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Don’t chase virality with your content. Chase partiality.

Viral content is sexy. But content that is calibrated to appeal to your target audiences is how you pay the bills.

There are some attorneys out there who get bummed whenever their content, like their posts on social media, doesn’t go viral.

To them, it’s “go viral or go home” when it comes to content marketing.

But those attorneys, and most attorneys, shouldn’t be chasing virality.

They should be chasing partiality.

Virality is problematic, superficial, and fleeting

When your content goes viral on social media or through some other channel, it’s probably doing so because it’s attracting a wide range of people who find it worthy of a view, like, comment, or share.

But most law firms don’t have services that are widely applicable to large audiences.

Whether that’s based on geography, practice group, demographics, psychographics, or some other factor, most law firms aren’t looking to serve the general population. They want to attract a defined audience, like “people in X state who suffered a traumatic brain injury” or “general counsels of businesses with more than $50 million in revenue.”

When an attorney’s content goes viral, they’re going to attract a wide range of people who will then start emailing their firm, calling their firm, texting their firm, submitting inquiries through their firm’s website, and otherwise try to get in contact with them.

That is going to make it hard for a firm to function for however long the inquiries are coming in if there are so many of them that the firm is bombarded and cannot field them promptly. And, unfortunately, the firm is going to have to filter those inquiries to determine if they’re the kind the firm can help with, must refer out to other firms, or has to respond to by saying “We cannot help you.”

Also, virality does not create meaningful relationships.

Someone might see an attorney’s post and then like it, comment on it, or share it. But if they’re not someone who could use that attorney now or anytime soon, and they’re not someone the attorney can refer out to another law firm, then that content going viral will have little impact on their firm’s business development efforts.

On a related note, when you water down your content to try to make it go viral by appealing to the broadest audience possible, you fail to create specialized content tailored to appeal to your target audience.

Chase partiality

Attorneys should forget the siren call of virality. They should instead pursue partiality.

They should try to connect with their target audience through content that is relevant, valuable, and compelling to them.

When attorneys consistently create content that their target audiences consume, they’re building a relationship with audience members in which those audience members will come to understand that those attorneys are THE attorneys to talk to regarding the areas of law they practice.

Over time, this calibrated content will allow audience members to get to know, like, and trust those attorneys.

By building a relationship with your target audience by crafting content designed to resonate with them, you are simultaneously communicating to other audiences who are not your target audience that you are probably not the attorney for them.

By weeding out people who are not within your target audience, you can eliminate the time wasted when your colleagues have to respond to inquiries from them about your firm and its services.

Some law firms should chase virality

There are some law firms out there, however, that should chase virality.

If a firm has the in-house (or outsourced) capability to field dozens or even hundreds of inquiries a day, and has a large, national referral network it can refer cases to, it can chase virality without incurring the problems I mentioned above. It can be known as an “everything” law firm because it can build its referral network in a way that ensures that attorneys and law firms within it can handle whatever cases the law firm sends them based on inquiries from the general public.

But few firms have the ability to regularly field or refer out a deluge of inquiries from potential clients effectively and efficiently. Without this ability, viral content is unlikely to translate into meaningful business opportunities for a law firm.

Resist the virality temptation

It’s tempting in today’s age of instant fame for attorneys to chase virality on social media and through other content marketing efforts.

But the vast majority of attorneys should focus on partiality.

They should focus on building a relationship with their target audience through consistent, calibrated content creation that makes it clear to that audience that the attorney is THE attorney to turn to for help with their legal or business problems.

As those relationships develop over time because the attorney’s content is reminding that target audience again and again about how the attorney can help them, audience members will eventually reach out to the attorney when they have a need for their services.

They would have done so because the attorney chased partiality among their target audience and not virality among an audience that is a poor fit for their practice.

Thinking about bringing on an outside writer to help your law firm strategize and create compelling thought-leadership marketing and business development content? Click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Strategy Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside writer is the right move for you and your firm.

Wayne Pollock, a former Am Law 50 senior litigation associate, is the founder of Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm, and the Law Firm Editorial Service, a content strategy and ghostwriting service for lawyers and their law firms. The Law Firm Editorial Service helps Big Law and boutique law firm partners, and their firms, grow their practices and prominence by collaborating with them to strategize and ethically ghostwrite book-of-business-building marketing and business development content.

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