There are two somewhat related media consumption patterns happening right now that most law firms haven’t given much thought to yet – mobility and distraction. You can use these developments to your advantage by building modular content that can be sliced and diced in a variety of ways to help you get more mileage out of your lawyers’ substantive writing and create a more unique online presence for your firm. Let me explain. . .
The first pattern is the ongoing shift to consuming content on mobile devices – by which I mean phones and tablets (and by all that is holy, please not watches. I had a Casio calculator watch in 1981. I don’t need to go there again). While some might be inclined to gloss over the shift to mobile as not applying to the serious business of law, that would be a mistake.
The reality is that you are using your phone or iPad to read legal information more than ever. So are your clients. As Darth Vader put it to Luke in the Empire Strikes Back, “Search your feelings. You know it to be true.” On the law firm sites my own agency manages (i.e. for which I have first-hand access to Google Analytics data) we typically see mobile usage in the 24-40% range and those numbers are steadily increasing. That range is also exactly in line with figures cited by Lexblog’s Kevin O’Keefe in a recent blog post pointing to the importance of mobile and social for legal digital media. Google has also announced that they will be adjusting their search-ranking algorithm in April 2015 to improve rankings for mobile-optimized websites. Ignoring mobile strategies for your legal marketing is increasingly going to put you at a disadvantage.
The second trend is our audience’s ever-decreasing attention span in an era of information overload. To use another movie reference, when it comes to producing content for clients (seminars, papers, case commentaries, etc.) lawyers have always been partial to the Director’s Cut Box Set (replete with 18 never-before-seen hours of cut scenes, alternate endings, interviews with the costume designer and lighting crew, and much more!). Meanwhile, clients have increasingly taken to skimming trailers, glancing at the legal version of a Rotten Tomatoes score or making a preliminary assessment on the basis of your movie poster.
To summarize then, clients are increasingly on their phones, distracted, and less inclined to read the long-form content your lawyers are most inclined to produce. What to do? I suggest you look for ways to break that long-form piece apart or produce short companion pieces (think video introductions, info-graphics, short slideshare presentations) that essentially serve as teasers for the longer piece. Indeed, some of that may even be parsed down a further level to a twitter-worthy pull-quote or a single compelling image for sharing on social media. A recent blog post by Digital Tutors describes these extremely small, atomized elements as “micro-content” and true to form they have a nice info-graphic illustrating a parted-out approach to content creation.
Taking such an approach makes considerable sense for law firms. First, it leverages the considerable time and effort that goes into creating original long form content and pushes the reach of that material further. Second, it would enable law firms to do a better job of navigating social media channels with original, distinctive content that is relevant to clients and appropriate to the medium, rather than simply regurgitating new partner announcements and other generic content from the firm’s website newsfeed. And lastly, smaller format video intros and the like are the kind of things that are more likely to be consumed on one’s phone, where clients are increasingly spending their time and your competitor’s content isn’t.
By reformatting your legal marketing content into smaller elements that better match your clients’ information consumption patterns, you position yourself to succeed. Granted, turning one piece of content into five or six isn’t going to help solve the larger problem of information overload, but it does increase the likelihood that your firm’s message is the one that gets through.