Why 2012 Will Be the Year of Group Blogs and Contributing Bloggers

If you’re a solo or small firm attorney and you don’t already have a blog, think long and hard before starting one. Several factors are converging that will make it even more difficult to build awareness of and readership for your blog if you try to go it alone.

  • “First movers” have already claimed most of the legal blogging mindshare and traffic, and engagement has moved elsewhere — On the Small Firm Innovation blog, Nicole Black noted that when she began blogging in 2005,

“Blogging was in its infancy and the legal blogging community was a relatively small, close knit group. It was easy to establish rapport with legal bloggers and inbound links from other blogs were easy to come by. Because there weren’t a ton of legal bloggers, competition for readers wasn’t nearly as fierce as it is today and, as long as you blogged regularly and created interesting content, it wasn’t all that difficult to make a name for yourself.

“Back in the day, blogging was well worth the effort. My how times have changed. The benefits of blogging are much harder to attain these days. Everyone else is doing it and, as a result, it’s much more difficult to stand out from the crowd. Legitimate inbound links are much less frequent, in part because the conversations have moved. It used to be that discussion occurred either: 1) between different bloggers in blog posts on their respective blogs, or 2) in the comments sections of your blog. Now, unless your blog happens to be one of the well-established, high traffic blogs, much of the conversation about blog posts, if there even is any, occurs on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and now, Google Plus, the newest entrant into the social media landscape.”

  • There’s already a superabundance of legal blogs competing for attention, with more on the way — In the recent LexisNexis/Vizibility survey of legal social media participation, 81 percent of survey participants reported  they already use social media marketing tools, and another 10.1 percent indicated they plan to deploy social media marketing elements within six months.
  • Google’s new search algorithm favors frequent posts of high-quality contentJay Fleischman recently explained how the new search paradigm will make it more challenging for bloggers to achieve meaningful page rank without a high throughput of original content:

“If your law firm website has just a few pages of content, that’s not going to inspire the Big G to love you. If your law firm blog hasn’t been updated in six months then expect the same. Even if you do work hard to update your blog regularly, the law firm with the blog posts of 200 words consisting primarily of a link and a “hey, look at this” notation isn’t going to climb that far.”

 

The Silver Lining

The same factors that make it difficult for bloggers to succeed on their own have stimulated the market for contributed content on more established blogs. In order to remain competitive in the marketplace of ideas, both established blogs and aggressive new entrants will need more content, and leveraging guest contributors is an excellent means of achieving that. So even if you’re not already an established blogger in your own right and you can’t maintain a pace of daily posts, you can nonetheless create content that will have a high probability of getting noticed and shared.

The symbiotic beauty of this dynamic is that your contributed content will generate inbound links and drive traffic to your own blog — which Google rewards. So ironically, newly minted bloggers will be able to succeed in this new world order by publishing their original content on other blogs first or in tandem.

Where to Look for Opportunities

  • Legal services vendors – Practice management software companies Clio and Rocket Matter have excellent, highly successful blogs, and both accept contributed content. Online attorney directory Avvo recently launched a law practice management blog, and has a small but growing roster of contributors.
  • Legal publications – For 2012, Arizona Attorney magazine editor Tim Eigo resolved to “Collaborate and ask for help”:

“This final resolution will be mandatory if I hope to achieve our goal of providing even more content in 2012—content in the magazine and online. To do that, we’ll need to identify great idea people whose ideas would shine in our media platforms. We’ll create partnerships with lawyers and nonlawyers who can speak to compelling issues in a changing industry. And we’ll locate even more Arizona lawyer-bloggers who enjoy having their fellows read and comment on their stuff.”

  • Build your own group blog3 Geeks and a Law Blog is probably the most prominent example of how bloggers in different roles at different firms can share the content creation burden and become a collective success. In its announcement of the “Best New Blogs” of 2011, the Canadian Law Blog Awards cited Edilex Blog Juridique as “An excellent example of the impact of multiple-author law blogs that cover a wide range of legal topics. The next Slaw?” One way for enterprising solos in a community (who don’t directly compete, obviously) would be to band together to create a single locally inflected blog. With the right SEO framework, it could pop in local searches at a level that would be difficult and time-consuming to achieve individually.

Are you actively pursuing opportunities to contribute to other blogs? What’s your experience been like? Have any tips to share?

 

 

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 11.25.11

New Holiday Tradition: The “One Fruitcake” Theory of Social Media Marketing

I first published this recipe last year, and judging by my long tail traffic numbers, folks seemed to enjoy it.  So I’ve decided to make it an annual holiday tradition.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Even accomplished chefs are always on the lookout for new and exciting dishes. New techniques and novel applications of classics. Interesting ingredients and unexpected combinations. All in the service of surprising and delighting customers, and advancing the profession.

Sadly, social marketing bloggers seem content to warm up the same basic dish over and over again, just seasoned and garnished a bit differently.

It is said that Johnny Carson first posited that there is actually only one fruitcake in the world; it’s just passed around a lot. You see where I’m going with this…

The basic recipe for a blog post on how to be successful in social marketing:

Ingredients

  1. Generalized invocation of social marketing’s importance
  2. Quote by social media and/or marketing “guru” (preferably Chris Brogan or Seth Godin)
  3. Statistics on blog readership and the number of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn subscribers
  4. Authenticity bullet point
  5. Listening bullet point
  6. “Join the conversation” bullet point
  7. “Content is King” bullet point
  8. Thought leadership bullet point
  9. SEO bullet point
  10. ROI bullet point
  11. Reference to parties who “get it” (i.e. enlightened heroes) and/or “don’t get it” (i.e. willfully ignorant objects of pity and derision who need your help and mentorship)
  12. Links to reporters, association execs and conference planners you want to suck up to
  13. Warning about the perils of not embracing social marketing
  14. Local seasoning (e.g. reference to the intended audience’s specific challenges/opportunities)

Cooking instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients
  2. Whip into a froth
  3. Serve — over and over again.

Come on “Top Social Media Chef” wannabes, here’s a “quickfire” challenge for you: Reinterpret this bland staple of social marketing blog posts and make a signature dish.

Honor Thy Gut: Saying “No” (or “Not Yet”) to Social Media

The case for engaging in social media for legal marketing is compelling — but so is the case against it. As with most endeavors, you’re usually better off not following a course of action that you don’t fully support than you are proceeding without conviction. In the age of social media ubiquity, untended and orphaned blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages are more detrimental to your brand and marketing efforts than having none at all.

In a Social Media Today post yesterday headlined “Not Tweeting, and Not Feeling Guilty About It,” Liz Wainger notes:

“If enterprises don’t have the resources (time and energy) to engage on social media, or are unwilling to fully embrace social media, it is better to use other means to communicate until you do.  And for goodness sake, stop feeling guilty about it, and think positively about the ways you are engaging your stakeholders.”

 

So what are some telltale signs that shouldn’t (or aren’t ready to) launch or expand your social media activities — or that you should consider quitting:

  • Lack of an intuitive personal connection to the potential of social media – If you’re not “feeling it” even a little bit at the outset, you’re highly unlikely to work hard enough at it or be patient enough to give it a fighting chance of success. It’s not an acquired taste.
  • Lack of an intuitive connection to the potential of social media by your employees and peers – If you can’t accomplish what you need to without the participation of colleagues, you should not proceed if you have reservations about their buy-in and level of participation. You know that you’re in trouble when you’re told “All they need is some training.”
  • A pattern of starting and stopping – If it dawns on you that you’re going days at a time between tweets and weeks at a time between blog posts, it’s time to either recommit or cut your losses and shut it down.

It’s OK, really. Trust your gut and take on social media when it feels right. It’ll still be there.