Be Neutral
A Publication of the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution


This is one in a series of marketing articles that will explain e-marketing in layman’s terms.  This information is provided to help you modify your online presence to get your practice noticed.

Social Media – the 800-Pound Gorilla
How to Use It to Effectively Market Your Practice

Unless you’ve been in a coma or living in a backwoods cabin for the last 5 years, you’re aware of the growing phenomena labeled collectively as “social media.”  As pervasive as this tool has become, the question that arises when talking to businesses is how to use it effectively to market to the business community.

Michele’s Rule # 1:        
People do business with people they know or people their friends and family know.
You already know that you are much more likely to get a referral or an actual mediation from someone who already knows you.  In fact you probably went to your best friends when you first entered the field of mediation and begged them for business.  So how do you expand your circle of influence and get more people to feel they know you enough to send you business?  Social media, if used correctly, will enable you to grow the list of people who feel they “know” you enough to send you business by hundreds – if not thousands – each month.

Michele’s Rule # 2:      
Thou Shalt Not “Sell” in Your Social Media Stream    
Want to know the fastest way to lose social media “friends” or “followers?”  Stand up in a posting and say, “Hi, I’m a great mediator…hire me!”  That is the ultimate social media faux pas. While others could point out that they’d found a great mediator, you can’t do it for yourself. Social media is about sharing information of interest.  Remember when you used to forward articles of interest via e-mail to friends?  Social media accomplishes the same function, but with just a few keystrokes those articles can now reach countless people all over the world immediately.           

Michele’s Rule # 3:      
Know Your Audience  
If you are a professional, it is essential that you become a member of LinkedIn (and possibly Plaxo).  This is the social media environment designed for professionals to use to build networks and refer business to each other.  If you are the type of mediator who deals with parties directly, then you need to be on Facebook, which has over 600 million members, compared to LinkedIn, which has over 150 million members.  These are not networking opportunities you can afford to miss – if you’re not there, your competition will be.        

Now that you understand the rules, let’s talk about what you can do to use these great tools effectively to market your practice.

As I said in the beginning, people do business with people they know or people their friends and family know.  Therefore you want to use social media to let people get to know you.  How do you do that?  The process is fairly simple:

A.   Sign up for personal accounts at both LinkedIn and Facebook.

Once you have a personal presence on Facebook, set up a Fan page (not a group page) with  yourself as the administrator.  This Fan page is a presence for your business – not for you   personally.  Make sure you restrict access on your personal Facebook   account to those individuals who are really your friends & family – pictures of your grandchildren   aren’t going to get you more mediation business.  

C.   Watch the press, and when you see articles of interest involving mediation (or situations that probably should have gone to mediation) post them to your news stream.   
D.   On LinkedIn, get involved in discussion groups and share your expertise   

Not enough time to search for mediation articles of interest?  There’s a simple answer to that problem.  We have just established a Facebook page where we post 3-6 mediation articles from around the world daily.  Just log into Facebook and search for Georgia Mediators Network.  Once you find it, click the “LIKE” button at the top of the page and as we post articles you will see them in your news feed. 

If you take these articles as they appear in your Facebook news feed and then click the “share” option, then all of your friends and family will see them.  With any luck some of them will also choose to “share” them.  You’re encouraged to take these links and post them to your Facebook business page and also to LinkedIn so they get the widest exposure.

What good does this do you?  By posting articles on a specific topic you are showing the readers that you have an interest in and expertise in mediation.  You are building a reputation as a trusted authority in the area of mediation.  In a way, this does what the old phrase “noted author John Doe” used to do as part of an introduction.  Suddenly, people who read these posts, even though they may not know you, will suddenly feel that they know you on some level because they have read the article you posted when your friends and family shared it.  You’ll soon find them “liking” your business page or coming to you with questions about mediation.  From there it is a very short hop to getting people to send mediation business directly to you.

The viral nature of social media means that your exposure is exponential.  In just the last 3 weeks, over 10,000 people have looked at the articles posted on Georgia Mediators Network.  Can you afford to miss out on that level of exposure for your practice – especially when your competitors are already sharing this information?

You’ll notice that I’ve made no mention of Twitter here.  I like to tell people that I look at Twitter the same way I look at marketing at a cocktail party.  It’s an opportunity to put out short bursts of information, but it’s not an opportunity to talk about your business in depth.  Clearly none of us are going to walk out of a mediation and tweet about our success!  While Twitter may work well for sports or entertainment, it is hard to position it as an effective component of a marketing program for your mediation practice.      

Talking about social media often raises as many questions as it answers.  Please don’t hesitate to e-mail your questions, and we’ll get answers back to you as soon as possible.

Coming next month:  eNewsletter 101 – Keeping Your Practice in the Front of Everyone’s Mind


Michele Gibson is a Georgia-registered neutral and a certified emerging media consultant.  She is the president of Digital Smart Tool, LLC – an e-marketing firm offering website design, SEO, electronic newsletters, social media coaching, and marketing training seminars.


Phone: 404-592-3367  E-mail: