I want to share a presentation I recently put together that features news pickup around the Web of law firm content posted on JD Supra (click link for copy). The slides show bloggers, editors, journalists, community leaders, and news curators of every sort sharing JD Supra legal content with their own specific audiences.
We often compile reports like this for ourselves – internal measures of where and how sites reference work posted on JD Supra. But this time, as I gathered these slides, it occurred to me that the Age of Curation truly is upon us now. I think it important to be aware of this if you are serious about using content to increase visibility and market your law firm online.
Law Firm Marketing in the Age of Curation
In this latest snapshot you’ll see JD Supra references in stories at the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times; links from niche news sites like TheStreet.com and techdirt; pickup on government websites (U.S. Department of Defense, California EPA, and Open Congress); mentions on blogs to do with healthcare reform, 401(k) planning, parenting, tech innovation, the foreclosure crisis, Indian gaming, timeshares; and links from community-driven news and information resources like Wikipedia and reddit.
It’s a diverse collection of sources and subjects – as diverse and as interesting as the legal content posted on JD Supra in the first place – and, in terms of meaningful online visibility, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
To “increase online visibility” of course means something different for each of us, both in objective and the ways we achieve those objectives. For some, it means doing well in Google search results. For others, “online visibility” is strictly a matter of building relationships on social platforms. For others still, it’s all about using content to establish expertise and authority. (Luckily, it can be all of these things and more – which is why at JD Supra we tend to build tools and services addressing all of these needs, and then some.)
Today, anyone interested in increasing online visibility must take into account the role Curation plays in this noisy Web landscape – especially lawyers and law firms, with whom it’s not just a question how many people read your work but exactly who reads your work. (Once, I said to a client of ours, “We’re looking forward to increasing readership of your firm’s work.” Eager to please, but I meant it. She replied, “I don’t care about numbers, I just want the right people to read it.”)
Curation delivers a target audience, the readers you want.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say the Web groans under its own weight – the Age of Information is becoming the Age of Too Much Information. Google and Facebook battle it out daily to show us who delivers more relevancy. And in the meantime, niche websites, subject-specific communities, and news resources are born to help separate the wheat from the chaff, give us what we need and filter out the rest. (Brian Solis touches upon this in his Three C’s of Information Commerce: Consumption, Curation, Creation. I love his phrase: “An audience with an audience with an audience.”)
The Takeaway for Law Firms?
1. If you want to be seen, found, read, understood, “followed”, “liked,” and otherwise known for your particular legal expertise and service online, start by considering who you are trying to reach.
2. Write for that audience. You’ve heard it before, in this blog and elsewhere: think like an editor. Write analysis and commentary that addresses the needs and concerns of your target readers; don’t just write promotional fluff.
3. Build relationships; do what you can to increase visibility in search results; add the latest bells and whistles to your website or blog … but also know where your ideal audience gathers, and do what you can to be included there. (Don’t wait for readers to come to you, it may never happen. Take your work to your readers.)