By now you’ve probably scanned at least a dozen or so ‘2015 social media prediction’ posts, and maybe you found a nugget or two that you can add to your strategy. Maybe you’re looking for more direction? How close are we? How far have we come? Here are my top picks for lawyers, law firms, and all professional services marketers that want to supercharge their online marketing in 2015.
Top Social Media Plays Every Professional Services Marketer Needs Now.
(1) Embrace Social Media.
This could be the year that firms wake up to the reality that social media is a tool for building relationships, not a one-way bullhorn. To establish meaningful connections, try humanizing your presence and stop speaking at your audience, rather speak with them.
And, although social media relationships only occasionally produce a direct line to a new client, I predict that having a decent network—one that knows, likes, and trusts you—will be an indispensable distribution platform in 2015, and increasingly so for the foreseeable future. So, there is no time like now to ramp up your efforts to grow your networks, meaningfully.
As I said back in 2008, social media is not going to go away. And, as more social media platforms learn how to monetize their offerings, there is more at stake for them to create value for users. If you or the professionals in your firm have not yet realized this, pull your (or their) head out of the sand, now. Join the party, because everything else about marketing in 2015 is tied into a strong social media platform, one way or another. READ ON…
(2) Purposeful Content Marketing.
Creating content for your organization is table stakes in 2015, but many firm marketing teams are still not structured for optimal content creation. How should the team be structured? What is the process for getting content created?
More importantly, is the second pillar of content marketing—distribution—being covered effectively? Does your content have a true marketing purpose? What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for each piece of content you create—what problem are you solving for your organization? What do you want to accomplish? These are just some of the questions you should be asking and answering in 2015.
Without question, social media has become, today, a very effective “amplifier” for expanding reach and visibility for your content. And to leverage that, each piece of content should have a purpose. Any KPI you choose for it; i.e., lead generation, building event or email lists, clicks/traffic to websites, feedback, analytics, and etcetera will work, as the tools to capture or track such activity have come a long way. And, that’s where marketers need to get creative in 2015.
Truly, the idea of creating content, posting it, and expecting a return on the investment is a mirage. It’s time to take control of your content and have something to show for it. Those precious hours spent by attorneys writing content deserve your best efforts. For example, do you devote enough energy to creating the right hook or teaser for status updates that actually drive people to your content. Is it clever enough to create a connection with your target audience and cause them to take an action, such as go and get your content and give you their email address, like/follow your page, blog, or profile, take a short survey, or follow through on a plethora of other options. If not, frankly, it’s time to shift your thinking.
News Flash!!!! It’s not always about the content your team creates, but it is always about the strategy and execution behind the packaging and distribution. That’s the red zone play that scores. Product marketers have known this for decades, but professional services marketers have been slow on the uptake.
(Look for a forthcoming post on more tips on how to get your content publishing and distribution organized—sign up to receive email alerts for new posts!)
(3) Better Blogging.
Can you guess why certain blogs are more popular than others? Well, it is rarely because one blog’s content is better than everyone else—typically, dozens if not hundreds of similar law blogs cover the same topics—rather, it is the size and quality of the blogger’s social media accounts that make a difference. Seriously, this is the year to kick laggards in the butt. Any lawyer-blogger that won’t take the initiative to develop their own social media presence in addition to writing the occasional blog post does not deserve the marketing department’s time and resources.
I am shocked when I see such disconnection, and it is the primary reason there are so many law blogs languishing, near death, taking up space on the Internet—no one reads them because no one that matters knows that they are there! Expecting SEO to drive qualified traffic to blog posts via search engines is so 2001. Wake up people! The traffic from search is random and generally unqualified—people who are unlikely to hire you, but rather are looking for something that’s not there (check your bounce stats) or to lift your content for a law school assignment. BUT, the traffic from your social networks—people who know you, at least sort of—is radically more valuable to developing qualified referrals and driving new business. A blogger without a social media platform is Luddite. ‘Nuf said.
(4) More Video.
Get those damn videos—that you paid thousands to produce—off your website and into the social stream. Not just on YouTube, but also Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Instaplay in-stream technology presents the best marketing opportunity via video content in 2015.
In 2014, Twitter introduced instaplay video only to its Amplify partners—broadcasters and publishers—there’s a good chance it will trickle down to all users in 2015. Get ready for it. And, don’t limit your video distribution to just your firm’s friends, fans, and followers. Encourage—no require—individuals in your organization, particularly lawyers, to share video clips on their personal Facebook status updates. Why? Because those are the people that matter.
According to comScore, in August of 2014 Facebook surpassed YouTube in the number of video views via desktop. Although YouTube still has more views across all devices (mobile, etc.), as of September 2014, Facebook attracted a billion video views per day, a roughly a 30-fold increase since July 2014. Okay, so I’m not sure your employment law update video will crash Facebook servers, but you get the idea. People like video.
Also, and perhaps more importantly, it is reported that Facebook videos receive significantly more shares than YouTube. This makes sense because sharing and engagement are at the heart of Facebook interactions. (HT to Heidi Cohen writing for the Social Media Examiner.)
While I’ve not in the past been a fan of law firm videos, as most are dry and boring, but if you have a topic, can tell a story, and keep it short and sweet, you’ll be okay. Seriously, the iPhone 6 has an amazing camera and the quality is just fine for online viewing. You can even get creative with filters and simple editing. Start shooting!
And remember, it’s not always about the content. Rather, success is in the packaging and distribution, and that’s where video can be a winner—few can resist watching moving images, as the statistics prove!
(5) Discover SlideShare.net.
I’ve always considered this ‘semi-social’ site as the sleeping giant for business professionals, and it tops my list when advising clients on content marketing strategy. 2015 may finally prove I am right! Today, Instagram is to Facebook as SlideShare is to LinkedIn—it is a key platform for professionals and businesses to create, distribute, and consume presentations. It hosts a (your) desirable target audience. Good presentations drive page views, leads, SEO juice, and packs decent exposure for evergreen content.
As an aside, I am truly amazed at the number of people who have viewed my own basic SlideShare presentation on the difference between Marketing and Business Development; 9,158 views and 190 downloads!
In 2014, SlideShare made it possible to connect seamlessly with the LinkedIn profile and they added video capabilities for LinkedIn Influencers. Now, in 2015, SlideShare will extend video to their entire audience.
A great SlideShare deck can help showcase your expertise, with one caveat. Slide decks are most valuable when they are customized for the SlideShare audience—there is no running explanation of each slide and too much text on a slide is hard to read. Therefore, I highly recommend that if you don’t have in-house content/design resources to repurpose live presentations for SlideShare, hire a knowledgeable professional to do it for you. Worth every penny.
SlideShare is free, but also offers a paid subscription that gives a user a very useful analytics package.
(6) Try Social Advertising.
Social media marketers in the law firm/professional services niche who might have avoided social advertising in 2014 will be forced to embrace it in 2015—the pundits say it, and I agree.
We already know that Facebook plans to reduce the number of organic promotional posts in the news feed starting in January 2015, and that Twitter is still considering a Facebook-like algorithm for their news feed. Meanwhile, Instagram is busy expanding their advertising platform, and since Facebook owns them, an algorithm that limits organic posts from businesses and brands could easily be added into the mix. (HT to Kristi Hines, Social Media Examiner.)
That being the case, there seems to me that there is no reason on earth NOT to dedicate some advertising resources to social in 2015. But if you need more encouragement, according to the Pew Research Center, 99% of educated (college degree +) and 97% higher income ($75K +) individuals are accessing the Internet via mobile devices, while Facebook remains the most used social media site across all Internet users—increasingly adding the over 40 crowd to its ranks—nearly half of users reporting that they access the site more than once daily. And, for the first time, the share of internet users with college educations using LinkedIn has reached 50%. Further, Pew reports that fully 52% of online adults use two or more social media sites, a significant increase from the 42% who did so in 2013.
As the social advertising choices continue to grow, there appears to be genuine opportunities for social advertising options that are totally acceptable for law practices, including sponsored posts on LinkedIn and promoted posts on Facebook. At the very least, social advertising is a viable distribution channel for long form content offerings. If you’re not familiar with Facebook advertising, I recommend you stop by Jon Loomer’s blog. He has everything you need to know about it.
So, that’s what’s hot on my list, at least for now. What’s on your agenda for 2015? Care to share in the comments? Or, connect with me on Facebook!