Introducing the Echo Legal Marketing Platform

Echo is our amazing new marketing platform. We take the tools that we use every day as an agency for our clients who are paying us $5,000-10,000 a month and we bring them into your law firm. We use video tutorials to provide step by step instructions on how to use them.

  • Analytics. How do we use Google Analytics? What do you need to keep an eye on and what metrics matter? How do we use tools like Moz Local and Yext to bolster our local performance?
  • Review Management. How do we make sure that when we’re reviewed on Yelp, Avvo or Findlaw that we get an email that day telling us about that review?
  • Call Tracking. How do we implement call tracking? What is call tracking and how does it work, and what can it tell you?
  • WordPress. We use WordPress websites to power our legal-centric and responsive designs hosting on the amazing WPEngine.
  • How do you use Google Webmaster Tools to track the real performance of your site at the keyword level, instead of relying on ranking reports?

All of this is wrapped around business reporting infrastructure with a final goal of helping you calculate exactly how your marketing investment is performing.

Marketing Tools: $300/month
Legal Centric WordPress site: $300/month
(or both for $500)Learn more at echo.mockingbird.marketing or sign up for our Webinar where we’ll tour all of this awesome functionality.

Case Study: How To Do Social For Lawyers

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it 1,000 times: social media doesn’t work in legal. (Seriously – we’ve said it here, and here, and here, and we have a running office joke that we’re going to fix all of our client’s problems by curating Pinterest boards.)

What follows is a tale of extraordinary social media success; the story of a law firm that multiplied their traffic by 1800% overnight with one blog post.

The aforementioned client isn’t new to the Internet – they’ve been doing quite well for themselves for years. Here is their all traffic graph for January through May 2015. Traffic is bumping along at ~1,200 sessions/week – pretty good for a law firm.

graph1

Here is that same graph if you extend the date range to include the first two weeks of June:

graph2

You’re seeing that right – 22,335 sessions in one week.

Here is the social only traffic (broken down by day, this time):

graph3

The high point? 4,295 unique visitors in one day.

As a result of this blog post, the client received over 500 form fills and so many phone calls the front desk literally could not handle the volume. On the third day of the phone ringing off the hook we replaced the phone number on the blog post to send callers directly to a call center dedicated for this purpose.

So How’d They Do It?

  1. Relevant, timely, and interesting content…
  2. Promoted via social media advertising…
  3. Using a very small budget.

The firm is based in the Midwest, and practices personal injury, employment, and class action law. They’ve been regularly writing blog posts for a while now, promoting a select few via Facebook and LinkedIn promoted posts. While many have done well, none have had the incredible success of the case in point.

So why did it succeed? It is high quality, but not a literary masterpiece. It’s well structured, grammatically correct, and contains links to related resources. It provides valuable information that isn’t being published anywhere else and it’s relevant to things happening right now, and it was highly targeted to reach those directly invested in its topic.

Additionally, it was promoted via social media advertising, not just posted on social media. The chances that simply posting an article to your law firms Facebook page will generate clients is next to zero. Those chances are greatly improved if you pay to ensure that that article is put in front of a relevant audience.

Unfortunately for those trying to replicate this success, there is no shortcut or magic pill that can make your phone ring off the hook. This is a classic example of hard work paying off and committing to a plan. The firm could have sworn off blogging after the first 10 posts didn’t result in much, but they stuck to it and always followed the golden rule: produce high quality, relevant content.

Oh, and the total spend to date? $110, give or take a buck.

LinkedIn Publishing Won’t Eat Up Your SEO Traffic (and you won’t get Google penalized either)

Three weeks ago, Kevin O’Keefe posted a question on Facebook – the corresponding answers, of which there were 21, dug deep into SEO theories concerning duplicate content, canonicalization, rewritten summaries, excerpts, site authority and Google Panda penalties.

First, Kevin’s Question:

Anyone else looking at re-posting blog posts from your blog on LinkedIn’s publishing platform?

I could see lawyers and other professionals wanting to re-post a blog post from their blog to “LinkedIn Publishing” and — and vice versa. I see some people even advising to auto-post content from your blog to LinkedIn — though I am not certain how that is even possible, unless they are just referencing sharing versus publishing.

LinkedIn publishing content appears to be indexed by Google. That would seem to create problems with duplicate content for the lawyer’s blog, the risk being that LinkedIn’s version would outrank the blog post on a search for the matter covered in the piece.

According to some commenters, the duplicate problem was  so severe that it would likely invoke a Google penalty on a lawyer’s website. I wondered if this was true (spoiler alert – it wasn’t – but more on that later.)

First, some background on LinkedIn publishing and the dreaded duplicate penalties:

LinkedIn Publishing Background

LinkedIn’s describes their publishing platform as The Definitive Professional Publishing Platform (their words not mine) by showcasing content from influencers in the LinkedIn network. During 2014, LinkinedIn opened up publishing from a select few thought leaders  to more and more of its network.

Duplicate Content Background

As LinkedIn publishing rolled out, many SEOs raised concerns around duplicate content – simply put, would putting my blog content verbatim onto LinkedIn cause one of the following:

  1. LinkedIn, with its very strong authority, is stealing SEO traffic from my blog by utilizing my own content.
  2. The Google might see my content copied onto LinkedIn, believe the original version (known as canonical) was the LinkedIn version, further deduce my site is full of nothing but syndicated content and whack my website traffic with a duplicate content Penalty (aka Panda).

Concerns about duplicate content are exacerbated by the use (or misuse?) of canonical tags by LinkedIn. Canonical tags were specifically created to identify the original (or canonical) version of content – specifically syndicated content. LinkedIn self-servingly automatically generates those canonical tags on content in their publisher platform.  You can see the rel=”canonical” tag  highlighted below in the code for the article I published on LinkedIn, despite the fact I had just cut and pasted the content verbatim.

canonical tag Kevin’s Question

So we come back full circle to Kevin’s Question.

What does The Google do when I copy my blog posts to LinkedIn Publisher?

Let’s see what actually happens in the real world. I tested the theory that LinkedIn is stealing  SEO traffic by copying two of my recent blog posts verbatim to LinkedIn immediately after I published them.  Waited 24 hours to ensure the search engines had time to see both my blog and LinkedIn.  Then did a Google query for a phrase specific to that article and see what happens:

Findlaw canonical

What the what?  Oh LinkedIn . . . . ?  Where are you LinkedIn . . . . ?   Nothing. No mention of LinkedIn at all.  (Sidebar – the FindLaw ad is a little funny; I couldn’t help myself.) And apologies for getting a little geeky but you’ll note there’s nothing showing as suppressed results – which means that The Google hasn’t even indexed the LinkedIn page. I got the exact same results for both posts. I then rechecked the results 2 weeks later.  Same exact thing – no LinkedIn.  But perhaps, this is unique to Conrad’s specific situation.  So I ran 3 more legal blog postings from different firms.  Same results (or lack thereof).  Here’s an example of the results for content on a Chine Law Blog that appear verbatim on LinkedIn.  Note the two results at the bottom are syndicated and originally showed up as supplemental results.  But again.  No LinkedIn.  Not even in supplemental results.

china canonical

Interestingly, when I ran the test for two of Kevin’s posts he syndicated on LinkedIn, I did see LinkedIn, albeit below the original, canonical content (his blog), lumped in with all the other domains on which his content is syndicated.  (Note here that this isn’t a verbatim copy, as Kevin has changed the heading and therefore the H1 of the article.)

Untitled 5

Now, I haven’t done a comprehensive study, but so far 5 out of 5 data points tell the same story:  publishing on LinkedIn won’t cause LinkedIn to steal your traffic nor will it incur the wrath of Mountain View based Pandas. This of course, makes a ton of sense to me – – – I can’t imagine that the brainpower at The Google hasn’t figured out how to handle this very common widespread issue. Its not like syndicated content is an entirely new concept. Note that LinkedIn does aggressively push content in front of your LinkedIn network – so republishing does have real value even if that value doesn’t originate from SEO (gasp – did Conrad really just say that?). If you are still paranoid – just duplicate the experiment above for your own stuff; but as far as I’m concerned – ignore the SEO ballyhoo.

The only thing publishing on LinkedIn will do is to get your established network to read your content – which doesn’t seem like a bad idea after all.

Every Social Media Consultant is Lying to You

Lawyers – I’ll let you in on a secret . . . .

Social Media Marketing Doesn’t Work for You

There, I said it.

We’ve done it to you again – the self proclaimed mavens, experts, gurus and (self) published authors who peddle social media marketing to you guys have been lying. Or we just don’t understand how marketing works in legal.  But probably we’re lying – because we’d really like to cash your retainer to help you republish your blog posts on your Facebook page, even though there are plenty of tools that will automate that process for free.  Just like the SEOs did do. And you’ve all fallen for it again.

Now, I’m not the first person to say this, but it seems like no one is listening.  To understand social media marketing for lawyers in soundbite, consider this from Sam Glover’s anti-Facebook diatribe:  

People aren’t interested in a law firm. At best, they are interested in a particular lawyer, but normal people are about as interested in a law firm as they are interested in a proctology clinic, and for similar reasons.

Legal is NOT a Social Issue

With few exceptions, legal issues are extremely private.  I’m more likely to publicly  “like” my anti-herpes medicine than my DUI lawyer.  It’s not because I hate my lawyer – in fact I love her – its that I don’t want anyone to know that I need her because I’m facing incarceration, divorce, arrest, unemployment, deportation, or the IRS.   And if I need a lawyer for one of these private issues, there is no way on God’s green earth I’m initiating that search on anything remotely public like social media.

And this is the mistake that most self proclaimed social media experts (especially those who don’t work exclusively in legal) miss.  Standard social media marketing practice recommends building social media-based relationships with thought leaders and leveraging those individuals to expand the conversation about your brand.  This works for sneakers.  It works for religion. It works for Chevys and Harley Davidsons.  It works for soap and soup and sex toys.  It doesn’t work for lawyers.

If you personally wouldn’t start your search for a plumber on Twitter, why on earth would you imagine anyone initiate a search for a DUI attorney on Facebook?

Classic social media marketing – chasing likes and fans and pluses and followers simply does not apply to the legal marketplace.  Let’s go back to the classic social media marketing strategy – identify key influencers and leverage them to broadcast your message and shower you with likes, pluses etc.  There is simply no consumer social media key influencer built around getting divorced, or incarcerated or slipping and falling or being in an auto accident.

There is nothing more lonely that a DUI lawyer’s social media profile – which may have a few likes from his mom and law school buddies but otherwise is a barren wasteland screaming “nobody likes me”.  And stop sending out those like requests – I get plenty of them every day and nothing does less to “build a relationship with your audience” than begging for them to publicly advertise how much they like your divorce firm.

Everyone Wants Your Social Media Dollar

It seems that everyone is getting into the social media marketing game – even Lexis Nexis is happy to take your money to “Establish a Presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter”.  Bleh.  The Lexis Nexis marketing drivel epitomizes the huge failure of applying generic social media concepts to the very unique legal marketplace:

Half of all online conversations take place on social networks such as Facebook® and Twitter®. And 47 percent of customers say social media sites influence their decision to purchase a company’s products or services.

Join these conversations, demonstrate thought leadership and improve your search engine rankings with social media marketing from LexisNexis®.

You’d think that Lexis, being well, errr . . . Lexis, would have taken the time to survey people about how social media sites influence their decision to purchase a lawyer’s services.   But they didn’t – because they already know the answer and the social media consultants don’t want to admit it.  They’d prefer the legal industry continue to believe in the false complexity and ever falser effectiveness of this latest marketing channel fad.

Even if social media were effective in legal . . . it is simply impossible to outsource the joining of conversations, and demonstration of thought leadership.  And don’t get me started about the suggestions of the links between social and SEO – other than to say that Matt Cutts continuously insists that Google Plus’ are NOT a ranking factor.  But I digress.

The Only Thing You Need to Know About Social Media Marketing For Lawyers

If (and this is a big if) prospective clients use social to vet a prospective attorney – consider what you want them to see.  Let me give you a hint:  what you don’t want them to see is a slew of third party outsourced regurgitations of local news articles thinly related to your practice of law all ending with an identical admonishment to quickly call your law firm – vomited verbatim onto your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Google Plus.

This is what you want them to see:

Cory Hicks

This is a guy I want to hire – yes he’s a lawyer, but there’s no leather bound books, scales or justice of roman columns.  For the love of all things holy, he’s not even wearing a tie!  He’s a dad and the three most important things in his life are standing right next to him.  Kind of reminds me of me.  The is the kind of guy I’d be happy to spend some money on.  And I bet he’ll never ask me to add this silly page to my “circles.”

Or how about this guy:

Valentine's Day

This is from Jeffrey Lapin’s Google Plus account.  Jeffrey hates abusive debt collectors – and frankly, if I’m dirt broke and being harassed by some aggressive scumbag in a call center who threatens my house at every possible step I probably hate them too.  If I jump with fear when the phone rings, I’d be pretty happy if Bill the Debt Collector got dumped  by his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day and wish Bill a lonely miserable Valentine’s Day sitting in front of the TV all alone.

Jeff gets it.  He gets me.  Maybe I’ll give him a call.

And I’m sure the social media marketing peddlers will disagree . . . they’ll site the impact of social shares in driving links, they’ll mention “authorship” and assure you they can get your little picture in Google SERPs, they’ll convince you that social will improve your rankings.  Sounds like SEO to me, not social media.  There is a fundamental difference. Don’t entrust your firm’s marketing to someone who can’t make the distinction.

Oh – and if your social media marketing consultant mentions Pintrest, run screaming.

Update:  This post is getting a surprising amount of interest – so I thought I’d end it with this picture:  a post of all of the twitter results for the query:  “need accident lawyer”.  The results are embarrassing and utterly devoid of consumers starting their search for a lawyer on this most widely accessible (i.e. not through private connections) social platform.  Try a search for your own practice area here:  search.twitter.com and see if you don’t get similar results.

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