If you’re wondering why Melania Trump is in the article’s feature image, it’s because she is in fact the most famous Slovenian of all time.

After several weeks of working with law firms to help them better understand how to be effective on Social Media, I’ve come to a simple conclusion:

Even though law firms think they’re speaking English, on Social Media, they might as well be speaking Slovenian. Because they’re just not speaking the language of Social Media – even in English.

I’ll explain to you what that means.

Back in May, my fiancé Heather and I took a three-country trip to Europe.

Our trip started in Venice, Italy, from there we travelled all around Slovenia, then we finished up in Croatia.

To sum up the trip in one word, it was amazing.

Like any respectful traveler would, I wanted to ensure I at least knew the basics in each country’s language so I could communicate as effectively as possible with the locals.

When I say basics, you know what I mean:

Please, thank you, goodbye, you’re welcome, excuse me, coffee, how much, beer, etc.

Learning enough Italian to ‘get by’ was relatively simple. Many of their words are already part of the American lexicon. Most Americans have heard words like ‘ciao’ (pronounced ‘chow’) for ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, ‘Grazie’ for ‘thank you’ and ‘Prego’ for ‘you’re welcome’, ‘per favore’ for ‘please’.

The challenge really began when we first arrived in Slovenia. The Slovenian language is vastly different from Italian and also full of words I had never head of before.

For example, ‘please’ in Slovenian is ‘prosim’. ‘Good day’ is ‘dober dan’. ‘Excuse me’ is ‘oprosite’.

I did my best to speak Slovenian when I could, which went a long way with all the friendly people I met in Slovenia.  

After Slovenia was a train into Croatia.

The Croatian language was somewhat similar to Slovenian, but different enough to throw a wrench into the gears in my already tired, travel-drained brain.

So by the time we got to Croatia, after having attempted to cram three different languages into my vocabulary, my head was overloaded. It was as if I had no idea what language I was speaking anymore.

I’d accidentally ask for a ‘birra’ (Italian for beer) in Croatia instead of a ‘pivo’.

In place of ‘molim’ – Croatian for ‘excuse me’ – I’d say it in Slovenian, ‘prosim’.

Even on our way back home to North Carolina, I accidentally said ‘hvala’ (pronounced vala), ‘thanks’ in Slovenian and Croatian, to the kind English gate agent at Heathrow Airport during our layover in London.

The point is, I was speaking the wrong language to the wrong people. Fortunately for me, everyone I met on the trip gave me an ‘A’ for effort. They knew this guy who looks Mexican and spoke American was at least trying to speak their language.

I can’t help but see similarities in how most law firms share website content onto their Social Media profiles. They might as well be speaking Slovenian instead of English. They’re speaking ‘SEO’ instead of ‘Social Media’.

Unfortunately, when law firms are failing to speak the language of Social Media – on Social Media – there is no ‘A’ for effort like I was given in Europe. You don’t even get an ‘F’ for your effort.

Instead, you get something far worse when it comes to marketing your law firm… you get ignored.

The Language of Google?

Before I get into the language used for Social Media, let me briefly discuss another type of language that law firm owners are usually familiar with – whether they implicitly know it or not. It’s the language your website uses to speak to Google regarding what a page of content on your website is about.

It’s called ‘Metadata’.

And the Metadata Tags (or Meta Tags) are the snippets of text used to individually describe things like the page’s title, description, image description, author and the date of the post – just to name a few.

The Meta Tags don’t necessarily have to display on the page itself and are often hidden beneath the visible surface of a page. Most importantly, smart law firms and/or their SEO vendors, manipulate a page’s metadata to home in on specific keywords they want a page to rank for.

So for instance, the words ‘Car Accident Lawyer’ may appear in the Meta Tags for a page’s title and description if you want the page to rank in Google for the term ‘Car Accident Lawyer’. 

Google also uses the Meta Tags for a page’s title and description to display its results on the organic search page. 

For example…

open graph tags, social media for law firms, meta data

If you don’t manipulate the metadata for a page (easily accomplished with the free Yoast plugin which I’ll discuss later), Google would generally just use the default title for the page and the first few lines of text on the page as the description.

The Meta Title in the above example doesn’t actually appear as a title on the page. It’s hidden beneath the surface of the page.

The same goes for the description. If the description wasn’t manipulated, Google would’ve displayed the following as the page’s description since this is the first few lines of text on the page:

We Handle Auto Accidents Since you have reached the website of a car accident lawyer, you or a loved one has probably just been in a wreck.

There are a whole list of reasons to manipulate a page’s Meta Tags, but at the top of the list, you want to write the Meta Tags more for Google so your keywords in the tags help boost you to the top of the search results. You want the actual content on your page written for the real people who visit the page.

Meta Tags: Great For Google…Not So Great For Social Media

When you post a new page of good content on your website, generally, you will be (or at least should be) sharing a direct link to that content on Social Media.

Here’s how it usually works:

  1. Your content is created (in-house or by your SEO vendor). 
  2. Your content’s Meta Tags are optimized for SEO purposes (in-house or by your SEO vendor).
  3. The content is published on your website.
  4. Then, the link to that content is shared onto your law firm’s Facebook page.

But here’s where all the lost opportunity lives when it comes to sharing that page’s link onto Social Media. The page is shared on Social Media with the language of ‘Google’ – NOT the language of Social Media. 

Remember, your Meta Tags are written for the bots of Google, NOT the people on Social Media. Meta Tags are there for the computers that drive Google’s results.

When that same page in the example above is shared onto Facebook, notice in the example below that it displays the exact same metadata that Google displayed in its search results.

open graph tags, facebook debugger, facebook for law firms, meta data

That post was only optimized for SEO and NOT Social Media.

With a title and description (not to mention a horrible image for Social Media) like that, this link would generate almost zero engagement and traffic on Facebook. That title may perform well on Google, but it wouldn’t on Social Media.

So is it possible to optimize that SAME exact page of content for Google AND Social Media?

Yep, and it comes down to simply modifying a few more pieces of information in addition to the Meta Tags.

Open Graph Tags for Social Media

Open Graph Tags are to Social Media as Meta Tags are to Google.

Unfortunately, most businesses – from law firms to clothing brands – that are sharing links to their website on Social Media are missing a huge opportunity. Their webpages are trying to speak Google’s language on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.

Luckily, it’s an easy fix. And don’t feel bad if you’ve been missing this one, even the so-called Social Media Experts aren’t optimizing their client’s web content for Social.

Just like a page’s Meta Tags can be manipulated for Google, so can its Open Graph Tags for Social Media.

Here’s an example of an actual Facebook post from one of our friends, Jason Melton of Whittel & Melton, LLC, in Spring Hill, FL.

whittel & melton, facebook for law firms, open graph tags, social media for law firms, meta data

This is a very typical example of a law firm sharing a link of SEO content from their website onto Facebook without properly optimizing the page for Social Media.

Here’s a mock-up of how we suggested Jason should’ve optimized the page for Social sharing, by manipulating the Open Graph Tags.

whittel & melton, facebook for law firms, open graph tags, social media for law firms, meta data

Do you see the difference?

One, we’ve actually set a Social-friendly image for the post.

Two, we set a specific Social Media friendly page title for the post.

Three, we set a Social Media friendly page description for the post.

Which do you think is going to perform the best on Facebook?

The important bit is, we took the extra step to optimize the SEO content for Social sharing as well. That way, it could perform both on Google AND Social Media.

As well as speaking the language of Google, through SEO tags, we also spoke the language of Facebook, with the Open Graph tags. But we also started with understanding the purpose of the post – to generate engagement and then traffic – by stopping Facebook users dead in their tracks.

Optimizing Web Pages For Social Media

So how exactly do you set the Meta Tags AND Open Graph Tags for the pages on your website?

When you see how easy it actually is, you’ll probably smack yourself…or the person that you’ve been paying to post your content for you for not doing this already.

Most law firms are already using WordPress as their Content Management System (CMS) – the technology platform that runs their website. And in fact, most law firm websites already have the tool we use to optimize posts for Google and Social Media loaded onto their WordPress site.

The free plugin is called Yoast.

Here’s how easy it is to customize a page’s Meta Tags and Open Graph Tags with Yoast:

  1. Once you’re ready to publish your content on your WordPress website, you’ll simply scroll down the page until you get to the Yoast dashboard. Make sure you’re on the Yoast ‘SEO’ tab. Then you’ll simply fill in the Meta Tags for page description and title.
yoast, yoast for law firms, metadata, meta tags, open graph tags, social media for law firms, meta data

2. Next, to optimize the Social Sharing options for your page, simply click over to the ‘Social’ tab and fill in the title, description and designate the Social-friendly image you’d like displayed. (We always include text in the image to help grab attention. More on that in a future article.)

yoast, yoast for law firms, metadata, meta tags, open graph tags, social media for law firms, meta data

Easy enough right? In fact, this total process should really only take you a few extra minutes per post, once you get the hang of it.

You’ll notice a ‘Twitter’ tab at the bottom of that last screenshot. After optimizing the post for Facebook, you’ll also want to copy and paste that info into the Twitter tab as well – unless you’d like different Open Graph tags used for Twitter.

One final tip on implementation, once the page is published, copy the page’s link into the Facebook Debugger Tool: https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/sharing/

ALWAYS – and I mean ALWAYS – ensure your title, description and image look correct in the debugger, which (99% of the time) shows you exactly what the link will look like when shared on Facebook. If your title or description are too long, go back into the Yoast tab and edit the copy. Then, republish the post and run it through the Facebook Debugger again until it’s just right.

BONUS TIP: Many businesses do not realize that once a link has been shared on Facebook, if they change the Open Graph information on that page – like the title, description or image – Facebook will not reflect those changes unless that page is run once again through the Facebook Debugger.

Open Graph Tags: The Little Things Matter!

There’s simply no excuse to NOT optimize any new page of content you publish on your website for Social Media. To fail to do so is pure laziness. You should make full use of Open Graph tags to do that, but you also need to start by thinking about the purpose of your content: to stop people dead in their tracks and then engage with your content.

While the Social Media Experts may have you looking and throwing cash at the bright shiny objects that promise massive returns, don’t miss the small things – like these simple optimizations – that all add up when done over and over again. And if you have one of those so-called experts, check if they even know about Open Graph tags, and then hold them accountable.

How To ‘Tune Up’ What You’re Already Doing On Social Media

Want to see what your current Social Media posts should look like in order to get engagement?

For the last few week’s, we’ve been doing Free – one on one – Social Media Tune Ups for law firms across the country. With each Tune Up, law firms get to see how to tweak and fix their current Social Media strategy so that they get better engagement on their posts and more traffic from Social to their website.

We want YOU to be our next Tune Up so we can show you how to get better results from your Social Media!

Just click the button below to learn more and sign up for a FREE Social Media Tune Up!