The ultimate goal of content marketing is to drive readers to take action, preferably in the form of hiring you. So it should go without saying that it’s not how often you post content to social that makes a true impact, but rather what you say and how you say it. But it’s not always easy to generate a steady stream of strong content to fill your editorial calendar year-round. That’s where owned media or “evergreen content” can save the day. I often call this my “what to say when you have nothing to say” strategy. By incorporating evergreen posts, your end result will be a much more sophisticated content strategy with higher engagement.
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to drive readers to take action, preferably in the form of contacting and retaining you and your firm. So it should go without saying that it’s not how often you post content to social media that makes a true impact, but rather what you say and how you say it. The quality not the quantity of your posts should always be your primary focus.
But it’s not always easy to generate a steady stream of strong content to fill your editorial calendar year-round, especially when you work at small- or mid-sized firm, where it can be a challenge to regularly achieve top-tier media placements.
That’s where owned media or “evergreen content” can save the day. I often call this my “what to say when you have nothing to say” content strategy, because it really is just that. Don’t mistake this for spam or posts about nothing – because they aren’t as you will see – in fact, by incorporating evergreen posts into social media, your end result will be a much more sophisticated content marketing strategy with higher engagement. Here’s how to do it.
Evergreen content is SEO-optimized content that does not have an expiration date, or lose its relevancy and value over time. It is high-quality, helpful content that provides value whether it is read today, next week or a year from now.
So why is it called “evergreen?” The evergreen tree keeps its leaves throughout the seasons, rather than shedding them. Like the trees, evergreen content is considered sustainable and lasting.
Creating an evergreen content strategy is easier than you think because you already have all of the content and most of the tools that you need. It just requires a little creative thinking on how to effectively repurpose them. For example, content opportunities (and the visual assets that go along with them) such as lawyer bios, holidays, office openings, firm history, timeless client alerts, case studies on matters/practices, careers, professional development, pro bono and diversity, events, as well as information from transcripts can all be used to fill in content gaps in your editorial calendar.
This strategy requires you to think more visually than you ever have before, because not only do visual posts resonate more with your audiences, but because images enable you to bring almost any piece of content to life – no matter how boring it is – through the use of photos, numbers, icons, illustrations and typography.
Here are some ways you can do it at your firm. And the best part? None of these require a big budget or tons of resources!
Use What You’ve Got (Just Smarter)
In short, you can reuse and repurpose just about everything you have to your social media advantage. Every single image and piece of content can be repackaged multiple times because no one who follows your social media accounts follows them closely enough nor will they remember (or care) if you post similar content again. Use an editorial calendar to track and manage the posts to make sure that your posts are spaced apart and are varied enough.
Changing up the same piece of content is easy. For example, use headshots, logos, a different image to accompany the post, pull out an interesting statistic, use an icon to highlight a point, create a word cloud of related terms, draw attention to big numbers to bring important points to life, use a snippet from a client alert as a quote instead of summarizing it, and voilà, it’s a different piece of content!
Read my article on 17 Low Cost (or Free!) Social Media MarTech Tools to Try For Your Law Firm Today for more ideas on how to use free and low-cost tools to differentiate your firm.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to create great evergreen content. Look at your existing content, blogs, and social media posts. Review which of those received the most clicks and engagement and think about turning those topics into new content. Reusing content that had previously been widely read can be the key to continued client engagement with your firm. You can also turn written content into an infographic.
Think Beyond Written Content
Evergreen content can be very powerful in forms other than written content. Consider a video, a podcast, an infographic or a word cloud. Think about unorthodox ways of delivering information to your target audiences in order to stand out, especially if you’re writing about topics that others have previously tackled.
I am a firm believer that you should post nothing to social without an image. Why? Because content with images will get noticed more. Statistics will back me up on this. Anyone can incorporate visuals into their social media strategy regardless of their budget, you just need to be creative and resourceful. You can easily reuse and repurpose images that you already have – we’ll talk about lawyer bios in a minute, but practice area photos can easily be reused to accompany posts as can just about any image that you already have in your photo archives. Also, ask your employees to take photos at every firm event – from community service, to alumni gatherings to new associate receptions – capture each of these to give your audiences a flavor of your firm, especially as visual social media platforms gain traction in the market. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer to do this – iPhones actually take great quality photos. Apps such as Picstitch enable you to create photo collages that are resized for social media.
Consider creating a social media campaign based on bios to shine a spotlight on key lawyers and their practices. Choose highlights from the bios as your teaser copy to draw in the reader versus copying the first few lines of his/her web bio (remember, every word counts in social media posts because of the short amount of characters you have).
We implemented this campaign at my current firm, and it has made a significant impact on lead generation efforts for a number of attorneys. We know the campaign is working through our analytics, but much more powerful than that, we have heard it directly from our clients.
I recently almost fell off my chair when I saw not one, not two, but five clients had left glowing positive comments on our social media accounts for our lawyers as a direct result of our bio series. I knew our clients were viewing our content in listen-only mode, but this was one of the first times that I saw direct unsolicited, positive engagement.
I also received feedback from several lawyers that as a result of their bios being featured on our social media channels and the resulting visibility that came from that, they experienced a spike in both the number of emails/calls/LinkedIn messages received from clients/formaer clients/contacts whom they haven’t been in regular touch, which eventually led to the opening of new matters/referrals for several of them (the jackpot of your social media efforts!)
I attribute a large part of the bio campaign success to the concept of using “light touchpoints” in our marketing efforts, or the idea of staying top of mind with your contacts so that they think of you the next time they have a matter that fits your background and experience. By the way, this bio series cost our firm zero dollars to implement. Yes, zero. We keep a library of all of our bio photos resized for social media – it’s a great task for a summer intern to do when they have downtime.
It’s worth noting that we also feature young lawyers in the series, who I believe are incredibly important for lead generation for our firms. First off, they are often social media savvy. Second, they are the future of our industry, especially as clients continue to get younger. (Note: we have five generations in the workforce at present!). Their connections and law school classmates are poised to become the business leaders of tomorrow, so we encourage them to cultivate connections, build their brands and books of business now, and we are giving them the platform to do it.
Firms would be wise to identify superstar associates and help them put the building blocks in place for business development and branding success.
‘Tis the Season!
Taking advantage of the many holidays that pop up throughout the year and weaving them into your content strategy is a great way to fill in the blanks in your editorial calendar and highlight your firm’s softer side.
In honor of Women’s History Month, my current firm created a content campaign featuring the accomplishments of both lawyers and administrative leaders at the firm that was very successful due to the fact that the women who were profiled took an active role in sharing their profiles and the profiles of their colleagues on social – it was the closest thing to “going viral” that our small law firm had ever seen.
Another firm at which I worked had a large population of veterans, and we saluted them (using powerful pictures of them in uniform) on Veterans Day. We had terrific engagement from clients on this campaign – I believe it was because it showed a different side to the firm and highlighted the service of our employees to our country. Anytime you can show your firm and its people doing good things for the community (pro bono, volunteer activities or community service), you should – here’s why: clients want to know that your firm is a good corporate citizen. It makes them feel better about writing those big checks each month. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.
Highlighting major holidays is a no-brainer such as the ones I mentioned above as well as Fourth of July, Black History Month, Lunar New Year and Thanksgiving, but lesser known holidays can also make for clever social posts, helping you showcase your uniqueness (did you know that there’s a National Donut Day, a National Selfie Day and a National Potato Chip Day?).The photo opps are endless here as is the potential for employee engagement. So get creative. (Note – as Instagram continues to gain in reach, these types of photo-driven campaigns will become more powerful ways of engaging with recruits and even potential buyers of legal services.)
Read my JD Supra article for more on how to incorporate holidays into your content strategy.
Celebrate Firm History
Many of you work at firms with vibrant, extensive histories and no shortage of retired lawyers who would be more than happy to speak to you (use the inexpensive online transcription service Temi and record away right from your iPhone!). Your firms can benefit from the wisdom of these elders as the information that they can share with you can be of immense value for your content marketing efforts. I have seen several firms create successful social media campaigns using information from their firms’ history.
For example, one firm did a “on this day in history” campaign and noted significant events in which it was instrumental in helping clients shape the law, using archived photographs as visuals.
Another firm used historical information to bring its 100th anniversary campaign to life to show how it had contributed to the growth of certain cities around the globe, while a younger firm incorporated information about its roots and significant past achievements for its 25th anniversary, underscoring that you do not need to be a firm from the 1800s to do this!
The founding of your firm is a milestone, and so is an office opening. Any firsts of their kinds are worthy of commemorating too. The birthdays of firm founders or company VIP, as you can see from this IBM example can even be turned into an interesting social media post. Significant achievements involving your founding or VIP partners are also high up on the list as something you can mark. And the list goes on. In fact, I could write an article about this very topic alone – so stay tuned!
Maximize Every Event and Networking Opportunity
Don’t make the mistake that so many people do and run back to the office after attending or speaking at a conference, or being semi-present and checking your emails instead of listening to the presentations. Instead immerse yourself in the content and differentiate yourself as a subject-matter expert by engaging on social media using the conference’s hashtag and writing an article on its top takeaways.
When writing a conference takeaways piece, consider utilizing a “listicle” format, which are easy to skim and can effectively summarize the main points. Using numbers in the headline can draw in the reader and make it easier for them to digest the content. For example: “Five Great Ideas From (Insert Event)” or “Five Takeaways From (Insert Event)” or “10 Lessons I Learned From (Insert Event).”
One of the highest-read client alerts at one of my prior firms was a piece that a lawyer wrote on the top takeaways from a conference she attended. It was a terrific way for her to leverage the firm’s sponsorship commitment and her time away from the office. Instead of just being one of the attendees, she made herself a relevant, key contributor during and after the conference with this piece. She personally sent the alert to key clients and prospects who she knew could not attend the conference, which led to renewed relationships, a few leads and a fresh byline, which is always nice as far as her bio and Google are concerned.
There are many firms that take a “one and done” approach to content and social media, meaning that they take the time to create great content but then only post it once. This is a huge missed opportunity!
Avoid random acts of content like the plague.
Your goal is to have consistent “light touches” with contacts so that they don’t forget you and to make those touches as effective as possible with client-focused and value-added content.
Generating smart evergreen content can be challenging, particularly if you’re writing about issues that other lawyers and law firms have touched upon already. The most important thing you want to do is add a unique viewpoint to the topic you are writing about, or go into more depth than other practitioners. So maximize your content and visual assets, and add evergreen content to your social strategy to stand out from the competition and fill in your content calendar.
It’s kind of ironic that I have so much to say about having nothing to say, but I hope that I’ve shown you just how much you can do with what you already have. It’s like shopping in your closet instead of going to the mall to buy something new to wear. So challenge yourself to think about how you can get more bang for your buck and make your existing content and visuals work harder and smarter for you.