This afternoon, I read an article on content marketing that really got me thinking. The most important part was this:
[I]f the primary goal of your content is better SEO, then you’re an SEO practitioner, not a content marketer. If the primary goal of your content is to have something to put in your email newsletter, then you’re an email marketer, not a content marketer. And if the primary goal of your content is to attract more social media traffic, then you’re a social media marketer, not a content marketer.”
Of course, content marketers should still care about SEO, email, and social. But if you’re a content marketer, your content goals come first and everything else follows. The clue is in the name.”
I know all of these terms may give you hives, because what you’re really thinking is, “but I’m a LAWYER.” While that’s true, in addition to being a lawyer, you’re also in the business of selling legal services – that’s just how it is. So that’s where all of these other things that may give you hives to think about come into play.
Then maybe a lot of website traffic sounds like a great idea, right? More people checking out your website means more people using your legal services? Not necessarily.
The article referenced above makes an important distinction when talking about sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy – “they have business models that rely on traffic, not sales.” You may think of “sales” as a dirty word, but it’s an important one, too.
So what does that mean in terms of content marketing?
[C]ontent marketers need to do far more than just persuade people to click. Traffic from social media only gets the reader to your content. After that, your content still has to be persuasive enough to achieve your broader marketing goals. The success of your strategy relies on the content being informative, memorable, and persuasive enough to convince the reader to do something else. Otherwise, what’s the point?”
This is the point at which lawyers should become more comfortable – as good content marketers, we don’t WANT to rely on sleazy, cheap curiosity-building techniques to drive people to your website or content. The idea is not to become like a used car salesman here. It’s to start with intelligent, valuable, substantive content, and then to use the tools that are available to use to distribute and promote that content so that the people who will find it most relevant are able to find it, and then also have access to you as its author.
Bearing that in mind, let’s look at two tips today for how you can promote your content using social media in an effective way. We’re going to start with one assumption – that you have great, substantive content to begin with. With that in mind, let’s look at two tips, inspired by the article referenced above, that you can use in promoting this content in social media.
Tip One: Be Catchy with your Titles and Descriptions, but Be Specific
This is a huge pet peeve of mine, so I’m addressing it first. I see two BIG problems in this area happening over and over again, and typically starting with the title of articles or blog posts that lawyers are authoring:
- The title is extremely catchy and short, but it’s so vague that anyone not familiar with the blog’s subject or firm’s expertise will have no idea what it’s about. Secondarily, it’s almost impossible to find the post weeks or months later if someone wants to refer back to it, because there are no keywords in the title that aid in locating it.
- The title is TOO descriptive and ends up being so long and includes so much legalese and keywords that it’s not easily shared – this turns people off to sharing it, and they’re unlikely to do the work of shortening the title themselves.
These are two opposite ends of the spectrum here, but they’re not exaggerations – I see both of these almost daily when wading through content. And it goes back again to the most important lesson of content marketing: Focus on your audience.
If you put yourself into the shoes of your target audience, ask yourself, what would they want to learn from the title of the post or article that will get them to click on it? Here are some examples of titles that work:
- Pro’s and Con’s of Performing Environmental Audits
- Baker’s Dozen: Quick and Easy Tips for Negotiating Commercial Leases in 2015
- What the Supreme Court’s Decision on the Same-Sex Marriage Ban Means to Contractors?
- 8 Questions For Doing Business in China
- IP 101: The Difference Between Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks
As you can see, each of these posts tells the person clicking on it exactly what they should expect to get from the blog itself. They’re clever, without being vague, and they’re also short enough that they’re easy to share even on Twitter. The Content Marketing Institute article points out that some people may worry that a headline that’s too specific will keep people from clicking to find out more. But…
Stuff the curiosity gap. Let me be very clear about this. If you really think you can give too much away in 140 characters (including link) to make the content itself redundant, then you probably need to rethink the depth and substance of your content.”
Your content is far more than a fluffy distraction. You don’t want to attract readers who are merely curious to find out what you’re about. You want to attract an audience with an interest in your chosen topic area that cannot be sated in 10 words or less. Otherwise, your content marketing strategy is targeting the wrong people with the wrong content.”
This should be a great relief to lawyers – that’s EXACTLY what you want. People who are interested in your topic area enough to come to your blog or article and want to learn more, share your words, engage with you there and on social media, and either refer you to those that need your services, or avail themselves of them directly.
So make sure that your titles, and also the way that you’re describing your content when you share your own content on social media, are both descriptive and relevant, without including too much “legalese” so that you’re properly supporting your content efforts.
Tip Two: Add Context to your Social Sharing
I will admit, this is something I’m guilty of – I take the title of my posts and share that along with my shortened link, and that’s it (however, that’s why I think having descriptive titles is essential!). But every time you share content, no matter which platform you’re using (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), it’s an opportunity to engage people in conversation with you.
And when you engage them in conversation, they’re going to feel a sense of loyalty that will make them not only interested in this content, but also future content, and will make them more likely to share your work with their connections, thus broadening your audience. So as the Content Marketing Institute suggests:
If space allows, add a little context. Avoid generic, cut-and-paste phrases such as ‘Here’s our latest post’ or ‘This week’s edition of the Brand X newsletter is out.’ These are wasted characters that could be used far more effectively. I write every update from scratch so it always feels spontaneous, fresh, and relevant.”
CMI mentions another pet peeve of mine in their tip there, and that is the use of generic phrases – this goes back to our Tip One, and wanting to avoid titles that are too vague. When you share content on social media and the context that you’re providing is too vague, you’re inviting people to ignore it.
We all see FAR too much noise each day to actively seek out useful information. We have to be smacked in the face with it. You may think that your latest employment newsletter is full of relevant and valuable information, and it may very well be. But if your audience is full of HR managers who are following a number of employment lawyers on twitter, and every one of them puts out an employment newsletter, what are they more likely to click on?
- Summer edition of our employment newsletter
- Subscribe to our newsletter and receive the latest employment law news
- Employment Law Newsletter time!
- A new amendment in #Alabama provides clarity for employers on restrictive covenants
- Employment Law Newsletter (July Edition) now available
These were all taken from actual tweets on Twitter. When you see them together in that way, it’s easy to see why it’s important to offer some descriptive context, from the point of view of your audience, that will encourage them to click on the link that you’ve also included to learn more. You’re providing value. And you’re making them want to share that value with others, which extends your reach further.
The article also advises using the right hashtags and images, and I heartily endorse those suggestions, so please refer to that to learn more. What other advice do you have for effectively promoting your content in social media?