What do law firms and the National Enquirer have in common?
The answer is precisely zero – and that’s a big problem for law firms.
You might think that there’s absolutely nothing about a gossip rag like the National Enquirer that you want to emulate in your law practice. I’m going to explain why that’s a mistake.
The Enquirer claims to offer the news that “Enquiring minds want to know.” While I have no idea whether the stories in the National Enquirer ever have any basis in reality, there’s one thing I do know about the Enquirer:
They sure do know how to grab attention.
As supermarket shoppers pass the stand near the cash register that displays the latest edition of the National Enquirer, the front page often stops them dead in their tracks.
Grabbing attention is the first victory for the Enquirer, and sadly one that few law firms ever enjoy with what they post on Social Media.
Sure, the front page of the Enquirer is always packed with photos of celebrities. But it’s not just the photos that make shoppers stop and read. And then buy.
It’s the headlines. Obviously.
What the National Enquirer has perfected – and what law firms have no idea how to do – is write attention-grabbing headlines.
That’s fine if law firms just need to stick to practicing the law. After all, why do they need a killer headline, right?
Law firm owners are desperate to get cases through Social Media, but as we’ve explained in our previous two articles, they’ve been getting it all wrong.
First, they don’t start out by thinking about the real purpose of anything they post on Social Media. If their Facebook post isn’t getting engagement, it shouldn’t even be posted. Engagement drives traffic, so if you’re not engaging, then what’s the point?
Second, law firms are not taking advantage of the different language that’s native to Social Media– Open Graph
Optimizing Content For Social Media
With every post on Social Media platforms like Facebook, you have the opportunity to optimize your content for those platforms in a way that is different to SEO optimization, through the use of Open Graph tags. It enables you to set a different headline, description and image specifically for use on Social Media.
However, very few law firms – even a lot of so-called “Social Media Experts” aren’t doing this properly.
Optimizing content for Social Media is very different from SEO optimization, because it’s all about grabbing attention and then keeping it.
Grabbing attention of real people, not search engines.
The National Enquirer knows exactly how to do that, and it starts with the headline.
In the first article in this series, I said that you should start by understanding the purpose of your post on Facebook. Your content needs to generate engagement and that starts by grabbing attention.
And it starts with the headline.
Great Content 101
I’ve been creating content for years now, but there’s a lot I did not understand when I started out.
I know now that killer content has to have a smack-you-in-the-face headline, with a great image to match. Then the content itself has to more than deliver on the promise made by the headline and the image.
If you get that right, it’s a slam-dunk.
If you get that wrong, nobody cares about your content.
You have to start out by grabbing attention and that begins with the headline.
Stopping Lawyers In Their Tracks
In my previous article on the purpose of Social Media posts, I explained that when I shared what I thought was valuable for lawyers, like ‘How to get more cases,’ or ‘How to systemize your law practice,’ it didn’t get the engagement we might have hoped for.
Instead, being edgy grabbed attention.
And the most engaging article we ever posted on Social Media – by far – was not really that surprising when you think about it.
Sure, at PILMMA we had other Facebook posts that got more likes, comments and shares.
But that particular post got more clicks than anything else. Ever.
It didn’t even use the picture I had in mind – I wanted to use a photo of an office worker sitting on the toilet. Remember, the purpose is to grab attention!
That post stopped lawyers in their tracks.
Since the picture is really nothing special, practically the total opposite of what I had in mind, it means that the headline was everything here, and supported by the description underneath.
Writing Headlines For Social Media
It would have been perfectly reasonable to title that article, ‘Why you should implement systems for everything in your law practice,’ but would that have grabbed your attention?
You probably already know why you need to have some systems and procedures in place at your law firm.
So I came at it from a different angle. I talked about having a system for bathroom breaks.
Headline: ‘Perfect Law Firms Have A System For Bathroom Visits?’
Description (underneath): ‘The principle isn’t as crazy as it sounds…’
It grabs attention because on the surface it sounds like an absurd or ‘crazy’ idea. The description addresses that and tells you it ain’t so crazy. Combined, it means you just have to click and read the article to find out what on earth I was banging on about.
And that’s exactly what happened. That article got more traffic from Social Media for PILMMA than anything else before or since. It beat our post about girls in bikinis, and it beat our post about Frank Underwood from ‘House of Cards’, the next two top performing articles.
All because of the headline, and the description.
That worked to grab the attention of law firm owners on Facebook and Twitter.
It’s no different with your potential clients on Social Media.
While you think they need to know how to file a car accident claim in your state, that’s of no interest to them when they’re scrolling through Facebook.
They are there to be entertained, not to be advertised to. If they need to know how to file a claim, they’ll probably Google it.
Which means that on Facebook, they’re not clicking on your ad, even if they HAVE been in a car accident.
But they ARE clicking. On other stuff. Just not your content.
What Makes Them Click?
They’re clicking on other content because THAT content grabbed their attention. Starting with the headline.
As I said in my last article, that’s what you need to be able to do. If you want new clients from Social Media, your law firm has to be in the business of generating great content on Social Media.
Let’s have a look at a real world example from a personal injury lawyer, and how at Get Super Cereal, we would have done it differently.
The example above on the left is from Scott Davis’ law firm in Chattanooga, TN. The headline reads, “How to File a Car Accident Claim in Chattanooga. Even Scott agreed with us that it was a total snoozefest.
On the right is how we would have approached it differently. Sure, we changed the copy in the post and added text to the image as well, but in this article, let’s just focus on the headline and the description we used.
We ran with, “‘Your Insurer Will Screw You’ Says ‘Nooga Attorney”.
That’s going to grab some attention. Certainly, it will be more effective than “How to file a car accident claim in Chattanooga.
We reinforced the headline with the description, “7 Clients Share Their Crash Claim Horror Stories.”
Now, that is just a mockup. There is no actual article behind that post with the 7 client horror stories. But there could have been.
If you compare those two Facebook posts, if you don’t understand that the one on the right would generate more engagement, even from just the headline, then I don’t know what else I can tell you.
If you CAN see the difference, well done! You’re on your way to creating stronger, more engaging content for your law firm’s Social Media accounts.
It all starts with thinking about your headline and your description, which appears underneath the headline. (That’s after you’ve already thought about the purpose of your post.)
There’s no point sharing something on Social Media if absolutely nobody cares about it.
To be successful on Social Media, just like the National Enquirer, you have to write your title and description to grab attention and stop people in their tracks. That’s where it all starts.