Thought Leadership Marketing Basics for Lawyers – Part 2
Thought Leadership Marketing – Where to Start.
In part 1, we debunked common thought leadership myths, but how do you get started with a sustainable thought leadership program? Successful content marketing begins with writing with your audience in mind, answering questions which come up in your daily practice. If your existing clients have the question, so do other potential clients. The 80-20 rule applies here as well; it’s a good idea to focus your thought leadership in the most profitable areas of your practice or areas you are looking to grow. Just like it’s not a good idea to list 30 legal specialties on your personal biography; it is best to focus your thought leadership on a few core practice areas. According to Michele Ruiz,[i] the author of Content Marketing for Lawyers - How Attorneys Can Use Social Media Strategies to Attract More Clients and Become Legal Thought Leaders, successful thought leadership programs start with a decision to focus on a topic you want to be known for and then developing a strategy to create helpful content and share it with potential clients and their influencers.
The content can be all in one format, such as videos, or the same valuable information in multiple formats – such as a white paper, then a blog that summarizes the white paper, a video that summarizes the white paper, an infographic that highlights the key points in the white paper, and so on. To get the most from your investment in time, repurpose content in various formats and update it when new legal developments occur or customize it for various industries or geographic areas.
Developing a Sustainable and Effective Thought Leadership Program
Just like going to the gym regularly is what gets results, you need to publish on a regular basis to build a following and build a body of work which helps establish your expertise. Regularly updating your website with new content you want associated with your attorneys and your firm’s name is a cornerstone of SEO. According to Ruiz, some lawyers are enthusiastic about creating content, such as blog posts or videos, and make the time. Most need a method to get the content done. One strategy Ruiz suggests is to write down questions your clients are asking you, then have some one ask you those questions for you to answer while recording the interview. The recording can be then be transcribed and you have a good first draft. Once you have your draft, you can edit or engage a good copy writer to polish it. The finished product can be developed into a written piece, podcast or video. Videos and podcasts should include a transcript or a detailed lead in paragraph for SEO purposes.
Whatever medium or mediums you choose, the key is that the tone and language is friendly and easy to understand. Effective legal thought leadership speaks to an educated audience and breaks down core issues, without losing the reader with complex legalese and irrelevant facts. Don’t try to explain a complex case or legal concept in a blog post instead or focus on the one or two of the most interesting or relevant issues. Better yet, if your topic goes beyond a few core issues, create a series of posts and remember to link them together for the reader and for SEO purposes.
Distribution of Legal Thought Leadership – Social Media
Start with developing a list of current and potential clients, not just focusing on the General Counsel, but digging deep with the legal department and other influencers within target companies. Track and keep in touch with law school contacts, former clients and former colleagues and add them to your email distribution list and reach out to them via LinkedIn. Once a thought leadership piece is created, email it out to your network first and then post your piece on LinkedIn. Consider using LinkedIn “Publish a Post” feature to repurpose your blogs on your firm or personal profile. It’s a simple way to expand your reach on LinkedIn. Not only are posts searchable on the LinkedIn platform, but they also are pushed out through LinkedIn’s email notification program.[i] According to a 2013 ABA survey, 92 percent of firms surveyed have a presence on LinkedIn and 58 percent of surveyed firms say they have a presence on Facebook. [ii]
For most lawyers LinkedIn is a must and Twitter is great for catching the eye of media and good for SEO. Twitter posts or tweets are indexed by search engines and a good source of backlinks to your article posts. Facebook is also great for reaching audiences where they are spending a great deal of time. There are 167 million active daily users of Facebook in the U.S. and Canada and globally there are 1.18 billion active users visiting Facebook on a daily basis.[iii]
Depending on your firm’s resources and your enthusiasm for engaging on social media, you should allocate time to create content and promote it consistently or you should enlist the help of professionals, not interns! Your distribution plan should include contacting relevant media and bloggers who focus on your chosen topic(s) as well, according to Ruiz.
SEO and Backlinks
Another traditional element of good SEO is backlinks. Backlinks from reputable organizations helps with what is called Domain authority. According to Ruiz, this is a metric for how well a website is ranking in Google’s search results, in other words, how your site is ranking compared to competitive sites. High quality back links pointing to your website, such as those from media organizations, as part of an SEO strategy helps with getting your site as close to the top of the first page of a search engine results. Good search results lead to your potential clients finding you when they are searching for information.
A strong content marketing strategy can be an integral piece of differentiating your firm in the marketplace. A strong SEO-ed website can help decision makers in companies find you when they are looking for your firm’s expertise.
[i] I recently had the opportunity to participate with Michele Ruiz, on the NAMWOLF Marketing Best Practices Committee Panel: Everything’s Bigger in Texas: How to Make Your Website a Big Success. The panel was a part of NAMWOLF (National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms) 2016 Annual Meeting & Law Firm EXPO Set 14 -17 - Houston,Texas In addition to Michele, who is the President & CEO, Ruiz Strategies, I’d like to extend a big thank you to other panel members: Mayra A. Jimenez, Marketing Director, AlvaradoSmith, Amy Kurson, Managing Partner, Reyes Kurson, Ltd. and Lisa Delaney, President/Co-Founder, Power Design.
[ii] Legal Bloggers: Strategies for Increasing Your Readership, July 9, 2015 by Melanie Trudeau of Jaffe PR
[iii] Lawyers’ Social Media Use Grows Modestly, ABA Annual Tech Survey Shows, Robert Ambrogi on LawSites.com August 5, 2013.
[iv] As of 3rd quarter 2016, per Statistica.com Number of daily active Facebook users worldwide as of 3rd quarter 2016 (in millions)