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.

Social Networking Scheduling for Law Firms

Social networking is a complex area with a lot of moving parts:

  • Blog posts
  • Forum posts
  • Updates
  • Groups
  • Content creation and article writing

Social networking is one of those things that tends to happen haphazardly, as time permits, whenever you think about it. This is especially the case when it is done by someone who is extremely busy, such as the typical lawyer. This can all be done much more effectively if you create a monthly social networking/content distribution schedule that tells you exactly when you should be doing things and what you should be doing.

In other words, you need a system.

I have been working on an Excel-based organization system that lets you input some data into some fields, after which a calendar of activities you need to perform for the given month is created. I will be giving this away for free, but also working on a more advanced, online, database-driven version for use by Work Media’s clients and friends.

But it’s something you can begin to do immediately, even if you are just writing notes out on a piece of paper. You gotta start somewhere.

I consider content distribution to be a major part of online social networking, so that is where your system should start. If you leave this part out, and just concentrate on meeting people online, then you are not taking advantage of the Web’s ability to spread your name and marketing message. Writing blogs and articles and distributing that content gives you something to talk about in a social networking environment, and it accomplishes the more broad marketing goals of branding and name recognition. And that’s not to mention the search engine optimization effect, which I’m not going to go into at this time.

To begin with, I suggest you create a simple calendar of when blog posts should be posted and articles written. Aim for eight blog posts and three articles per month. You can get away with only two articles, but the eight blog post minimum is written in stone.

When you lay out your blogging and article writing schedule, go ahead and write out an idea for each blog post in advance, and create groupings of two or three blog posts in a row that elaborate on the same general topic. Then for each of those topic groupings of blog posts, specify a date to write an article that combines the information from those blog posts.

For example, a lawyer who deals with a lot of automobile accident cases might write two or three blog posts about driving safely in various conditions, and then combine those blog posts into an article about the same thing. At the end of that blogging cycle, you would have three new blog posts, which search engines will index, as well as an article to mass distribute. You also have several items you can link to or mention in forum posts in social networking groups you belong to.

Just doing the above things will go a long way toward giving your content distribution efforts more focus. In later blog posts, we will continue talking about content scheduling and hit on some other functions that should be included in your social networking calendar.

Contact Work Media at 888-299-4837 or email Info@WorkMedia.net if you need some help promoting your law firm online.

Law Firm Marketing: Do One Thing Every Day

For most of the last week, I have had my head buried in a project that was inspired by some conversation on a LinkedIn group that I participate in. It was a programming-heavy project that required many hours of work. I had to pound on it until it was done.

But a funny thing happened during the six days (counting a weekend) that I spent working on it. I stopped promoting. I realized yesterday that I had not written a new blog post in several days…had not made a Twitter post in several days…I really had not done any promotion.

For a small business, promotion is existence. The business that doesn’t promote itself, more often than not, is a business that goes out of business.

I am reminded of something said by one of my favorite marketing pros, Dan Kennedy. To paraphrase:

Do one thing every day to put business in your pipeline.

Every day, without exception, before you lay your head down for the night, do at least one thing to generate business. Send an email. Do a blog post. Post on a forum. Write a letter. Do something.

Have you done something today to generate business?

Need some help orchestrating your firm’s internet marketing plan? We’re here to help. Contact Work Media at info@workmedia.net or call 888-299-4837.

Stumbling for Law Firms: How to Use StumbleUpon

Probably not many legal marketers reading this are actively using StumbleUpon, and that could be a mistake. The site displays random sites submitted by other users based on your interests. I doubt many legal marketers really have time to just sit and watch random web sites appear. However, where StumbleUpon becomes useful is in submitting web pages of your own into the StumbleUpon system to be seen by others. StumbleUpon is very popular and has the potential to put your web site in front of a lot of eyeballs.

There is one caveat: you must create the appearance of being an active user, and not just a marketer trying to get your site in front of people. Follow these rules and your “stumbling” will be more effective.

Make sure you set up a good profile with a nice photo. Failing to set up a good profile will emphasize that you are a marketer only looking to promote your own web site, rather than a part of the community.

Every time you submit a site, take the time to provide a well-written description and appropriate tags.

When another user recommends your site, send that person a personal message.

Only submitting your own web pages makes you look like a spamming marketer. Recommend enough other web sites that it is not clear that you are trying to promote a particular site of your own. Try to submit sites that you think other people would really be interested in.

For your pages to receive maximum exposure, they should be strong enough for other people to recommend. The pages you submit should therefore be light on fluff and heavy on value or usefulness. Pages that do nothing but try to sell your services will likely receive few recommendations. The more approval you get from people who see your site, the more visibility you will have in the StumbleUpon system.

StumbleUpon also has its own advertising platform that allows you to pay to have your site displayed to users in a particular category. There is a legal category. Impressions in StumbleUpon cost a nickel each. That may sound expensive, but it is actually a good value because an “impression” in StumbleUpon means someone is actually viewing your web site, rather than an ad for your web site.

I am currently working on a new book specifically about this type of thing, but in the meantime I recommend you check out The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book on Amazon.com for more Internet marketing strategies for law firms.

If Your Web Site is Sinking, It’s Time for Deep Linking

When you are working on building a catalog of links pointing to your web site, you need to remember to think deep. Deep linking is the act of linking to sub-pages of a web site, and not just the home page. You need to remember these two rules:

1. You should seek keyword links that point to web pages optimized for those same keywords.

2. You can really only optimize a single web page for a couple of keywords.

So if your web site has different pages optimized for different keywords (and if that is not the case, you need to call me today), then you need different keyword links pointing to each of those pages specifically. Here is an example. Let’s say you have a web site with pages covering the following practice areas: automobile accidents, maritime accidents, and aviation accidents. To help raise the search engine visibility of each of those pages, each one needs keyword links related to the subject of the page. The automobile accident page needs links such as “automobile accident attorney,” the maritime accidents page needs links such as “boating accident lawyer,” and the last page needs links like “airplane accident lawyer.”

What you have to keep in mind is that search engine optimization is a business of specificity. Specific pages are optimized for specific keywords, and those pages need specific keyword links.

You may be wondering how you go about getting links with specific keywords in it. If you rely on other web sites to hopefully link to you, then you are at the mercy of those other sites with regard to what keywords they use in the links, if any. Most of the time those types of links will just contain your web address, which is useful for the fact that it is a link, but not as useful as a link that uses a keyword.

One of my favorite strategies for creating links that contain the keywords I want is article marketing. Write an article related to some keywords, and then place a couple of keyword links in the article resource box to the pages you want to promote. Then distribute the article to lots of article directories. If you want to get more complex (and more effective), you can do something called article spinning, which will result in lots of technically unique articles being distributed rather than duplicate articles. Another way is by posting on others’ blogs with a keyword as your name (but you will need to find blogs that allow “dofollow” links).

I invite you to check out my book, The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book, to learn more about this type of stuff. You can also contact me at Work Media if you would like some more in-depth help.

Law Firm SEO…the Time is Now!

The economy is lousy. Businesses of all types are laying people off or going out of business. Unless you are one of the luck recipients of a huge undeserved bonus, chances are you are not doing as well as you were a year ago. So now is no time to be spending your marketing funds on search engine optimization, right?

No way!

This is the time to INCREASE the amount of resources you devote to search engine marketing and optimization (SEO). There is always going to be some lag time (sometimes substantial) between the time that SEO is done and when you see results. So position yourself NOW to dominate in the future.

The economy will eventually improve. The percentage of the population (and thus your target market) that uses search engines to find businesses, including law firms, is going to continue to rise. The number of firms competing for the top spots is only going to increase. Do you want to be the aggressor, and increase your search engine visibility, or do you want to the be the firm that waits for a “better time,” only making it more difficult to catch up in the future?

So maybe you’re already the top-ranked site in Google for a search of your market and services. You can just cruise along, right?

Hell no!

It is highly likely that there are firms being aggressive right now, optimizing their sites and generating impressive inbound link catalogs. If you stop, you will get passed. Avoid complacency. Keep building your link catalog. Keep blogging and distributing content. You can bet some of your competitors are.

Don’t wait until you think you can afford to engage in a search engine optimization campaign. Time is not your friend here. Climbing the search engine rankings is often a very slow process. Start working on your search rankings today so that when economic conditions improve, your web site will be the one people find when searching for your type of services.

So…what are you going to do?

If you want to learn how to do this on your own, please check out my book The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book.

A Quick and Dirty 5 Step Law Firm SEO Blueprint

So you’ve got a web site but don’t know how to drive traffic to it? Get in line. You’re not alone. Improving search engine rankings is what I do all day every day, and my company employs many different strategies. We work hard at it, both servicing our clients as well as testing new strategies. The easiest way for you to accomplish getting your site ranked is to hire a company like mine.

However, maybe your resources are limited or you’re just a glutton for punishment. If that is the case, I am going to give you a super quick technique for creating a blueprint you can use for getting your web site ranked for a particular keyword.

Step 1. Do a search in Google for your target keyword. Avoid overly generic or broad keywords like “attorney.” Your keyword should be specific to your target market, such as “St. Louis criminal defense attorney.”

Step 2. Click on the top listings that represent real competitors (i.e., competing law firms in your market, as opposed to law firm directories or portals). Look to see if the keyword is used in the title, how many times it is used in the body copy, and where else it is used.

Step 3. Tweak your front page to match the criteria discussed above. Optimize!

Step 4. Go to search.yahoo.com and do a “link:” search for the top sites for your keyword. Your search query will look something like “link:www.website.com.” This will give you a good idea of the minimum number of links you need pointing to your site.

Step 5. Now get ready to do some work. Build a catalog of links to your web site as large or larger than your competitors.

Certainly, we’ve glossed over a lot of details. Anything you need to know is contained somewhere in print or online. If you are willing to put in the work, you can learn how to run a campaign like the one described here. Of course, you can always take easier route and hire a company like Work Media.

Law Firm Marketing Success: Measurement is the Key

So how do you know what marketing strategies you should be using to promote your law firm? You have many options. You can do paid search and SEO (both of which I highly recommend), TV advertising, radio, newspaper, Yellow Pages, and the list goes on. You might start by finding out what marketing methods are working for other successful firms in your market.

One problem is that the strategies used by your competitors may not be the same that work for you. If you really want to find out what works, the only sure-fire way is to try different strategies and carefully track the results of each. You need to make a direct connection between the leads you generate and the marketing that generated those leads. You can measure performance by using a special URL with different advertising campaigns. For example, a print ad in a newspaper might display a URL like “www.myfirm.com/special”. Then checking your web site stats for traffic to that URL will give you an idea of how effective the ad is.

There is one flaw in this technique. Some viewers of the ad will not use the full URL, instead just typing your root domain name. This is at least a starting point. Displaying a different phone number for each ad is a more accurate way to generate data. Then you can tell which ads are working by how many calls come in for different phone numbers. It’s pretty cheap to do and there are quite a few companies that can provide the service. Just a couple to check out are callsource.com and capturethecall.com. Just search Google for “call tracking” to find more.

Yes, this is a lot of work. But finding the right marketing mix can mean the difference between success and failure for your marketing. And if you’re going to promote, you might as well do it right.

To learn more about online marketing for law firms, check out my book The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book on Amazon.com.