While you don’t need to break the news to be a successful content marketer in the legal industry (and in many cases, it’s really better if you don’t), it doesn’t mean that you have to stay away from writing about or producing content for the latest trends. You may think that because someone else has already weighed in on something, that you shouldn’t add to the commentary out there – but you may have something valuable to say, or a different perspective to add.
What we refer to as “evergreen content,” or “SEO content that is continually relevant and stays ‘fresh’ for readers.” (thanks, WordStream) is extremely valuable for lawyers and law firms. It’s content that is always relevant to your audience, and will live on well after you’ve produced it, thus doing the work of marketing for you without you having to actively do anything at all. But it’s only part of the story – the other part is covering the latest trends (both those in law, and those outside of the law, from a legal perspective) to give those in the industry a reason to keep coming back to your content. As Ann Smarty says in this piece for the Content Marketing Institute:
Covering relevant timely and newsworthy content is a great way to grow your site audience and take advantage of trends that get people more interested and thus more engaged.”
It’s likely that you already have a number of different sources set up for how you identify the latest trends in your area of practice – whether you’re an active content producer or not, you’re staying up-to-date on the latest legislation, case decisions, and industry discussions that may or may not affect your clients. But as the world expands and evolves, so do the means with which we keep up with the latest trends – and for those of us interested in translating these into content that we can use proactively, there are various tools out there that we can leverage.
Today, we’ll look at two of these tools, and how they can help you better manage your examination of the top news and conversations taking place in your industry, so that you might use them in your own content marketing.
Tool One: Twitter
Twitter is an obvious one – even if you’re not comfortable with getting out there and tweeting, it’s difficult to argue that Twitter is an excellent research tool. Using a platform such as TweetDeck, you can set up multiple columns for your Twitter account, which allow you to monitor lists that you’ve set up (think private lists of clients, potential clients, and competitors, or public lists of thought leaders and media), industry hashtags and keywords, and other search terms. Once you have set those up, Twitter is monitoring itself FOR you – it’s bringing you the results for all of those people, phrases and searches automatically, and in real time, without you having to continuously look for them.
But you can get creative with your use of Twitter too:
Both Twitter and Facebook have their own trending topics section. For Twitter, it could be a hashtag, a keyword, a recent event, or a specific post on its site. Twitter Trends are personalized and localized for you.”
Rather than limiting yourself to the keywords and hashtag searches that you’ve set up, you’re reviewing broader trends that people are already expressing an interest in – you can let Twitter tailor these trends to you, or you can choose trends for a different location, which could be very helpful if you’re trying to expand your practice into a different geographic location. Not all of the trends will be useful to you when it comes to addressing a legal topic, of course – I doubt that #KissAGingerDay is something that would warrant a blog post from someone in the legal industry, although you could potentially parlay that into how mishaps with that hashtag (someone using it at work, using it for the corporate account) may affect their employment status, and so on.
But trending topics like #SCOTUS are more helpful – of course, it’s not a surprise to those in the industry that it’s a trending hashtag, but what IS helpful is the nomenclature of the hashtag itself. When you write or share something related to either unions or the death penalty (sharing almost equally popular billing today), you’ll know to use #SCOTUS in your tweet to capitalize on its popularity and add to the conversation.
When it comes to the content production part of this, there are two pieces – you can either use Twitter to find these trending topics, in your own industry or just those that are generally popular, and then share them on Twitter and other social platforms. Those social shares actually count as content, particularly if you delete the title and add your own commentary to the shared link instead. You’re acting as a curator of relevant content to your audience, and doing so in a way that doesn’t require a great investment of time or energy.
The second piece is taking these trends and writing about them or recording video commentary of some kind (or even producing another kind of visual). It’s similar to exactly what I’m doing in this blog post, except that I didn’t source my inspiration from Twitter – I took the “6 Tools to Help Turn Trends Into Valuable Content” piece written by Ann Smarty, referenced it as the blog post that is driving my thinking behind this content, and then added my own original thought and commentary to create my own post. I’ll then share this piece widely through my social distribution channels. And if Smarty is someone I’m interested in meeting (Pro tip: always look to source your blog material from people you’d like to meet), I can send her an email, tweet, or LinkedIn request and let her know that I enjoyed her piece so much that I expanded on it with my own. That starts the building of a relationship.
Tool Two: DrumUp
DrumUp is a way to supersize what you’re doing in the first part of this post with Twitter:
DrumUp crawls Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, finds the most shared content based on your keyword settings, and creates a handy feed for you to read and post to your social media streams for higher engagement. Optionally, DrumUp sends a daily email with trending content for you to quickly see if there’s anything worthy of coverage on your site.Overall, I find this tool valuable for monitoring trending content around my topics of expertise. It’s also a great productivity tool too, thanks to its free digest feature.”
Although I haven’t used this tool myself (yet), this sounds like it might be just perfect for the busy lawyer. Typically, I recommend that lawyers set their browsers to open all of their social platforms when they launch – I do that so that I don’t have to try to remember to open Facebook, LinkedIn, TweetDeck, Google+, etc. and review them every day. For engagement purposes, it is still necessary, but if you are interested in using them just as research and content curation tools, DrumUp may be the tool for you.
You’re setting the keywords, so you’re telling it what your areas of expertise are, and then it will come back to you with a digest of trending content for Twitter, Facebook AND LinkedIn – that’s one tool to replace your review of three platforms. I’d have to do some more research into it to be sure of its effectiveness, but it sounds like it’s worth experimenting with. DrumUp also lists some other benefits:
- A smart workflow makes it a breeze for you to quickly review and publish posts to your social media followers.
- Add multiple accounts to your dashboard and tweak their settings to your liking. Monitor all of them in a single place to stay on top of your social media presence.
- Link your blog feed to your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts. Schedule and queue custom posts for the next few days.
I’ll be playing around with this tool myself for the next few weeks to see if it seems to drive efficiency (as it says it does), but if it delivers on what it promises, this would be a great tool for those of us in the legal industry looking to focus less on finding topics and more on delivering good commentary. It appears that it starts with a 14-day free trial, and then requires you to sign up for a paid account in order to get full use of their features.
A cursory glance seems to show that it works a little bit like the new Klout does (without the scoring) – the main difference here being that you are setting the keywords, whereas in Klout, it’s based on what your “expertise” has been assigned to be. Similarly, you are then given a list of potentially relevant articles to review and share with your social networks. DrumUp allows you to share these with pages and groups you manage within Facebook and LinkedIn (another option that’s not possible within Klout and may be useful). Alternatively, you can also use these as inspiration for creating additional content, as we described above. DrumUp allows you to filter out certain words that you may not want the stories to contain, but it doesn’t seem to offer you data on when your best times to share and post may be, or what kinds of engagement you may get as a result, so there is still some room for improvement there. But as an inspiration-generator, it may still prove to be a useful tool!
What other tools have you come across that help drive your creativity in creating content?