Since CV-19, They’re So Much More than Just Online Buzzwords

Woman looking at a video conference meeting.As web site and internet technology have grown exponentially over the past decade or two, online content has developed a language of its own. Search engines have developed increasingly sophisticated algorithms to detect and reward (via preferential placement in search results) meaningful content. “Meaningful content” are results with which a search engine user will be satisfied, results which create a personal connection between seller and buyer. Examples of this are content which educate or inform readers on a deeper level.

In response to what they know about the way search engine algorithms work, web developers and marketers continually tweak their content to “game the system” and gain one of those coveted top spots in search results. While trying to attract the favor of the search engines, web specialists also play with the formula to appeal to real live humans. One way to do so is via content that is engaging, highly authentic, and believable.

We all know the world changed last March, when everyone unexpectedly began working from home in response to the CV-19 threat. Overnight, online communications became the primary way people stayed in touch with each other. We all began spending more time on social channels, interacting with the content we found there. Companies that already had strong online presences were better poised for this seismic shift.

In last week’s article about adapting the IRAC method to member communications, we emphasized that “thinking like a lawyer” can be an effective way to reach them. New Hampshire’s Rules of Professional Conduct include very strict guidelines on attorney advertising. Developing our promotional messages equally as thoughtfully is one tool through which to better attract and influence our members.

Reaching our attorneys will continue to be a challenge in the weeks and months ahead, since so many of them continue to work remotely. As always, our members want to receive information that is genuine and useful to them. But to an audience who measures time in 1/10 hour increments, the what and how of disseminating relevant and useful information has taken on a heightened importance:

What: Focus on the most necessary message first. Our members stare at a computer screen the majority of their day.  Researchers now say that the public as a whole may be suffering from “decision-making fatigue”, where big and small decisions alike take on the same importance and it’s increasingly difficult to prioritize. Don’t burn out our members with inconsequential or unoriginal stuff. Get your primary message out there first and foremost (and be novel in the way you express it). Make it easy for members to say “yes”, with clear calls to action. Use short, action filled sentences explaining how our offerings may help solve their problems.  Keep in mind that we’re (literally) not all in the same place right now: we have members in other states who may still be sheltering-in-place and we have to be sensitive to their needs right now, too.

How: Messages should be sensitive and delivered with care. Mostly because we do care about our members’ welfares: how they, their firms, their families, friends, and clients are doing. Tone and language are everything. Fear-based messaging is not only a relic of the past, it’s actually cruel right now. Instead, lean into emotion in a good way, with nostalgic, comforting, and hopeful images and words. Since people trust their community and social circle, name-drop shamelessly and liberally use quotes (with prior permission, of course) from fellow members and the judiciary in your communications. Live streaming video platforms like Zoom, GoToMeeting, Facebook Live are the primary channels to connect with our members in real time.

More terms you should know: “Ephemeral content” with a limited timeframe (like Facebook stories, which are posted for a short time, then “disappear”) are double-edged swords: while they can help with online clutter, attorneys are notorious for cataloging information for future reference. Consider instead “long-form content”, which is more in-depth, comprehensive and detailed. Long-form content has proven to generate more sales leads than shorter information and attracts more shares.

In summary, everyone is experiencing the impact of CV-19 in their own way.  Marketing with an eye to those differences — while being aware of the common need for authentic, solution-oriented messaging that engages our members — is one way to make the most of your online communications.

 

Lynne Sabean

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September 2020 Articles