If you’ve ever seen a rocket pre-launch cycle for NASA shuttles, then you’re in for a surprising treat. The energy, the anticipation, is overwhelming to anyone watching. Really, the multitude of technicians running last minute diagnostics are just listing off every detail that needs approval before the launch. “Power, check. Systems, check. Fuel, check”. All the different systems and sub-systems get a last good look through before we hear the glorious words, “Ready for liftoff”. This week I am feeling that energy for my new blog. Last week, I blogged about LexBlog handing me the keys to my very own blog. Just like a teenager with a new car, I was ready to take my new blog for a spin. However, while I was ready to jump in and go, I was surprised to find that I needed to go through a pre-launch cycle of my own.

I was given the same product as any basic customer and offered the same materials. The website comes a bit “pre-built” meaning, the website has a few pages waiting to be filled in with my original content. While I’ve used other blog builders before, what I liked was how LexBlog approached the blank pages. Instead of blank, each page had how-to guides for changing, removing, and adding content. They had links to process documents and contact info for more help if needed. I spent a few hours quickly reading through the steps and changing things as I went. In an afternoon, I had a full functional website with logos, images, content, and even a comprehensive disclaimer (nice to have). I even was able to pick a domain name of my own. Instead of having my website name with “wordpress” or “blogger” in the middle of the URL, I was able to have my own! 

So far, I have yet to come across any deal breaking issues. I did want to add a custom font of my own, but was unable to embed it. Granted, I have never had a SaaS (software as a service) let me; that wasn’t anything new. I also found that I had to google definitions for many things. I’m not new to SaaS website builders having done primary research and my thesis on them, but I am definitely new to this level of control. Most SaaS won’t let you change as much as LexBlog lets me. It made me feel like this was my first time around the block, but really, you get more than most when it comes to LexBlog.

I decided that I would take this week and really polish the website. I also just started twitter this last week and wanted to make sure that the website could easily add social media buttons. (It can). I really wanted the blog to be able to shine on LinkedIn and again, it can. I am just about ready to start blogging and building my network of knowledge professionals. Before I jump in, I’ll need to make sure I have my pre-check in order. I’ll need to make sure I have checked for random unwanted content, correct contact info, and all the little widgets in place. Normally, I can hear these conversations in the office. The Success Team does a ridiculous amount of work getting blogs ready for launch.

If anything, I really hope to add value to the cannon of Rhetoric, but also, to help those who may not be aware of the daily implications. I’m not quite sure what a blog will do for my career, but I have met with several attorneys that claim that their career is built by owning a blog. For them, they need to show that they are a real knowledgeable human being with something to offer. Instead of “fake it until you make it”, they are more in-line with “make it, until you make it”. In other words, make valuable content and they will come. I’m excited to see what attention my blog will bring.

So here’s the plug. My new blog is scheduled to launch next Monday, February 25th, 2019 with my first post covering pseudotransactionality in the work place. Each Monday, I hope to cover a piece of Rhetoric theory and, each Friday, I plan on writing about the practical implications. You can find the blog at everydayrhetoric.com or just email me at cgrim@lexblog.com. 

Thank you to the wonderful people at LexBlog that have helped me to start my blog. I would have never imagined to have something so cool and energizing. I am very grateful for the opportunity.

A lot of people I follow on Twitter, also have what I assume are quality Instagram accounts.  I wouldn’t know. After a few days of them cross-posting their Instagram activity on Twitter, I either stopped following them or muted them.

This mindless posting of activity from one social account to another is very pronounced on Twitter.  Where instead of a visually compelling social card, which would make sense from Instagram, we get a simple link.

What does this do for you as a blogger or social media community member?  Nothing. 

It contributes noise, and noise is the enemy of any community.  Sometimes the noise takes the form of repetitive posts or humorous memes, but in its worst form, it is beyond useless.  Plus, these noise posts that are combined with attempts at self-promotion, ruin your credibility and reduce your reach.

So just stop doing it.

Instead tailor your content to your audience.  Sure you can use a bridge service, companies like Tweet Photo will act as a bridge between accounts, taking your photo from Instagram and including it.  But that type of automation is still robotic and for the most part careless.

If you have to use a service, try something like Buffer.  It will connect your various social media accounts and you can write custom posts for each one and schedule them.  

If you are going to use social media, use it.  Don’t think of it as a shortcut to perceived success.  All of these services are a community.  So be a good member of that community and stop contributing to the noise post pollution.  

In the end, you and your followers will have a much better experience.

The Great LinkedIn Challenge has come to a close. The competition was fierce. The challenges were tough. The competitors were tireless in their pursuit of the long-awaited donut cake prize. 

All of that being said, I am happy to announce our winner (at last!). 

Congratulations, Melissa!

Melissa is our Associate Editor here at LexBlog with a passion for storytelling, journalism, and helping others. As I was reviewing her completed LinkedIn profile, I noticed a comprehensive theme that truly spoke to her interests and passion for what she does. She also fulfilled all of the challenges – not an easy feat! 

Because LexBloggers put a tremendous effort into making their profiles shine, I chose two runners up who also did a great job getting their profiles to all-star level. 

Well done, Jaime and Josh!

They will also receive a donut prize (a bit smaller than the cake, of course) for their dedication to completing the challenge. 

I hope you enjoyed following along on this fun competition with me. It’s great to see LexBloggers work hard to make a name for themselves online! 

If you’re wondering, Melissa’s infamous donut cake will arrive at the LexBlog office for celebration in mid-January when we’ll have some of our remote LexBloggers in Seattle for the week. Pictures will follow!

Send your congratulations to Melissa, Jaime, and Josh with a connection on LinkedIn!  

This is an exciting week at LexBlog. Not only do we have our amazing Editor-in-Chief, Bob Ambrogi, in town and a new Associate Editor joining us (Welcome, Melissa!), we have a truly thrilling, exhilarating, and delicious challenge facing us. 

What exactly is this exciting trial we must confront, you ask? I give you LexBlog’s Great LinkedIn Challenge! While this is not exactly what one would call an exhaustive marathon run or New York’s infamous Hot Dog Eating Contest, we take this challenge very seriously at LexBlog. To explain why, let me give a little background. 

If you’ve ever been to our CEO, Kevin O’Keefe’s profile, you know he believes in the important place of LinkedIn within a person’s professional development. LexBlog itself had a tagline, “Make a Name for Yourself,” to encourage lawyers and other legal professionals to embrace blogging and networking online. We still hold strongly to that principle for our network – so why wouldn’t we do our best to embrace it ourselves? 

This is how The Great LinkedIn Challenge was born. Earlier this week, I was thinking through ways to inspire a passion for networking and growing online influence among my fellow LexBloggers. I decided that the two things that universally motivate people are 1.) Fierce competition with proximate peers and 2.) Donuts (especially at LexBlog, obviously). And with that, I created this challenge for my coworkers. 

Before a deadline of December 19th, we are each tasked with completing a list of challenges. Each challenge, in some way, improves the LexBlogger’s LinkedIn presence. Some challenges are easy, such as uploading a header image. Some are more difficult, like listing bulleted details about past work experience. 

The most exciting part occurs on the last day of the challenge. In the true spirit of the sweet-filled gluttony of the holiday season, whoever completes all 11 of the challenges by the deadline receives a giant donut cake from Legendary Donuts! Just take a gander at their menu. Who wouldn’t want to win one of those? 

And so, in this time of intense rivalry among us here at LexBlog (not really), we ask that you encourage us as we embark on this journey of improving our online presence. We take donations in the form of non-cake-sized donuts and LinkedIn recommendations. 

*Updates on the winner will most definitely follow* 

After nearly a year and a half of being full immersed in the world of legal blogs and blogging, I’m leaving LexBlog to travel across the country and work for the National Baseball Hall of Fame as their Digital Communications Specialist. It’s a dream job, made possible in large part by my work here, so it seems only fitting that I close out my LexBlogger career with one final Blogging Hour.

I interviewed to intern in June of 2017, a year removed from graduating college and weary from the balancing act of six different part-time jobs. Beyond a desire for stability, though, I was searching for somewhere I could learn and grow; somewhere that could offer some guidance, but also give me room to be creative. I got all that, and so much more.

Some things I’ve learned in my time at LexBlog:

  • Break up your blog posts. It’s difficult to read massive walls of text online, so often many people don’t. Break up your writing into smaller paragraphs, or *ahem* use bullet points.
  • Connect with people, be it in person or via social media. Reach out, ask questions, build those relationships – it makes you a better employee but, most importantly, it makes you a better human.
  • Social media is a powerful tool (heck, it helped me land my initial internship here, and the new job at the HOF!). It doesn’t shrink the world down, but it does make it more accessible – you can trade gifs back and forth with a bar association in the opposite corner of the country (gonna miss you, @TheFlaBar), engage with a law firm in India, and cover a legal tech conference in London.
  • Mistakes happen. Apologize to those affected, fix the mistake and then, most importantly of all, take action to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. It may feel terrible initially, but ultimately it’s another learning experience.
  • Don’t impose limits upon yourself. My friends used to tease me that I operated like a Luddite, or a tech-inept grandmother. When I first took over the front page of LexBlog.com I tip-toed around the backend of the site, ever-fearful of accidentally clicking something that might make the entire thing explode in a wave of code and flame emojis. But I read some WordPress for Dummies, sent Jared far too many Slack messages, and spent a lot of time poking around and testing things out, and ultimately was able to help create and edit demo sites, fix RSS feeds, and all manner of things that once struck fear into my heart.
  • Blogging can change lives. If Kevin hadn’t begun to blog 15 years ago, there wouldn’t be six of us sitting around a table typing away merrily now. And if Bob hadn’t started blogging, well, would legal blogging even exist as it does?
  • Never make a fantasy football trade with Scott. He’s always trying to swindle you.

As I was packing my things last weekend, I found the old legal pad I used when I first started at LexBlog. Each date was carefully boxed at the top of the page, with notes from meetings, thoughts, and assignments scribbled beneath. Phrases like “shine a light,” and “blogging to build relationships” littered the early pages. It seems funny that I felt the need to write those ideas down back then – they’re concepts that are so fundamental to me now that it feels like the equivalent of writing down “breathe,” or “drink water,” or “donuts are delicious.” 

So, thank you, LexBlog. I’ll no longer be a LexBlogger, but I’ll always be a blogger.

And a special thanks to Aimee, for the glorious (gluten free!) wine and cheese spread!

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.

Happy national donuts day! On a day dedicated to donuts, it seems fitting to write my first post in a blog about donuts. To stick with the donut theme, I’ll be dedicating this post to a favorite GIF emoji on the LexBlog team: Donut Parrot.

The Donut Parrot!

When we have a moment to take a break from our ticket queues, many of us at LexBlog like to virtually congregate in our team chat feeds to share jokes, interesting articles, solve problems and of course – send lots of emojis! Since we’ve added Slack as our team chat app, we’ve accumulated a sizable collection of GIF based custom slack emojis. As a company of donut enthusiasts, the donut parrot is one our most frequented emoji choices. Along with donut parrot, a few other parrot emojis have been pretty popular on our slack channels as well.

 

 Meet fiesta parrot.

 

And my favorite, coffee parrot!

 

Apparently we’re not the only ones who appreciate parrot based GIF emojis. Brittany Levine Beckman shared a story in Mashable about how the Cult of the Party Parrot GIFs have taken the internet and tech company Slack channels by storm.

There’s something hypnotizing about the quirky emoji that’s gotten humans to spread his gospel far and wide. He can be found on Slack, Reddit, t-shirts, in programming terminals, in an Android mobile game, and iMessage (there’s an app). You can even turn all the images you see online into party parrots with a Chrome extension – although it’s not a good look.

 

As silly as it may seem to write a post about GIFs and emojis, it’s undeniable that sharing a good GIF can add some humor to someones day and lighten the mood. I’ve definitely appreciated seeing the latest additions to the LexBlog GIF collection. In the spirt of Donut Parrot, have a happy Friday and donut day. Go treat yourself to a good maple bar, or a funny new GIF!

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.

Yesterday Michigan State University College of Law hosted “Building a Better Lawyer: Design Thinking, Training, and Study.” It was a workshop put on by MSU Law professor Dan Linna and his Legal RnD team, and co-led by Margaret Hagan, the founder of the Legal Design Lab at Stanford Law School. Margaret and Dan are two of the top figures within legal tech innovation, and they spent hours leading large and small group discussions about facilitating innovation, and how to build better lawyers. Lansing, Michigan is 2,289 miles away from Seattle but, thanks to Stephen Embry’s phenomenal post about the workshop, I, too, was able to learn from Margaret and Dan’s expertise.

The Oxford Dictionary defines citizen journalism quite simply as “The collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the internet.” I prefer NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen’s take on the definition:

When the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another, that’s citizen journalism.

The internet is an indelible part of our lives today and, though that may at times be problematic, it has also thrown open the doors and allowed us to access information at an unprecedented rate. Through blogging and social media anyone with an internet connection can become a journalist; sometimes it’s silly, like the people on Instagram who report on their meals by sharing pictures of their food, other times it’s tragically important, like the interviews that student journalist David Hogg conducted with his classmates during the Parkland shooting.

LexBlog has always run on citizen journalism, and it’s become even more important as we’ve opened our own doors and begun pushing towards our goal of becoming the world’s largest legal news network. We want to hear from you, because your voice matters. We want to read about your thoughts on proposed legislation changes, workshops or learning events you’ve attended, and anything and everything in between (okay, we don’t really need to hear about what you ate for lunch). As Jared Sulzdorf, our Director of Project Development, pointed out at our all-hands meeting, “The law is all about opinions, and writing helps you shape your opinions.”

When people ask me what they should do to get started on blogging, I rarely talk technology or even blogging. While those are important elements of blogging, they are next steps. Things you do after you decide you want to blog and have found your tribe and your voice.

Ask yourself this, when you decide you want to start blogging. Who am I blogging for? If your answer is everyone, you are not going to be happy. Nor is anything you are about to read going to help you.

When you are right you are looking for an audience. I want you to go online and find a person that embodies that audience for you. This should be a person, not a brand or a company. At the end of this little exercise, you should have just one name.

Now go online and learn more about that person. Look for the following things:

  • Are they reachable online?
  • Do they write online?
  • Do they use social media?
  • Do they follow other people?

If the answer to the majority of the above questions is NO. Forget that person for now and find another person until the majority of these criteria are going to be met.

This person should be your goal.

You will follow them, connect with them and ultimately get them to follow you. If you fail on that front, don’t worry, what you pick up in the meantime in terms of knowledge and other people to connect with, will make it worthwhile.

So what do you need to get started.

  • The person from above
  • An email account
  • An RSS reader like Feedly
  • A Twitter account
  • A Facebook account
  • A LinkedIn account

Check out where this person writes. Do they have a newsletter you can subscribe to? If so, sign up. If they have RSS on their blog, subscribe to it.

Now head over to social media and follow them on Twitter first. It is the easiest entry point. Do not fill your Twitter account with noise. Try and make it a useful tool. Not a reflection of who you are, but who you would like to become.

After you have checked Twitter, visit Facebook. Some people use their Facebook accounts more casually than others. See what they have publicly available. If it is not much, odds are they are using it for just family and friends. If that is the case, move on for now. You can always revisit them later and reconnect.

Facebook is a powerful tool. People use it differently than both Twitter and LinkedIn, but people are also a lot fussier about their Facebook accounts. So be thoughtful. Don’t rush to friend somewhere there unless they are appear to be very open with their friending policy.

With LinkedIn, connect with them, but make sure you tell them why. You are not using a shotgun approach here. Be thoughtful in a note with your connection request.

Alright now comes the fun part. Start to learn from what you just did. Read their work. See who they share with. Are those also people you would be interested in following? If so, repeat the above process.

Now start liking and sharing their work. Where possible make thoughtful comments.

After establishing a rapport with a person, they will most likely follow you back. If not keep at it and keep looking for people who meet the same criteria of the first person you followed and repeat the process. Eventually your tribe will begin to grow.

Congratulations! Without even typing a single post, you have taken your first step towards ensuring that when you do start blogging, you will reach the people that matter to you.

But before you do that, you should probably consider finding your voice. I will write about that in my next post.