Years ago, my Amazing Administrative Assistant, Lisa, asked me why I don’t connect with clients on Facebook. I told her I just use it for social purposes, staying in touch with family and old friends. Recently, she gave me a virtual poke in the ribs after I told her how my recent Facebook efforts have had an impressive impact on reaching clients and contacts in the firearms industry. (Lisa, you were right!)
Many of you are probably already “doing Facebook” better than I am, but I’ll share what I’ve learned for those of you looking for another way to give your firearms industry company an advantage, and for those who manage social media marketing efforts and want to be able to ask your experts some intelligent questions.
It’s All About Google – Or So I Thought
I was finally persuaded to invest a little effort on Facebook by an expert who gave me a reason I finally believed: It could improve my Google search ranking.
Less than a year ago, I entered the 21st century with an actual web presence (at www.gunpatent.com), and finally started hearing from start-up companies and firearms inventors before they exhibited at their first SHOT Show. That meant that instead of hearing: “I wish I’d met you a year ago” when I first met them, I can help them avoid wasting money on legal fees, and invest only in the right things at the right times to preserve their rights.
Every time a call comes in, I ask how they found me. My favorite answer was: “I Googled – ‘Greatest Patent Lawyer in the Gun Industry.” I tried not to let that go to my head, because usually they just say they searched “gun patent attorney”, “firearms patent lawyer” or some combination of those words. The important thing is that I’m actually helping new entrants to our industry, when they need it the most (and let me offer a special hello here to welcome all those who have started receiving this newsletter in the past year!)
So I was sold on the idea of reaching people who were really looking for a gun industry specialist like me. For a while, I was spending thousands of dollars a month on Google AdWords, but since my “organic” search rankings started to become prominent, I was able to scale back the budget and enjoy the free search rankings that reflected my investment in a meaningful web presence. A year ago I was invisible on the web, and now I’m the top three hits for “Gun Patent Attorney” and several more on the first page. Here’s how I added one of those hits:
My web expert told me that Google bases its rankings on the credibility of a business. The main factor is the website of the business, and whether the content genuinely matches what people are searching for, and whether it’s updated regularly. I was doing well at that, and earned the top ranking for my main search terms. But the expert told me that Google was looking at more than the web. With recent changes, a business is judged based on whether it has a social media presence. Let me repeat that:
Your Google Search Rankings are Based on Your Social Media Presence!
Imagine you’re competing in a crowded field, let’s say fighting for attention of customers who Google: “back up sights for AR-15” or “shooting training.” If you don’t have the right Facebook presence, you might lose ranking position to a competitor who is doing it right. The first thing I learned is that it is not enough to have your personal Facebook page doing the job for you. No matter how many “friends” you have, how much you talk about your business, or how you devote your postings to content relevant to your customers, you’re invisible to Google. Only a Facebook business page gets recognized by Google.
So my expert set up a new Facebook business page for me (“Gun Patent Attorney Ben Langlotz”), and I started to post some interesting items there before it had any “likes”. That way, when I finally started getting visitors, it looks like an appealing active page with a history, and worth following. (“Like page” is the business equivalent of “friend” on Facebook, and means that what I post will show up in the feed of those who have clicked “like.”)
Next, I needed to expand my world of personal Facebook friends to include the gun world. It started slowly, as I invited clients and known contacts. I then reviewed the lists of suggested contacts, and invited those who were friends with several of my other gun friends. But then something surprising happened. Things snowballed. With a critical mass of gun friends, the list of those with friends in common grew, and the former strangers have dozens of friends in common with me. Before long, I was seeing new people with 100 or 200 friends in common (and somehow, they all had pictures of themselves in competition jerseys and guns in hand!). This is how I added more than 500 genuine industry enthusiasts as personal “friends” in just a few weeks.
Now, I needed my business Facebook page to get some attention. So I “invited friends” to like the page. And they did. In the first week I earned over 200 “likes”, and that was enough for Google to take notice! By the next week, Google gave me a pleasant surprise. Not only did I secure some unmeasurable help to keep my top rankings, but Google kindly placed my Facebook business page as one of the ten hits on page one for “Gun Patent Attorney”!
That might seem like a nice ego boost, and strategy validation. But it means something more. It means that some other law firm (probably a big one without any firearms specialization) was pushed off Googles front page by my Facebook page! My Amazon listing for my Bulletproof Firearms Business book also does the same, as will the “Gun Patent” history book I have in the works.
A year ago, this first page of Google listed several law firms that made some mention of firearms on their web page, typically as one of their attorneys lists firearms technology as one of their dozens of fields of knowledge. Now, the only other law firm left is the “Gunn” firm, which is there because Google must have thought that my search including “gun” might have been looking for those patent attorneys even though they have no specialization in guns. I also suspect that they made my list only because I’m also in Texas, and Google will rank things differently based on your location.
How I Got Over my Fear of Falling in “Like”
I never used to bother to “like” a Facebook page, because I never knew how important it was to a business. Since going through this process, I learned that it provides the business with important benefits, and costs me nothing. I used to worry that my name would be used as an endorsement (you can prevent this kind of thing is your Facebook security settings). Since learning this, I’ve become a loyal “liker” for any company in an industry I support. The only companies I don’t “like” are my clients’ competitors, because I don’t want to give them an edge.
My Facebook Posting Strategy
Every month, when articles my website’s blog, I’ll post a link on my business Facebook page so those followers who don’t get my written newsletter can take a look. I’ll then “share” it over to my personal page, so the hundreds of “friends” who haven’t yet “liked” my business page can see it, and get a reminder of the good stuff I post over there.
Otherwise, I post several items a week that I think would be interesting to gun owners. These are mostly news articles that came to my attention and that others might find interesting. Sometimes, it will be a post about my experiences (such as shooting with Ted Nugent) but mostly it will be a new story on the topic of gun rights, technology, or law. I invite readers who are on Facebook to “Like” my page if you’d occasionally like to have some of my posts appear in your News Feed.
Here are some of my recent posts:
Have a great summer, and if you have a chance, drop by my Facebook page to say hello, and maybe click “like page” if you’d like to hear from me on important topics in the news.