Social Media for Private Investigators
A strategy guide to help private investigators understand social media services
The following strategy guide was written by L. Scott Harrell, a great friend of ours.
While the strategy was written in 2013, the guide has proven to be invaluable to our clients.
While I am probably the one of the most outspoken proponents of social media marketing, I’d also be one of the first people to also say that it is not right for every business or agency owner as well. First, “retail” private investigation agency clients, individuals that need assistance with personal matters, are VERY concerned about their privacy; that is probably the only blanket statement I can reliably and comfortably make about them as a group. It is exceedingly rare to find a prospective client who is mining social media to find an investigation service provider or who would be willing to air their sensitive personal troubles publicly. Posting, “Can you find out if my husband is having an affair with my best friend?” on Twitter or Facebook is a bit of folly; clients require discretion and social media doesn’t really foster a sense of confidentiality.
Social networks, however, do provide a great deal of visibility at a very low cost. Simply put, social network marketing is a GREAT way to build an overall online presence that you hope prospects will run into when their need arises. To put it another way, the bigger net you build, the better your chances are of catching fish. Social media is also extremely effective when used as a tool to reach specific people or business as a part of an overall strategy of public outreach. Using my fishing analogy think of social media as a spear gun; you can readily dive in, find a target and take your best shot! Establishing yourself as local media’s go-to business person on a broad range of maters in which private investigators have ken insight and becoming the local subject matter expert on these topics has never been easier.
Trust and thought leadership converts prospects into buyers. You’ll hear me say that again.
Another reason why social media marketing may not be right for you is the consideration that time you spend on social media is time you’re not spending working in your business. Social media is a major
time-suck and requires a committed investment of time and focus. You cannot be immersed in your investigation or out serving process if you’re busy curating content to build and fed your social audience.
Lastly, you will not likely find “commercial” clients (business or individuals that regularly employ private investigators for business purposes) using social media. What do you think the odds are of landing a national insurance agency client because of a witty meme you’ve shared with your friends on Facebook? How many attorneys do you think are trolling Twitter to find the right investigator? My guess is that he odds are probably hovering around zero percent.
If you are going to ad social media to your marketing mix (and you really MUST these days), you ned to find the right social networks in which to invest time and money and then properly leverage its tools and functionality to get the most out of your efforts. Al social networks are not built he same and each has its specific strengths and weaknesses, which you should identify and use to compliment your own business needs and personality.
Right now, there are basically six viable choices when it comes to social network platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Goggle+, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest. Let’s talk a bit about each.
Regardless of which social networks you choose to ply there is some VERY basic advice that applies to all social networks:
Fill out your personal network profile completely, if not completely then at the very least your profession, location and one way to get in touch with you outside of the network. To capitalize on personal referrals from friends and acquaintances you have to remain relevant and top of mind; don’t keep personal connections guessing at what you do professionally or where you are located. For example, if a “friend of a friend” needs a referral for a private investigator in Northwest Florida I want all of my social connections to know and remember that my agency is in Pensacola, Florida!
The same applies if you have a specific business profile page!
Include a call to action! What is it that you want the person reading your post or watching your video to do? You have to tell them:
The trick is not to come across as spammy or overwhelming. Undoubtedly, you’ve come across this problem in your travails in social media.
I’d certainly be interested to hear from other agency owners about your own personal experiences with any of these particular social networks.
What successes are you having and where?
Do you have any tricks that you have employed to get the best return on the time and money you’ve invested in social media?
Leave them in the comments below or, alternatively, visit me at http://about.me/scottharrell, where you can find links to all of my social profiles.
I look forward to hearing from you soon!
L. Scott Harrell is the managing principal of CompassPoint Investigations, a thriving private investigation agency based in Pensacola, Florida. As the founder of several very successful investigations-related start-ups, he also speaks to other private investigation agency owners on matters of marketing, creativity and client acquisition through the real-world application of technology, time-tested techniques and walking a mile (or two) in their shoes. Find him guest posting on PI Marketing, or reach him directly, via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org
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