Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 11.23.11

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 11.4.11

  • 30-Minute WordPress Setup Guide | Lawyerist
  • 13 WordPress Blog Design ‘Don’ts’ | For Bloggers By Bloggers 
  • Giving Kick-Ass Presentations In The Age Of Social Media | Fast Company
  • 5-Step Approach to Learning the StumbleUpon Targeted Traffic Tango | Duct Tape Marketing 
  • 20 Super Awesome Ways to Reuse, Recycle, Renew, and Repurpose your Blog Content! | adamsokoloff.com
  • Answers to the Top 5 Press Release Optimization Questions | Hubspot 
  • Top 42 Content Marketing Bloggers | Junta42
  • Detailed Reviews of 60 Free Press Release Distribution Sites | Vitis PR 

 

Notable Posts of the Week 2/27/11: No Bad News

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In the same way that real estate agents and home builders vehemently and derisively denied that anything was wrong in the housing marketing  before the recent — and ongoing — collapse, companies in the business of designing, hosting and merchandising blogs will not abide any suggestion that the tastes of social media consumers are changing.

This week the New York Times ran a thought-provoking piece on recent research that shows a drop-off in the popularity of blogging among young people. Instead, a “mixed use” model is emerging where more of the content generation is taking place on”short-form” platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. In other words, early adopters and “digital natives” are figuring out that blogging isn’t a necessary part of online social networking. They can reach and engage with their intended audiences without blogging.

Right on cue, defensive blog floggers like Kevin O’Keefe parried that thrust by belittling and dismissing the predictive value of the demographic that literally built social networking  (“So kids and young people don’t have the attention span and motivation to publish”). However, apparently the article’s most insidious offense is that it might plant the false notion in lawyers’ heads that they can create an effective social media marketing strategy without paying his firm to design and host a blog for them.

“When I first saw the New York Times story yesterday that blogs are waning as the young drift to other social media, I thought here we go again.

Everyone’s going to start talking about blogs being passe now that you can Tweet in 5 seconds and share a quip on Facebook in 20. It’s a story that’s been told multiple times before and one that never proves to have legs.

Nonetheless, lawyers will start buying it and think they can skip over blogging as a means of publishing to enhance their reputations and build relationships and go straight to Twitter and other short form social media.”

And I say “Bravo!” Good for them! In fact, lawyers absolutely can — and in many cases should — skip over blogging if:

  1. They are not resourced to do it well or
  2. There are other platforms with which they’re more comfortable, or where they are more likely to find and engage with current and prospective clients and influencers.

Over on Bazaarblog, writer Tara DeMarco took a similar knee jerk diss approach in her misreading of the Times article, but at least finished with a sound conclusion:

“Blogging may not be the right investment of time and resource for all businesses. And yes, many company blogs fail. But they are absolutely the right medium for the right messages, and businesses will keep on blogging….”

My Picks for Notable Posts of the Week 2/18/11

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It was only a matter of time.

A new social media marketing survey making headlines indicates that the non-stop onslaught of messages from companies and professional firms large and small is causing the general public to “break up” with them — unsubscribe, unfriend, unfollow.

Citing unsettling findings in the new “Social Break-Up” research from ExactTarget and CoTweet, Jay Baer observed that “Regardless of platform, receiving too many messages from too many marketers is a very likely cause of subsequent break-ups, throwing dead weight over the side of the social and email ship until it floats again.”

A Social Media Today post split the blame between extensive messaging and little relevancy as the major reasons why consumers leave Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, or unsubscribe to email lists.

The survey authors asked 1,561 U.S. online users ages 15 and older why they’ve stopped engaging with companies through e-mail and social media:

Email
- 54% messages sent too frequently
- 49% content repetitive and boring
- 47% too many emails sent by brand
- 25% messages were irrelevant from start
- 22% subscribed for a one-time offer

Facebook
- 44% company authored too many posts
- 43% wall became glutted with marketing
- 38% messages repetitive and boring
- 24% posts were overly promotional
- 19% content was irrelevant from start

Twitter
- 52% messages repetitive and boring
- 41% stream became inundated with marketing
- 39% company tweeted too frequently
- 21% tweets were overly promotional
- 15% content was irrelevant from start

This survey reminded me of a recent post of Adrian Dayton’s that addressed the same phenomenon in an overused and therefore frequently ignored form of social messaging specific to legal marketing: the client alert.

So the phenomenon is real, big and pervasive. Yet there’s not much we can do about it. All direct response marketing is a matter of optimizing the probability that an item will be 1) opened/read and 2) acted upon.

The effectiveness of content marketing campaigns is a function of interactions among many factors, including:

* Frequency of distribution
* Form factor (i.e. design, formatting, length)
* Content quality & relevance
* Competing messages
* List quality

Until bigger and better minds than mine come up with a brilliant cap-and-trade solution, our best remedy is to focus on 1) useful content that grabs attention and 2) campaign design, planning and rigor.

The error is not in “spraying and praying” — because you don’t know what works until you try — but rather in not tracking, measuring and refining your content marketing strategy and tactics.

My Picks for Notable Posts of the Week 1/14/2011

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

Andrew Hanelly’s “Social Media Monitoring Made Simple” post explores how Google Alerts is a free and easy exercise for building your listening core.

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.

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My Picks for Notable Posts of the Week 12/31/2010

 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.

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!

My Picks for Notable Posts of the Week 12/17/2010

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:

Congratulations to the winners. I’ll be posting about you again soon.

My Picks for Notable Posts of the Week 11/26/2010

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.

My Picks for Notable Posts of the Week 11/19/2010

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…

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