Don’t just improve your content, use content to network online

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Rather than trying to produce “better content,” law firms and other professionals ought to look at content marketing as an opportunity to network online.

Author and president of the consulting firm ChangeLabs, Peter Sheahan (@PeterGSheahan) has a good piece in the Harvard Business Review on what it takes for success in content content marketing.

The only route to sustainable success in content marketing is through helping customers navigate the crazy, pressured, opportunity-filled world we live in now.

The type of content, per Sheahan?

You can’t just snap your fingers and produce great content. To get stories and images that people actually care about, you need to address the higher-order problems your customers are facing today or will face tomorrow. You have to do the sustained work of thinking through these problems and coming up with relevant insights.

Good stuff, and Sheahan cites the wins of large companies such as Home Depot and Adobe, but it’s not the only route to content marketing success. It’s not even the best. Such content marketing won’t develop customers, clients, and business like networking online — through content.

Quality content can be a differentiator, but content in the form of blogging represents an opportunity to engage people and companies in a strategic fashion.

Blogging is a conversation, not traditional content marketing. Content marketing has been around forever.

Companies have been producing guides, how-to’s, and white papers for as long as we can remember. Blogging, where we listen to what others are saying (writing) in blogs and in the mainstream media, and engage the source and subjects is new and all together different. Blogging represents an opportunity to network online.

By setting up RSS feeds for strategic sources and keywords and key phrases, I can blog about what I am following. Doing this I share valuable insight and information with clients and other followers, as Sheahan suggests we do, but I also engage the party blogging, the reporter, or the subject of the article/post.

This way I nurture relationships and eventually meet company executives, association executive directors who invite me to speak, influential bloggers/reporters who cite me, and prospective clients who become clients.

Sure, I am sharing valuable content as Sheahan suggests, but I am doing something much more, I am using content as the currency of networking and relationship building.

Just about every professional and company is producing content. Content that does not engage other content and the party producing it. It’s just more content passing in the night. There is no intersection, no engagement, and no nurturing of relationships.

Many companies and professionals ought to be focused on content marketing as a form of online networking, as opposed to merely improving the quality of their content.

Improving content is okay, but it’s not as strategic and is only doiing what everyone else is doing. You are competing in an arms race, a term Sheahan uses to describe certain content marketing.

Image courtesy of Flickr by ad.mak

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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