We recently ran a blogging course with a group of solicitors at our head office on Aldwych, and in preparation I took a look around the web to find some examples of law firms that are blogging well. I was surprised by two things: first, how many have taken the plunge and are in fact blogging, and second, how so few are doing it well.
So, where are they going wrong?
The main issue seems to be a lack of understanding of the medium and the audience that they are writing for. I can picture the scenario, the senior partner or the marketing manager decrees “we need to be blogging, so can you all write something?” No real training is provided, and so lawyers being lawyers do what they do best, they write about cases and what’s in the news. In most examples that I came across the blogs were write-ups of cases, sometimes with a sentence added at the end offering an opinion.
So who is the audience for such a blog? The only group that I can think of that would find that useful is law students. That’s a group that certainly shouldn’t be ignored, but is that really their Tier 1 audience group? I suspect not.
How to develop your blogging strategy
1. Audience – think, really think about who your audience is. A barrister may wish to develop a following with solicitors, whereas a Personal Injury firm will be more interested in appealing to the man on the street.
2. Message – once you’re clear about who you want to influence through your writing, you can start to develop your messaging. What do they want to know? If you’re appealing to individuals, they might be asking questions on Google that they’d be too embarrassed to ask their clever and expensive solicitor. Why not provide the answers to these questions through your blog and let them be drawn into your website? If you’re appealing to solicitors, where are the gaps in their knowledge that you can fill?
It might work best if you get a group to brainstorm the type of information that your audience wants to know. If that exercise generates 30 ideas then you have 30 blog titles to work on – if you only blog once a fortnight, that’s over a year’s worth of content.
3. Consider Google – you should always write for your readers rather than search engines, but it is still important to have at least a basic understanding of how they work, which will help you to structure your blog, for example:a. Don’t write clever headlines as though you are writing for a tabloid newspaper. Use a headline that tells the reader what the blog is about, and get your keywords (the words that people are likely to enter into the search engine) up front.b. Get your message into the first paragraph and expand on it, if necessary, with opinion and examples further down the blog. Apart from not having long to appeal to the reader, people can read the first couple of lines without clicking into the blog, either from the search engine results, or from their chosen RSS feed. If they aren’t clear about what they’re going to get, they’re unlikely to click.c. Use a tool such as Google Adwords to check and see what terms people are actually searching on. It will show you how many people are searching on that term, as well as alternative terms, that you might not have thought of, that may be more popular.
4. Show your personality – when you write a blog, let your personality and your opinion shine through.
5. Include a call to action – if you’ve got someone to read your blog, what do you want them to do next? If you don’t tell them, they’re most likely to click away from your site. But, if you want them to read other blogs on the same subject tell them that they can, and give them the link. If you want them to call you, tell them that’s what you’d like them to do.
So here is our call to action: if you’d like help developing your own blogging strategy please contact us for details about our training sessions, which can be one-to-one, or for your entire firm, either at your offices or chambers or at our head office in London.