Thursday, July 30, 2009

Twitter Tweet Not So Sweet According To Lawsuit Filed In Chicago

It was a not-so-sweet Tweet about a Chicago apartment. So Horizon Group Management LLC filed a libel lawsuit Monday against former tenant Amanda Bonnen, claiming one of her alleged Twitter posts "maliciously and wrongfully" slammed her apartment at 4242 N. Sheridan and the company managing it.


Horizon Group Management has filed a lawsuit against Amanda Bonnen for publishing a false and defamatory Tweet on Twitter. Bonnen was living at an apartment managed by Horizon Group Management at 4242 N. Sheridan Rd. (Google)

LAWSUIT DETAILS PDF: Read the lawsuit details

The May 12 Tweet under the handle "abonnen" reads in part: "Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay." The suit and Twitter account identifies "abonnen" as Amanda Bonnen.

Jeffrey Michael, whose family has run Horizon for more than 25 years, said: "The statements are obviously false, and it's our intention to prove that." He said that while she moved out recently, the company never had a conversation about the post and never asked her to take it down.


"We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization," he said, noting that the company manages 1,500 apartments in Chicago and has a good reputation it wants to preserve.
Horizon, which filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court, is seeking $50,000 in damages.

Click here to learn more about lawyers and social media like twitter


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Becoming A Hot Topic

Local Search Engine Optimization for Locally Focused Companies

Although many companies begin using search engine optimization (SEO) to help increase their national - or perhaps international - visibility online, some companies are only concerned about attracting customers in their neighborhood, something experts says is much easier.

Local Law Firms Looking to Boost Local Search Engine Traffic

As part of its Website Remedies feature, gathers a number of experts in an attempt to assist businesses looking for help with their website. Its most recent piece focused on North Carolina-based law firm Conroy & Weinshenker which is looking to boost local traffic.

Local Search Engine SEO Makes It Easier To Focus

Pamela Swingley of California-based Savvy Internet Marketing says there is a lot of focus on local search at the moment and notes that creating search engine optimization (SEO) content for local traffic is simpler than trying to lure people from across the country."

Attracting local search traffic is much easier than optimizing a website for a national or international audience," she told "Local search is starting to really heat up."The experts say Conroy & Weinshenker should expand their content to help increase their search engine optimization (SEO). The news provider also suggests that the site update its news site at least once a month. While this can have the benefit of increasing SEO, it can also be of assistance to prospective clients.

Google Local (Maps) Added To Search Engine Results

Many local companies saw an increase in search engine optimization (SEO) earlier this year without doing anything to their websites when Google made local search the default setting for result pages.

Click here to learn more about Local (Google Local) Search Engine Optimization


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Should Lawyers Be Using Twitter?

When consulting lawyers on web marketing, I am frequently asked if they should be using Twitter – the new micro-blog that rivals the Cabbage Patch Dolls in viral zeal. Much like ALL web marketing, I respond with one simple answer: what’s the goal? If an attorney can answer this question, then the answer tends to be pretty straight forward. By the way, nobody tells me that their goals are to tell others what they had for breakfast – this is simply filling a vacuum that typically follows.

The Challenge is that most lawyers do not know what value Twitter can provide them

Twitter is referred to as a micro-blog and is nothing more than a way to tell others "what are you doing" within 140 characters or less. This works out to around 20-30 words within 1-2 sentences. If you are a verbose writer, this is a challenge to say the least. All of these short "tweets" are listed chronologically much like a blog so what you are doing now is where the eye commonly follows. People (anybody for that matter, without permission) can "follow" your tweets and keep up with you. Here are a few lists of lawyer s on Twitter (and yes, some of them will tell you want they had for breakfast this morning):

- 145 Lawyers to follow:
- Big Law Lawyers:
- New York Firms:
- Lawyer Mom’s:
- AmLaw 100 Users:

Extensions of Twitter to Facebook, Blogs, Blackberries, etc.

Yes, Twitter is yet another social media tool but when deployed properly, it provides useful extendibility. For example, if you have a Facebook account, you can have tweets from your twitter account feed into your facebook account. You can also easily tweet from your mobile phone and blackberries as well. For those of you who actively use Facebook, you may be wondering why you would want to tell people what you are doing on Twitter when you can do the same thing in Facebook. The difference between the two is that the only people who can follow you on Facebook are those people who are granted permission to do so by you. On Twitter, anybody can access your Tweets. For example, you may have a lawsuit filed against Southwest airlines but nothing prevents you from following their tweets about which flights are offering WiFi service today. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll even tell you what’s for breakfast…what a novel idea!

All valuable technologies are understandable, measureable and sustainable

Running a law practice is also running a business and decisions that impact the growth of your practice should be based on a cost benefit analysis. To account for your practice, everything you utilize can be classified as either an asset or liability. For those of us who skipped accounting 101, this is a pretty simple understanding: assets provide incremental cash flow while liabilities require a cash outflow to maintain. In order the measure cash flow, you must be able to measure it from the source. Ultimately an asset will provide value to your practice and your best value is provided by products and services that provide understandable, measurable and sustainable returns on your time and money. Since your time comes at a cost, this must be considered when it comes to using any automation tools – including Twitter.

Twitter has a high abandon rate for a reason

Over 60% of people who create Twitter accounts never come back. Just take a look at many Twitter accounts online today and you will see what I mean. People will typically tweet a couple of times for maybe a day or a week and then all of a sudden, they must have stopped eating breakfast right? What typically happens to most of us is as explained above – the value provided to that user through the use of twitter was not understandable, measureable and sustainable. For example, how many cabbage patch doll hand-me-downs have you seen floating around lately? I think you get my point.

Don’t use Twitter as part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy

If you plan on adding links from your Twitter account to your website in hopes of increasing your website rankings, don’t bother – Google won’t count them. Twitter uses a little trick in their system called "nofollow" which basically tells search engines not to count any link value from your Twitter account to somewhere else like your website. This is not to say that linking to your website, blog, news, etc. is not important to drive traffic to these web properties. Just understand that the links are only good for directing traffic, not creating inbound link value.

Some lawyers could find Twitter useful

If you are a practicing lawyer, your time is your money. Twitter is offered as a free service but there is nothing free about your lost time. If you bill at say $250/hour for your services and you tweet for 1 hour a week, Twitter has cost you around $1000/month in opportunity costs. So can you substantiate this? The following are a list of common reasons why a lawyer may find Twitter useful as an asset to their practice:

· Do people REALLY want to know what you are doing (pure narcissism doesn’t count here)?
· Are you frequently on TV?
· Are you considered an authority in your practice area?
· Do people want to see you in action in court?
· Do you appear in the newspapers?
· Are you handling high-profile cases?
· Are you well known and/or considered a celebrity in your work?
· Do you actively network online and want to research/follow clients?

Most lawyers who should not be using Twitter

The reality is most lawyers are not prepared to successfully use Twitter. If you do not find the common criteria listed above as useful to you, then all you are left with is broadcasting what you had for breakfast – if anybody really cares. The simple fact of the matter is that unless you are doing something that others find truly interesting and useful, then you will not have followers and will ultimately become yet another billboard in a cornfield of Twitter. Oh course the system is free – until you commit your time to it.

Measuring your success on Twitter

If you decide to try out Twitter and make a go of it, here are a few ways you can help promote and measure your success:

- Count your followers on Twitter. Are they increasing overtime? Who are they – anybody you recognize? If you do TV, radio and media appearances, are there media contacts and PR agents following you on Twitter? Are there other attorneys who specialize in your field of work following you?

- Promote your twitter account in your email signatures, on your website, in your blogs, newsletters, on facebook, in LinkedIn, etc. and see who responds. If people see that you have a Twitter account and decide not to follow you, then this might tell you right away how useful this information really isn’t to others.

- Ask your new clients if they actively use Twitter and if so, provide them with a link to your account and see if they follow.

- Look before you jump – don’t waste your time unless you have defined goals BEFORE you begin to use Twitter. If your goals are not met and it proves to be a liability for you, let me go – you and your cabbage patch doll will be happy you did.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Law Firm Blogs That Produce New Cases and Revenues

When discussing blogs, attorneys will commonly ask me if they are an effective means of internet marketing time and dollars. In otherwords, beyond the inbound linking and ease of publishing news and articles, can they generate new cases?

Well, I met yesterday with one of my clients: Andrew Lustigman of the Lustigman Law Firm. They have a blog located at Andrew's practice focuses in on Advertising Law, Promotions & Sweepstakes Law and as a result of the content on his blog, he was able to retain Apple as a client.

So when prospective clients like Apple are online looking for legal representation, you need to ask yourself how efective blogging can help you grow your practice as well...

Resources: The 15 Things Every Lawyer Should Know About Blogging

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Advertising News: Lawyers say Craigs List is now a viable way to generate business

It’s free, easy to find and use, and provides access to a wide audience. And while there are downsides to Craigslist, solo and small-firm practitioners say the website can be a useful practice-building tool as long as you know what to expect.

Possibly the largest classified advertising website, Craigslist provides a legal services section within each of its dozens of local sites. Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s getting plenty of use: On a single day in April, the Chicago site alone had more than 100 attorney ads posted with attention-grabbing headlines like “Low-Cost Bankruptcy” and “Don’t Let a Divorce Make You Go Broke—Free Consultation.”

High Lawyer Inquiries and Case Conversions with Craigs List Advertising

Elk Grove, Calif., solo Jonathan Stein has been using the site for nearly three years, and he gets five to 10 inquiries per week. He estimates that 80 percent of those inquiries turn into clients.

“Consumers these days go to Craigslist for everything,” including lawyers, says Stein. “It does take a little while to figure out how to use it effectively. I probably spent my first six months getting a lot of garbage phone calls.”

How Lawyers Can Make the Best Use of Craig's List Advertising

Stein now has learned how to avoid those garbage calls by refining his ad and knowing what to expect. Those contacting him about personal injury matters tend to be just starting their attorney search and are often looking only for basic information, while those who contact him about foreclosure matters are often ready to hire a lawyer because of the amount of research they’ve already done.

Overall, Stein thinks the site is valuable. “For the 10 minutes I spend a week putting up my ads, my return on investment is immeasurable.”


High Growth Rates for Family / Divorce Law Attorneys on Craig's List

Kent, Wash., solo Susan L. Beecher started advertising on the site more than a year ago, intending to focus on business and employment cases. But the economy forced her to expand her practice into family law, which she’s found generates the greatest response. She’s brought in 25 to 30 clients so far.

The main benefits for Beecher are the price and time involved; the primary downside has been respondents who try to chat her up for free help.

“They feel that their cause is just, especially with family law,” she says. “They’ve lost their parenting rights. They feel this is just so horrible, some­body should be willing to do this for free. And we can’t do that.”

Lea Bickerton, who practices with her husband, William, says their Pittsburgh-based criminal defense firm began advertising on Craigslist last October. Most of the clients they’ve brought in—10 or so—have been expungement cases.

Criminal Law Lawyers Using High Quality Ads on Craig's List

The Bickertons take the time to design a “first-class-all-the-way” ad­vertisement, so they don’t dilute their brand.

“People think, ‘If they’re on Craigslist, how good can they be?’ ” she says. “It’s a reputation type of thing. When you see the quality of other ads on Craigs­list, it might not make you look good to be in that type of company. That’s why it’s important for us to put in a classy ad.” Craigslist does not allow more than three ads within 48 hours, nor can attorneys repeat ads in multiple cities, Stein says. To stay true to the spirit of the site, he generally stays below the maximum.

“The hard-core Craigs­list users will flag your post if they don’t like it, and then your posts start disappearing,” he says. “They get offended if they think you are spamming the list.” Ethics experts at the ABA say they don’t see particular issues with Craigslist that are different from any other website.

“It’s just like any other ad anywhere else,” says Art Garwin, dep­uty director of the ABA’s Center for Professional Responsibility. “You can’t put up anything that’s false or misleading.”

“It’s not the media that’s the concern, it’s the message,” agrees Will Hornsby, staff counsel in the ABA’s Division for Legal Services. “The rules are the rules, and lawyers have the obligation to comply.”

Source: ABA Journal:

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