Developing a Content Strategy to Boost Your Firm's Visibility
By Amy Spach, AS Written Communications
Confused about the right content strategy for your law firm?
You are not alone, but you may not be as confused as you think.
The content piece of the social media puzzle is a work in progress. To place it in perspective, a widely regarded social media “expert” recently admitted that there is no such thing as a social media expert as everyone is still trying to figure it out.
One source of confusion is the proliferation of content platforms. With so many places to post and publish, law firm marketing teams quickly feel like masters trying to manage an unrelenting beast.
Feeding the Content Beast
How do you tame the content monster?
Think of your law firm as a publisher, says Adam L. Stock, Chief Marketing and Client Services Officer at Allen Matkins.
Stock established a content pipeline that is in sync with the firm’s sales pipeline and focuses on transforming a stranger into a friend of the firm. He tracks costs per views and relies on syndication services such as J.D. Supra and Lexology to increase readership and visibility of his firm’s content. Acting as a quasi-publisher, Stock dug into analytics and discovered impressions of his firm are increasingly driven by blogs and media aggregators, rather than by directories from legal publishers such as Martindale-Hubbell and Best Lawyers. He develops Allen Matkins’ strategy for content placement accordingly.
In contrast, one of the law firm blog pioneers, Kevin O'Keefe (@kevinokeefe), Lexblog CEO and Publisher, disagrees with positioning law firms as publishers. He views content – the development and dissemination of it – as part of a much larger set of listening tools that help start a conversation and connect people. Relationships start with listening, conversations grow into trust and ultimately lead to an enhanced word-of-mouth reputation and increased visibility.
A third view and approach is followed by Roger Goff, a partner at Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin LLP. He built his content strategy around stories and information he finds interesting. Acting as a content curator, he filters industry-focused top stories and shares them regularly via Twitter and other social media, which has helped Goff increase his visibility and expand his network and practice.
Shaping Successful Content Strategies
The good news is that all of these content strategies are succeeding, which encouraged Los Angeles legal marketers attending the March LMA-LA program, “Developing a Content Strategy to Boost Your Firm's Visibility.”
The panel presentation was moderated by Zach Olsen, Executive Vice President of Infinite PR, and featured Messrs. Stock, O’ Keefe and Goff. Pointers and experiences they shared include:
- Play to Attorney Strengths
Attorneys’ verbal and writing skills are made for cyber communicating. You could argue that attorneys possess a depth of knowledge that makes them content kegs ready for tapping. As Stock pointed out, attorneys practically invented the “freemium” model, in which they share their knowledge for free now to help transform that stranger into a client later.
- Make it Personal, Share Your Passion
Posting Facebook pictures of your family or friends may not fit every attorney’s or law firm’s social media policy, but O’Keefe believes in putting the social into social media and making it personal. He cited an example of an attorney who shares pictures of his grandchildren, side-by-side with breaking news on a legal decision, and says clients love these personal glimpses.
Readers want blog posts and Twitter feeds with personality – it does not have to divulge too much information. Practicing law firm partner Goff agrees with the need to make posts personal. The motivation behind his content strategy is to share what he is passionate about even if his thoughts extend beyond the law. Don’t worry abut selecting a topic with an esoteric niche, “you cannot be too narrow on the Internet,” said Stock.
- Place Your Content Where the People Are
Posting a new article or client alert on the firm’s website is not a content strategy. Well, it is a strategy but it is not a great one because it depends on people coming to the website to find it.
Publish your firm’s content beyond your own platform and look to where your target audience is reading, advises Stock. He has shifted away from legal directories like Martindale–Hubbell to less expensive syndication services with more traffic. He is also increasing the firm’s ability to capture lead information on visitors.
Remember to post the successes of your firm’s clients and to monitor the social media feeds in their industries. O’Keefe shared the story of a healthcare lawyer who increased his visibility by following hospital happenings in the community and joining part of that wider online conversation.
O’Keefe also encouraged marketers to keep Twitter lists of journalists covering the various industries of interest to their firms. Begin having conversations with the reporters as a way to boost the visibility of your lawyers and firms.
- Quality Still Counts
While the sheer volume of content can overwhelm, remember quality always matters. People return to well-written material even if it only runs 140 characters. “We all are filters of people but a few bad posts can kill your reputation,” said Stock. Establish a system for quality control and identify lawyers who are skillful and willing editors.
No content strategy will work for every firm. However, as one attendee, Alma Karic of Callanan, Rogers & Dzida, LLP shared her takeaway from the panel, “it reinforced my strong belief that blogging, Twitter and other forms of social media are the way to complement other marketing efforts.”
As legal marketers continue to evolve and perfect strategies to use content to gain visibility, a guiding rule of thumb comes from French film director Robert Bresson who said, “Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”
Amy Spach, Principal of AS Written Communications, works on the content strategy of many law firms and attorneys and creates website and marketing copy for clients nationwide. Contact her on 323.876.6374 or email@example.com