iStock_000016503756XSmallLast week, we talked about the importance of looking at your own metrics to tell you what content people are consuming, in order to further optimize what you’re producing.

But there’s more to metrics than your own content. While it’s immensely important to measure what you’re doing to ensure that it’s effective against the goals that you’ve set, there are two other areas that you want to look at in order to make your content truly effective.

Area One: Your Competitors

Last week, we looked at two areas that are important in reviewing your own content – social sharing and impact metrics. Using BuzzSumo and either a service like Impactana or a mixture of your content platform analytics and Google analytics, you can track and extract data and subsequent meaning from shares, likes, backlinks, views, downloads and more. 

In addition to performing this analysis for your own content though, you can also do this for your top competitors. Their content is as public as yours is, for obvious reasons, so make a list of the top five competitors and their various content channels and get to work at tracking their content.

Doing so will tell you what the most effective content is for them, and then you can use this to help refine your strategy. Are you already producing content for the same topics that are driving viewers to their sites? Or are there searches and articles and posts that you’re missing out on, that you have expertise in that you could also be capitalizing on?

Your own data is just one piece of the metrics puzzle – adding in data from your competitors is another.

Here, however, is where the cautions from Hines’ article start to become relevant. You need to take other data with a grain of salt, because you cannot be assured of its purity if it’s not coming from you. The likelihood in the legal industry that someone is buying likes or shares is low, because of the ethics rules, but it does still happen (and some social media consultants do still recommend it, unfortunately). So just be cognizant of the possibilities of what may be contained in the data that you’re looking at, and you should be able to get a reasonable picture of what clients want. Where this becomes more of a concern is in the next category of data…

Area Two: Your Industry

The final piece here is looking at data from your industry. This is actually what Hines was getting at in her original post – looking at metrics from within your industry to find out what people are really interested in consuming so that you can meet the needs that are out there, rather than trying to guess at what those needs are.

How is this different to looking at competitor data?

It’s a broader picture. Competitor data is looking at only what other law firms in your industry space are doing. When you’re looking at your industry, you’re broadening this to topics that are outside of just the legal sphere, and that’s important. Yes,  you are lawyers and law firms, and you should focus on legal topics in your content.

But there will often be times that there will be hot topics of discussion that you’ll see coming through, and you  may be the first to recognize that there’s a legal impact of the conversation that no one is yet addressing. That’s where you come in. You’re reading the trends, seeking out the legal piece of those trends, and addressing it, making yourself a valuable business partner for those clients and companies in the industry. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on more than just what other legal commentators are doing in a particular space, and to see what the larger industry as a whole is discussing.

To do this, again, you’re going to look at the same places that you did for the previous two categories, but instead of searching domains, you’ll be searching keywords, topics, and even authors (look at the top influencers in your industry – you should already know who these people are). Start with BuzzSumo to get an idea of who the top content producers and influencers are in your industry – this is where you’ll have to be especially cautious, because while, as we’ve discussed, it’s unlikely you’ll see much purchasing of likes and shares within legal, the same can’t be said for outside of the legal industry.

But once you feel you have a solid list, you can then look to the impact metrics for this group – look at their views, comments, downloads (where you can access this data) and that will help to give you a sense of what the hot topics in the industry are. Another great way to monitor trends is to set up Google alerts and keyword searches on Twitter, and keep a regular track of those to see what conversations are happening, so you can always be talking about the latest hot topics.

I’ll leave you with one final great tip from Hines’ post, which is a bonus that you can implement today:

If you need inspiration for your own content, you can find it by reading the comments on other pieces of content. The goal is to find questions in the comments that remain unanswered and answer them in a blog post.”

You can do this with your own blog posts, or with others that you’re following (I’ve also found it useful that when I have an especially long comment for someone else’s blog post, to turn it into a post of my own, referencing the initial post).

So look beyond your own content to that of your competitors and in your industry to see what topics you can be adding to your content marketing wheelhouse.

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Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles recruitment, member retention, and a high level of service to members. She is engaged in the legal industry to stay on top of trends, both in law firms and law firm networks.

In her role as Executive Director, she develops and facilitates relationships among ILN member firm lawyers at 90+ law firms in 67 countries, and seeks opportunities for member firms to build business and relationships, while ensuring member participation in Network events and initiatives. These initiatives include facilitating referrals, the management and execution of the marketing and business development strategy for the Network, which encompasses all communications, push-down efforts, and marketing partnerships, providing support and guidance to the chairs and group leaders for the ILN’s thirteen practice and industry specialty groups, the ILN’s women’s initiative, the ILN’s mentorship program, the management and execution of all ILN conferences, and more.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

During her previous tenure as Director of Global Relationship Management, the ILN has been shortlisted as a Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer for 2016 and 2017, and included as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network since 2011. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry, and was recently included in Clio’s list for “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was recently chosen for as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February of 2009.