What content should law firms be producing as part of their overall content marketing strategy?
Let's start with the obvious – you've really only got 4 realistic areas to play with:
- Written words
- Still images.
And the magic of a successful content plan is to pull from the right combinations of these levers that you're actually going to make an impact on your audience.
Do you make the most of your major articles, videos or podcasts? Or do you share them once and then they go to blog-riddled mass graves?Leave a comment and let me know!
What Not to Do
While I'm the kind of person who accepts there are many paths which can lead to success in this area, there are a few things that make no sense and are unlikely to achieve anything at all. These include:
- only posting still images with inspirational quotes on them
- doing nothing
- being so sporadic with your content that it wasn't worth turning up at all
- creating content that has absolutely nothing to do with your brand.
But with those potential nasties identified, the next question is really: what's a good content mix for a law firm looking to hammer their digital marketing efforts this year?
Don't Kill your Blog, Just Make it Better
Law firm blogs have long been a bit of a problem, both for the firm and for its readers.
First, most firms haven't trained their staff to write properly, believing for some reason that because they are lawyers their copywriting skills will magically appear.
After that, the strategic vision for the law firm's blog is ordinarily non-existent. More often than not, people don't know who they are writing for or how to write well for such people. And that's OK, because usually nobody gives any feedback about whether an article did well anyway. And even THAT doesn't matter, because nobody really has taken the time to form a view about what “well” means.
Finally, as is often the case, most law firms are stuck in a 2005 mentality with their blogging, believing that blogs consisting of 300 word high-level drivel are sufficient to attract the attention of their time-starved and content-saturated clients.
Shockingly enough, the solution to this is… make your blog better. As well as training your staff, engaging in meaningful feedback and adopting a better strategy, a good law firm blog is going to:
- cover topics comprehensively
- use complementary video and imagery, to support the message and break up the text a bit
- produce regularly, even when there isn't a “latest decision” to report on
Long Form or Micro-Content?
Whatever you pick one thing is pretty clear: law firms shouldn't be churning out the 300 word blog spasms of the past
So which is better – to produce a 2,000 word detailed blog post, or to offer a short 1-2 sentence thought on social media?
The answer is… neither. They simply serve different purposes.
Long form articles belong squarely on your blog, even if you choose to later post them on a publishing platform like LinkedIn or Medium. Principally a detailed article is designed to:
- demonstrate your expertise in a particular area;
- drive traffic to your website (which is hopefully designed to capitalise on that traffic);
- allow for a comprehensive answer to a question or solution to a problem.
And, accordingly blogging legend Neil Patel (and, frankly, a whole bunch of others) longer articles also have a much higher chance of ranking in search engines, get more social shares, and generate more links for your site.
On the other hand, micro content and short form posting is principally to create engagement, attract discussion or commentary, or foster relationships. So, for example:
- you might write a 2,500 blog post called a “Step-By-Step Guide to Issuing a Statutory Demand for Payment of Debt”
- you might create associated micro-content like “Would you ever spend $5k in legal fees to wind up a company for a $2k debt?”
Now of course I've based this section on articles, but there's no reason you can't use the same principles for audio and video as well.
Should you Add Video Marketing to your Mix?
Basically every initial discussion I have with a client includes a conversation something like this:
- so have you thought about doing any video content?
- um, yeah, I'm not really that keen on doing video.
So Why Video?
I'm not going to tell you that you MUST be doing video as part of your content marketing mix. Heck, you don't HAVE to do anything at all.
What I will say is that video offers some benefits that you don't find in the other content forms.
Other than an in-person meeting, seeing your face and hearing your voice on video is likely the closest that a potential client is going to be able to interact with you. And because lawyers are terrible actors, what they see is often pretty close to the “real you”. So as long as you don't look like a buffoon, it ticks the “trust” box big time.
Producing a video with equivalent content to a blog post. A 3-4 minute video is about a 750-word blog post in sheer word count, and I'm betting your last blog post didn't take 3-4 minutes to write, did it? Sure there is the editing if you care to do it, and research/planning (which is the same for the blog post anyway), but in terms of commitment by your professional staff, video wins hands down.
Video can set the scene to then produce a podcast, multiple shorter videos or snippets, a blog post anyway, and a bunch of micro-content. If you can delegate the splitting up process to somebody, then that's even better. In terms of bang for your buck through repurposing, it's high on the list.
Let's be honest – the main reason you're not on video isn't because you've decided it's a bad strategy, it's because you're afraid of putting your face on video. Perhaps it's time to take a deep breath and just go for it…
Is Law Firm Podcasting a Thing?
So you might remember a bunch of years ago when websites were new and shiny, and law firms were pitifully slow on the uptake. We then did the same thing with Facebook, being crazy slow to get into the land grab that was happening around us.
That's what podcasting is today.
If you were in a marketing space like me, I'd say that you've already mostly missed the boat in terms of podcasting. But since you're a lawyer, I can tell you that there are precious few law firms producing quality podcasts – but that's going to change, very soon
As the tech barriers decrease, the ease of podcasting increases, more and more are going to get up and running – and you don't want to miss the boat. Plus with 33% of Australians listening to a podcast in the last month, can you really afford to duck this opportunity?
Why do we like podcasting as part of a content mix?
- it's a great way to produce a longer form piece of content that people will actually listen to;
- it's less confronting than video to produce
- depending on your show format, it's a good way to introduce third parties to your audience, which reduces your own workload
- like video, you've got some repurposing options for a podcast too.
So What about Images?
For law firms, my personal view is that images are best used to offer secondary support for the other mediums. They bring interest and attention to your micro content, your blog posts and your videos. Sure you could even show your podcast audience an image, but it's probably not going to be as effective.
What I don't think is that oversaturating your content with images as a primary method of communication is effective, principally because the types of images many firms use (stock images) are going to be fairly lame as a stand-alone piece of content. So a strategy that hinges on throwing words onto a stock image is unlikely to be effective by itself, but as part of a larger campaign or as pieces of micro-content it could add a nice element.
There's an exception here of course – if you are a solo practitioner or a smaller firm, and running more of a personality brand than a firm brand, then your image game could be pretty strong. That's particularly true if you are willing to open up a little and share on Instagram, which is obviously the place you want to be if images are your thing.
Naturally if you have interesting hobbies, office space, work types then imagery can also be used to demonstrate your core differences as a firm.
So yes – images can be great in the right way, but clients aren't going to come flooding through your doors because you posted an inspirational Mark Twain quote on Instagram yesterday.
OK So What Content Do We Recommend for Law Firms?
If you're paying attention, you'll notice that I'm pretty much in favour of everything – so my advice is… do everything.
Your response to that is going to be “I'm too busy to do everything”, which might be true (although it often isn't). So rather than me going all Gary V on you I'll offer a few thoughts on how you can actually make this happen.
- First – figure out where your sweet spot is in the meaty content options (articles, videos, podcast). That's going to be the medium you've seen the most success with, or most naturally seem to produce awesome content – that will likely form the core of your campaign since you probably enjoy doing it the most anyway.
- Next, produce that meaty content with a view to breaking it up into smaller pieces – it's a much easier process if your substantial content is pre-designed to accomplish this, rather than trying to think of it later. So that might be:
- quotes from the article
- soundbites from the podcast
- short cuts of the video with particular questions, answers or issues
- questions that arose out of the main piece
- related tendrils that you didn't deal with
- Last, produce that content.
Sounds simple, and it really is to be honest. Sure it's a bit of work, but consider what you'll achieve from what is basically a single content idea:
- a major piece of content as a digital asset
- images to engage with visual folks on social media
- multiple smaller pieces that add value between major pieces
- opportunities for engagement
- a nice mix of content so it's not all the same medium over and over again
Plus if you want a lot of this process can be delegated or outsourced of course. Your personal expertise requirement largely ends once the major piece is done – everything else can be farmed out to others if you're so inclined.
Hot Tip – don't be afraid to try different media types involving the stuff you're already creating. Got a series of images? Why not turn them into a SlideShare or a Document share for LinkedIn? Could you create a FlipBook from your existing articles? Could you get a designer to PDF your longer most valuable pieces and send them in hardcopy to clients as a gift? Get the absolute most value out of your existing efforts as you can.
So What's Stopping You?
If you're keen on getting your firm to put out a nice variety of content this year, then this is the way to do it.
My question for you – do you make the most of your major articles, videos or podcasts? Or do you share them once and then they go to their blog-riddled graves? How are you getting the best value from your personal effort?