Content Marketing for Law Firms: More, More, More

Blogging has moved from top billing in social media marketing to an ensemble role. A blog is still an important player in the markting ecosystem, but it now shares the stage with other major and minor players in a much bigger, more robust production called content marketing.

The following BlueGlass Interactive infographic illustrates the variety and range of content types and distribution models. BlueGlass executive Chris Winfield notes, “Instead of just investing in their blog and blogging strategies, [companies are] investing in content people will actually want to share. Even if it’s not directly related to selling something, it’s still branding.”

The top 20 content marketing tactics according to a recent Content Marketing Institute survey:

  1. Articles
  2. Social media
  3. Blogs
  4. eNewsletters
  5. Case studies
  6. In-person events
  7. Videos
  8. White papers
  9. Webinars/webcasts
  10. Microsites
  11. Print magazines
  12. Traditional media
  13. Research reports
  14. Branded content tools
  15. Print newsletter
  16. eBooks
  17. Podcasts
  18. Mobile content
  19. Digital magazines
  20. Virtual conferences
WARNING: This does not mean use ALL of these tactics. Rather, it suggests that your marketing program can benefit from thinking beyond the usual suspects: blog, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Greater depth, breadth, variety, ubiquity and frequency of content will generate more opportunities to be discovered.

 

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 02.09.12

A digest of social media “how-to” advice and tips for legal marketing.

Content Marketing for Law Firms: Don’t Get Sucked Into Storify

The I Can’t Blog, But This App Can Daily is out!

Look familiar? Twitter is awash with that headline formula, which announces/flags (depending how you look at it) auto-generated posts posing as curated content.

One of the more credible “curation” platforms is Storify, which “lets you curate social networks to build social stories, bringing together media scattered across the Web into a coherent narrative.” Although Storify is more authentic than Paper.li, Summify and other curation platforms insofar as it requires the user to actively choose and arrange the content samples, like its app spam counterparts Storify has no compelling value proposition for content marketers. In fact, Storify could end up making you look like a social media dilettante. 

As Ramon Ray unironically commented yesterday on the Small Business Technology blog, “If you are looking for an easy to way to compile online content, but don’t have your own content to share, Storify can help.”

Seriously?

If you don’t have your own content to share, then you shouldn’t waste your time on social media.

 

So what’s the harm in using Storify?

  • It takes as much time to research and assemble a Storify “story” as it does to write a blog post.
  • If you make the time to caption each of the elements in your story, you might as well be creating multiple short posts on your own blog.
  • It’s even more difficult to develop a Storify following than it is to build traction for your own blog.

In contrast, Larry Bodine takes the right approach to curation with his “Best Practices in Lawyer Blogs” posts on the Martindale.com blog. He features a few  interesting/useful posts from other sites/authors, providing a précis and link for each.

For my part, every Wednesday and Friday I cull and present without comment or embellishment seven strong “how to” posts from various sources in my RSS feed, all under the heading “Endeavor to Be Useful.”

Are you trying your hand at content curation? What content marketing tactics are working/not working for you?

SEO for Law Firms: What Legal Marketers Need to Know About Google’s Panda

In the search engine optimization world, “quality” content doesn’t mean what you might immediately think. It’s not breakthrough ideas compellingly expressed (although that’s part of it, in an indirect way).

From an SEO perspective, quality derives in part from structural elements and patterns within your content (frequency, amount of original content on a site, duplication, unnatural overuse of a word) and the way visitors interact with your content (time on page, bounce rate).

In other words, Google’s Panda search algorithm evaluates the “quality” of your content by how long visitors spend on a page (presumably reading) and whether they visit other pages on your site during the same session. Quality content = high average time on page + low bounce rate.

Digital marketing agency Single Grain created a useful infographic that chronicles Panda’s evolution (so to speak) and highlights what law firm site designers and managers can do to build essential inbound links to their blogs and websites.

 

What are your SEO for law firms tips? Have you made any changes to your website or blog(s) to accommodate the new content paradigm Panda has created?

3 Myths About Business Cards — And 3 Online Tools You Should Consider Instead

There was a time not long ago when business cards had almost talismanic qualities for lawyers and other professionals.  They were professionally designed and produced. Expensive. Markers of legitimacy, status, taste, authority, seriousness of purpose. An essential one-to-one marketing tool. Business cards were distributed liberally, and retained by recipients in Rolodexes, Filofaxes and drawers.

Enter Outlook, Google and LinkedIn. We no longer need micro-billboards to help contacts log, organize and retrieve our contact information.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Although they no longer command attention and respect, we still need business cards for utilitarian purposes like:

    1. Demonstrating you are prepared.
    2. Quickly and easily passing along basic contact information.
    3. Helping participants in large meetings keep track of who’s who.
    4. Conducting business in Asia.
    5. Placing in fish bowls at restaurant host stations for a chance at a free meal.

And yet, certain myths about business cards endure and cause lawyers to over-think and over-spend on what is now a low-value commodity.
  1. They make you look professional – Having a business card isn’t rare or special anymore. With online services like Moo and Vistaprint, anyone can get a veritable lifetime’s supply of high-quality, customized, color-image, double-sided business cards for less than the cost of a business lunch.
  2. They are necessary for a good first impression – If someone asks for your business card, you’ve already made a good impression. And if you haven’t noticed, it’s now rare for anyone to do more than glance at a business card before putting it in a pocket or handbag. Just being prepared and having a business card readily available makes a strong first impression. The craftsmanship and composition of the card is mostly irrelevant.
  3. Adding a QR code to a business card makes you look techno-savvy, and it will drive traffic to the linked landing page, webpage, microsite, etc. – Ugly, cryptic, space-eating, pixelated squares are just as likely to look gimmicky on a professional card. Indeed, other than novelty, there’s no compelling reason for recipients to access the code’s content on a mobile device when they have the information they need in their hand already.
Better Options for Optimizing Your Contact Information
  1. Add useful personal and company links to your e-mail signature.
  2. Create personalized landing pages through services like  Flavors.me and About.me.
  3. Invest in Google search curation tools like Vizibility.
I know that lawyer coaches, graphic designers, printers, and the irrationally image-obsessed, among others, still venerate businesses cards, so I hope to hear some lively counterpoints.

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 01.26.12

A digest of social media “how-to” advice and tips for legal marketing.

Market Research for Law Firms: What Legal Marketers Need to Know About Millennials

Last summer I wrote a piece for the Texas Bar Journal about how “digital natives” will transform the ways law firms and clients communicate and collaborate. This recent Bazaarvoice infographic illustrates how much Millennials rely on social proof in their choices of goods and services.

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 01.20.12

A digest of social media “how-to” advice and tips for legal marketing.

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 01.18.12

A digest of social media “how-to” advice and tips for legal marketing.

Webinar Best Practices for Law Firms: It’s All About the Audience’s POV (and Starting on Time)

Maybe it’s just my bad luck, but recently I’ve attended a string of webinars that suffered from poor preparation in one or both of two areas: content and technical direction. Since it’s a time-tested technique, there is a lot of good material available to help you compose, market and execute a successful webinar.

Ken Molay of Webinar Success created a comprehensive tutorial on webinar best practices that reminds:

  • It is vital to consider the audience’s perspective at every stage of your planning, preparation, presentation, and follow-through. Encourage your audience to take each desired action by emphasizing the value and benefit to them of doing so.
  • Work on ways to build registration and attendance for your webinar by setting up processes that simplify required actions and reinforce value.
  • Webinar presenters need to prepare their physical environment and their presentation planning to facilitate a successful delivery.
  • Rehearsals are critical in achieving comfort and confidence in the presentation, while backup planning can help avoid cancellation of an event when things go wrong.
  • Presentation style needs to continually refocus the audience’s attention and enthusiasm for the subject material.
  • Find ways to connect with and stimulate your attendees through vocal delivery and careful selection of content.
  • After your presentation, act quickly to take advantage of the trust and goodwill you have built with your audience. Don’t forget registrants who did not attend, because they are excellent prospects for viewing recordings or signing up for future webinars.

As for running the event itself, HubSpot created a checklist of production tips to help your webinar run smoothly:
  1. Leading up to the webinar, send a reminder email twice – once 1 day before the webinar and once 1 hour before the webinar.
  2. Prior to the webinar starting, have someone on your team dial-in to make sure the number is working for participants. Have this person send you a question so you know it’s working (and can see what it will look inside the webinar software).
  3. Let the audience know in the introduction how you will be dealing with questions (whether you’ll respond to select questions at the end, try to take them during the session, etc.).
  4. When doing a demo or showing software, try not to move too quickly (or scroll up and down a web page too quickly). Often, a refresh takes some time to complete based on the user’s bandwidth. Plan on it taking about 5 seconds every time you change your screen for everyone to see the change.
  5. Have a definitive “stop” to the core material (within the time allotted). This is similar to what you’d do in an offline meeting. This way, those that only scheduled the appropriate time know when you are done and are not irritated by the fact that they’re missing something “core”. It’s okay to extend beyond the end time as long as the “officially scheduled program” has a clean end and those that need to leave can leave.
  6. Close ALL unnecessary applications, especially Outlook, Instant Messenger, etc. You do not want any personal or confidential info displayed, and you just don’t want to interrupt the webinar with any notifications that pop up.
  7. Start 2 minutes past the hour. This gives people time to call in, but does not make those on time wait too long and annoy them for being on time. Those who call in a couple more minutes later usually do not miss much.  Also, starting on time helps people show up on time for future webinars. It is tempting as a presenter to wait for more people to join. Be strong, don’t do it.
  8. Call into the meeting at least 15 minutes early. Before you call in to start the meeting, with many types of conferencing software everyone else hears an annoying beep and has no idea if they are in the right meeting. If you call in early everyone will know they are in the right place.
  9. Use pre-webinar slides & announcements. Put up a slide that says something like “the webinar will begin in 10 minutes” so when people log in they know it is working, and then update it to show the actual time until the webinar. You should also make an announcement on the call every few minutes to let people know it will start soon and their audio is working.
  10. Send out a recording and the slides to people within 24 hours, and tell them during the webinar you will do this. About 10-20% of your attendees will email you looking for the info anyway, so just send it out. Fast follow-up helps you motivate people to take a next step while the webinar is still on their mind.
What’s the “secret sauce” in your webinars?