Do you have what it takes to be a heavyweight law blogger?

I’m grateful to Catrin Mills of Longmores who pointed me in the direction of this inspiring post by Ashley Connick who wrote a blog about his visit to a seminar on the future of legal blogging. ‘It was held at One Crown Office Row, home of the brilliant UK Human Rights Blog.’

10 Things I Think I Have Learned About Social Media

Derek RodgersA guest blog by Derek Rodgers, Partner at Gardner Leader LLP, Newbury.

“I have recently started blogging and twittering as part of the business development strategy for my firm (which is a solicitors’ practice in Newbury).  After doing it for a few weeks now, what – if anything – have I learned?

1. It is not easy: Thinking of things to write about is difficult.  Finding time to write about the things you have thought of is difficult.  Making those things interesting is difficult.  Finding the ‘right voice’ is difficult.

2.         It takes perseverance: It would be nice to think that as soon as you start writing, millions of people around the world will drop what they are doing and hang on your every word.  It might work like that for Stephen Fry.  For the rest of us, it is a matter of gradually building our Twitter followers and hopefully seeing growth in the number of hits on our blog.

3.         It’s called social media for a reason: It seems to work best if you relax a bit and let your human side show through.  To get any return, you have to engage and build some dialogue.  This is best done as an individual rather than as a company.  I started with a Twitter account (http://twitter.com/GardnerLeader) using the firm’s logo.  I still use it for linking to articles and general information, but it is difficult to have a conversation as a logo.  So I started a separate Twitter feed as ‘myself’ (http://twitter.com/DerekR_GL) which enables me to be a bit more social.  I still try to keep a reasonable proportion of the tweets work-related so that people know what I do, but quite a high number are just about day to day life.  This makes it easier to engage and establish a profile.

4.         It requires some new language: To be honest, I hate words like ‘tweeting’, ‘retweeting’, ‘tweet-ups’ and so on.  They make me shudder.  But that is the language of social media and even if you can avoid using the terms, you do at least need to understand what everyone else is talking about.

5.         It works best if you combine different media: There is a limit to how much you can say in the 140 characters allowed by Twitter.  It is not easy to attract readers direct to your blog.  By using the two in tandem, you can use Twitter to notify your followers that you have written something on your blog and you can use the blog to go into more depth.  Most blogging sites (I use WordPress.com) also enable you to have your Twitter feed on the blog page to complete the circle.  You can also then use status updates on LinkedIn as a further means of spreading the word.  Facebook is another option, but one we have decided against for the moment.

6.         It is worth trying different things: As well as two Twitter feeds, I also have two blogs.  One I use for writing about general things with (usually) some connection to my work (http://derekrodgersgl.wordpress.com/) and one which is specifically devoted to FAQs about company law (http://companylawfaqs.wordpress.com/).

7.         There is a lot of help out there: There are a lot of social media experts around giving out advice and helping people to get started.  Indeed one of my doubts about the whole idea of social media is that so much of it does seem to consist entirely of social media experts talking about social media.  But if you do want to get into it, it probably is worth getting some kind of guidance to start with.  I went to a Twitter workshop organised by a local PR consultant (http://twitter.com/nigel_morgan) and trainer (http://twitter.com/concisetraining).  There are also plenty of websites such as problogger.com with tips about writing blogs and attracting readers, as well as applications such as Hootsuite.com which make the process of publishing across various media much easier.

8.         It could all be a complete waste of time: Despite having all these twitter feeds and blogs, I don’t see myself as any kind of evangelist for social media.  I think it is worth persevering with and I would be happy to encourage some of my colleagues to get involved, but there are no guarantees that it will do anything for our business.  Only time will tell.

9.         I have not got it right yet: I am still trying to find the right level.  I think a more relaxed style probably works better, but like most lawyers I perhaps err on the side of being too serious.  Again, I think it is a question of perseverance and a bit of trial and error.

10.       Blog posts which consist of a list of 10 items seem quite popular: Much more so than posts with only nine items.”

Law Firm Marketing Blogs: A Highly Effective Legal Marketing Tool | Law Firm Marketing Experts, The Rainmaker Institute – JDSupra

Law Firm Marketing Blogs: A Highly Effective Legal Marketing Tool | Law Firm Marketing Experts, The Rainmaker Institute – JDSupra. Top tips for successful blogging.