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Legal Marketing & PR: Law Firm Blogger
Why Old School Marketing Won?t Work For Your Law Blog
By Amy Derby
When lawyers contact me for law blogging tips, most of them have heard that blogging is a great marketing tool. Blogging is relatively easy (compared to updating a website), it’s pretty cheap (compared to print-marketing), and it often gets results faster (and better) than other types of marketing. All of that is true and shouldn’t be discounted. But there’s more to the story.
Because of all of the above, lawyers ask me a lot of questions about blog marketing. They want to know things like “How can I get more comments on my law blog?” or “How can I get more RSS subscribers?” or “How can I get my blog to rank higher in search results?” All of these questions are valid, and old school marketing methods aren’t the answer.
Direct marketing makes sense in an offline world — that world most of us come from and are used to. But what most folks new to blogging don’t understand — not just lawyers, but ALL bloggers — is that here on the interwebs, things are changing. The way to get comments, subscribers, and rank on a blog isn’t by push-marketing.
Online, the culture is different. Those involved in blogging and social media are looking for natural conversation and relationships. They’re looking for community. This isn’t a community that wants to be sold to. This is a community that can spot a salesperson a mile away. (I know I can — I delete plenty of their borderline-spam comments on my blog, and I unfollow dozens of them on Twitter every day.)
When we enter a new culture, if we want to fit in and be understood, we have to seek first to understand the language and familiarize ourselves with certain customs. If I were traveling abroad, I would make sure I knew how to communicate and how to act so as not to offend those folks hosting me on their territory. I might not be fluent in the language or get everything right, but I would do my best.
When I came online, I read a lot of blogs and commented on a lot of blogs before I ever started writing blogs. When I came on Twitter and LinkedIn, I looked around at what other people I respected were doing before I jumped in.
Most professionals don’t have time to do that themselves. They rely on others to guide them. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad guides out there. Many of these guides come from a marketing background, and they jumped into blogging and social media with the attitude that their way is the right way. To me, this would be akin to my moving to a country I’ve never visited and proclaiming myself a tour guide. I might be a good salesperson, so I might get a bunch of people to sign up to take my tour, but ultimately I’m going to get these people very lost. Those following me would suffer, and ultimately so would I.
To succeed in blogging or social media, we have to be part of the community. Old offline marketing tactics won’t help us with that.
The way to get readers and commenters, and to rank well on the web, is to be worth reading, worth commenting on, worth subscribing and linking to. How can a lawyer — or anyone else — do this?
Writing decent content your potential reader will care about is only the beginning. You could write award-winning content all day long, but if you have no readers then you’re wasting your time, right?
You have to get in touch with those potential readers and connect with them in a way that will make them want to notice you, and you have to do it in a way that makes people want to be your friend.
Using Twitter to Direct Message someone an autoresponder link to your blog saying “Hey! Notice me!” isn’t going to cut it. To members of the Twitter community, this feels to us as it would feel to you if I barged into your office to hand you my business card. You don’t know me, and we don’t have an appointment. Even if I’m selling something you need, if I go about it that way you’re not going to listen to me. Online, it’s the same kind of bad behavior that makes a whole community slam its door in a person’s face. The difference online is a lot more people are noticing what we do, and they’re talking about us in a public forum where Googlebots are recording the rumblings to be publicly displayed for eternity.
If you want to ‘market’ to the online community, you have to be a part of the online community. You have to speak their language so you can communicate with them. You have to behave in a way that makes them want to listen. When they talk, you have to listen back — after all, that’s only polite in any culture.
If you’re blogging and you want other bloggers to link to you, link out to other bloggers. If you want insightful comments on your blog, leave genuinely helpful comments on other blogs. If you want people to follow you on Twitter, listen to what they’re saying and talk to them. If you want people to answer your questions on LinkedIn, answer other people’s questions. Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? You’d be amazed at how many people don’t get it.
How do YOU go about being a part of the online community? If you’re new to all of this, what questions do you have?
Thank you to Liz Strauss, whose post Connecting with Fiercely Loyal Customers By Being Helpful in a Hypeful World inspired me to think about how this translates for the legal community. I suppose, in fairness, I should also thank the spammer who prompted her post.
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