this is one of the best marketing books I have ever read (and I’ve read quite a few).

Abraham may be the world’s top marketing expert. He has worked with businesses in over 400 industries, and he is extremely well paid for helping businesses figure out how to make more money. But you don’t have to pay Abraham $5 thousand per hour to work with you – just buy his book!

This book does a brilliant job of distilling and organizing Abraham’s wealth of knowledge about marketing. If you read this book, do some deep thinking, and then create a marketing plan for your business based on the ideas contained in it, I would be highly surprised if you did not experience increased revenue.

Work Media is entering a transitional phrase, and this book has already sparked many ideas for how we need to build our business. This was the perfect book for me to read, right at the time when I am pondering where my business should go.

The book is out now and can be found on Amazon.com and on many other bookseller web sites. I advise you pick up a copy today.

Have you checked out my new Twitter blog yet?

7 Step Law Firm Web Page Optimization Checklist

My partner and I have worked with quite a few law firms by this point, and we are still surprised at how many web sites we look at that have serious content or coding flaws. Some of these sites are not bad at all in terms of design, but design alone won’t get it done if you are seeking search engine visibility. Here is a checklist of items to make sure your web site meets the minimum level of optimization for search engine rankings.

1. Make sure your physical address is on the home page, in text. Pictures don’t count. There needs to be some text on the page with your city and state.

2. Create a home page title that contains your geographic market as well as main area of practice. Ideally, your home page title will also be based on keyword research to make sure you are using the phrasing that more people use to search for law firms in your market.

3. Give every page of your web site its own specific page title. Again, it would be useful to do some research so that you can insert traffic-generating keywords in titles throughout your site.

4. Have some copy and text links on your home page. If your home page consists solely of Flash or some other non-text technology, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage right off the bat. You want to have lots of text for search engine robots to read.

5. Use text links to practice area pages that contain the practice area in the page name. For example, your home page might have a link that says “Divorce” to a page titled “Divorce Law.”

6. Use your meta tags. Place a set of keywords in the keywords meta tag, and try to use those same keywords in your web page copy. Also give a good, keyword-rich description.

7. Use header (h1) tags to emphasize each page’s primary keyword. For example, if your home page is meant to rank for the phrase “Memphis Personal Injury Lawyer,” then it is helpful to have a header on the page with exactly that phrase.

So there you go. If your web page does not meet all seven of these criteria, then you are lacking some basic on-page optimization parameters that could definitely help improve your web site’s search engine rankings. As always, I would be glad to talk to you if you need some help. You can email me at jwork@workmedia.net, or check out http://www.law-firm-internet-marketing.net for more tips and advice about promoting your law firm’s web site.

Official Product Recommendation: Tweet Later

I have been searching hard for the best tools for managing a Twitter account, and the single best one I have found is Tweet Later. I started using the free version a while ago, and I just upgraded to the professional (paid) version, and I love it!

With the free version, you can automatically follow back anyone who follows you and send the person a direct message. Just doing those two things help tremendously in building up a Twitter following.

If you are serious about using Twitter as a marketing tool, then it is well worth the money to upgrade to the professional version of Tweet Later. With the paid version, you can pre-configure a bunch of spinnable tweets to be posted at regular intervals. If you set it up right, this can save you a TON of time managing your account.

If you already have a lot of content to link to in your tweets, then this strategy is a little easier to implement. For instance, if you have been publishing a blog for a while, or doing article marketing, then you can set up a bunch of tweets that link to various blog posts or articles.

If you don’t have any existing material to set up lots of tweets for, you can still make good use of the system. It just might take more work to come up with material for all of your pre-configured tweets.

I do VERY little affiliate marketing because most affiliate products are junk (not that stops me from buying many of them in the pursuit of new tools for my toolbox). But I am impressed enough by this product that I am officially promoting it to my readers. I officially recommend the professional version of Tweet Later. To learn more, visit this link:

http://www.tweetlater.com/86969.html

There is a one week free trial (no credit card required!), so I definitely recommend you try it out with all of its features.

Article Video Robot: Software to Ruin Your Reputation

In Internet marketing, fast is the name of the game. Got an article? Don’t just submit it to one article directory, submit it to a hundred. Don’t do it manually, use software. Then turn it into a video and submit it to a bunch of video directories using video submission software.

And so it was with great excitement that I recently started trying out Article Video Robot. I absolutely LOVE the concept of this service. The idea is that you load a text articles into a web site that automatically reads portions of the text, which is then combined with animated static images to create a video from the article. You can even then mass distribute it from the same program. All in under three minutes! For busy professionals like lawyers who don’t have much time to devote to Internet marketing, this is a fantastic strategy.

Great idea. It only it worked.

This is junk software for people creating junk content to try and make money on affiliate sales. For a business like a law firm, where reputation is very important, this software is to be avoided.

There is nothing wrong with the idea of creating videos by combining an audio voiceover with still images (it’s a low tech technique that we use all the time), but transitions should be smooth, and the voiceover should sound somewhat professional. We found that a large amount of time was required to tweak the videos into respectability. Three minutes? Try three to six hours. The system is awkward to use, and in the end, it is quicker for us to just create videos manually, even using plain ol’ Windows Movie Maker.

One of the main problems is that the computerized voice readings of article text tend to need a LOT of tweaking to sound reasonably human. The software gives you the option of recording your own voice for each “frame” (which corresponds to a paragraph of the text article) of the video. But by the time we do all that, it would have been just as fast to manually record an audio track and mix it with some still shots using our own software. Any video you create in three minutes using Article Video Robot will be trash.

The company claims to offer a trial period, but we were refused a refund even though we used the software less than two weeks. The stated reason is that we had done four video submissions (which was actually two videos, due to two failed attempts at using the system), which was too many for a refund. What I wonder is how we were supposed to thoroughly try the system out without actually creating and submitting videos.

I wish I had the time back that I spent trying to use this junk software. But a refund would have at least left me with the feeling that this is an honest company trying to create an honest product that just quite isn’t there yet. Instead, I am left feeling like I got ripped off.

Article Video Robot is definitely not recommended for any law firm’s use. If you want to use video distribution to promote your law firm, you should find another way to get it done. Or contact Work Media. We’ll be glad to help out.

Integrating Twitter into Your Law Firm Web Site

In a blog post I recently wrote, I talked about how important it is to integrate your legal marketing efforts; blog to web site, offline to online, etc. Everything should fit together. I think one important strategy is using RSS to stream your blog content into the static pages of your web site. Sometimes it can be tricky to work out the code to make it happen, but it’s a beautiful effect when your entire web site gets updated every time you make a new blog post. This can be especially helpful for law firms, since the business lends itself to content creation and blogging.

While Twitter is a fairly new concept to me personally, I am warming up to it and am exploring the idea of using streaming Twitter content to update web pages as you would blog content. While the code for streaming blog content can be tricky, Twitter makes it fairly simple. The first step is to log onto Twitter and then look at the bottom menu, where you will click the Apps link. Then click the Widgets link and select the type appropriate for your site. From here you can create an HTML widget or a Flash-based widget. Since the goal of this experiment is to have the text streamed to your web site, I feel like the HTML widget makes more sense. When using the Flash widget, you also have a greater chance of excluding some users from seeing the content if they do not have the correct version of Flash.

Next, you can just copy and past the supplied code into the pages of your web site. If your site uses include files, then you can easily stream your Twitter data throughout your site by including the widget code in an include file. On www.law-firm-internet-marketing.net, for example, the following include file wraps up the side menu:

#include virtual=”leftside.asp”

By doing this, it enables you to change one file to update your entire site, instead of having to manually update every single page.

You may need to do some in-line CSS styling if the widget does not look quite right. As an example, I was not happy with the look of the bulleted lists of posts after I installed the widget, so I used the following style to depress the bullet point: style=”list-style-type:none;”.

There are other Twitter apps that I will talk about in later blog posts, but I advise you to take a look at the Twitter widget for the purpose of integrating Twitter content into your mainstream law firm Web content.

Need some help with integrating your social networking with your other online marketing? Contact Work Media at 888-299-4837 or email Info@WorkMedia.net.