You've got enough on your plate without having to also worry about managing your online reputation. We break it down and make it easy in this article.
Maybe it was Matlock who inspired you. Maybe when "A Few Good Men" came out you spent weeks daydreaming about hissing "You can't HANDLE the truth!" across a crowded courtroom. Or maybe it was the gentle and honorable Atticus Finch who influenced your career path.
Or maybe you just liked the idea of practicing law. Whatever propelled you to become a lawyer, it probably wasn't the vision of a perfect Yelp rating.
So we get it: online reviews probably seem completely irrelevant to your practice. They might even seem frivolous compared to the work that you do.
It doesn't matter what you think about online reviews, though. They matter to your current clients and prospective clients, and anyone who does a cursory Google search of your name can access them.
Any reviews written about you influence your online reputation - and because everything that happens online bleeds into "real life" these days, those reviews affect your reputation, period.
It sounds daunting, we know. But there's good news: it's not. Managing your online reputation is probably a lot easier than most of the work you do all day.
It also happens to be one of the most effective marketing methods for attracting new clients.
Exhibit A: The Case for Online Reviews
Let's start with just the facts...
Lots of research confirms that most people read online reviews and that their buying/hiring decisions are directly affected by what those reviews reveal. Take the results from a recent survey, which found that:
- 91 percent of American consumers read online reviews at least occasionally.
- 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations from friends and family.
- 74 percent of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more.
It doesn't take a legal eagle to break that down. Most of your prospective clients read online reviews. Especially when it comes to hiring a lawyer, they're looking for a person they can trust. And they trust what reviews say, so if your reviews are mostly favorable, you're ahead of the game.
The survey also revealed one other important tidbit: attorneys are one of the categories in which consumers said reputation matters most.
Exhibit B: How Lawyers Shouldn't Get Reviews
Your job is all about upholding the law, so you (hopefully) know better than to skirt it to get online reviews. Offering discounts, paying for positive reviews or otherwise incentivizing your clients to write positive reviews runs afoul of FTC guidelines.
Some of the most popular review sites use sophisticated algorithms that detect inauthentic reviews. If you try to post fake reviews on Yelp, for instance, the site will post a banner on your page stating that you were caught violating their review policies, which looks really bad to anyone who sees it.
Exhibit C: How Lawyers Should Get Reviews
The key to getting positive reviews is giving your clients a positive experience. Obviously you can't guarantee a positive outcome to their cases, but you can make an effort to be responsive, respectful and professional in all your interactions.
And when you treat them well, they'll be far more inclined to go along with the next part of your online reputation management plan: writing a great review.
Before you start trying to get those reviews though, familiarize yourself with the major review sites that matter. We recommend focusing on getting reviews on 3-5 review sites. It's important to diversify (without spreading your reviews too thin) because some clients go straight to specific sites every time they seek out reviews, so you want to be represented on all the major ones.
There are two types of review sites to focus on:
- The "big three" mainstream sites are Yelp, Google and Facebook. They all host reviews for many kinds of services.
- Niche sites target just your specific industry. Avvo and Lawyers.com are two of the big review sites for attorneys, but you should also take a look to figure out where your local competition gets the most reviews.
Once you've identified the sites where you want to collect reviews, you're ready to start asking clients to write them.
A Persuasive Brief
It's good to let your clients know that you're open to feedback, so don't be timid about raising the review topic at the end of your working relationship (assuming you know you've given the client a positive experience).
You can say something like, "I'm always open to helping new clients, so I would really appreciate it if you reviewed me on Yelp or Lawyers.com. It really helps people find me."
But that might feel awkward, or you might not know whether certain clients feel favorably about your services...
That's why it's so helpful to use an automated system like ReputationStacker. It reaches out to your clients for you, using an email address or phone number, and uses a single-question survey to identify the satisfied clients. Those clients are directed to the review site of your choice so they can quickly and conveniently write a positive review.
(By the way, consistently getting reviews can help you build your business in multiple ways. They get you rated highly in local search engine results, are shared on social media and otherwise help your good reputation precede you.)
Whether you object or not (lawyer humor!), at least some of your clients will post online reviews about you, and those reviews will affect your reputation both online and in your community.
Make sure that most of those all-important reviews are positive ones by first giving your clients a good experience and then prompting the satisfied ones to write reviews.
The first part is up to you. Leave the second part to ReputationStacker. While you work on winning cases and helping your clients, the automated system works in the background to get you the reviews you deserve.