How to Motivate Attorneys to Become Bloggers

(as originally published by the National Law Journal on 12/22/2010)

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of lawyers and marketing partners about social media and blogging at the LMA Toronto Conference, “The Changing Face of Legal Marketing.” When I finished speaking, one managing partner of a boutique immigration firm approached me and asked the question, “how can I motivate my attorneys to blog?” I didn’t have time to provide the details at the time, but I figured it was likely other firms are asking the same question, so here is my reply:

Far too many law blogs appear, have one post, and then sit idle for months afterwards. This is not a good thing. As Bob Kleiber, Marketing and Communications Manager for Dorsey & Whitney said, “its like having a puppy, you can’t just leave it for a month and forget all about it.” Or as Gayatri Bhalla of Greenfield Belser said in her session on blogging at the conference, “they call it an RSSFEED for a reason, you need to feed it with new content.”

How much new content? Studies have shown that blogs require more than 52 total posts to pass the tipping point in terms of traffic and lead generation. 52 posts requires work and a long-term commitment. So how do we motivate our attorneys to do that much extra writing?

Some firms require (under threat of firing) that lawyers come up with a new blog post each week as part of their job, others have them sign a blog contract. To be honest, I haven’t seen firms have a lot of success with either of these tactics.

In my experience, the lawyers that are successful blogging have a clear vision of what they want to achieve, and a hunger to do more from a business development perspective. This vision and hunger are essential because a blog is so much work. The amount of non-billable time that a lawyer has is limited, so you aren’t likely to get them to sacrifice that time unless they believe in what they are doing. Help your attorneys develop that vision of the future, and you will have much more motivated bloggers. Once they have this motivation, what’s next?

I ask the attorneys at the firms I work with to start by creating a brief blog proposal. This one-page blog proposal basically consists of three parts: The title of the blog, a one paragraph summary of what the blog is about, and 4 or 5 ideas for blog posts. This serves as a pretty good filtering tool weeding out the serious from the less serious blog candidates. If they can’t come up with 4 or 5 blog post ideas now, it is unlikely they will have what it takes to come up with new posts for the next 52 weeks. Provide some guidance though, if they can’t think of anything to blog about, I simply ask them, “what questions are you hearing from clients lately?” This question alone will often help them come up with a half-dozen ideas for blog posts.

Next, you need a blog calendar. Blogging needs to be scheduled, because if it isn’t it will be soon pushed aside by more pressing matters. As lawyers we are constantly forced to be reactive, but blogging needs to deliberate and strategic. If it is a group blog, this responsibility can be spread out, but either way there needs to be a commitment to get articles in on time. I recommend lawyers have both monthly and weekly planning sessions to make the most of their blogging efforts.

Finally, help your lawyers measure the success of the blog posts. To do this, add Google Analytics or a similar tool to the site so that on a regular basis your attorneys can check to see how many people have read their article. Show them how to share the article on Twitter and LinkedIn using URL shortener bit.ly so that they can see how many people are clicking on the article, and how many are passing it on.

This is important for two reasons. First, so that they can understand that people are reading their post, and second, it will help them identify which posts are successful so that they can follow up with more similar posts. This is also a great way to help lawyers see what information resonates with their prospects and clients.

One final thought about motivation can be summed up in a few letters: SWSWSW. Some will, some won’t, so what? You won’t ever get 100 percent of your attorneys motivated to blog, and that’s OK. Find the 20 percent that are willing to follow through, give them the right tools and training and then provide the follow up to keep them moving.

Adrian Dayton helps attorneys develop their online presence through blogs and social media. He is the author of the book, Social Media for Lawyers: Twitter Edition and blogs about marketing strategy for lawyers at adriandayton.com/blog.

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