The large storm that hit South Carolina in October caused a great amount of destructive flooding and heavily impacted the lives of people and the operations of businesses. Many people were stuck inside and glued to their smartphones because the power was out.
The pictures and stories were all over the news and social media. Within a couple of hours, the interaction was explosive across the Internet. People were sharing links and stories with friends and family across the country, which led to even more people on the Web researching the events.
Despite the dreadful circumstances of the natural disaster, all of the resulting activity created opportunities for lots of “wins.” First, and most importantly, it allowed people and businesses to provide help to those who were in need. That is a big “win” for the community. Flood relief efforts in South Carolina brought funding and supplies to many who were in very difficult situations. Donations came, and volunteers worked tirelessly to help improve the situation wherever possible.
How law firms get involved with communities
When events such as this one occur, law firms often get involved. They initiate and promote efforts to gather donations of money and supplies, and in some cases, they volunteer their labor to assist victims. Additionally, many law firms and their team members are involved with ongoing charitable and philanthropic efforts. Through involvement in these types of activities, firms have a chance to benefit while benefitting their communities, organizations that do good and individuals who need assistance.
This is where the other “wins” come into play. A law firm has the opportunity to win by building goodwill within its communities. By showing the people in your region that you are a group of people who cares about others, you can connect with them in deeper ways than simple marketing can offer. They may not remember the law firm billboard that they drive past from time to time. However, they will likely remember the firm that sponsored a 5K for their favorite charity. That deeper connection is definitely a “win.”
Lastly, there can be a “win” for your firm’s website, your search engine optimization and your online marketing efforts in general. When you get involved in your community and promote good causes and activities that benefit various groups, you naturally create conversation and activity online. That activity can benefit your firm’s website in the form of visits, links, citations, social media interaction and brand mentions.
How law firm websites can benefit from the firm’s community involvement
Let’s say your firm is hosting a charity dinner to benefit an organization that was involved in aiding victims of pancreatic cancer. You would likely add a page to your website describing the event, taking donations and selling tickets. You would promote the event on social media, sharing it with as many of your followers as possible. You might even reach out to other organizations with similar interests and ask them to share your event with their followers, too.
Naturally, those who care about the cause will share your event with their friends and followers on social media platforms and, perhaps, link to your event page from their own websites. Hopefully, a much larger group of people will hear about it and be interested in participating. You may also post your event to websites that list local and regional events, which can increase “event citations” on the Web.
While all of this is happening, the social media activity, links, mentions of your law firm’s brand, event citations and additional visits to your site can all have a positive effect on your website. It can improve your site’s ability to rank and appear when a search engine shows results to its users. In essence, all of the “hoopla” surrounding the charitable effort that you have initiated can send signals to search engines that your website is valuable and worth visiting. They may be more likely to offer your page to its users in a higher position. That would make it more likely that your search listing would be clicked, and your website will get another visit.
Why social media is so important to law firms
Law firms that serve the general public have tons of experience in serving and supporting people during times of crisis. Because of the type of law they practice, they know how to be compassionate and encourage people in difficult times. They do this in person, with their clients on an ongoing basis, but social media provides a platform where they can serve and support their communities and increase awareness of the firm at the same time.
By sharing and commenting on relevant news stories, promoting various causes in which your firm is involved and being a part of the conversation, you can develop top-of-mind awareness among groups of people with whom you want to connect. They may not have a reason to need your services at present, but by nurturing a relationship with them, they may reach out to you in the future.
Why else is social media important? Because it is a huge source of news for the American public. In turn, having a presence for your law firm on various platforms can garner more exposure.
How do social media sites stack up on news? When you take into account the total reach of a site (the share of Americans who use it) and the proportion of users who get news on the site, Facebook is the obvious news powerhouse. According to the Pew Research Center, roughly two-thirds (64%) of U.S. adults use the site and half of those users get news there, amounting to approximately 30% of the general population.
YouTube is the next biggest social news pathway — about half of Americans use the site, and one-fifth of them get news there. This translates to 10% of the adult population and puts the site in the same category of relevance as Twitter.
Twitter reaches 16% of Americans. Half of those users say they get news there, or 8% of Americans. Although only 3% of the U.S. population uses Reddit, for those that do, getting news there is a major draw – 62% of users have gotten news from the site.
Source: Pew Research Center, phone survey. Feb 27 – March 2, 2014
Source: Pew Research Center, Based on Facebook news consumers N=1,429. Facebook News Survey August 27, – September 2, 2013
Additional ways to make good use of social media
Surely, your firm is in touch with local and national news. Be proactive when something happens in your community and act fast. You want your firm to “be there” in the beginning. You can even use your blog and social media to start conversations about important topics. Use the techniques below to boost your social media presence and produce traffic to your site:
- Share on Social Media – Especially on Facebook and Twitter. Share your own blog posts or other articles.
- If possible, generate a video about an event on your YouTube channel and Facebook page. Video can be very engaging, especially when the topic is important to social media users.
- Add content to your homepage that talks about a newsworthy event and what your firm is doing to help your community.
- If your firm is involved in any community projects, ask them to share your pages and post on their social media profiles, and ask for links on their websites. You could get participation from schools, churches, local hospitals and nonprofit organizations.
Do well by doing good
There are always groups of people who need your help and support. Take the opportunity to assist your community during difficult times and on an ongoing basis. Take action as a law firm to provide assistance through volunteering, raising money, organizing a blood drive, increasing awareness for a cause or engaging in countless other ways to help.
Whether it is the floods in South Carolina, a charity dinner that your firm is hosting, a 5K event that you are sponsoring to benefit a good cause or any similar effort, lots of people get involved. You can build relationships, your firm’s reputation and the strength of your online marketing campaign all at once simply by reaching out and helping people.
For additional thoughts on how community involvement can support your online campaign, especially with regards to local search, please read Grant Brott’s blog post from early 2014 here.