We naturally look towards influence, authority, and thought leadership when making buying decisions. Doctors in lab coats, police officers in uniform, or the lifeguard at the beach all have a sense of authority, they look the part and we trust that they know what they’re doing. Much like the above qualities, with lawyers we trust (or at least use too) a fancy suit, an expensive watch and a degree from a top university.
But how does this work in a world where we buy products and services online, without any iota as to who is reputable or not. Well, our online influence isn’t really any different, technology has evolved, but fundamentally we are still drawn to people who have an aura of trust and authority about them. Legal experts don’t really have the opportunity to display trust in person, so the suit, the watch and the degree sort of go out the window. They’re replaced by your online presence, so it’s so important that your online brand reflects trust and credibility, otherwise you’re eliminated at the due diligence phase without a second chance.
So, how are you able to display online credibility? Well, one of the best ways is by being a thought leader in your field, freely sharing expertise to inspire, educate, and add value, even to your competitors. But you can’t simply be a thought leader, it’s not like a switch that you can push (If there is a switch somewhere please let me know). What you can do though, is cultivate a reputation, and establish yourself by displaying expertise, authenticity and a broad knowledge base with your legal content.
Being a thought leader, and having that authoritative reputation means being at the cutting edge of issues that matter, shaping thinking for your clients, stakeholders and occasionally, the general public. Here’s a few tips to build authority and influence online!
Be Specific And Find A Niche
One of the most important things to know is that you can’t know everything. It sounds exceptionally counterintuitive, but unless you’re Tony Stark and have some super Jarvis AI in your ear, it’s impossible to know everything. Don’t try. Find something niche that you can explore in depth, and speak on that. If you spread yourself too thin, there’s a risk your content gets swallowed by everyone else who is trying to do everything. Experts dive into depth on narrow subject areas and rarely sway off-piste.
Share Your Knowledge For Free
Many law firms don’t want to hand out their best work for free, fearing that clients or competitors will just take or steal those ideas and do it themselves. Fine, you might get the occasional client who takes it on a whim, and goes it alone. There are after all quite a few legal services that market themselves as DIY. Mostly though, people are searching for legal information because they want the expertise of someone who can do it for them. If you are sharing the best content and knowledge for free you’re demonstrating that you know your stuff, so if someone approaches you for your services, they’ll notice that.
Share and host podcasts and videos; write books, journals and blogs, attend speeches and events, network etc. By doing this, you may lose a few potential clients who run solo, but you’ll gain so many more, just by displaying your expertise. Positioning yourself as an expert who gives out content that people want, for free, will help to establish yourself as a thought leader.
As aforementioned, there is no switch that you can push for instant fame and success. It takes quality and consistency to build a reputation and become a thought leader. Build a body of high quality content, and consistently, post, share, and engage with your audience. Results will happen. Grow an audience, engage with them on social media, produce what people want to see, and get people talking about your ideas.
As the saying goes, content is king. Saying that you’re an expert doesn’t mean much, but proving you’re an expert means everything. I can say right now that I’m a rocket science expert, and you can believe me if you want, but I imagine I’ve proven my point.
Attach Yourself To Your Content
People are more likely to be interested in your content if you attach a personality to it. Be transparent, honest, and let your audience know about you and your story. It’s okay from time to time to be personal, show a human side and utilise humour and creativity. You can also use different social media platforms to differentiate yourself from your professional persona.
Third-Party Publishing And Sharing
It’s great to build a content library on your site, but from time to time it’s a great idea to publish your content on 3rd-party sites too. You can leverage credibility from other platforms, and you also get the opportunity to share your content with a brand new audience. When you share content, any potential new viewers can visit your already expansive library, establishing trust immediately. The visibility of a 3rd party source, whilst introducing you to a new audience, will probably reap some SEO benefits too!
Another option is to share content from other leading experts on your page. Sharing other expertise will bring legitimacy to your page. There are some added benefits like opening the door to future conversations between yourself and other experts, as well as the potential likelihood for others to share your content on their pages in future.
Being a thought leader isn’t something that just happens, but overtime you have the ability to curate a leading reputation. Building an audience isn’t easy, so make sure to pick and stick to a given niche, know what you know essentially. Be sure to share your content everywhere and anywhere, your site, third party sites, different social platforms etc. and be sure to attach your own personal flair and personality to it.
The general public doesn’t know a great deal about law as a subject, so any new learning is automatically more interesting, just try and inject a bit of ‘showbiz’ into it. And finally, be consistent with your content. It’s been said a million times before and it will be said a million times again, but content really is king.
If you’re looking for some more tips for your digital marketing strategy, contact us for a free consultation!