Communicate by Design: Keep in Touch

Recently I was preparing a talk on using social media for client development and I noticed something interesting in the LinkedIn company page. In order for me to see contact information for a law firm who had status updates I had to “chase” the “About” information down the page, as it appeared below the updates. The more updates there were, the more I had to wait for them to load and then scroll farther down the page to the “About XYZ Law Firm” text. Then, despite some other descriptive information about the firm itself, the only contact information in the “About” section consisted of a website link and a street address for the headquarters office. More clicking. Looking at the Google+ company pages and Facebook company pages I noticed a visitor would often need to click on “About” to access a phone number or email address. This mimics behavior often seen on websites – the contact information is hidden behind a link called “Contact Us” or is buried in the footer of the website. Assuming that a law firm is using any of these digital channels in order to attract business or engage with existing clients and colleagues, it would seem like one “call to action” for your social media presence would be to get people to directly contact the firm. So, how can you make the contact information immediately visible? Put it in the cover photo available for almost all social media profiles!

In most social media pages the page owner/editor has the ability to add a large banner size graphic (the cover photo), and a smaller graphic (the profile photo). Often the profile photo is displayed over the cover photo on the landing page, and appears next to any posts made by the entity (company/person) in other places on the social network. The cover photo stays stationary on the home page for the firm/entity. Since the profile photo is too small to add readable text (think how small Facebook profile photos are on your iPhone), we will concentrate on adding contact information to the large cover photo. There are several ways you can go about adding contact information into your cover photo. First, though, you must select a large photograph or graphic that you will use as your cover photo.

You can get a cover photo in a variety of ways. Take a panoramic shot of your favorite place in your city, your office, a lovely sunset, or other meaningful picture with your phone or camera. Alternatively, look for royalty, license free stock photography to use. Updated images can be found by using MS Office online for Office 2013 or older versions, through sites like MorgueFile, or by using an advanced Google Image search with usage rights restricted to show results that are “free to use, share or modify, even commercially”. You could also purchase royalty-free stock photos through commercial sites like Fotolia or iStockphoto. Try to avoid stale “law” related photos – think of your practice and your client’s needs and find imagery that evokes emotion (calm, relieved, elated) or shows empathy with your client’s concerns (construction notice, a foreclosure sign, a pair of crutches). As you are creating or choosing your cover photo leave try to look for images that leave some blank/non-focal space for the next step – adding your contact information.

Many firms may dispense with the suggestions above and hire a graphic designer or marketing company. If your firm doesn’t already have someone to do this work, or would like to get some help designing a graphic for your social media presence, consider some of the bid sites like Elance or 99Designs. Or, check out your local colleges to see if they have any freelance graphic arts students looking for some practice. Or, if you are intrepid, you can add text to a photograph or image on your own. Those with Photoshop, GIMP, or other graphic editing software probably have the skills already to make short work of this project. However, many lawyers don’t do graphic design or have the specialized software to accomplish this task. Fortunately, you may already have the tools you need in the form of MS PowerPoint or Apple’s KeyNote. Want to learn more? Here are some basic instructions for adding contact information on a cover photo using MS PowerPoint 2010.

Open a new blank presentation in PowerPoint. In the Drawing Group in the Home Tab of the Ribbon choose a shape, such a rectangle or circle, and draw it onto a blank slide. You can make it any size now and resize it later. Put your cursor into the middle of the shape you’ve drawn and type in the text that you want to display, such as your firm name, phone, and email address. Your next step will be to choose the Insert tab and click on “Picture” from the Images group. A dialog box will appear, allowing you to choose the cover photo you’ve picked. If you want to make sure that the cover photo will be the right size for the intended social media site DesignHub has a handy social media image dimensions guide (you may need to convert pixels to inches)), as well as a free guide to do-it-yourself visual content resources guide complete with pre-sized PowerPoint templates for creating social media cover photos. Now you should have a text box and a cover photo on the blank slide.

Now, go take a look at the social media site where you will be uploading your new cover photo. Many social media home pages have a profile photo overlapping the cover photo. In others, like Google+ pages, there is additional text overlaid on the cover photo. Your placement of the text box/shape on top of the cover photo will be determined by where it will be most visible for the social media platform you have chosen. If you are applying this cover photo to multiple platforms you may have to create different versions of the cover photo.

To finish this project select and drag the text box you created onto your inserted cover photo. If the text box disappears simple right click (alternate click for lefties!) on the cover photo and choose the option “send to back”. Your text box should re-appear. Drag the text box around the cover photo for the desired placement of the text. Click the text box to select it and click on “drawing tools” in the Ribbon (or right click) to change the text box fill, outline, add effects, change the shape and many other options. To edit the size, color and font of the text in the text box select the text then click the Home tab in the Ribbon to see the text formatting options. Tip: If you put in your website URL or email address it may resolve to a live link in the text box and change the color of the text. If you want all the text to be the same color you will need to edit the theme to change the hyperlink text. Here are instructions.

Once you are satisfied with the way the updated cover photo looks select both the photo and the text box and right click to choose “group”. This will lock the two images together. Then another right click on the new updated cover photo to choose the option “save as Picture” and you are finished.

Go to your social media site, click to edit the cover photo, and upload your new file. In some platforms you can crop or reposition the cover if needed. Once you are finished visitors to your social media page can see your contact information without clicking or searching for it. Your message will be loud and clear – keep in touch!

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