Tag Archives: Content Marketing

Podcasting for Lawyers

In previous articles, we’ve discovered that legal consumers have become online consumers. To attract these online consumers, lawyers have to be active online, and build a solid online reputation. To achieve this, the most common medium lawyers use, are blogs. But there are many other ways, too, to stand out from the crowd. These include podcasting, live video streaming, and, e.g., Instagram. So, in this article, we will have a look at podcasting for lawyers. And for what it’s worth, Pat Flynn called podcasting the #1 content platform.

What is a podcast? The easy explanation is that it is a type of on-demand radio that you can listen to online, on your phone, computer, tablet, or internet radio. The Wikipedia goes into more detail and defines it as “an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download in order to listen. Alternatively, the word ‘podcast’ may refer to the individual component of such a series or to an individual media file. Podcasting often uses a subscription model, whereby new episodes automatically download via web syndication to a user’s own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player.”

Podcasts are popular. Statistics for the US reveal that half of the population has listened to podcasts; 32% are monthly podcast listeners, while 22% listen on a weekly basis. The popularity of podcasts keeps growing, and their reach keeps expanding. That also applies to legal podcasts. (The list with sources below includes an article with some of the best current podcasts for lawyers).

Why should you, as a lawyer, consider starting a podcast, apart from the fact that they’re popular? There are plenty of reasons.

  • Podcasts are fairly easy to create. You only need a decent microphone and some recording software (which your phone, tablet or pc may have preinstalled), and once you’ve recorded your podcast, you can use one of the available platforms to distribute your podcast.
  • A podcast helps build credibility and trust, as well as a connection with your audience.
  • It’s easy to attract the right audience.
  • It’s a solid – and usually easier – alternative to video.
  • Podcasting fits into people’s lives: podcasting is the only online content platform that allows for passive, or indirect consumption. People can listen to your podcast while they’re doing something else, even while they’re driving.
  • You can get people’s attention for longer periods of time: the average YouTube video is 4 minutes and 20 seconds long. Podcasts on the other hand, typically are between half an hour to 2 hours long.
  • There is at present far less competition in podcasting than there is on other platforms. There are approx. 200 000 active podcasts, while there are 19 million active blogs and 1 billion YouTube users.
  • Podcasting Is the best way to scale intimacy: it allows you to build a stronger relationship with your audience, faster.
  • You can connect with influencers.
  • Scalability: with a podcast, you have your own scalable stage. Anybody anywhere can listen, and it’s easy to grow your audience.
  • In an online world, social proof is important. With podcasts, it’s easy to get plenty of testimonials: you can, e.g., feature members of your own audience who have done something or who have taken action after hearing your podcast. It shows that you inspire people and that you love your audience.
  • You learn to become a better communicator.
  • While this may be less appropriate for or applicable to lawyers, podcasts typically also present monetization possibilities, as many of them are offered on a subscription model. (There are many podcasts that, e.g., offer the first half of the podcast for free, and the second half is only available to paying subscribers).

So how do you get started?

  • The first step is to choose a topic you can commit to. Above all, make sure you would want to listen to your podcast. If you already have a blog, you can repurpose your existing content
  • Then you define your show description and organize the necessary artwork (logo, e.g.).
  • This step and the next are interchangeable: set up and thoroughly test your equipment, and
  • Create a plan or roadmap for your episodes (and stick to it, unless you have a good reason not to). Apart from repurposing blog articles, you can do interviews, have guests or even guest hosts. You can do mini episodes in between in, e.g., a FAQ format, where you answer one question.
  • Record your episodes and remember that audio quality is key: poor quality will instantly cause people to stop listening.
  • Edit your episodes: typically, some editing will be necessary to cut out hesitations while speaking, etc.
  • Publish your episodes: there are several platforms available, specifically for podcasting.
  • Launch your podcast to your audience.

It is beyond the scope of this article to go into more detail, but you can find more comprehensive instructions in the articles listed below.

Happy Podcasting!

 

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On Content Strategies

In previous articles, we explained how legal consumers have become online consumers. We also explored how for that reason content marketing has become an essential part of the digital marketing campaigns that are designed to engage legal consumers. Content creation is a powerful marketing tool that contributes to generating business revenue. It also helps in establishing a good online reputation. In order to successfully market your content, you need a content strategy. In this article, you will find an introduction to content strategies.

What is a content strategy? Hannah Smith and Adria Saracino defined it as “the high-level vision that guides future content development to deliver against a specific business objective.” What they are saying is that you shouldn’t just provide content, but you need to first define a specific business objective. Once you have done this, you can start planning your content with this objective in mind.

So, how does one plan a content strategy? Where do you start? In essence, defining a content strategy consists of three phases: identifying your business objective, identifying your target audience, and identifying the content that your target audience needs. The first thing to do is to identify your business objective. What does your law firm stand for, and what do you want to achieve with the content you provide? Be as specific as possible. Then learn as much as possible about your target audience and what you have to offer them that sets you apart from the competition. Analyse what information your clients need. Researching all of this will provide you with the data that will show you what to write, for whom, how and where.

The article 11 Steps to create a Content Marketing Strategy to Grow Your Business provides an excellent approach that breaks the process down in 11 steps:

  1. Set your mission and your goals
  2. Establish your Key Performance Indexes (KPIs), i.e. establish what the measurable factors are that define your success and that will allow you measure that success
  3. Know your audience
  4. If you already have content available, assess your current position by doing a content audit: what do you have, how successful is it, what channels and content types are you using?
  5. Figure out the best content channels for the content you’re providing (which platforms, social media, etc.)
  6. Decide on content types: are you going for a text blog only, or will you provide videos and/or static visuals like infographics, etc.?
  7. Identify and allocate resources: define team roles, i.e. define who will write what, who will create graphic materials, who will create videos? What will the hosting cost?
  8. Create a content calendar: brainstorm your content ideas in advance, and plan when to publish what, so your campaigns stay on track.
  9. Create your content
  10. Distribute and market your content: use more than one channel, write guest articles, bring your content to the attention of ‘influencers’, etc.
  11. Measure the results. Checking the Key Performance Indexes to measure how successful your content is, is a step most law firms pay insufficient attention to.

In his articles, Jay Harrington from Attorney at work gives several practical suggestions. In the remainder of this article, we’ll have a cursory glance at them.

When it comes to defining the actual content you will be providing, Harrington suggests thinking in terms of “wisdom marketing.” The best way to get your audience’s attention, is to provide them with high quality content. By sharing your wisdom, you can build a foundation of trust, loyalty and respect. Harrington also suggests focusing on ‘Evergreens,’ i.e. on high quality content that has a timeless character, rather than paying attention to current affairs, which typically has a relevance that is limited in time. Evergreens include how-to lists, resource lists (i.e. compiling lists of other articles that are relevant to your audience), and FAQs.

Harrington also advises using a ‘divisible strategy.’ With a divisible content strategy, you strategically and intentionally blend written and visual storytelling for the purpose of more effectively spreading ideas to specific audiences. In this approach you first define a core idea and create a single content asset, typically an article or white paper, that then functions as the foundation from which you create multiple forms of visual storytelling content: infographics, animated videos, SlideShare decks, social media motion graphics, etc.

Finally, Harrington suggests repurposing existing content: “A substantive 1,500-word article can be repurposed to a white paper or e-book or repurposed down to a series of blog posts or infographics. A presentation can be given as a webinar. A blog post can be made into a podcast.”

 

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The 2018 Social Law Firm Index

Every year, towards the end of the year, Good2bSocial (www.good2bsocial.com) publishes a ‘Social Law Firm Index’. It is a study of digital marketing adoption, use, and best practices in the legal industry. The report aims to determine the effectiveness of law firms’ efforts and includes reviews and rankings of the US top law firms.  It assesses the firms’ publicly available thought leadership content, and measures social media reach, engagement, and marketing performance on specific social platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Here are some of the highlights of the 2018 Social Law Firm Index.

Let’s start with some general observations on trends:

  • There still is an ongoing rapid increase in the use of digital technology and social media among law firms.
  • There also is a noticeable surge in video adoption. (See below).
  • Firms are maximizing the potential of interactive content:Interactive content is one of the best ways for law firms to facilitate engagement across digital channels like email and social media. In 2018, there was a trend towards interactive content such as free tools, polls, and surveys.
  • When it comes to the actual content, more firms are crafting client-centric thought leadership and social media content that aims to address client desires rather than simply touting a firm’s bona fides. (On Twitter, especially, there was a major increase in high-quality, non-promotional firm content.)
  • Compared to 2017, we can notice shifting priorities and shifting channels:Law firms are getting smarter about setting aside social platforms that don’t reach their target audiences or provide a return on investment. Facebook, which was hit by several scandals in the last year, in particular saw a major decline in use amongst firms.
  • There’s an increasing need for paid social. (See Below).

The study closely examines how firms are using digital platforms to communicate and amplify thought leadership. Good2bSocial believes that a law firm’s most valuable resource is its intellectual assets. They therefore define thought leadership as material that, for the purposes of business development, communicates to potential clients and others information about those assets. These communications can take the form of articles, client alerts, tool kits, videos, podcasts, and blogs.

The report also looked for what characterizes the best and worst performers. The best performing firms are demonstrating the greatest comprehensive adoption, integration, and use of social media and content marketing to market and grow their practices. Their messaging is coherent, consistent, and current across platforms, and best practices are evident at all stages of execution. They displayed the following characteristics, some of which were mentioned above in the general trends:

  • Video Takes Over: In 2017, 26% of law firms used it; in 2018, 36% does. Take content like testimonials, case studies, and blog posts, and turn them into videos for a more engaging way to connect with your target audience.
  • Interactive Content is Key: Use interactive content like polls, surveys, and free assessment tools to understand your clients and provide them with future content that you know they’ll find valuable.
  • Thinking like a Client: Use surveys and polls to inform your content strategy. You can’t write the right content if you don’t know what your clients or prospects care about.
  • Quality over Quantity: Aim for at least 70 percent of your social media messages to be original, non-promotional content like blog posts and client alerts.
  • Shifting Priorities and Shifting Channels: Analyse and measure which social networks are the most effective for your law firm. Then, prioritize the ones that bring you the highest ROI. While Facebook is still effective for law firms trying to reach consumers, corporate law firms are finding that they’re better off using LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Rise of Paid Social: Thirty percent of law firms surveyed reported using paid social in order to enhance the reach of their social media messages. Facebook and LinkedIn are equally popular choices when it comes to firms investing in sponsored content on social.

The characteristics of the worst performers, on the other hand, fall in two categories. First, there are the abandoned profiles, i.e. profiles on social media that are no longer updated. Secondly, there are all the missed engagement opportunities. The following best social media engagements practices were not observed:

  • Sharing blog content on social media channels: it’s not enough to publish a blog article. Let the world know about it on social media. This not only applies to new articles but also to older ones that are still relevant.
  • Employee Advocacy: Employee advocacy has the power to exponentially increase the reach of your law firm’s thought leadership content.
  • Engage / interact with others: like, retweet, comment, mention key influencers and thought leaders. Following social media best practices like influencer marketing, using hashtags, and posting content multiple times are too often forgotten and lead to missed opportunities for law firms to generate awareness and clients.

 

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An Introduction to Content Marketing for Lawyers

In previous articles we mentioned the importance of content marketing. So, what is it? Why is it important, and is it important for lawyers, too? In this article, we explore some of the basics of content marketing for lawyers.

What is content marketing? The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” The Wikipedia defines it as “a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing and distributing content for a targeted audience online. It is often used by businesses in order to attract attention and generate leads, expand their customer base, generate or increase online sales, increase brand awareness or credibility, and engage an online community of users.”

So, content marketing is about attracting customers. Traditionally, the buying process consisted of four steps: 1) a potential customer or client would become aware of a need, 2) he or she would next research what solutions are available, 3) would then consider and evaluate the options, and 4) would finally buy a specific product or service. In this traditional process, content marketing is effective for the first two stages of the process in that it helps raise awareness of solutions and educates consumers about products or services.

These days, however, legal consumers are online consumers, and in an online world, things go slightly differently. In previous articles, we pointed out that successful online marketing strategies rely on the ACT methodology: Attract, Convert, and Transform. (See our article on ‘Why Social Media Matter’ for more information). Where online marketing mainly differs from traditional marketing is that the conversion process consists of two steps: before turning a website visitor into a customer or client, that visitor must be turned into a content consumer first. And that is where the role of content marketing becomes crucial. And, yes, this applies to lawyers, too.

Unlike a once-off advertising campaign, content marketing is a long-term strategy, based on building a strong relationship with your target audience, by giving them high-quality content that is very relevant to them on a consistent basis. In doing so, you build awareness, trust, and loyalty among your readers.

Joleena Louis, e.g., is a matrimonial and family law attorney, who uses her blog to give potential clients free legal advice. She found that this benefited her in three ways: It positions her as an expert and authority in her practice area. It helps her get more clients. And it gets her loyal followers and free marketing.

There are many ways one can present potential customers with valuable content. Amongst the most popular ways are infographics, blogs, podcasts, videos, and books. Other examples include news flashes (in a blog, email or newsletter), white papers, e-books, email newsletters, case studies, podcasts, how-to guides, question and answer articles as well as live sessions, photos, FAQs, discussion groups, and testimonials.

So, how does one start? You basically have two options: you can outsource it, or you can do it yourself. If you want to do it yourself, blogging is the easiest option. (We previously published an article on starting a blog). You can start your own blog on your website, or you can use a dedicated blogging platform. You also have the option to publish articles on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Medium. And once you published your article, you can use social media campaigns to alert people that new content is available.

To attract readers, your content must meet a need or interest of your readers. In other words, it must add value for your readers. Your content also must stand out. In Forbes Magazine, Josh Steimle wrote: “Content is good if they genuinely want to read it. Content is great if they’re willing to pay to read it. If you want to see great examples of content, just look at what you’ve paid to read, watch, or listen to lately. (…) If you’re not sure how you can add value through content marketing, ask your existing customers what kind of content you can produce that would be helpful to them now, or would have been helpful to them when they were looking for your product or service. They’ll tell you.”

Finally, the content you present to your audience must not be an academic presentation. Research has shown that what works best is to use informal and engaging story telling techniques.

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