The ultimate goal of content marketing is to drive readers to take action, preferably in the form of contacting and retaining your firm. So it should go without saying that it’s not how often you post content to social media that makes a true impact, but rather what you say and how you say it. The quality not the quantity of your posts should always be your primary focus.
But it's not always easy to generate a steady stream of strong content to fill your editorial calendar year-round, especially when you work at small- or mid-sized firm, where it can be a challenge to regularly achieve top-tier media placements for your firm and lawyers.
That's where owned media or evergreen content can come to your aid, or what I often refer to as my "what to say when you have nothing to say" content strategy.
Evergreen content is SEO-optimized content that doesn’t have an expiration date, or lose its relevancy and value over time. It is high-quality, helpful content that provides value whether it is read today, next week or a year from now. So why is it called “evergreen?” The evergreen tree is a symbol of everlasting life because this type of tree keeps its leaves throughout the seasons, rather than shedding them. Like the trees, evergreen content is considered sustainable and lasting.
Creating an evergreen content strategy is easier than you think because you already have all of the content and most of the tools that you need. It just requires a little creative thinking on how to effectively repurpose them. For example, content opportunities (and the visual assets that go along with them) such as lawyer bios, holidays, office openings, firm history, timeless client alerts, case studies on matters/practices, careers, professional development, pro bono and diversity, events, as well as information from transcripts can all be used to fill in content gaps in your editorial calendar.
This strategy requires you to think more visually than you ever have before, because not only do visual posts resonate more with your audiences, but images enable you to bring almost any piece of content to life – no matter how boring it is – through the use of photos, numbers, icons, illustrations and typography.
Leveraging evergreen content will reinforce your brand, differentiate your firm and can lead to new business and it will delight your lawyers (score!).
Here are some ways you can do it at your firm. And the best part? None of these require a big budget or tons of resources. So let’s get to work!
Think Beyond Written Content
Evergreen content can be even more powerful in forms other than written content. Consider a video, a podcast, an infographic or a word cloud. Think about unorthodox ways of delivering information to stand out, especially if you’re writing about topics that other lawyers have previously tackled.
Use What You’ve Got (Just Smarter)
In short, you can reuse and repurpose just about everything you have to your social media advantage. Every single image and piece of content you have can be repackaged multiple times because no one who follows your social media accounts follows them closely enough nor will they remember (or care) if you post similar content again.
Use an editorial calendar to track and manage posts...
Changing up the same piece of content is easy. For example, use a different image to accompany the post, pull out an interesting statistic, create a word cloud of related terms, use icons or big numbers to bring important points to life, use a snippet from a client alert as a quote instead of summarizing a client alert, and voilà, it’s a different piece of content!
Use an editorial calendar to track and manage the posts to create some space between them.
Read my article on 17 Low Cost (or Free!) Social Media MarTech Tools to Try For Your Law Firm Today for more ideas on how to use free and low-cost tools to differentiate your firm.
You don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel to have great evergreen content. Look at your existing content, blogs, and social media posts. Review which ones got the most clicks and engagement and think about turning those topics into new content. Reusing content that had previously been widely read can be the key to continued client engagement with your firm. You can also turn written content into an infographic.
Create a content campaign based on bios to shine a spotlight on key lawyers and their practices. Choose highlights from the bios as your teaser copy to draw in the reader versus copying the first few lines of his/her web bio (remember, every word counts in social media posts because of the short amount of characters you have).
We implemented this campaign at my current firm, and it has made a significant impact on lead generation efforts for a number of attorneys – especially when we can see actual evidence through our analytics. But the most powerful way to know how your content is performing is when you hear it directly from the source.
I recently almost fell off my chair when I saw not one, not two, but five clients had left glowing positive comments for our lawyers as a direct result of our bio series. I knew our clients were viewing our content in listen-only mode, but this was one of the first times that I saw direct unsolicited, positive engagement.
I also received feedback from several lawyers that as a result of their bios being featured on our social media channels and the resulting visibility that came from that, they experienced a spike in both the number of emails/calls/LinkedIn messages received from clients whom they haven’t been in regular touch, which eventually led to the opening of new matters for several of them (the jackpot of your social media efforts!)
I attribute a large part of the bio campaign success to the concept of using "light touchpoints” in your marketing efforts, or the idea of staying top of mind with your contacts so that they think of you the next time they have a matter that fits your background and experience. By the way, this bio series cost our firm zero dollars to implement. Yes, zero.
Your firm would be wise to identify superstar associates...
It's worth noting that we also feature young lawyers in the series, who I believe are incredibly important for lead generation for our firms. First off, they are often social media savvy. Second, they are the future of our industry, especially as clients continue to get younger. (Note: we have five generations in the workforce at present!). Their connections and law school classmates are poised to become the business leaders of tomorrow, so we encourage them to cultivate connections, build their brands and books of business now, and we are giving them the platform to do it.
Your firm would be wise to identify superstar associates and help them put the building blocks in place for business development and branding success.
‘Tis the Season...
Taking advantage of the many holidays that pop up throughout the year and weaving them into your content strategy is a great way to fill in the blanks in your editorial calendar and highlight your firm's softer side.
In honor of Women’s History Month, I spearheaded a content campaign at one firm where we featured the accomplishments of many of the women at the firm – both lawyers and administrative leaders – that was very successful due to the fact that the women who were profiled took an active role in sharing their profiles and the profiles of their colleagues on social – it was the closest thing to “going viral” that our small law firm had ever seen.
Another firm at which I worked had a large population of veterans, and we saluted them (using powerful pictures of them in uniform) on Veterans Day.
Highlighting major holidays is a no-brainer such as the ones I mentioned above as well as Fourth of July, Black History Month, Lunar New Year and Thanksgiving, but lesser known holidays can also make for great social posts, helping you showcase your uniqueness (did you know that there's a National Donut Day, a National Selfie Day and a National Potato Chip Day?).The photo opps are endless here as is the potential for employee engagement. So get creative.
Read my JD Supra article for more on how to incorporate holidays into your content strategy.
Celebrate Firm History
Many of you work at firms with vibrant, extensive histories and no shortage of retired lawyers who would be more than happy to speak to you. Your firms can benefit from the wisdom of these elders as the information that they can share with you can be of immense value for your content marketing efforts. I have seen several firms create successful social media campaigns using information from their firms' history.
For example, one firm did a "on this day in history" campaign and noted significant events in which it was instrumental in helping clients shape the law, using archived photographs as visuals.
Another firm used historical information to bring its 100th anniversary campaign to life to show how it had contributed to the growth of certain cities around the globe, while a younger firm incorporated information about its roots and significant past achievements for its 25th anniversary, underscoring that you do not need to be a firm from the 1800s to do this!
The founding of your firm is a milestone, and so is an office opening. Any firsts of their kinds are worthy of commemorating too. Significant achievements involving your founding or VIP partners are also high up on the list as something you can mark. And the list goes on. In fact, I could write an article about this very topic alone – so stay tuned!
Maximize Every Event and Networking Opportunity
Don’t make the mistake that so many people do and run back to the office after attending or speaking at a conference, or being semi-present and checking your emails instead of listening to the presentations. Instead immerse yourself in the content and differentiate yourself as a subject-matter expert by engaging on social media using the conference's hashtag and writing an article on its top takeaways.
When writing a conference takeaways piece, consider utilizing a “listicle” format, which are easy to skim and can effectively summarize the main points. Using numbers in the headline can draw in the reader and make it easier for them to digest the content. For example: “Five Great Ideas From (Insert Event)” or “Five Takeaways From (Insert Event)” or “10 Lessons I Learned From (Insert Event).”
One of the highest-read client alerts at one of my prior firms was a piece that a lawyer wrote on the top takeaways from a conference she attended. It was a terrific way for her to leverage the firm's sponsorship commitment and her time away from the office. Instead of just being one of the attendees, she made herself a relevant, key contributor during and after the conference with this piece. She personally sent the alert to key clients and prospects who she knew could not attend the conference, which led to renewed relationships, a few leads and a fresh byline, which is always nice as far as her bio and Google are concerned.
Evergreen Content: Bonus Round
The challenge of evergreen content is that many of the legal industry topics have already been covered, so your job is to find a way to add your own unique spin. Here are a few more ideas on how to cleverly find things to say (oftentimes from content you already have). It just takes a little creativity.
How-to’s/Helpful Resources: Many people have an issue and are seeking information to solve it. Make it easy for them and brand yourself as a subject matter expert in the process by creating timeless how-to pieces on key topics in your area of the law. Often, this content will be just as relevant five years from now as it is today, which translates into ongoing clickthroughs.
Conduct an Industry Poll: It’s time consuming and expensive to conduct a major study, but free and easy to conduct a quick poll on your social accounts. Then report on your findings in an article.
Glossary of Terms/Define Jargon: Create a glossary of definitions, acronyms or terms that are helpful to your clients and contacts in a language that speaks to them in key practices/industries and then publish it as a series over the course of a year. You could also explain common industry concepts that may be confusing for readers. This is great content for a blog.
Most Popular Posts: At the end of the year, share a list of your most popular blog posts and client alerts over the past 12 months, and you’ll reap the secondary benefits of traffic to your best-performing articles.
Multimedia Interviews: You might not have the budget to invest in high-quality video content, but you can use your smartphone to record a VIP at your firm answering FAQs on a hot topic and turn that content into multiple video segments or podcasts. If they are uncomfortable being on camera, utilize an inexpensive online transcription service such as Temi.com, which will take audio files from your phone and provide you with a Word document of the content, which you can then repurpose into different kinds of content – quote posts, articles, FAQs, and profiles for recruiting, diversity or pro bono. These types of interviews have a long shelf-life.
Publish an Excerpt: Give your audience a sampling of a client alert or a blog post by creating visual social posts with key points.
There are many firms out there that take a “one and done” approach to content and social media, meaning that they take the time to create great content but then only post it once. This is a huge missed opportunity! Avoid random acts of content like the plague. Your goal is to have consistent “light touches” with contacts so that they don’t forget you and to make those touches be with client-focused and value-added content.
Generating good evergreen content can be challenging, particularly if you’re writing about issues that other lawyers and law firms have touched on. The most important thing you want to do is add a unique viewpoint to the topic you are writing about, or go into more depth than other practitioners. So maximize your content and visual assets, and add evergreen content to your social strategy to stand out from the competition and fill in your content calendar.
It’s kind of ironic that I have so much to say about having nothing to say, but I hope that I’ve shown you just how much you can do with what you already have. It’s like shopping in your closet instead of going to the mall to buy something new to wear to an event. So challenge yourself to think about how you can get more bang for your buck and make your existing content and visuals work harder and smarter for you.
[Stefanie Marrone helps law firms effectively tell their stories and find their unique voices. Over the last 16 years, she has been working with some of the most prominent law firms in the world, developing and executing global revenue generating, business development, internal and external communications strategies, including media relations, branding, and multi-channel content marketing and social media campaigns. She has a diverse range of experience in both Big Law and mid-size/small-law firms. Learn more.]