John Sheehan asked us for articles about:
Social Media, Google Circles, Twitter, FB Pages including best practices and efficient integration of Social Media with Blog posting.
No doubt, businesses are seeing results from being social online. And lawyers are no exception.
Obviously, there’s too much under the social for business umbrella to cover in a single post. And John isn’t alone in wanting more from us on social, so we need to make social a bigger priority in our publishing efforts. But for now, I thought I’d discuss some things you can do to make your blog more social.
Blog as your Core Web Presence
To me, the most natural “thing” for lawyers to use as their core web presence is a blog. Blogs tend to provide the best balance of control, functionality and flexibility.
They provide lawyers a platform to demonstrate professional knowledge & experience. If implemented effectively, they’re also extremely effective tools for dialogue. And that’s key. It critically important to remember that:
Blogs ≠ Law Firm Websites
Static law firm websites are really nothing more than online brochures or digital business cards. It’s extremely difficult to create a static website that effectively serves as both an online brochure and the core web presence.
I think lawyers would do well to think about their blogs more like their facebook and twitter profiles. They’re not effective for transparent legal services shilling.
Further, other social profiles don’t really provide enough functionality and flexibility (although my opinion on this is changing with Google+, which might ultimately the last platform standing in terms of core web presence).
Integration of Blogging & Social Networking
There’s no single recipe for integrating your blogging with your use of social networks. While I generally advise against automation, not even this guideline always holds (when the blog content is great, automating updates via social channels is fine).
But I know you want some actionable tips, so here you go:
Making content more social
I’m going to put my most important tip first. It shouldn’t be surprising that the effectiveness of both blogging and social networking depends primarily on the content that you publish online.
If your blog posts and social profiles read like lawyer yellow pages, television and radio ads, you shouldn’t be surprised when you get unsubscribed, unfollowed, unfriended and blocked.
On the other hand, if your blog posts are interesting, informative, insightful, entertaining or just plain funny, you’ll likely find that people will choose to regularly consume, share and publicize your posts.
When it comes to posting frequency, there’s no magic number. But there’s also no doubt that readers subscribe to blogs that they can rely upon for regularly posting content that they want. Does that mean you should post every day? Not unless you can post something that people want to read every day.
I’m regularly asked about what is the optimal frequency for posting with respect to search engines. Search engines don’t really care how often you post. But they do care about how what you post is received by your audience. Sure, more frequent posting might mean more frequent crawls by search engine bots and more indexed pages. However, if that’s your focus, chances are your blog sucks.
Encourage & Engage Commenting
I’ve seen arguments for closing-off the ability for readers to comment. I guess it depends on the purpose of your blog. However, to me, if you close commenting, you’re really missing the boat. Sure, you can use a blogging platform for one-way publishing. Perhaps you’re publishing a public online journal of your thoughts. Maybe you don’t care what your readers have to say.
To me, closing comments seriously hamstrings the social aspects to blogging. In my experience, the most successful blogs are those that foster healthy discussion.
People often wonder how to “measure” the effectiveness of their blogging efforts. If you want to measure something, measure the engagement of your readers.
And don’t just respond to comments. Ask for them. Pose questions in your post that compel questions. Encourage people to debate and expound upon your posts.
Share & Encourage Sharing
Put great stuff on the web. But don’t fall into the “if you build it, they will come” trap.
Conscientiously sharing your content with people who are interested in it and have the means to further publicize it is as close to a “missing magic bullet” as there is.
Here are some slides from a presentation I did with Avvo on how lawyers can use web content to build, nurture and solidify professional relationships:
Make it easy for visitors to find and share. Don’t overwhelm them with sharing buttons for every social network you can think of. Only include those that you’re active in. Communicate to your visitors that you want them to share your stuff. You might be surprised by how much more your content gets shared simply because you encourage visitors to share, embed, etc.
But be conscientious about your sharing. People seem to have the broadcast thing down. Where there’s room for improvement is in the engagement.
Is your blog social? Are you attracting readers, subscribers, links and shares? As a consumer of information on the internet, what motivates you to share?