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Like This: Facebook as Business Marketing Utility

Yeah, it’s like that. Per my last week’s post to ye olde LOMAP blog, you learned that we published a Facebook page the week before. If you haven’t “liked” us yet, “like” being the equivalent of a Facebook stern handshake relationship, well . . . What are you waiting for? Get on that. It’s easy. Log in, click the “Like” icon (“Likon”?) at the top of page, and our updates will appear in your newsfeed, and you’ll be able to communicate fully with us, across the platform. Just, please note, I am not interested in finding any black sheep that have strayed from your farm’s ville. I don’t care. I am not the good shepherd.

But, my promoting hand becomes sore with all of this pushing of the LOMAP Facebook page. (That’s www.Facebook.com/MassLOMAP!) For now, let’s assume that you all know we have a page, and that you’ll eventually come to “like” us, if you haven’t already. (I’ m starting to think that the quotation marks are making me sounds like a “loser”. I’ll stop.)

What I intend to write about today, is Why you (yes, YOU), attorney starting your own practice/engaged in managing your own practice, should have a Facebook page for your business, too. Maybe I’m a crackpot (and, it could probably be argued effectively), but I think that Facebook represents a uniquely effective business marketing opportunity for professionals, including attorneys. Let’s first address the basics, then we’ll move on to some more of the theoretical arguments that I like so well, before I pull the rug out from under some hastily constructed strawmen arguments. Then comes the bow from below.

The creation of a Facebook page for business is fairly straightforward. (I don’t get the impression that they are calling them “fan” pages anymore (damnit!), because no one is fanning anyone anymore. Everyone is liking everyone else now, which I guess is meant to be easier to do/less intrusive/more difficult to remember to undo.) Constructing a Facebook page for business is really as simple as going to this webpage, and following the instructions. Really. If you’ve created your own Facebook page, or could, you could certainly, also, hypothetically, create a Facebook page for your business. (When are you ever going to learn to trust me?) Some distinct advantages of a Facebook page for business are that: Once it’s appropriately established, it’s a pretty slick-looking website in its own right. It’s also going to have your logo plastered all over it, which is great for branding. And, it will, hopefully (but only if you push it), engender much discussion, making for an active page that really reaches a community of interested persons, ideally. Neither does a business page arbitrarily limit the amount of followers/friends/likers you can surround yourself with. (Personal pages cap friends at 5,000 total, which is certainly a problem for a dude like me.) Once you get 25 likers (I’ve decided that that is the term I am going to use . . . while hoping I don’t misspell it), you can select a unique url for your page. www.facebook.com/MassLOMAP sounded better, and was much easier to market and reference than www.facebook.com/Yrbd75LKhgd69oNBn. And, since Facebook does provide you with a pretty durn nifty-looking page, it could even be your primary website, if you were so bold, and if you added disclaimers, and some bells and whistles. (With the caveat that, although your Facebook page for business could be your primary page for site visitors, it should not be your page for client communication and collaboration. More on this later.) Your main advantage in the creation of a Facebook page for business lies in the power of the newsfeed. Every Facebook user’s primary page is not their profile, contrary to some old people’s crazy beliefs. Nay, the page that Facebook drops you off at, and the page that people most frequently monitor is the newsfeed. What’s the newsfeed? Well, the newsfeed is where all of your friends’ status updates stream. (Think of it as Twitter on Facebook.) Once you are liked by someone, they get your updates in their newsfeed. And, when I say that people monitor their newsfeeds, I mean that they are glued to their newsfeeds like white on rice on a paper plate in a snowstorm on the back of a polar bear leaning against a snow-covered albino zebra with a bad case of dandruff eating vanilla pudding with a plastic spork. My wife will, casually, hold her phone in her hand, and check her newsfeed regularly, when she is the car, or sitting around the house, and at many other places and times (trust me, it’s a lot); in fact, her phone is actually built to work with Facebook, and all she has to do is shake the phone, while the Facebook app is open, to update her newsfeed. There’s a whole lot of shaking going on. Trust me. People dig the newsfeed. If you want to do anything on Facebook, you’ve got to get on the newsfeed. This is the way to reach younger persons, your next generation of clients. Did I mention that this extremely powerful opportunity: the creation of a Facebook page for business, is completely free?

If you’re thinking: My, Jared, that was a fairly cursory review, and you didn’t really tell us anything about creating a page, well . . . Fret not, loyal reader! Rachel is taking care of that next week. (Really, though, thank God Rachel is here, right?) And, while the design and interface on Facebook can sometimes be wonky, that is no reason to remove yourself from such a vibrant online conversation.

Oh, and I haven’t even talked about the best part yet: EVERYONE is on Facebook. So, all of those advantages arrayed above, by using those, you’re going to be deploying your message to your largest potential group of followers. Don’t believe me? Well, then, believe the Boston Globe, when they report that Facebook surpassed Google in U.S. hits earlier this year. This obviates, as well, a real problem that I see here addressed all the time: People come in constantly, telling me about how they have no contacts. Well, everybody has contacts, beginning with their friends and families, and emanating therefrom, to the friends and family of their friends and family, and so forth. This is where most attorneys starting their practices begin anyway. So, why not begin with the web gathering spot for friends and families, generally, including yours. Facebook is beginning to skew older, too. In my particular group of friends, a bit out from the initial Facebook generation: my friends ar
e already on, or coming on, and their parents are coming, too, to look at, and to comment on, baby pictures. And, Facebook makes it easier for you to find others, and for others to find you. It’s built into the system, where you can spot mutual friends, search for long-lost friends and even discover new friends through the Facebook feature that suggests people for you to friend based on shared connections. Social networking, in its broadest sense, means that we’re all a part of the largest Kevin Bacon Game ever; and, Facebook is one of the main platforms for the playing out of that game. What this (that your contact base is so strong, and so dedicated personally to you) means to you, to begin, is that you’ll have a group of followers who are absolutely invested in your success, right from the start, and who will work to promote you zealously, to anyone who will listen. There is some automatic goodwill here that you can access with very little effort. Why is this better than a traditional announcement card? Well, the latter gets thrown away, while the former becomes a continuing collaboration place/piece, a collection for your content, a reference point for referrals and a permanent (well, relatively speaking) advertisement for your firm.

Some folks are nervous about using Facebook, because of legitimate privacy concerns. (Yeah, Facebook is not so good with the privacy thing. Just search for “Facebook privacy concerns” and you’ll have much reading to do.) For my part, I’ve seen more spam friend requests of late, spam friend requests I have never gotten before; so, it appears that Facebook, as reported in the news and as captured by my own experience, is not as tight on the privacy side as it perhaps once was, if it ever was. But, the expectation that you would utilize Facebook for the passing of confidential information, is, perhaps, a misunderstanding of what Facebook is and does. I’ve never expected Facebook to be a private medium. Any conversations that I want to be private, I direct through my GMail account; and, I never message anyone, or post anything to anyone’s wall, or generally to Facebook, that I would not want someone else to see/I would be embarrassed if it received general circulation. Operating under those constraints, I’m really not ever worried about my use of Facebook, because I use it as a public exchange place, and not as a private one. There is, also, the danger of placing too much personal information on Facebook; but, you can limit that information released by censoring what you publish. For example, if you don’t want people to know where you live, then don’t put your address information on Facebook. (Of course, you should realize that anyone can find out where you live through a Google search anyway. Or . . . forget I said that.) You can lock down your profile by applying certain privacy settings for non-friends, or for friends who are shady, as well. People run into problems on Facebook, re: privacy, because they have this expectation that their privacy will be protected by Facebook. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know Facebook, and I never expected that my privacy would be protected through Facebook. If you operate as if Facebook is a medium completely exposed to the public, you will be better off, and will, to my mind, be using it in a more effective way.

If you operate on the above principles, you are not releasing any sensitive personal information via Facebook, whether through wall posts or private messages. Some people also worry, however, about people posting confidential information to their walls, or about learning personal information about someone through the posts of others with whom there is a mutual connection or network connection. As to the former situation, the best you can do is to delete that post from your wall. In those instances, there is nothing you can do but to limit the damage done. After all, is it really your obligation to prevent other people from being stupid? (And, this probably argues for a disclaimer on law firm Facebook pages that addresses wall posting information specifically.) Ditto for the latter situation. As I’ve said above, this is the greatest Kevin Bacon Game of all time. And, you can’t be expected to protect against threats existing that you have no earthly idea of, nor could be expected to have any earthly idea of. It’s sort of like being blamed for stepping on a buried land mine, on the argument that you should have disarmed it first. As a soldier, you’ve got to be in that minefield; as a law firm marketing itself, you’ve got to be on Facebook/on the web. It’s just the rules of modern engagement. (And, this is an issue of the general web, as well, is it not?) If you’re treating Facebook appropriately, which, to my mind, means that you are using it as a marketing tool to engage a specific set of interests in open dialogue, and not as a secure portal/client collaboration tool, then I think you’ll be fine.

Beyond what you can and cannot control with respect to privacy on Facebook, there is also the issue of whether people say bad things about you on Facebook. And, again, this is a question of the internet world that is not unique to Facebook. My take on this has generally remained unchanged for quite some time, whether I have published that take or not: You can’t stop people from posting stuff to the internet about you. You just can’t. On Facebook, you can delete defamatory posts to your wall. You can block crazy people, or put them on limited profiles. You can even respond to the crazed poster. (Although, I’m not a huge fan of this strategy, especially outside of a single response, because, thereby, you’re sort of lending some credence to the report by your doth protesting too much, methinks. Morons usually end up exposing themselves. (Well, not like that, but you catch my meaning.)) Beyond monitoring your business Facebook account, I think that this question begins to resolve itself when you think of this all as a free and open dialogue, and spin out what that means. The first thing to remember is that you have to be active if you are going to be online, especially if you are going to be online marketing. If you’re not going to be active, you’re better off just avoiding the endeavor altogether. The second thing to remember is that you can control the dialogue in active and passive ways. Actively, you can respond to posts and engage persons, even those persons who are haters. Passively, you can drown the bad noise with good noise, generated by you, and others. You can also apply blocking and filtering and deletion techniques, as appropriate. The internet can help create your reputation, but then your reputation no longer exists in a vacuum–you must actively manage it once you’ve released it. I mean, look at the cautionary tale alternatively known as “The Modern Prometheus”, the lesson being that you must always take ownership of your creations, lest disaster befall the townsfolk.

But, it’s not all bad news when it comes to Facebook and privacy; creating a Facebook page for business can, in fact, be a boon for your privacy. If you’re on Facebook personally, without a business presence, you may have found that many of your work associates have tried to friend you, even those folks that you just pretend to be nice to. Before the application of a business page, that can be an awkward situation. Do you reject their request? Do you put them on a limited profile? (They’ll figure out that they’re on a limited profile, by the way.) Do you just ignore
their overtures until they get the hint? Or, even if you don’t mind the friender in question, maybe you just don’t want them seeing your personal profile. Wouldn’t it be great if there were an easier way? Well, now you have one: your business page. With a business page, it becomes much easier to say, “Hey, we can do the Facebook thing, but come in on my business page.” The creation of separate work and personal pages on Facebook means that you can create both personal and professional personae, and direct frienders to the appropriate channel. This is one way to control the dialogue, and is, another way, to achieve some of that sought-after work-life balance. Depositing dialogue sets and persons into dedicated buckets is not so bad a thing, as long as the buckets are roomy enough, and not too damp.

As I’ve said previously, I think there are tremendous advantages to the utilization of a Facebook page for business to market your law firm. If I were starting a law firm tomorrow, the first step that I would take in the direction of a web presence would be to establish a Facebook page for my firm.

. . .
Liner Notes

I know you’ve missed “Liner Notes”, you don’t have to tell me.

Have I told you about the Jared Correia Listening Project yet? Oh, I haven’t? Well, it’s sort of like the Pepsi Refresh Project, only without a charitable purpose, and, on the whole, rather pointless. Anyway, the Jared Correia Listening Project (not to be confused with the Alan Parsons Project) involves me listening, in alphabetical order, by artist then album, to all of my songs on iTunes. Considering that I currently have 7,097 songs on iTunes (= 18 ½ consecutive days of music), this is a more in-depth undertaking than you might realize. I started about a month ago, and I am currently on “B”, rating songs as I go. Since iTunes defaults to the first name of the artist, I have just cycled through a heavy segment of the “B”’s: Billy Joel.

Bill Joel (as I call him–no, I’m just kidding, I don’t know Billy Joel) is another one of these guys whose entire album collections I have acquired. I love everything Billy Joel has ever done. From his lost first album, “Cold Spring Harbor”, through the last song on “River of Dreams”, “Famous Last Words”. “Famous Last Words” is a pretty baller title for your last pop output, you have to admit; even better was that Joel delivered completely on the significance of that pronouncement. (So, yeah, Billy Joel has put out a classical-style album (he wrote the music, but didn’t play the piano), a couple of singles (only one of which he played on) and a box set of (mostly) rare and unreleased tracks, including demos of popular songs, since his pseudo-retirement; but, he has pretty much stayed in the background otherwise, and has never released a full pop album since “River of Dreams” almost twenty years ago now. And, I like people that keep their word, even if “keeping one’s word”, in this case, essentially means that I hardly ever get to hear anything approaching new music from Billy Joel ever again. What a downer, my principles, are.)

I’ve always liked Billy Joel because he always seemed authentic to me. He wasn’t put-upon like so many other pop stars; and, I got the general impression that he never gave much of a damn about what other people thought of him. (Both good things, by the way.) He always seemed to write for the common people, the working man, the true middle class, what have you, but not in a condescending, but rather, in a genuine, manner. I can and do relate to that. (Hell, I mean, you can take the boy out of New Bedford, but you can’t take the New Bedford out of the boy.) Permit me three Billy Joel stories: (1) I used to listen to Billy Joel on vinyl. The “Piano Manalbum cover scared the living hell out of me. It looked like the ghost of a fictional Medusus staring out blankly at you. (That and the negative version of the front cover on the back? Not cool. I had nightmares for weeks, when I was a kid . . . or, um, now.) (2) I must have watched the “Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium” VHS about 4,000 times with my Dad. It was the only piece of Yankees-related memorabilia to ever cross the threshold of my house. (3) In 1994, I owned a pimped-, but rusted-, out 1980 Mazda 626, that we kicked the idle up on to, like, 35 mph, just so it could move reasonably well when the speedometer would not move past 12 mph via depression of the gas pedal (a more frequent occurrence than you might otherwise guess). Anyway, one time I heard something rattling in the heating component, and, for days, I couldn’t figure out what it was, but I thought I could pinpoint the sound: So, I reached into one of the heater vents, and pulled out a cassette tape of Billy Joel’s 1987 Russian Concert live album. Well, I popped it right into the cassette deck, and it played, damnit. (By the way, here is what a “cassette tape” looks like, for anyone wondering. What the hell is “high bias”?)

If you want to learn more about Billy Joel, I would recommend reading the incredibly robust Wikipedia page covering his career.

Alright, time to array the listening pleasures, like so many brilliantly-constructed appetizers at that fancy obscurantists’ restaurant you like:

Why Should I Worry (performing as the Dodger, a dog wearing trademark Billy Joel sunglasses, for the Disney movie “Oliver & Company”)

Getting Closer” (featuring Steve Winwood)

All for Leyna” (Yes! I love cheesy 80’s videos. Bonus!)

Christie Lee” (This was my jam back in the day.)

Stiletto” (Really, she’s already cut you twice. What’s your problem?)

Back in the USSR” (Beatles cover, live in Russia)

Scandinavian Skies” (The only pop song I know written about this particular geographic area.)

Travelin’ Prayer (countrified, Willy Joel)

The Great Wall of China
” (You never should have done Billy that way.)

That’s Not Her Style” (One of the “Christie Brinkley songs” from “Storm Front“, along with “When In Rome” and “State of Grace”.)

Vienna” (This song should have been a number 1 hit.)

Root Beer Rag” (That’ll melt your face off.)

All You Wanna Do Is Dance” (It’s so true.)

You didn’t think I’d come up with some standard Billy Joel hit songs, like some amateur, did you? I don’t bring that weak stuff around. Your face looks like the way people’s faces looked at the James Taylor concert the other day, when JT tested the depth of the crowd’s catalogue knowledge by playing “Machine Gun Kelly”. That, my friends, is crowd sourcing.

Billy Joel was also an early leader in pushing the dress suit-white tennis shoes combination, to which look I am sincerely and utterly devoted.