110. Megan Hargroder, Conversations Digital Organic Social Media Marketing: Crafting a Brand Story that Converts

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Megan Hargroder, CEO at Conversations Digital excels in creating clear story-based messaging and organic social media marketing campaigns for personal injury attorneys. Her San Diego based team has helped over one hundred ambitious lawyers scale their business in the most competitive landscapes.

Clients need to know they can trust their attorney to solve their unique problem in a time of crisis. How can a law firm demonstrate trust? I caught up with Megan to find out how humanizing a law firm through empathetic communication, authority building, and a little vulnerability can connect attorneys to the communities they aim to serve. We dive deep into organic social media marketing, celebrating victories, and creating a compelling brand story. Listen for more.

Whats In This Episode

  • Who is Megan Hargroder?
  • The importance of creating a clear and cohesive brand story
  • How empathy, authority, and vulnerability in your brand inspire trust
  • To stand out from the crowd, get involved with the community you wish to serve
  • How connection points foster trust
  • How to master organic social media marketing by leveraging your existing connections
  • Getting the most traction from a new social media post by blending organic content and paid boosts
  • Why your digital presence should be a reflection of your real-life law firm

Transcript

Megan Hargroder

Your website should be a digital reflection of what happens when someone walks through the physical doors of your office. So it should show clarity that they’re in the right place, a warm and inviting welcome. Confidence that their problem’s going to be solved

Chris Dreyer

Beyond a well-designed website, dominating your niche as a personal injury attorney requires authenticity, transparency, and a clear brand story.

Megan Hargroder

If you want an effective story you gotta be a little vulnerable with it. And that takes a lot of bravery. Extracting that out of people can be difficult at first. But once you get there, once you take that leap where you’re like, okay, I’m just going to put, I’m going to put this out there. This is my story. This is who I am. This is what I’m made of. Once you experience the benefits of that, once you have people coming back to you saying like I connected with this then there’s a lot less resistance.

Chris Dreyer

You’re listening to personal injury mastermind the show where elite personal injury attorneys and leading edge marketers give you exclusive access to growth strategies for your firm. Over the past decade, Megan Hargroder has set the trajectory for over 100 ambitious small firms and solo attorneys The California based Conversations Digital team crystallizes every aspect of the brand narrative through comprehensive web and organic marketing services to secure cases and grow firms. I sat down with Megan to see how lawyers can leverage organic social media and story-based messaging to level up. I’m your host, Chris dryer, founder and CEO of Rankings.io . We help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first page rankings with search engine optimization. Being at the forefront of marketing is all about understanding people. So let’s get to know our guests. Here’s Megan Hargroder CEO at Conversations Digital.

Megan Hargroder

If people are going to pay attention to something, it needs to be relevant to them. It needs to be interesting and it needs to feel pretty timely. I picked up a lot of that from working in news and we still internally treat our company like a newsroom in a lot of ways.

Chris Dreyer

So what made you take the leap to start your own marketing agency?

Megan Hargroder

Well, one of the things that I did not like about working in news that I thought was especially sad is that, you worked so hard all day, you chase the story, you breathe life into it, you put your heart and soul into it. You meet that deadline. That always seems impossible, in the middle of the day you get it. It’s good. It’s great. You’re proud of. And then the next day it doesn’t exist anymore. It’s gone. It’s evaporated into the ether. No one cares anymore. And I really wanted to figure out a way to create a body of work that was sustainable. That was building something. And that kind of started out with me helping just general businesses with social media and seeing how social media could help businesses build and grow. And I thought that was super cool. And then I quickly realized, you can’t learn everything about everyone. So working in retail and restaurants and all these different sectors was really putting me in that Jack of all trades position where I wasn’t mastering anything. So I started narrowing in, on working with attorneys. I had a lot of really good friends who were lawyers at my coworking space who were a lot of like solo attorneys getting started with their own firms. And I thought that was really interesting in that what I was doing had a lot of parallels to what they were doing. They were my first batch of clients and we got to learn and grow together, which was really cool.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And you’ve been in the legal vertical for quite some time. So we’ve known each other for a while now. And I do because social media marketing is hard because there are so many elements to it. You could have an individual, not like the imagery that you do or not like the copywriting, it doesn’t have their voice or their style. Doesn’t represent them. It’s a lot. it’s not the hard skills, it’s technical data, based decisions, which. They do have that aspect of crafting a good campaign. And one of the things that you talk about is having crystal clear messaging that’s essential to convert leads into clients. What’s the first step in creating a clear brand narrative?

Megan Hargroder

So the first step is saying exactly what you do. So how you help people, what problems you actually solve and not in cutsie metaphors or abstract slogans, but in crystal clear plain language that can be quickly understood. A lot of people make the mistake of trying to be clever with their messaging before they’re you can be clever, but you have to be clear for. Or else you’re going to accomplish the opposite of what you’re going for.

Chris Dreyer

I love that. And the, there’s a lot of challenges, for law firms that they face when they’re creating that story. How do you even do social media marketing, especially from like a remote type of situation. It’s if, especially if there. On a regular podcast. It’s there’s this a lot of challenges. So let me back buried up. How do you create that unique story for law firms and what challenges do you face there?

Megan Hargroder

Yeah, so there’s a lot of pieces to the actual body of work of the social media, but the stories, the core, and if you get the story right. Then all of the other pieces come off of that story. So even working remotely, we’re not there to take pictures in people’s offices. And a lot of our clients are moving away from offices anyways. But everything comes out of that story. And by having that, it routes our work, but I’ve noticed it also routes our clients in their businesses as well. And it helps us develop a lot more content for them. The, for new firms, especially the biggest challenge with creating that story though is fear. So a lot of what I do is. Poking and prodding and coaching. Because people are really, especially lawyers are really afraid of what their peers are going to think of them more so even than potential clients, they’re really worried about being judged by their peers. However, if you want an effective story, you gotta be a little vulnerable with it. And that takes a lot of bravery. Extracting that out of people can be difficult at first. But once you get there, once you take that leap where you’re like, okay, I’m just going to put, I’m going to put this out there. This is my story. This is who I am. This is what I’m made of. Once you experience the benefits of that, once you have people coming back to you saying like I connected with this then there’s a lot less resistance for us to work with clients because they’re like, oh, I get it. Cause there’s this idea that a lawyer is supposed to be a certain way and that where you went to law school is going to affect the decision that your client is going to make on whether or not they’re going to hire you. Spoiler alert. They don’t care. Lawyers do not like to hear this, but they don’t care where you went to law school. They care if you can solve their problem if they like you. That’s another thing, a lot of people miss is that this is a people are investing in a person they’re hiring someone that they’re about to probably trust with some pretty intense stuff. And they want to know that they can trust you when people trust people that they like. So you gotta be likable.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And I think that’s where. Personally, when I see a website and I see the attorney smiling and seeing oh, I could that person, they look like a nice person. I would like to have a conversation with versus like maybe just frowning and angry, not to say there isn’t a place for that. Like maybe you’re in a very serious, like bad spot and you need someone like that to just go crush the competition in a trial. But yeah, I think I think those elements, that rapport building and is probably. At least that they have a connection, they think that you can actually solve their problem. That you’re the choice for them.

Megan Hargroder

Yeah. Like you want someone who’s angry for you, not angry towards you, in that instance you don’t ever want your lawyer to be mean to you. I don’t know. Maybe some people do. I grew up with a German grandmother, so I understand the loving aspect of someone, being mean to you. But I think in general, you want to show that. That you’re a person, not a resume. A lot of lawyers have what I call obituary style biographies that just have a list of things. And that. It just doesn’t hit with people, it doesn’t and the biography, as is the second most visited page on an attorney website . Yet, it’s the one that people give the least amount of love and attention to. I will say this a hundred percent of the lawyers that I’ve convinced to switch over to a story style biography from an obituary style biography have circled back to let me know how many people have hired them saying that they’ve connected with their story.

Chris Dreyer

What are those essential elements that that make a successful story-based messaging?

Megan Hargroder

I’m going to give you my philosophy. There’s three core elements, there’s empathy, which is where you say, this person really understands and potentially even relates to my problem. You understand there’s authority, which is that, there’s evidence that this person can solve my problem and evidence that they have solved similar problems before. And then there’s vulnerability. Vulnerability is something that I talk about a lot. It’s not in some of the, you may have heard of Donald Miller StoryBrand format. He does talk about empathy and authority, which is also part of the, the Carl Jung hero’s journey, but what’s missing from that journey. And especially as it applies to the lawyers and law firms is vulnerability. So that’s sharing something about you giving them a peek behind the curtain. Who you are. And more importantly, like what you’re made of, because people hire people and those three elements. Put together equals trust. So there’s a couple of other artsy elements that I really like to use to help the message slap, so one of those is like story within story. And that’s a really good way to build an authority point instead of just listing accolades.You can tell a story within your story of a client journey, a client that you helped their victory, their success. So that’s a good idea. Um, And then the other thing I like to use is what I call tie-ins. But in the comedy world, it’s called callbacks. So a good callback really helps the story slap because you heard it, you got the tie in, it comes back, boom. You feel it, you feel a call back.

Chris Dreyer

Developing trust during this pivotal moment is essential to converting your leads. Empathy, vulnerability, and authority, as Megan explains are essential to developing a strong connection and securing more cases. Compensation in the personal injury space is fierce. I asked Megan how brands can gain traction and stand out.
Megan Hargroder

I would say that goes back to the clear and consistent brand message. So one thing is a lot of people like to try out a bunch of different things. We’re going to use this on the billboard. We’re going to use this on the website. No, keep it consistent if you want to be memorable and actually stand out. So that’s a really huge thing. And then the other part is just humanizing your brand, right? Being a person lawyers. For the most part are limited to their geographic area where they’re practicing. Maybe it’s your whole state, but a lot of times lawyers will serve a specific geographic area. So be of your community and be in your community. And that’s going to make you stand out from everyone else. Who’s just doing general stuff.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And the messaging, I just immediately, when you said that, and it’s humorous, he’s a man that doesn’t really care what people think anymore. John Morgan, he’s got a size matters billboards about the, America’s largest personal injury law firm, and it’s just very memorable and it’s consistent. I remember around Christmas time he had like the Santa Claus with the giant a bag was on the billboard and just. With the size matters over it. And it just it’s memorable.
Megan Hargroder

I really hate that one, but it is so memorable, that’s the thing is that sometimes it, sometimes it’s likability and sometimes it’s memorability.

Chris Dreyer

What helps turn a good story into a great one?

Megan Hargroder

I think connection points. So any time someone’s reading something and they can see themselves within your story, or they can see their story within your story. Which again takes a lot of bravery and vulnerability to be able to insert that, but people can smell bullshit. So if you’re just saying, telling a story, because you’re like, this sounds good, people are gonna really dig this. People will know the difference between that and something that’s genuine.

Chris Dreyer

I like that. I like that a lot. We talked a lot about positioning story, your messaging, and I know everyone’s begging, right? Cause we’ve got Tik TOK. We’ve got, Snapchat and Instagram and Facebook and LinkedIn and theres tons of platforms, they’re going to be popping around the corner. So how can growing firms leverage organic social media marketing, and guys, when I refer to organic, I’m just saying the non-paid. So I’m saying like, your creating content, organic social media marketing, how can firms leverage social media marketing?
Megan Hargroder

Yeah. So organic is, yeah. Again, to clarify the opposite. End of pay-per-click. So paid search is I’m looking for this and typing in these words, I’m finding you with these words, you do this thing, it all matches up. Cool. Good to go. Organic’s a little tricky because you’re not always having that direct connection point. And you’re not, or that direct conversation with a client you’re casting a wider net. So you gotta be cool. You gotta be informative, not just to, a specific legal situation. You can’t be saying all of this, just injured in a car accident. Question mark, call us at blah, blah, blah. It’s no, like if that just pops up in my Facebook feed, I’m going to hide you. I’m not going to pay attention. To any more at all. The best way to do this is leveraging your own personal audiences and connection. So people who already know you, they’re going to be your biggest fan people who know you, they may not know exactly what you do or what kind of law you practice. And so being in their newsfeed is a good way to show them what you do. So just staying in front of people in a way that’s not obtrusive to them, right? Don’t post every day on Facebook. If you’re a law firm I don’t know who invented that formula, but it’s a bad idea. It’s a way to get ignored. what you really want to do is show something that people care about. it really looks different for everyone. We’ve got this PI lawyer right now in New Orleans and the most interesting thing about them is that they have the cutest labradoodle dog, like office dog that you’ve ever seen in your life. This dog is just you see it on a zoom call. It changes your whole day, his name’s Louis. And so we developed this whole content campaign around Louie attorney at Paw it’s getting so much traction on social media. Is it about personal injury? No. Do people like it? Yes. Do they see the law firm name? Every time they go and they like these and engage with these posts? Yes. Does it build trust? In a way it does, because I’m connecting with this. I’m like, I know this dog, the people who own this dog have to be great people. So they must also be good lawyers. So there’s a lot of like little subliminally things that you can do there with getting people engaged. So that’s an entertainment-based example. There’s also information-based example like sharing information that people may be surprised to know about, or that might not be super common. And then of course, just showing off without show showing off in an excited way, not in an egocentric way. Celebrating your victories publicly online as a great way to market your firm and really your victories are your client victories . So the way that my company shows off online is by showing off our clients and how great they are, because like we built them a cool site, or we did this awesome campaign for them. And for lawyers, it’s the same thing. What results did you get for your clients? And can you follow up with them? And I think a lot of people are feel like when the case is closed, the client doesn’t want to have anything else to do with them. And they’re just ready to move on. And that’s not always the case. Following up with your clients, asking if you can share content from them to your social media seeing like where they are now for immigration lawyers we’ve been doing a lot of here’s the success of our clients. They got their green card, they started their business check out their thriving business. And that it feels good and everyone likes, feel good content.

Chris Dreyer

I love the idea of continuing to nurture client relationship and incorporating their success into the brand new. Entertaining content tells a story. Too often, fAQ style blogs are shared and can feel spammy. I asked Megan about the rules of engagement when creating genuine connections on social media.

Megan Hargroder

Really just not posting too much. And focusing on the quality over the quantity of your content is really important. And understanding that social media is not a broadcast platform. It’s a conversation. I actually, I named my business Conversations Digital because of the philosophy that I had when I first started doing social media, which is if you’re going to do it right, you’re going to treat it like a conversation. It’s not a broadcast and that’s how it’s different than news, right? It’s a two-way platform. So if you’re on social media, You shouldn’t just be publishing the social media. You should be engaging in social media, especially as a lawyer with your referral sources. So yes, you should be connected to them on LinkedIn, but you should also be liking their stuff and commenting on things and sharing their things from time to time. They will notice that you do that because as businesses and professionals, your engagement level is so much lower than an individual. if you have another lawyer who refers you a certain type of case, and they’re publishing something, if you share them, you do that, I call it wing -manning, share something that they’re doing. Great. Like your comment on their stuff. They’re going to notice that they’re going to remember you. It’s a great way to nurture a referral relationship.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more and even more. So definitely the comment and get engaging. If you’re just hit pound in the like button, you get lost in the crowd. Maybe if you do it enough, you can stand out. The thing is just like an SEO. If you ranked number one and you’re not getting clicks, Google is going to quit serving you in their algorithm to have a bad title. Someone’s not interested in. And in social media, if you’re not getting clicks and engagement, you’re not going to be in the feed. So if you get engagement, you get comments, you get likes. So it’s actually going to show up at a disperse maybe to their feed and just show more of, to your audience. Because a lot of times it, your piece of content doesn’t even go out to your entire audience.
Megan Hargroder

Often it doesn’t. And in, we like to leverage boost posting and as well on Facebook, which does get into paid placement, but it’s very affordable to do that on Facebook, you can set really low budgets. But for your really important content you worked really hard on it. It’s really good. It’s got high opportunity for engagement. You want to gain what I call social media compound interest on it. So a really good strategy for that is you post the content. You wait a day and you let it organically get some traction, right? The next day you go in, you boost that post to a specific audience so that you can get some additional traction. Once the boost post is over. Because you’ve gotten traction Facebook then re boosts it on its own people. See it, and you’ll get a little bit more traction from it there. You can also share and bring back old posts on Facebook that you’ve posted in the past, again, gaining compound interest and being more likely to be seen in the newsfeed.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. I like all of that. And I think we use Local Falcon for some of our social media and. sme people are anti tools and some people like tools, but the one thing I like about the tool we use is it has that those historical posts that had all the engagements. I can slightly modify them. I can create a theme around those and I, and it helps me create content in the future. And you’re absolutely right. And I like the boosting strategy I get, I think that’s the thing. I get a little carried away with, I know my, a director of marketing listening is probably laughing because I’m like, oh, let’s just boost it another couple of thousand. And after you do that so many times that just really adds up, but I’m.
Megan Hargroder

That’s funny. I’m like, let’s put $10 on it. You’re like, a couple thousand.

Chris Dreyer

Right, right. Yeah. But I just want to get it in front of as many people as possible. It’s an easy way to do that, but let’s talk about, a holistic marketing strategy. You’re creating a brand identity and a narrative it’s essential for the client to understand, it’s niche, how to serve the client. What other aspects of marketing help tell a cohesive brand story?

Megan Hargroder

So the main thing is match it all up. If you got a killer tagline, on your homepage, it needs to be on Facebook. It needs to be on your Twitter bio. It needs to be on your billboards or your bus benches, or where wherever in the world you are. And that goes for your visual branding as well. There’s a lot of noise out there. So having something really consistent across all of the platforms and try all of the platforms too to you don’t know what’s gonna work for you. Sometimes you can guess, right? But depending on your specific market and where you are, sometimes you might want to be using Instagram. Sometimes you might not want to be using that. You definitely want to not have any channels floating around that are what I call dead channels. Like you have an Instagram account, but you don’t post to it and it’s not being monitored. That’s really bad because people could message you there and you could miss it. And that’s really bad. So making sure everything is linked up and we do, we use a social media platform called eClincher is the hub that we use because it pretty much connects with everything and it’s got a really high accuracy level and it helps you get like that dashboard view of all the channels and all of the pieces and making sure that they all completely match up consistently.

Chris Dreyer

Meet your clients, where they are on platforms, where they show up consistently Megan and her team designed beautiful websites. But great design is only as good as the messaging it supports. I asked her about the interplay between website design and great copywriting.

Megan Hargroder

So certain colors and visuals and layouts can amplify your message. It should start with the message and the brand should amplify that the wrong elements, the wrong brand elements can actually counteract your message. Most lawyers do not understand, or just are not interested in understanding color theory, but your color palette, the color palette of your website evokes specific feelings and emotions. . And you want that to match up with how you want people to feel when they arrive. So the big flashing red buttons and the image of a jarring car wreck, it’s just going to give an already rattled person, a panic attack. Your website should be a digital reflection of what happens when someone walks through the physical doors of your office. If you have physical doors. So it should show clarity that they’re in the right place, a warm and inviting welcome. Confidence that their problem’s going to be solved. And, you need to be able to find your way to the intake desk or you’re going to leave and go somewhere else. So there’s a lot of pieces were the visuals and the messaging get married together. And a lot of times that happens in your calls to action, making sure you have really strong and very clear calls to action. And even making sure that people can contact you however they want. For the most part, many lawyers, it’s a ‘call now’. Call now here’s the phone number. The problem is we’re entering an age where people increasingly do not like to pick up the phone and make a phone call. So you need to look at self scheduling, consultations. People love that people are familiar with zoom now. So that’s something that feels comfortable to people a chat, some people like to do the web. And text messaging. So that’s like next level too. There’s a system that I really called connect where it looks like a little chat bot, but it says text us. And it’s so cool because you don’t lose the lead. If they leave your website, you are texting, you can text them back and forth. You can check in, you can use it for, to maintain that relationship and you can have it be real. So automated chat bots typically frustrating. But if you have a real opportunity, just text back and forth with someone, I really think that’s going to gain more and more popularity as the years progress.

Chris Dreyer

I, it’s funny. I just had a conversation with a client ended up in Nevada and we were talking about live chat and I was like, I got to tell you because they were wondering whether or not. And I was like, if you call me and I don’t answer, I was like, I’m not even checking voicemail. I was like, I want to text. And I was like, most millennials and gen Z. They want that. They want they want access, but they don’t want to necessarily pick up the phone and call. so what is one piece of actionable advice that you can give a small firm looking to get to the next level with story-based marketing?

Megan Hargroder

All right. On a broad strokes level, I would say humanize your brand on a very specific and tactical takeaway. I think the best place to start is story-branding your message. So you can actually access Donald Miller’s StoryBrand template for free. It’s my storybrand.com. It’s a very generalized format. But it’s a really good jumping off point to clarify what your message actually is.
Chris Dreyer

What’s next for Conversations Digital?

Megan Hargroder

I’ve just been reflecting a lot and really proud of our long-term partnerships with our clients, our team culture. I plan on taking on a handful of new clients this year, but our main focus is really taking things to the next level and pushing the envelope for our existing long-term clients. Last year we got to watch a lot of our solos become small firms and, knowing we help them get to that next level. It’s like really cool feeling. So I think 2022 more of that is what we have planned.

Chris Dreyer

A cohesive brand story is the bedrock of any firm looking to grow quickly to maximize the impact of digital campaigns. Tell a story that helps create trust with your clients during a time of crisis, help them envision a win through your previous successes. Show up regularly in the communities where you want to serve and show empathy and authority and master social media marketing by creating authentic and meaningful connections. I’d like to think Megan, from conversations, digital for sharing her story with us, and I hope you gained some valuable insights from the conversation you’ve been listening to personal injury mastermind. I’m Chris dryer. If you like this episode, leave us a review. We’d love to hear from our listeners. I’ll catch you on next. Week’s PIMM with another incredible guest and all the strategies you need to master personal injury marketing.

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