I’m lucky to know some really cool and smart people out “there.” These really cool and smart people have individual thoughts and opinions, sometimes contrary to what the other really smart and cool people think, believe, and hold dear. I like hanging out and around people who get social marketing. They don’t all agree what that means, how to do it, and what the best practices are, but we have really great conversations. Some will say that social marketing is about the content. Others will say that it’s about the promotion. And others about the opportunity for engagement. I say that it’s a cycle: Content > Promotion > Engagement > Content > Promotion > Engagement. And not necessarily in that order. I got to spend some time with Kevin O’Keefe last week and we talked about using social tools for engagement. And how you identify and build relationships. Yesterday I got to spend time with Adrian Lurssen in my office and we discussed creating content. He wrote a blog piece, What Does Marketing Mean Anyway (Maybe the Opposite of What You First Think …), that was inspired by our meeting, which had great bullet point actions for lawyers to take:
- Look at your analytics. They’ll take the guesswork out of what interests your market. Technology can tell you exactly what interests these people.
- Once a month, look closely at which of your articles did well, and which did not. Look for patterns and trends. Try to figure out why (lots of shares? Means it struck a common chord. Pick-up by another blog or press outlet? etc.)
- Escalate the content that does well. Write another post on the topic. Turn it into a series, a webinar, a video, a stand-alone blog of its own. (All of these are options, depending on how big the reception, and how much you want to be known for this topic.)
- Look at the searches that drove people to your content. Why are you being found? These keywords are, among other things, a pretty clear expression of what interests your readers right now.
- Look at who is coming to your work – which companies? which subscribers? which networks? All of it valuable insight into the current interests swirling through your marketplace.
- Ask your clients what they want to know about. Think how pleased they’ll be to a) see you care, and b) read your thoughtful response.
- Read industry periodicals with an eye to how editors frame the issues.
- Rely on your own insights. You know your clients and what makes them tick. Don’t go looking for something else to write about; write what you know.
- Join active LinkedIn groups populated by professionals in the industries you serve. Listen to their conversations in those groups.
- Once a month, measure who socially shares your written work. What are they saying? If a share leads to conversation, be pleased with the compliments. Use the negative comments as fodder for your next writing assignment – you know what your audience cares about…
The cool thing is, I don’t have to agree with all or any of these bullet points, or any of his article, really (although I do). I just get to be inspired by his inspiration that was inspired by an engagement which was inspired by some content. And Adrian’s blog post inspired me to write this, which makes him a valuable asset in my arsenal of doing a good job. And Kevin reminds me again and again about engagement. What I have found, over these years, is that content, promotion and engagement are one activity. Rinsed and repeated over and over again. I cannot promote what’s in someone’s head (mine or anyone else), so I need that content (a blog post, an article, a tweet). My formula for successful content marketing and business development:
- Create content of value (determined through trial and error, measured by analytics).
- Promote content via social media tools (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube).
- Engage with other people out there (retweet, @, hyperlinks, LinkedIn connections).
- Build network of value (Twitter Lists, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, etc).
- Engage some more.
- Rinse and repeat.
Over time, and not a long amount of time, you will attract and meet people you didn’t otherwise know. Your social marketing will convert these strangers into people you do know. (I picked that up from a nifty slide Adrian had yesterday). And it is with these people that you now know, with whom you will develop relationships, where you will find new business opportunities (direct or referred). Increasing that pipeline, baby. It’s a symbiotic relationship: content + promotion + engagement. As are our personal relationships. Alone, none of them mean a thing, or can be successful. Together, they can be magical. Adrian was worried that my big leave behind from yesterday’s meeting was that Google Reader is being retired (don’t get me started again). But it wasn’t. The leave behind for me was this: To get a lawyer to open up his or her mind and to pour their thoughts out so that I can turn that intellectual capital into content, that can then be promoted, and eventually used to engage new people and build trusting relationships, that will lead to new business opportunities, they have to be inspired. And for the lawyers in my firm to be inspired, I have to be inspired. And I get inspired by really smart and cool people. Thank you Kevin and Adrian. You inspire me. You really do. (as do Gail, Gina, Laura, Tim, Laura, Lindsay, Rebecca and Nancy, and so many, many others). Viva Las Vegas!