Staying with our theme of content marketing, today, I want to look at what happens once you’ve produced your content. It’s not enough just to write, present or produce something smart and insightful – you’ve also got to promote it.
That may feel a little bit icky, but it’s important – it’s not about tooting your own horn; it’s about making your content available to those who may not be able to find it otherwise. And there are ways to do it without being pushy or obnoxious (which is very important).
Through my RSS reader, I found a great website that offers a number of posts related to content marketing. Recently, there was one focusing on this very idea – “The Three Step Plan to Increase Your Content Marketing Reach” from Samantha Ferguson.
Because it’s two for Tuesday, we’re just going to focus on the first two – but also because I think the third point might be pushing it a little bit for this audience. Let’s not reinvent the wheel just yet!
Before we get into the tips, I want to start with the why. Ferguson does an excellent job of explaining why promoting your content is so important:
Creating great content takes time. It also takes a considerable amount of investment, both financial and emotional. We all care about our content, and we’re all really proud when it’s finished. But we also all share that deflating feeling: after spending weeks on creating something that is visually stunning, and crammed with authoritative information, you post it, and then you wait. One view, maybe five. And then nothing.”
But, this only happens when we focus on simply creating content, and not on promoting it. When you’ve created your content, the work does not stop there. You have to work hard to make sure that the right people see it.”
Has that ever happened to you? It’s definitely happened to me. I’ll write something I think is brilliant and will drive lots of conversation and sharing, and nada.
Then I’ll write something else, and the right person will help me with promoting it, and all of a sudden, the views for the post skyrocket. You just never know. But there are a few things we can do to make sure that our content is regularly getting out there.
Tip One: Use Social Media
I know I talk about social media a lot, but that’s because it works. Where else do you have such an incredible reach to people you’d never otherwise encounter? I’ve met tons of influencers and amplifiers in my field (and outside) who I would never had had the opportunity to talk to were it not for Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or my blog, and that has helped to improve my content, as well as to help improve the promotion of it.
Ferguson talks about three rules to follow when using social media for content promotion, and I am a big fan of all of them, so let’s look at these rules and how they apply for the legal market:
Rule One: Treat them Differently
Here, she’s talking about the various tools. She focuses on Facebook and Twitter, but in the legal industry, the top tools are really going to be LinkedIn and Twitter. But the rule still applies. People use those tools differently – people’s attention span on LinkedIn is greater than their attention span on Twitter; it’s the nature of the tool.
Twitter is about speed – 140 characters drives quick, short conversations and bursts of ideas. The sheer volume of tweets on there means that you’re lucky if the people that you want to reach out to are seeing your messages at all, let alone clicking on any links you’re providing.
So Ferguson recommends that when using Twitter to promote your content, you send out multiple tweets in a day – she’s careful to point out that they shouldn’t be the same tweet though. You want to make sure that you’re changing the message a little (and you can even change the link so that you can track which messages/times get the most attention) so that if someone sees more than one of your tweets, they don’t lose interest because they think you repeat yourself.
When it comes to LinkedIn, you want to limit your posting to one a day at the most, and also make use of the groups. If you’re posting to your profile and to groups that you’re engaged in, make sure to change the message to be relevant to each individual audience – and again, you may also want to change the link so that you can track which groups are offering you the most exposure, so you know where to invest your time.
A word of caution with LinkedIn groups – to ensure that you’re not seen as a spammer, you want to adhere to the 80/20 rule here. If you are going to be sharing your own content in groups that you don’t moderate, also be engaging with others directly by commenting on posts, asking and answering questions and sharing others’s content at least 80% of the time. Be careful not to post the same content across multiple groups on the same day at the same time, or you may also be flagged by LinkedIn and left with very restricted privileges as well.
Rule Two: No Selling!
This one is pretty self-explanatory, and with legal ethics rules being what they are, I think there’s very little danger of lawyers engaging in this on social media. But it’s always a good one to remember!
Rule Three: Copy what Works
For this rule, Ferguson talks about what has worked for other brands, such as statistics showing that photos generate more interest in Facebook posts. While you don’t want to be doing exactly what other firms have done, it’s worth researching the tools to find out what has worked for brands in general and law firms in particular in sharing content:
- Do firms find that people click their twitter links more often when they also include an image with the tweet?
- Do firms find greater acceptance of event invitations when they add a Facebook invitation and promote using social media, than just a paper or email invitation?
- Do shorter, but still descriptive, titles for blog posts result in more clicks than lengthy, but informative, ones?
Some of this will depend on the industry and practice area, so it will be an individual process to identify what the right tips and tricks are for you and your firm.
Tip Two: Outreach
Ferguson defines this as:
basically the process of getting the industry leaders within your niche to post your content on their blog or website so that you will get more exposure, and more backlinks.”
This tip can seem very “icky,” I know, but it’s a very effective one if you go about it the right way. First, you need to identify the influencers and amplifiers in your industry. Ferguson says these are “the blogs that are receiving the most traffic within your industry,” but I’d go further than that to say it’s also the associations, conference organizers, top social media users, etc. – the big thinkers. If you’re using social media regularly, you’ll already know who those people are because you’ll have seen them everywhere.
Next, you have to start engaging with them.
- If they blog, subscribe to their blogs on your RSS reader and comment when you like something they’ve written, or even when you have an alternative viewpoint. Regularly share their posts and make sure to tag them in the share so that they know you’ve passed it along.
- Find their social media profiles and connect with them. Make sure that your profile is complete first so that they understand you’re in the same industry when they see your connection request. Respond to their questions or comments and look to start conversations with them.
Finally, start sharing content with them. But not just any content – it has to be related to them in some way.
You’ll noticed that as you’re reading their blog posts, things that they say will leave you wanting to write more than a blog comment will hold – and that’s where your own blog will come in. You can write an entire post around something, making sure to link back to them, and attribute the inspiration to that person. Then, reach out to them and let them know that you wrote something because of what they said.
They key, as Ferguson alludes to her in piece as well, is never to ask someone to share your content – that’s where it would be icky. It should happen naturally. If you’re highlighting someone in your work, it will likely drive them to:
- start a conversation with you;
- share your content with their audience;
- keep an eye on your future work, tweets, etc. to see what else you have to say.
Now you’re on the radar of the movers and shakers in your industry and they’re going to be sharing your content for you, and helping to get you into that “influencer/amplifier” level.
It’s important to note here that you may already BE an influencer/amplifier – a top expert in your field. But being known in the industry, and being known in the industry on social media and through content marketing are two very different things. Both require building a reputation – you may already have accomplished building your public reputation, and now it’s time to build your online one. The above will help with that, if you put your professional expertise down on paper and promote away.
We’ll be back next week with more content marketing!