By Gina Rubel
Professional service providers often ask about the importance of social media engagement and how it can benefit their business development efforts. This post covers why content marketing is important for business development, as well as, the strategy and implementation behind it.
When we talk about content marketing, we cannot skip the strategy.
- What do you want to accomplish? Are you looking for new leads? Are you looking to become an expert in an area or industry?
- What are your business goals that can be supported through content marketing?
- Who is your target audience?
- Where is your target audience engaged on social media?
- What does your target audience need to know about your expertise? What problems do you solve or help them to avoid?
Answer the questions before you engage in a content marketing and social media campaign.
Why content marketing is important for professional service providers.
Content marketing involves the creation of strategic, audience-focused materials that can be shared online. Strategic content marketing supports a company’s digital marketing strategy including website optimization, mobile marketing, SEO, and social media engagement.
The key to content marketing is to share useful, timely and relevant created and curated content. You want users to view your content and say, “That’s important information and worth saving or sharing with my network.”
Leverage content within an integrated communications strategy to:
- Unify brand communications.
- Leverage content to support your business objective.
- Measure and evaluate data to refine your content strategy.
- Support and communicate your firm’s key messages.
- Speak directly to the needs of your target audience.
20 Benefits of Content Marketing
There are many benefits of content marketing for professional service providers. They include:
- Awareness and credibility
- Business development
- Client retention
- Contact relationship management
- Cross-selling practices
- Establish trust
- Internal communications
- Issue advocacy
- Message management
- Referral relations
- Reputation management
- Search engine optimization
- Thought leadership
Increasingly people are going to websites not only for thought leadership, but to validate who you are and what you do as thought leaders. When content is relevant and timely, and it answers the questions that a client or prospective client may have, your services and expertise are validated.
Types of Created, or Original Content
There is nothing new about the concept of “created” or original content. These are things professionals have been using as part of your marketing and public relations efforts for years. This list simply organizes these tools in one place. They include:
- Articles: Write articles on topics for which you are an expert and be sure to interview others for commentary.
- Awards/rankings: Apply for articles and rankings and when you are honored, share the news. Better yet, nominate others and when they are honored, share their good news.
- Blogs: Write blogs for your company’s website or stand-alone blogs. If you do not have an internal platform, seek blog outlets on which you can submit for publication. Be sure those outlets are being read by your target audience.
- Case studies/outcomes: Nothing speaks as loudly to a prospective client than a case study that demonstrates how you solved another’s problems or helped them to avoid issues. If the prospect has the same type of matter, you have just validated why they should hire you.
- CLEs/seminars/presentations: Every presentation requires time and energy. Take the time to use the content from your programs for additional content. Where do you think this post came from?
- Community engagement: Professionals spend an inordinate amount of time engaging in the community. If you are not already involved with a nonprofit, at your religious institution, or on a board, get involved. Then talk about the organization’s good works. Be careful: this is not about patting yourself on the back. It is about giving time and attention to your community and the things you care about.
- Events/conferences/networking events: While 2020 has not been the year of the conference, there are many programs being rescheduled virtually. Be sure to connect via social media with the people you meet virtually. Share recaps of the programs that you find useful, and if the conference has a hashtag, engage during the event on social media.
- Industry trends/data: Set up a Google alert to stay on top of your industry’s trends and subscribe to your industry’s trade publications. They are chock full of great data that you can share with your audience, analyze, and discuss.
- Media appearances/news coverage: If you get the opportunity to speak with the media on any topic of expertise, do not just wait for people to see the coverage. Share it on social media and on your company’s website.
- Podcasts/webinars: In 2020, Furia Rubel launched the podcast, On Record PR. While we are interviewing people with expertise in leadership, legal marketing, legaltech and the media, we also are demonstrating our knowledge on the matters just by conducting smart interviews. In addition, we are often asked to be guests on others’ podcasts. This is a great way to share your expertise and have others promote the episodes. Once they do, then you should share them too.
- Press releases: While most professionals believe all “press releases” must go to the media, not all are media worthy. Oftentimes, a press release is just great, original content that can live on your website and be shared on social media. And do not just share news about you, share press releases about others in your business, clients, referral sources, and vendors. Congratulate others whenever you can, and while sharing others’ news is not “created content,” it is certainly smart networking.
- White papers: A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that educates readers about a complex issue or study result and presents a position on the issue or study. A white paper takes time, strategy and attention to detail, and is a great form of created content.
In addition, created content does not have to be created from scratch. For example, if you are giving a presentation or continuing education program, record and get the transcript. This allows you to create a blog or an article from your thought leadership without having to start from scratch. One tool we use to do this is Temi.com. We use the app to record presentations on our phone, upload them to Temi.com and then purchase the transcript for editing.
Tips for writing valuable and engaging blog content.
Once you determine a topic that your readers would care about, draft the blog, writing to your audience. Answer questions they repeatedly have. Tell a memorable story. Use active voice and action words. Include impactful data whenever possible. And write as if it is front page news.
- Write about a single topic.
- Determine if you plan to be general or specific.
- Give opinions only when it is in your company’s best interest.
- State exactly what you would want quoted if your blog is read by the media – repeat your key points.
- For best search engine optimization (SEO), shoot for more than 1,800 words. Long-form content has become more credible according to Google algorithms and will support your firm’s SEO efforts.
- For quick sharing, 800 to 1,500 words will do.
- Use bullets and lists as often as possible and separate them with titles and subheadings that include keywords.
- Link to other sources outside of your company.
- Quote others (clients, prospects, former clients, experts, referrals sources, the media, etc.)
In addition, craft sticky blog headlines. Your blog title should address why the reader should care. Don’t get bogged down when you’re writing. Draft the headline last and always include keywords.
10 places to find curated content to share
Curated content are not things that you write or create yourself, they are from trusted sources. It is your job to share curated content with your audience on social media (or perhaps via email to targeted individuals). This allows you to remain top-of-mind when opportunities arise. Places to find content that you can share with your contacts include:
- Business journals and news outlets
- Client news
- Community events and sponsorships
- Corporate and employee news
- Educational programs
- Google Alerts
- Government agencies
- Industry reports/trends
- Nonprofit partners
- Trade publications
One mistake many professionals make is that they feel like they must analyze everything. You do not necessarily need to write a long blog, you can write one or two sentences and share the curated information immediately, and still be top of mind. An example that we shared recently was when the American Banking Association asked people to put coins back into circulation because of the pandemic. There is currently a coin shortage across the nation. We simply shared their post. It shows that we know what is happening in the financial industries, that we are staying on top of the latest news by reading industry trades, and that we care about the industry.
Tips for quickly finding and creating useful content
Finding subject matter to write about does not have to be a daunting task. For example, since blog posts usually address a single topic in a short and concise manner, it should be easy to come up with topics to write about that serve your target audience with information about your areas of practice to establish you as an authority.
Here are some ways to come up with topics:
- Keep a notepad next to the phone or keep notes on a mobile device. Every time a colleague, client or prospect asks a substantive question, write it down. The answers to those questions are almost always worthy of blog topics.
- Review formal documents on the type of matters you handle. If you have drafted a recommendation for a client, there may be content that can be edited and turned into blogs. For example, an accounting firm may be asked, “What documentation does my company need to keep in order to have our PPP loan forgiven.” Your answer can be turned into a blog titled, “Documentation needed to have your company’s PPP loan forgiven.” For law firms, this same type of information can be found in memos of law and trial briefs. Just be sure to edit out anything fact specific or client related.
- Write about experiences in generic terms. Perhaps you have learned how to negotiate a new type of deal or handle a dispute virtually. Share what you have learned if it’s of benefit to your target audience.
- As listed above, set up free Google Alerts on specific topics in your area of expertise and review them daily. If something is breaking in the news, you will be on top of it.
- Subscribe to or regularly review syndicated news feeds to stay on top of the issues being discussed throughout the country. For law firms, this means keeping abreast of what is being published on Lexology, Mondaq, JD Supra, National Law Review, and others.
Resources for content marketing and social media engagement.
At Furia Rubel, we have published many articles, blogs, podcasts, webinars and other forms of content on this subject.
Posting Content on Your Company’s Social Media: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/posting-content-on-your-companys-social-media/
Law Firm Content Marketing: Creating Trust & Awareness: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/law-firm-content-marketing/
15 Tips for Adjusting Your Social Media Strategy During COVID-19: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/15-tips-for-adjusting-your-social-media-strategy-during-covid-19/
Why Podcasts Are Important to a Law Firm’s Social and Digital Media Mix: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/why-podcasts-are-important-to-a-law-firms-social-and-digital-media-mix/
Promote Your Next Speaking Engagement For High Visibility and Engagement: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/promote-your-next-speaking-engagement-for-high-visibility-and-engagement/
How to Create and Implement Videos into Your Marketing Strategy: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/how-to-create-and-implement-videos-into-your-marketing-strategy/
Podcasts Take Professional Marketing by Storm: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/podcasts-take-professional-marketing-by-storm/
Tips for Writing Effective Attorney Bios: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/tips-for-writing-effective-attorney-bios/
10 Podcasting Tips for Law Firms: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/10-podcasting-tips-law-firms/
Why You Need a Content Editorial Calendar: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/need-content-editorial-calendar/
Public Relations for Lawyers: Social Media Engagement: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/public-relations-for-lawyers-social-media-engagement/
Does Your Law Firm Have a Social Media Policy? What Lawyers Need to Know: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/video/law-firm-social-media-policy/
Connecting the Dots Between Business Development and Social Media for Law Firms: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/business-development-and-social-media-for-law-firms-nylj/
Social Media for Professional Services Firms: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/video/social-media-business/
Debunking Law Firm Social Media Myths: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/video/debunking-law-firm-social-media-myth/
How to Capitalize on Repurposed Content: https://www.furiarubel.com/news-resources/how-to-capitalize-on-repurposed-content/