Yesterday, the LMA Social Media SIG group was treated to a wonderful webinar, which focused on the 2014 State of Digital and Content Marketing Strategy survey done by Greentarget, Zeughauser Group, and ALM. The webinar featured John Corey (@jecorey), the president and founder of Greentarget, and Mary K. Young (@MaryKYoungZG), a partner at Zeughauser Group.
But more than just discussing the survey itself, Mary and John talked about how law firms can get noticed in a sea of content. We’re operating in an era of information overload, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon, so this is incredibly important.
They laid the foundation for their later discussions by taking a look at the 2014 survey. The survey focused on in-house counsel for the fourth year in a row, but also added in a law firm CMO/marketer element this year. They had 189 in-house respondents, which include GCs, Deputy GCs, etc, and 79 law firm CMO/marketer responses, from the top 350 firms.
For the GCs, they wanted to drill down to find out how they are using social media, and what content they find most valuable. For the CMOs, they asked more about how they are approaching content at their firms.
The results were interesting. Some of the key findings (taken directly from John and Mary’s presentation verbatim) are as follows:
- Earned media and traditional forms of content considered most valuable by in-house counsel.
- More clients on LinkedIn than any other social platform – and they are using it in multiple ways.
- Blog readership is plateauing; content must be relevant, timely and compelling.
- Firms plan to produce more content in 2014 than they did in 2013, yet the majority don’t have a content strategy or a dedicated person overseeing content.
We looked further at the individual questions of the survey (for the full results, click here) to break down the key findings above. All of those discussions led to the question that drove the remainder of the webinar:
In an era of information overload, how can firms approach their content strategically to elevate their brands and support business objectives?"
It sounds like a lot of extra work, but if we’re not approaching content development and delivery with a smart strategy in place, we’ll just fade into the noise of everyone else who is also putting out content.
So what is a content strategy?
John defined it as the following:
Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, delivery, and governance of relevant content that possesses a clear and measurable purpose toward:
- supporting a business objective, or
- fulfilling a user need
across channels, environments, programs and experiences."
And he advised us that this content strategy should be all about corporate journalism – we’ve talked a little bit about that before, but never defined it. John told us that:
Corporate journalism is a practice that combines an organization’s market intelligence and subject-matter expertise with the credibility and narrative techniques of professional journalism."
"Corporate journalism should incorporate elements of traditional journalism, including the critical notion that journalism serves its audience above all else."
"Corporate journalism allows organizations to ‘act like media companies’ by shaping and sharing the most compelling stories they have to tell."
These are all key points for law firms. Our content strategy should focus on delivering content that serves the audience above all else and focuses on sharing compelling stories at the intersection of market intelligence and subject-matter expertise. Why? Because that will get content noticed.
So that’s all well and good, but how can you use this idea of corporate journalism in practice? I’ll share a graphic that John showed us for just that:
Mary K. had noted earlier in the webinar that a good content strategy will really be all about content first, and the tools second. With that in mind, the above wheel suggests a number of content vehicles and formats – we all know the standard ideas, but Mary K. and John had some new suggestions for us:
- Research reports (studies, surveys, white papers)
- High-level op ed campaigns
- Practice and industry-focused editorial series
- Covering firm-branded events like traditional media
- Journalistic video segments/campaigns
- Creation of digital news sites and magazines
These are all excellent ideas for delivering content in a way that will certainly get noticed. As John said, quoting JD Supra’s Adrian Lurssen, everyone is in the "social content" business. But not everyone has something to say.
What’s our goal here? To become the subjects of other peoples’ conversations. That’s where the real magic happens.
Mary K. left us with some final tips to consider when developing our content strategy:
- Forget the "web page" – the web page is irrelevant.
- Structure content in chunks, not blobs.
- Separate content from form.
- Employ a mobile-first, responsive design approach (SO important with so many people accessing content almost entirely on their mobile devices!).
- Learn how to C.O.P.E. – Create Once and Publish Everywhere.
A couple of additional key points that were raised in the webinar include:
- LinkedIn is most highly rated by clients. Wikipedia is also high, but for researching topics, not law firms.
- 1/3 of clients are connecting on LinkedIn with outside counsel that they don’t currently work with. They’re doing this so they can contact and build relationships with them.
Thanks so much to John and Mary K. and to our moderator, Nancy Myrland, for an excellent and thought-provoking session, with so many good takeaways!