It seems like there's a new internet marketing trend just about every year, but 2012 has been a doozy: there are so many internet marketing trends that it's hard to keep track of them all. As 2012 winds down, here are seven trends in internet marketing for attorneys and law firms that will help you develop a comprehensive marketing plan for 2013.
Top Internet Marketing Trend #1: The Dawn of the Local Web
One of the biggest changes for 2013 according to internet marketing trend watchers is that local's going to be more important than ever. When people started using the internet, they were fascinated by their ability to connect with people all over the globe. The idea that you could be sitting at a computer in Chicago, typing to a person who lived in Munich or Vladivostok or Canberra that you'd never met before, was one of the biggest changes that the internet brought into our lives.
However, as people have grown used to the internet, they've grown increasingly attached to local based searches and are forming geographically based groups. There are a number of reasons for this, but the simplest is this: when you This means that more and more, you're better off following internet marketing trends that emphasize the local. Consider getting a guest blog spot on a blog that talks about local issues, or be the interviewed guest on a local podcast if some aspect of your legal practice might be interesting to listeners.
Top Internet Marketing Trend #2: Everyone's a Social Butterfly
Some lawyers are still clinging to an idea that seemed reasonable enough a few years ago: that internet marketing trends toward social media sites are just fads. Today, social media is finally big enough that holding onto that attitude may be what's holding you back.
There's no reason not to become part of social media sites today. Social trends are the biggest internet marketing trends today for a reason. Surveys show that the number of people who have obtained consumer information about attorneys from social websites has been doubling for each of the last two years. By giving yourself a social presence, you're not just jumping on an internet marketing trend bandwagon. You're giving yourself the best chance to build long term professional relationships with a much wider range of people in your community than you ever had access to before.
Learn how to really use technologies like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Don't start by assuming you already know what internet marketing trends matter most on these sites—look for information that is recent, because what works at one time may not work six months later.
Top Internet Marketing Trend #3: Grassroots, Not Astroturf
Because internet marketing trends in 2011 and 2012 have tended to result in attorneys paying a lot of attention to review websites, some lawyers have gotten the same idea as other businesses: to either write the reviews themselves or have some other non-client write good reviews to keep out the bad. However, most review websites have protocols that prevent this, and will stop you from using bogus reviews if any are detected.
Even if you're not caught automatically by the site, putting new fake reviews onto a review site ignores the real problem. If someone's actually giving you an honest critique that you're failing to address, you're not going to cover up the problem for long with fake grassroots postings. Instead, try responding to a person's negative review reasonably and without assigning blame to the other person. You may also want to ask real clients you know have had a positive experience to write about your law firm on the same sites where you're currently having problems with negative reviews.
Top Internet Marketing Trend #4: Funny Business
Not every attorney is funny, and not every attorney has to be. But if you honestly do have a good sense of humor, you can get on board with a lot more internet marketing trends. The internet is often a funny kind of place, and if you understand its inside jokes and its memes, you'll be a lot more likely to succeed at placing funny content on the internet.
Just because a website is funny doesn't mean it's not informative. A number of websites are devoted to lists of interesting events or people in history or pop culture (like cracked.com) and these sites are likely to have an educational as well as humorous tone. You can give people valid legal information even if it's got some humor tied into the message too. Stay away from jokes that could cause offense to oppressed groups or that could give you public relations problems later on.
Top Internet Marketing Trend #5: Ratings Matter More
Ratings really do make a difference for your law firm's success now. Because it's one of the biggest internet marketing trends, you should put some effort into your strategy for building a good presence on these sites. Most review websites, like yelp.com, allow businesses to include some information about themselves. Keep this information updated consistently, and double check to make sure there are no typos. No matter how many clients want to call your office after seeing your Google Places profile, if your phone number is a digit off, they'll be thwarted every time.
Top Internet Marketing Trend #6: Rise of the Mobile Machines
The shift toward mobile content distribution is one of the ongoing internet marketing trends that shows no sign of slowing. All internet marketing trend predictions estimate that in less than 36 months, people will use mobile internet as much as traditional desktop or laptop internet. Get to know mobile marketing and mobile internet marketing trends now, including things like QR codes (whether or not you decide to use them). If you're not informed about the possibilities of mobile marketing, you may be leaving huge numbers of clients out of your strategy.
Top Internet Marketing Trend #7: Diversified Content
It's not enough any more to just have a blog, unless you're part of a very small firm, according to current internet marketing trends. Consumers want videos and infographics. The more that you diversify your content, the more you'll be ready to evolve toward whatever the next internet marketing trends will be.