What JD Supra's 'Popular' List Teaches You About Effective Content Marketing

by JD Supra Perspectives
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Once a month JD Supra's editorial team publishes a list of some of the most popular posts that appeared on the site during the previous thirty days. 

It's an interesting window into trending legal and regulatory issues at any given moment in time - but, more than that, I find the list instructive when it comes to thinking about how to engage audience with content today.

I recommend our Popular Reads list for any law firm marketer or BD team member wanting to fine tune their firm's content marketing efforts. For example, here are two takeaways that occurred to me when I saw this month's list (which you can check out here):

1. Regionally Focused Content Finds Its Audience Online

Despite the easy access to everyone, everywhere: online, all audience is local. Readers are, after all, located somewhere and often facing specific, regional issues. 

Of the 25 popular posts included in the most recent list, nine have a regional focus. Not quite half, but getting there - and covering everything from marijuana laws in Oregon to real estate laws in Arizona to salary history laws in New York to blockchain laws in Wyoming, and etc.

There are two content marketing takeaways here. First, as I've said, regional readers find their content online. At JD Supra, we see this not only in lists of popular reads, but also in the type of engagement (among in-house attorneys, business people, media members, and others) that happens daily with all manner of locally focused content .

Second, and perhaps most importantly: regional content finds its mark by being clearly regional. Scan the list of popular reads and note every title with a regional reference. Wyoming, Oregon, New York, Arizona, etc. Your title is your first impression online. If you're writing for a local audience, call it out in that headline. Leave nothing to chance.

2. Size Doesn't Matter (Or: Give The People What They Want)

Month after month, whenever I scan these Popular Reads lists, I am always struck by the diversity of firm types and sizes included therein.

The takeaway: with the extraordinary rise of information technology over the last few decades, we've seen a shift in which, now, our readers are in charge. (This extends also to our prospective clients and why 'the buyer's journey' is such a key part of BD conversations today. Readers/prospects/clients are empowered by technology to get what they want, when they want it.)

...you are not read online because of who you are, but because of what you have said, how you have helped

Today, you are not read because of who you are (or how big your firm), but because of what you have said, how you have helped - and, more specifically, how you have met the need-to-know needs of your professional readers.

While one or two titles in this recent list are branded to a series (Red Notice Newsletter, Blockchain Energizer, etc), the majority of these pieces clearly articulate an issue (or issues) that readers care about right now. A perfect example from the list, #5 by attorneys at White and Williams: Insurers of Directors and Officers of Delaware Corporations Must Take Heed of The Superior Court’s Recent Murdock Decision. The title calls out its audience and why they should pay attention, right now.

Most new readers online are not your clients. Don't use your brand or a generic title to try to capture the attention of those busy readers. Be specific; articulate why someone should stop what they're doing and click your link. That's what the most well-read authors are doing to earn readers, no matter the size of their firm. 

Bonus takeaway: become the subject of other people's conversations...

There is a third point I'd like to make, that is perhaps harder to articulate or force, but is, I believe, a central part of how professional organizations can use content to build visibility today.

The number one post in last month's list (from Thomas Gorman at Dorsey & Whitney and focused on the ongoing implications of Yahoo!'s data breach) happened to be shared on the Hacker News forum hosted by Paul Graham's ycombinator incubator in Silicon Valley. (Click here to see what that looks like, exactly.)

The important part: someone other than the author shared this into a professionally focused forum where entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and others could engage in conversation about and around the ideas contained in the post. The piece enjoyed significant upvotes and engagement, as measured by 48 comments in a long thread - and, published in the last days of the previous month, quickly catapulted to the number one spot on our list.

This is, I think, a classic example of what we mean when we say "become the subject of other people's conversations" - a fairly common refrain from Team JD Supra.

It is more of a goal than a specific directive, because I think that to achieve this requires focusing on the other best practices we regularly share regarding content marketing. Write about what matters to your readers; capture why it matters now in your titles; explain the impact of the news; be timely ... the list goes on.

Write ... in a manner that makes influential readers want to share your work with their friends, colleagues, and networks.

Write about issues of the day in a manner that makes influential readers want to share your work with their friends, colleagues, and networks. Weekly, my colleagues Robin Oliver and Kara McKenna share examples of highly targeted readers sharing JD Supra content to their networks. These are also great examples of "becoming the subject" of someone else's conversation (connect with Robin and Kara to see those examples).

This is the line you should try to cross with each post you write, when readers are no longer just receiving your work, but actually moving it forward, sharing it, using it as the basis of their conversation.

How? Write about what your readers care about most. If you don't know how to do that, reach out to me. We can help.

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[Paul Ryplewski is VP of Client Services at JD Supra. Connect with him on LinkedIn.]

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