According to the AM Law 200 Blog Benchmark Report 2015, blogging among law firms has increased twelvefold over the last decade. Some 82% of AM Law 200 firms have at least one active blog (DLA Piper has 21 in total!). Blogging is also no longer restricted to North American and UK outfits: firms all over Europe are increasingly joining the 'blawgosphere', often posting both in English and in their native language. Legal blogging has thus become a truly global phenomenon.
If your firm hasn't been blogging regularly - or if you haven't yet got round to starting your own blog - here are five reasons why that should change this year:
Position yourself as an industry leader. Most lawyers understand that prospective clients do their research online and that an online presence can increase their visibility. But perhaps even more important is the reputation you can build among other lawyers, who are among your best sources of referrals.
If you don't blog, others will. It's quite simple: if you're not visible online and your competition is churning out regular updates, then there is a business risk. Existing and prospective clients who read thought leadership pieces that resonate with them can be highly susceptible to poaching by the authors of those pieces. This is competitive writing.
Practice improves your writing technique. Not every analysis needs to be 30 pages of legalese. Short blog posts written in a conversational style may seem overly familiar or informal, but they are easier for clients to digest and writing them gives you the opportunity to explore issues from the client's perspective. Many legal bloggers find writing an enjoyable creative outlet and it's always gratifying to share your knowledge with a receptive audience. While it might initially feel awkward to write in a conversational style, you'll soon get used to it and may even find that you write faster that way. Here's a tip for overcoming writer's block: look at what other firms are covering in their blogs and provide your own unique take on the same issues.
Reach the audience you care about - if you are keen to reach a particular audience, such as in-house counsel, consider partnering with a legal aggregator. Lexology, for example, is used by more than 600 firms to syndicate their content to over 300,000 registered senior in-house counsel, law firm partners and beyond. Lexology has partnerships with over 100 associations, such as the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), which ensure that content reaches senior corporate counsel subscribers through their own-branded Newsstand emails. The State of Digital and Content Marketing Survey, produced in 2015 by Greentarget and Zeughauser Group, found that 40% of in-house counsel regarded the content published on aggregators such as Lexology and JD Supra as "very credible". Only 26% said the same of content published on LinkedIn, while only 6% said the same of content displayed on a firm's own website.
Increase revenue. Whether you are building the firm's brand worldwide or developing a new practice focused on a particular market, blogging has great potential for increasing revenue. But remember that this is a long-term strategy. To that end, you will want to measure your ROI in order to see the value of investing time, money and energy in this exercise. If you are looking for data that can help with this, setting up a Google Analytics account is a great start. However, you can gain much deeper insights by using an aggregator such as Lexology, which gives you access to its live analytics. This data can even help to generate leads through article and company intelligence reports generated from your content. You can also use information about topic performance and readership to recruit more bloggers at your firm.
It's well worth your time to blog regularly. The year is still young: take action now. Devise your own content plan to write more frequently on a monthly or even weekly basis, and ensure your firm is not left behind in the information age.