It has recently come to my attention that law bloggers can be a somewhat cautious lot. Though perhaps cautious isn’t the right word…measured, maybe? If you read through any of the blog posts on LexBlog’s front page it’s clear that a tremendous amount of thought and consideration has gone into the writing, on everything from Idaho’s marijuana laws to ICO breach notifications.

But it seems as though, at times, that careful consideration results in a delay in the publication of posts on topical news. We rarely see breaking news posts on LexBlog, which is why our editorial team waives the 200 word preferential limit for Featured Posts if said post is covering breaking news. That’s your LexBlog Insider Tip of the Day: if you want your post featured on the front page, shared across our social media platforms, and in the running for our weekly Top 10 in Law Blogs, write about something in the news today.

Take, for instance, all the recent news on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, including the Senate Judiciary Committee’s recent announcement that both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will publicly testify on Monday about the alleged assault. It’s a hot-button topic, rife with political and social controversy but, if you’re hesitant to make your own writing political, there are a number of other angles that could be taken when writing on this news. You could, for instance, blog about the Anita Hill hearings, when Hill accused Justice Clarence Thomas, then-President George H.W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, of sexual harassment. You could also blog about the potential outcomes of the Monday testimony, or perhaps there was a similarly controversial nomination within your district court. Heck, you could even write about the concept of Supreme Court nominations overall, and simply use Judge Kavanaugh as a means of contextualizing your blog post.

Breaking/current news posts needn’t be long, drawn-out treatises, nor do they need to force you to air your own opinions (if you are hesitant to do so). Instead, think of them as an opportunity to add your voice to a current conversation, and to help shape the discourse of a moment in history.

An odd duo, aren’t they? The football quarterback turned activist, who was recently the face of Nike’s ultra-viral ad campaign, and the world’s most famous painting. But the Mona Lisa wasn’t always regarded that way…

In August of 1911 three men from Italy snuck into the Louvre, and stole Leonardo da Vinci’s smallest masterpiece, which, at the time, was not even the most well-known painting in the museum – in fact, rumor has it that it took Louvre staff 28 hours to realize the painting was missing. What ensued was a viral event the likes of which modern marketing departments could only dream of – the Mona Lisa was splashed across the front page of every national newspaper, police questioned everyone from JP Morgan to Pablo Picasso, and, as tensions between France and Germany escalated before World War I, there were even rumors that Kaiser Wilhelm was to blame. Eventually the police found and returned Mona Lisa to her rightful place, but she would never again be anything less than the most famous painting in the world.

Before cell phones, before the internet, the Mona Lisa went viral, much as Nike and Colin Kaepernick did earlier this week.

One of the (many) benefits of working in WeWork is that they will often host lunch and learn events, put on by other members. Today, Brian Hallett, a Professor at IE University, gave a presentation on “When Brands Go Viral.” We covered a lot during the presentation, from finding the balance between surprise and familiarity, to discussing the role of gatekeepers aka peoples, influencers, companies, etc. that can either promote or suppress the spread of information from one network to the other.

What stood out the most to me was an exercise he had us do early on. I’d encourage you to give it a try yourself!

First, go to the social media page that you use most often. From there, look at the most recent thing that you have shared, and answer the following questions:

  1. Who did it come from? Did you see it outside of your network, or within your network?
  2. Did you share it with your own network or with another network?
  3. What does it say about you?

In my case, I had most recently shared an article from Bleacher Report about a former MLB catcher who recently retired to work with the National Eating Disorder Association. It came from a writer I follow, so it was seen within my network, and I then shared it in my own network. It says a few things about me: that I value the contributions of athletes off the field, that I care (or want people to see that I care) about mental illness and raising awareness of eating disorders, etc. The author is also someone I admire, but who doesn’t follow me back, so it was interesting to reflect on how my sharing of his piece was done, in part, to draw his attention.

Now, I’m no Caroline Metsker (LexBlog’s Marketing Lead), but as our Social Media and Editorial Coordinator I’m rather involved in the world of digital marketing. I certainly learned a lot from Brian’s presentation, and there are a few things I’ll be looking to implement with our social media strategy, but I’m not so sure that viral marketing should be our goal.

LexBlog forges new paths in the legal tech industry, so why should our marketing be the same as any other company? Often, viral marketing campaigns can feel forced – they’re designed to generate buzz for the company, to prey on the consumers’ emotions and appeal to what makes them feel good. Meanwhile, LexBlog is about building relationships and building trust – in our bloggers, in our platform, in us – and any marketing we do should be focused on developing those elements. The access we offer to the thoughts and opinions of some of the brightest legal minds in the world is unparalleled: reading LexBlog can be life-changing; writing for us can be, too.

If a LexBlog post goes viral, that’s great! Not because of all the clicks, or likes, or retweets we would get, but because that would mean that we’ve facilitated greater access to the incredible base of legal knowledge and news that our network provides.

Last week all LexBloggers received a mysterious Google Calendar invite titled, simply “Blogging Hour.” In the detail of the event, our COO Garry wrote that “Blogging is key to LexBlog. It is often difficult to find the time to write or talk with people about blogging. So I am setting aside this hour every week to blog and I invite everyone to join me.”

Five days later and I’m sitting in a conference room in the WeWork Holyoke penthouse*, typing at a table just a little more elevated than I’d like, surrounded by my blogging co-workers, real and remote. What a novel concept, a company that practices what it preaches!

So much of good blogging is about consistency – it’s one of the things we always encourage from new bloggers on the network – and it’s especially key if you’re hoping to build up a following for your blog. People have to trust that you won’t just leave them hanging after a post or two. But blogging consistency is also about you, the blogger. Much like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the next thing you know you’ve got a blogging habit.**

This Blogging Hour will help us hone our blogging habits, but it also allows us to prioritize writing and contemplation in a way that, let’s be honest, doesn’t always happen in a typical workday. It’s a structured hour, in that we’re here to blog, but we can blog about anything, from Member’s Only jackets to Gonzaga basketball. The freedom is almost overwhelming – which is, perhaps, why I’m here blogging about blogging – but I can already feel my Inner Editor retreating to the foreground. There’s a certain mental exhalation that occurs when you banish that Inner Editor. You’re not worried about typos, or grammatical errors, or the dreaded passive voice, you’re simply writing for the sake of writing. Blogging isn’t about perfection, it’s about opening up a discussion, prompting a conversation, sometimes it can simply be a tool to help you work through your thoughts on a matter.

In college I’d often write drafts of my papers by hand, then type them up later on. My thoughts flowed more easily, I scribbled more freely, and it let me avoid the many procrastination temptations that lurked on my laptop. Nowadays I only pick up a pen to attempt the daily NYT crossword – perhaps in our next blogging hour I’ll bring a pen and some paper. There’s a modern day tree-falling-in-the-forest conundrum for you: if you write a blog post by hand, does it still count as blogging?

*not a penthouse, just at the top of the building and high enough that I had to catch my breath before commencing the blogging

**this is a good thing, despite what your significant other may insist

This is the format of an ideal blog post. The most important part of writing an ideal blog post is to, you know, actually write it. Your thoughts are brilliant, I’m sure, but when you keep them within your head you miss out on the discussions that your ideas could generate, that could subsequently help shape your own thoughts further.

The topic can be anything – if you look at our Top 10 in Law Blogs posts you’ll see the subject matter ranges from cryptocurrency regulation to a monkey selfie lawsuit. Sometimes, if you’re having trouble narrowing down a focus, or want to generate more attention with your post, it can help to write about something current in the news.

Well-written blogs are clear, concise, and don’t take too long to get to the point. The cool thing about blog posts is that they can be as long as you want them to be, or as short as you want them to be; an amuse-bouche of insight, or an entree analysis . If your blog is on the LexBlog network, and you want it to be on the front page, it may be good to write at least 250 words for your posts. We’ll put shorter posts on the front page, too though, especially if they’re covering breaking news.

Other tips for creating an ideal blog post:

  • If you’re having trouble getting all your ideas to flow, go ahead and use some bullet points!
  • Always include some sort of title image – it will show up when you share your post on social media, and a number of social media studies have shown that you get better engagement when you include images.
  • Read over your draft before you publish – typos, or other minor grammatical errors take away from your good writing and ideas.

Last but not least, the biggest key to writing good blog posts? Be consistent. Writing blog posts, much like anything else, can become habitual, but at the beginning you’re going to need to make a concentrated effort to push yourself to write with regularity. That consistency is worth it, though, because it’s key in building up your blog and your personal brand.

Nowadays marketing professionals have countless tools to communicate with their audience. Everything from YouTube videos to podcasts to Facebook Live interviews and the list keeps growing. The ability to leverage this content into written form is quite valuable but historically has been a painfully slow and expensive process.

First, you send your files in. Then, you wait for a quote. After approving the price, you wait. Again. And after a few more days of waiting, your transcription finally arrives. This timeline is not always compatible with the need to share information quickly after an event. I’ve been waiting for a better solution.

Today, I heard about Temi. Temi claimed to take a high quality, low background noise audio files and transcribe them for you in less than 5 minutes… for $.10/minute. I couldn’t believe it. Any other tool I explored online was at least 10x the price of Temi and 144x slower on the turnaround. But they offered a free trial, so I gave it a spin.

And… wow!

In less than 2 minutes my 4-minute long audio clip was delivered to me with accuracy that was spot on. In the case that it wasn’t, they offer a simple tool to clean up any issues before exporting your files. Once again, technology is helping us to achieve things we once thought were not possible. Sure, this is a rather small achievement in the grand scheme of things. But to me, it makes all the difference in the world.

If there’s one strong takeaway from Patrick Fuller‘s presentation today, it’s that Artificial Intelligence is already disrupting the legal world. It’s up to legal marketers to make AI an opportunity. The most startling number Fuller shared was 360,000— that’s the number of hours of annual lawyer work saved by JP Morgan Chase’s software, “COIN.”

Fuller, Sr. Director of Legal Intelligence at ALM Intelligence, presented how AI is shaking things up during his west coast speaking tour with the Legal Marketing Association. However, rather than looking at AI as a threat, he showed how it could improve the quality of services provided to clients:

  • Use software to match up clients with the best-suited attorneys.
  • Understand what your clients want. From there, identify software that can automate certain production and deliver greater value to the client.
  • Find solutions that will free up lawyers from drudgery and allow them to focus on the work that matters most— solving complex problems and creating solutions for their clients.
  • Use software that will identify potential clients who will bring the most value to the firm. Hint: It’s not always the “obvious” choice.

It’s always an eye-opening experience to see things from our customers perspective. To understand what challenges they are facing and what opportunities we can help create for them. More than ever, that is through technology.

I’d say I’m pretty tech savvy (for a marketer), but from time to time I get stumped. Like the time I tried to install a fancy wifi system in my home. Tech support was summoned. So when I ran into an issue with our Live Chat widget yesterday, I figured it was me. Again.

We just rolled out a new feature for our customers on the Premier Managed Platform. Customers on Premier are managing multiple blogs with many email subscribers. In the past, a site administrator would have to visit each blog dashboard to receive their email subscriber lists. With this update, they can download all subscriber lists at once, saving a lot of time and effort.

I was excited to get the word out and used our Live Chat widget to pop up and alert users to the update while they were working on the dashboard. This form of communication can be great— the first time. The second, third and fourth time, however, is just annoying. We discovered quickly that the widget was popping up every time a user logged in, pretty much ruining my intent of communication.

When I reached out to tech support, I figured the problem had a simple solution. I was missing some step in setting up a proper trigger. But what we discovered was…a bug! And they’re still troubleshooting. Admittedly, I am kind of proud we discovered it.

I’m still waiting to hear if LexBlog will get our bug bounty. In the meantime, I am enjoying this moment until I inevitably cause a problem for myself that only tech support can solve.

Our Product Development team is always busy baking donuts, aka creating new products. Many of these products are feature enhancements to our digital publishing platform known as Apple Fritter. With all the effort that goes into creating some of these new features, sometimes customer adoption can be the biggest challenge.

When developing and then marketing a new feature, we often make assumptions about the best way to use a product and how it will best benefit our customers. But after a number of conversations, I learned that simply talking to them— hearing their daily challenges, individual strategies, how blogging fits into their big picture— that alone was one of the most valuable tools for understanding what our customers need next. Seth Godin famously said:

You don’t find customers for your products. You find products for your customers.

Last month, along with the help of our Director of Product, Jared Sulzdorf, we got on the phone and started asking our customers lots of questions. The fact that they took the time to offer their opinion alone was great. But the little nuggets of insight we received was even better. What did we hear consistently from customers?

  • Lawyers who make blogging a daily practice saw consistent, positive results.
  • Larger firms report on blog performance regularly, so having useful reporting tools is critical. Guides on making the most of the reporting tools are also very helpful.
  • There is value in networking among LexBlog authors— new bloggers are looking for mentors and seasoned bloggers are always willing to share their experiences and best practices.
  • Law firms are very busy (surprise!), so offering just 15 minutes to demonstrate a new tool in addition to support documents can go a long way to help out. For some folks, a quick demo is preferred over reading through a document.
  • Blog posts are often leveraged beyond the initial post— finding ways to give your article more legs is a value-add for writing.
  • Blogging shows its success in many ways beyond revenue. Firms reported referral work, media interviews, relationship building with clients, and positioning themselves as practice area experts among colleagues.

Now that we have received all this feedback, we can begin to implement new practices and communication to support the needs of our current customers and help new ones be better set up for success. Most importantly, I learned that this type of flow of communication should never stop.