As you know by now, Web 2.0 is changing the Internet, and it’s important for law firms to keep up with the trends.
The previous installment of this series offered some tips on enhancing your firm’s Web site presence with search engine optimization. While having a good Web site is the foundation to being successful on today’s Internet, it isn’t enough. Web 2.0 is all about branching out through social media to establish your online identity.
But with all the social media tools out there, where do you start?
Perhaps one of the simplest yet most comprehensive Web 2.0 tools is the Blog.
A blog, short for “Web log,” is a Web site (or section of a Web site) which is updated with regular entries, displayed in reverse-chronological order. Many Web users keep personal blogs to discuss hobbies, share ideas or reflect on day-to-day life.
But blogs have evolved beyond online journals. More and more, businesses have embraced blogging as a means to spread news, promote products and services, voice opinions and build reputations.
The legal field, too, is steadily building a presence in the blogosphere. Click here for a list of some local “blawgs.”
If you’re seeking fresh content for your firm’s site, and you aren’t exactly making headlines every week, blogging is a good way to keep your clients and colleagues coming back to your site. A blog can reach out to current and potential clients, promote your Web site and give your firm a “voice” on the Internet.
Determining your target audience sets the stage for the type of content you’ll provide. Perhaps you want a blog that explains your area of the law to the general public. Or maybe you’d like to keep your clients up to date with the latest case results from your firm.
Other possibilities? Enlighten colleagues with analysis of noteworthy cases. Compile interesting articles and legal news coverage. Provide commentary or recount personal experiences. Or use a blog as a marketing tool to showcase firm news and announcements.
You can focus on anything and everything that falls under the umbrella of the law, or concentrate on a little-known subset of your practice area. In fact, the narrower you are in your subject matter, the less likely you are to compete with potentially thousands of other blogs on the same topic.
The overall tone of the blog can be serious or you may choose to throw in a dose of observational humor. And you can further enhance the content of your blog by including relevant pictures and videos.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a computer genius to set up a blog. Sites such as Blogger and WordPress provide simple, free, browser-based software for blogging, and it only takes a minute or so to create an account and start publishing. (Just make sure to provide links back to your firm’s site). Or if you have the IT support, you may want to consider hosting the blog off your own site.
Once you have a blog set up and know your topic, it’s time to start writing. You can choose to be the sole blogger, or you can make the blog a joint effort among others in your firm.
After you’ve established your blog with some initial entries, it’s time to get the word out: Announce it on your firm’s Web site. Include a link in your e-mail signature. Print the URL in firm newsletters. Promote the blog via word-of-mouth.
Many savvy Web 2.0 users are also monitoring the blogosphere via RSS feeds. RSS, short for Really Simple Syndication, is used to deliver blog entries and other time-based content automatically to anyone who asks for it.
Most blogging software automatically generates RSS feeds. Therefore, anyone with a feed reader, also known as an aggregator, can “subscribe” to your firm’s latest blog updates.
To keep readers coming back for more and ensure loyal followers, you need to post new content consistently. While a good blog certainly provides quality over quantity, remember that the more entries, the better. Web 2.0’s fast-paced nature has unfortunately instilled a short attention span upon its users. Post less than once a week and you’re at risk of losing your audience.
Although you’re generating content, your job in the blogosphere isn’t done. To capture the true spirit of Web 2.0, you need to further participate in the conversation by networking with other blogs. If you stumble across a blog your readers might find interesting, link to it. And to draw readers of another blog back to yours, leave useful comments that include your URL.
But those tips are only the beginning. There are many other Web 2.0 tools available to promote your blog, your Web site and your firm as a whole.
Stay tuned for the final installment of the Web 2.0 series to find out more.