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I return this week to the topic of how to successfully keep new year’s resolutions concerning legal marketing health and fitness. The pilates tenet of strengthening one’s “core” as the basis for all physical fitness holds true in marketing as well. Before you can safely, effectively and consistently perform more advanced and strenuous moves, the underlying muscle systems must be strong, flexible and controlled.
In the case of blogging and other forms of social media marketing based on content creation and dissemination, the “core” muscles involve listening, not writing. Listening enables you to:
- Identify whether there’s a market for your content.
- Identify who else is creating similar content
- Monitor your progress (or lack thereof)
- Get new ideas for posts, presentations and other content
- Capture timely, relevant content for linking and sharing through your blog, Facebook and Twitter
Instead of moving immediately into elaborate “thought leadership” maneuvers, video tutorials and SEO optimization, my “Pilates for Legal Marketing” regimen calls for mastering basic content that connects with readers. While it technically was not created this week, I discovered a useful post on point by the Allinotte Law Office via Twitter this week. “5 Things to Know Before Hiring a Personal or Business Lawyer” is addressed to parties looking for a lawyer, but the same advise provides a template for creating a firm website based not on what you want to tell prospective clients, but on what they want to know.
Depending on the area(s) of law you practice and the size of your firm, this could include topics like:
- How do you bill for your services?
- What resources do you have available that will make you responsive to and capable of supporting my needs?
- Do you proactively communicate on an ongoing basis?
- What types of matters do you personally work on beyond your advertised specialty or niche?
- What happens if you get too busy or leave the firm?
Without a strong, flexible and controlled marketing core, the rest is flailing.
This week the emerging online answer community Quora hit the social media buzz tipping point. It launched as an invitation-only beta a year ago this week and opened to the general public in June, but word of mouth has suddenly kicked into gear. Seemingly EVERYONE has heard about it, briefly tried it and opined about it.
Eager not to be left behind by another emerging platform, even legal bloggers sent up flares about it.
It certainly has a lot of potential, particularly for SEO — in the words of one blogger, “For the self-promoting type– prepare for Nirvana!”
But before Quora becomes another “thought leadership/first mover” tulip frenzy, I strongly encourage small and solo firms to master the current well-established content marketing platforms before investing time and energy into experimenting with the latest shiny object in social media.
Be aware of it, play with it, get inspired by it. But unless you’ve already got your content creation and marketing machinery up and running, keep Quora in the hobby room.
Whether you’ve tried it yet or not, I’m very interested to hear your reactions to the buzz as well as the site itself.
Like New Year’s health and fitness resolutions, blogging resolutions are predicated on increasing frequency — of visits to the gym or of blog posts, respectively. Conventional wisdom in both cases is that success depends on overcoming physical/intellectual inertia through willpower and self-discipline.
A Wall Street Journal article offers an alternative approach to keeping New Year’s resolutions that substitutes advance planning and practice for guilt and shame. Brain research indicates that the part of the brain responsible for willpower is easily overloaded and exhausted, while the parts responsible for linking positive emotions to new habits are more effective at helping you condition and sustain new behaviors.
To illustrate the process, the piece includes a diagram for a metaphorical dance called “The New Year’s Shuffle”:
- Make a realistic plan in advance
- Practice in advance exercising self-control in other areas of life
- Think in advance about what might cause setbacks and slips and plan to avoid those things
- Plan rewards for yourself when you do new habits
- Practice focusing on your new habit instead of the old one
- Expect setbacks and slips
- Make a plan for bouncing back from setbacks and slips
- Plan punishments to help you get started, such as denying yourself TV
- Reduce other life stress if possible
- Use positive reinforcement 80% of the time, negative reinforcement 20%
Whether you master those steps or not, Happy New Year!
This week the Minnesota State Bar Association announced its picks for the “Top 25 Minnesota Blawgs, 2010 Edition.” I was familiar with some — what legal social media denizen isn’t a Lawyerist fan — but I was surprised and delighted to be introduced to many new (to me) and original voices.
As I reviewed the winning blawgs, I noticed something very encouraging: a large plurality were designed and run on WordPress software and haven’t needed the phantom “marketing support” of commercial blawg mill operators to gain traction and authority.
Because I’ve long maintained that small and solo practices with robust blogs don’t need a separate website, I was most excited to read the citation for Budge Law Offices LLC:
“When we talk to attorneys about law firm websites, they often tell us “I don’t want my site to look like a blog.” Hmmm. Confusing. One of the best ways to engage potential clients is a site that maintains fresh content. The Budge Law Firm takes that to heart. Their law firm web site is a blog, and their blog is a law firm website. And they do a nice job with it, showing how much you can do with some content, a few posts, and a nicely minimalist approach that actually uses a slightly tweaked version of the WordPress default theme.”
Other honorees powered by WordPress include:
- Bilingual Minnesota Attorney Blog
- Friedman Iverson Consumer Blog
- Legal Muse
- Minnesota Supreme Court Criminal Blog
- MN Consumer Attorney Blog
- Pro and Contracts
- Ramsey County Law Library Blog
- Rural Lawyer
- Virtual Navigator
Congratulations to the winners. I’ll be posting about you again soon.
A very abbreviated Thanksgiving weekend edition of “My Picks.” This week I was intrigued and encouraged by individuals and organizations taking action about what they dislike about the current state of social media. In one case publicly scaling back, and in another, launching an alternative vision.
Ari Herzog’s “Why I Deleted My Foursquare Account” generated a 550 percent one-day spike in his blog traffic.
Earlier this month A year ago he posted an account of his decision to drop half of his Facebook friends.
A ragtag group of young developers radicalized by Facebook’s seeming disregard for end-user privacy and control over their own content launched Diaspora. Funded through Kickstarter by $200,000 in donations from nearly 6,500 backers contributing as little as $5, the quixotic enterprise seeks to — if not upend — at least foster a credible crowdsourced open source alternative to Facebook.
“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how people can share in a private way, and still do all the things people love to do on social networks. We hope you’ll find it fun to use and a great way to keep in touch with all the people in your life.
“You decide what you’d like to share, and with whom. You retain full ownership of all your information, including friend lists, messages, photos, and profile details.
“Diaspora lets you create ‘aspects,’ which are personal lists that let you group people according to the roles they play in your life. We think that aspects are a simple, straightforward, lightweight way to make it really clear who is receiving your posts and who you are receiving posts from. It isn’t perfect, but the best way to improve is to get it into your hands and listen closely to your response.”
Think it can’t happen? Consider that the open source movement begat Linux, which begat Android. That took a while, but it demonstrates that a community of techno-geeks passionate about an ideal can be formidable competitors.
As we labor in the vineyards of legal social media — tweeting into the void, pouring our best thinking into a perfectly turned blog post that gets no comments — it can be easy to start wondering whether it’s all worth it.
But then there are events like last night’s Austin legal tweetup that reinvigorate your faith and energy. Real people having real conversations over real beers literally animates social media. So my posts of the week are by two people I knew but just met — and now know, like and trust on a different level.
While I had followed Haley Odom of Haley Lobs Law Bomb blog fame on Twitter, I’d not had the pleasure of meeting and visiting with her in person until last night. So when I saw her most recent legal tweetup invitation, I was glad to avail myself of the opportunity. Check out her “What Paralegals (and Attorneys) Wish Attorneys Knew” post. It’s making the rounds in print, too.
Don Cruse helps Texas appellate counsel and trial lawyers stay on top of their game through the Supreme Court of Texas Blog, which this week features posts on the Texas homestead exemption and how SCOTX is inching toward e-filing in Texas appellate courts.
To summarize, here’s a musical message from Mr. James Taylor…