Blogging is, basically, to draw an extrapolated line from some of the more original of our behavior, a continuing series of self-published, short (I know, I know) articles, released for a web audience, and often featuring links to other webpages, for information and reference. Blogs are not essentially social media. It’s more like the production of numbers of presentation pieces, more of that 0ld skool talking “at”, rather than talking “with”. Even if you include comments sections, I don’t consider blogs as social media, as the same process for delivering content and soliciting response is utilized with respect to the publication of online newspaper articles. But, for purposes of this discussion, blogs are close enough to social media that we can talk about them–the tipping point being that blogging is too effective an advertising mode to ignore (hey, this isn’t a scientific journal); and, there are those out there who do believe that blogging is a social media platform. The more important question (more important than a battle over semantics, surely) is the way that one may conceive of blogging, because those initial conceptions of what a blog is and how to blog are what gives rise to the form of new blogs, and, likely, what colors the process throughout which the blogger works. You remember that kid who you hated growing up, the one who used to play Dungeons and Dragons all the time in his basement? Yeah, he’s blogging now. But, the thing is, there were a lot of other annoying Dungeons and Dragons kids out there, too; and, it only took the internet for these kindred nerds to find each other. There are so many people online, with so many unique and diverse interests; each one now has an outlet, and a way to discover others who enjoy the same things. Blogs are one way to discover and engage specific communities of interest. And, if you’re the blogger, and not the blog reader (which does not disqualify you from reading others’ blogs, of course), you get to plant and grow your own, specific community, or sub-community. One of the obvious benefits of becoming the sower and gardener is that you become known more prominently, and known more prominently as an expert in a topic area; and, even if you never set out for that seminal role, it can be yours to discover. The most common reaction I get when I suggest that people start blogging is accompanied by a change of their pallor, as they shy away from the idea almost immediately, and tell me that they could never write that often, or that much, or impressively, at least, impressively enough to attract followers. It’s a scary concept for them; it’s difficult to start, and even more difficult to build, and maintain, or so it seems. But, trust me, it’s not that hard. I mean, c’mon, I have a blog, and I didn’t learn to tie my shoes until I was in the second grade. As long as you’re interested in what you’re writing, or into, at least, part of what you’re writing about, that should meet the motivation requirement. You do have to be unique. You have to speak from within your niche, executing on your specialty by way of interesting examples, and commentary on hot, or, at least, mildly interesting, issues. But, I mean, that’s sort of what you do at work everyday anyway, right? This is not at that distant a remove. And, you’re a lawyer: you can write; writing is the bulk of what this profession is and does. If nothing else, blogging may be more appealing than what you write now (given the inherent freedom and excitement attendant upon managing your own publication series), and may produce some experimentation in method, and so, a respite from your daily grind. There are two important considerations for the would-be blogger: (1) You’ve got to be consistent. You can’t write four posts one week, and take the next two months off. This is just like setting expectations with your clients; you have to train your readers, as well, to expect consistent and enlightening posts from you on a regular, standard basis. If you can post on the same day each week, or on the same days each week, then, that’s even better. Because, maybe then, people start to look forward to your stuff like they look forward to the appearances of their favorite television show . . . and its associated Twitter and Facebook accounts. (2) You have to develop your own style. As we preach consistently at LOMAP, you’ve got to continually be looking for ways, in marketing yourself and your firm, to separate yourself from the madding crowd. One way to do that is to develop a unique style. If you can get there, you will become known for, at least, something. (Let’s hope it’s something good, and not something like: that’s the dude who writes really long posts, and always talks about George Harrison. -He’s really annoying. -I know. -I hate that guy.) Another concern that is frequently expressed to me is: Well, What if I run out of ideas? Well, it’s not likely to happen, especially if you like what you’re writing about, and are engaged in your subject matter. Keep a handwritten list of post ideas on your desk. Drop interesting ideas for what you can write about to a segregated email folder. Draft parts of posts when the spirit moves, and finish later. Guest on others’ blogs, at topics of their recommendation, or of your own suggestion. Get others to guest on your blog. There are a number of ways to push content; but, you won’t discover how those work for you, unless you start out down the road. Blog design is not, either, something that should scare you off. There are a number of free and easy-to-use templates out there, including Blogger, WordPress and TypePad. And, you may build your website around your blog, using one of the blogging platforms available; if you do this, you’ll have an easy, built-in tool for refreshing your content. Each time you post a new blog (if that blog makes up the central measure of your website), your website will look new and different, as apart from that last visit. This will show that you’re cognizant of your marketing, that you take the time to present new material through your website (making it more likely to become a stopping point, as well) and that you are a subject matter expert, with plenty to say on the subject. Providing easy ways to link back to your prior content cements the point, as well as your authority.
The use of LinkedIn is more truly social media than blogging is social media. This is a far more participatory sport. Of course, there are degrees here. Li
nkedIn features status updates and messaging; but, it’s not as social as Facebook, and it’s not as essentially social as Twitter. It’s more of a static profile website than those others are. LinkedIn is a professional resume profile site, at base. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out prospecting for jobs on LinkedIn; although, you could do that, and the LinkedIn universe can be an effective market to network for new positions. LinkedIn is more about networking with colleagues, whether those colleagues are attorneys, are within the legal field, or not. It envelops the business card and elevator speech, and churns out a profile page that is your resume + some bells and whistles + recommendations made of you + recommendations you have made out for others. It’s another website (or another part of your web presence, probably more appropriately), that serves to highlight who you are and what you do, at yet another corner of the internet. So, How do you conceive of LinkedIn? Well, you know your nerdy cousin Jeffrey, who went to Harvard Business School? He was probably one of the first people on LinkedIn. Via the social media features that allow you to market yourself through LinkedIn, you can present yourself as a subject matter expert, as a specialist, again, within your niche. In addition to networking and marketing, LinkedIn is useful for professional development; you can’t help but become tied to folks with similar interests, merely by accessing the site fairly regularly; and, you’ll pick up useful information. It’s the same for Facebook and Twitter. There is value to LinkedIn; and so, there is, especially, no excuse for not creating a LinkedIn page. If you’re fairly quick on the old computing machine, it may take you as little as 20 minutes to put one together. Once you fill out the resume portions of the profile, you can add an application, or two, and you can recommend some friends–if you’re lucky, they’ll recommend you, too. You should also upload to your profile a professional photograph of yourself, and this holds true for every social media site that you engage; there is a visceral connection made when someone can actually see what you look like; real estate agents hit this one on the head. (If you’re ugly, there’s always airbrushing. It worked tremendously for me. Airbrushing tools are like little Botticellis divining cherubic angels.) You’ll notice on LinkedIn that there is a status progress bar, that indicates how close you have come to “completing your profile”, which completion appears to be an arithmetical amalgam of information, applications, recommendations and use. Try to get as close to 100% as possible. (I’m at 90%, I think. I know it’s because of the minimal amounts of recommendations I have drafted and that have been drafted about me. But, 90% is aight. I can live with that. I’ll spend Wednesdays nights watching Man Versus Food instead, rather than crafting LinkedIn recommendations for friends, family and business associates that are passably competent and likable.) One thing about LinkedIn, and about any of these services, really, is that you truly do have to use them, in order to get anything out them. A trick I use with LinkedIn is, every time I get a new business card, I see whether that person is on LinkedIn, and will reach out to connect with them, if they are. This is productive of a system for using LinkedIn. (And, yes, I know, if I met you recently, and didn’t do this, you’re like, Liar! Okay. Maybe I do this only 90% of the time, too.) If you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, and make things real easy for me here, here I am. Hello.
Alright. We’ve reached that time during the party when we talk about Facebook, subject of a very popular recent movie that I refuse to see: because I can’t think of anything more boring than a movie about how someone created a website. (Watch for “Rosebuds: The Google Search Algorithm” (alternate title: “Citizen Kane 2”). Really. Really?) I’ve called Facebook, previously, “the informal LinkedIn”, and, in alternation, I’ve also called Facebook, “Not Your Grandfather’s LinkedIn”; but, neither of those are quite right. Facebook is more of a site for personal matters (and issues). However, the business commences and continues, as you see more and more “old people” and “salespersons” on the site. (Not necessarily my words, but the words of some original and younger users, who lament the loss of the “old Facebook”, which was far more purely a social networking endeavor. These persons see the change in terminology from “social networking” to “social media” as sort of signifying that movement away from Facebook as a way to connect with friends toward Facebook as a way to connect with products and consumers. But, then again, nearly every good thing is corrupted by commercialism.) Facebook has the most social networking and sharing features of the Big Four. There is less emphasis on resume inputs and business bona fides on Facebook. It’s more of an informal environment, where strict business marketing becomes secondary to personal engagements. There’s more of an emphasis on the remainder of your personality. When it comes to Facebook, yes, it does help if you’re cool. You’re never looking for the hard sell here, of course; but, this is true of all social media marketing. You’re looking to connect with people, and to see where things go, slow-playing the business relationship, as it were, to borrow a popular term from poker. Facebook also serves as an excellent content aggregator; and this is, for me, perhaps the most striking business-related feature, aside from the more obvious engagement marketing tools. You can drop all of your content to your Facebook page, as we have done at ours, and that sort of constant bleed provides for an entrance into the subconscious of your potential clients and referral sources; it’s like an IV of marketing excellence. (And, it looks so durn pretty, that, as I’ve said previously, it could probably serve as your primary website, if you wanted it to.) But, you’ll only understand that if you understand the ubiquity of Facebook. And, if you’re not aware of the usage patterns of primary Facebook users, you wouldn’t necessarily know how this all works. So, let me drop some knowledge on you: The main page of Facebook is not the profile page. It’s the Newsfeed. That’s where all your friends’ and likes’ updates come through, via a running scroll (think: Twitter feed). If someone “likes” your business’ page, and you consistently post (content) to your page, all those people who have liked your page continually see your updates and consistently regard your name and specialty. But, How do you know they see you? Well, let me tell you . . . the young people (you remember the young people, don’t you?), those primary, first users of Facebook, they n
ever miss an update. Seriously. Never. My wife runs her Facebook newsfeed through her phone all day, checking from time to time to see what’s up. At night, when we get home, she turns the computer on and leaves it on, checking the scroll from time to time, and, eventually, reviewing nearly every update, from the coursing of that day. In the morning, she refreshes the night’s posts. You have no idea. I’m totally serious. This is what actually happens. (For those who did not grow up with Facebook, the easiest conversion example I can think of is that checking email/Facebook/Twitter is really just like checking three email accounts, if only you retained a staggeringly refined ability to mutli-task. That’s Generation Y for Ya.) The trick, of course, is to get on the newsfeed. So, you have to get people to like you/your business. Then, “you’re in like Flynn”, to borrow an old person’s expression. (Whoops. Perhaps an “age-challenged” expression?) So, what’s Facebook really “like”? What kind of ways can you conceive of it? Well, one way would be as follows: It’s like hitting a killer keg party in college. You know, man. Everybody’s there. It’s sweet. But, then, like, everybody else shows up. Even your parents. Yikes. Sort of a buzzkill, I know; but, Facebook is still the best way to connect with people in the realest online way. Of course, Facebook becomes a tremendous marketing vault for the start-up firm, mostly because all of your friends and family are there, too. The establishment of a Facebook page for business becomes a quickfire way to attract the most loyal and dedicated fan base you will ever have, immediately to you. What better way to begin to build goodwill, than to engage those persons who will always be most invested in spreading the good word about you? (Remember, your last client may like you, but your Mom will always love you; and, she will delight in talking about you, a lot. Facebook is both for baby pictures and the new big baby pictures.) You’ll even have friends and family you don’t yet know, or don’t really remember, coming out of the woodwork, just to find you. Although that sort of catch-up gap-filling was perhaps not what the creators of Facebook had in mind (again: have not seen the movie), it is now an essential part of Facebook, because the program has evolved from a method for information exchange between college students to the method of information exchange for just about everybody in the world, and their baggage. It is probably clear from the rest and remainder of the discussion here, but I’ll reiterate it: I think it is important to not be stiff on Facebook. Be yourself; be personal and personable. You don’t have to maintain the same persona on each social media service; you just need to broadcast a consistent message; you have various aspects of your personality, and you may dedicate particular personae to different marketing engines; I don’t see this as an inconsistency at all: My interaction on Facebook is different from my interaction on Twitter is different from my interaction on LinkedIn, because they are essentially different platforms categorized under the same broad, generic heading. I’ve written exclusively on Facebook as a useful marketing platform option elsewhere (well, elsewhere at this blog, not, like, elsewhere elsewhere); you can read the remainder of my recitation here.
And, with that, we come to the clean-up spot, as Twitter is the fourth and final social media marketing option I wanted to take some time to address. It’s relatively easy to figure what Twitter is and does, mostly because it’s such a simple engine. People call it a mode of microblogging; but, it’s not really like blogging at all, because you’re not expanding on content; you’re contracting it, distilling it, instead, within that defined set of 140 characters. Twitter has taken the concept of status updates from LinkedIn and Facebook (remember the Newsfeed; the vast majority of newsfeed updates are rolling status messages), and made it the entire program. It’s sort of brilliantly simple, in its way, even though it’s completely lifted. In many ways, the creators of Twitter really figured out the essential importance of status updates before the creators of the superstructure media did. (And, perhaps they struck at the right time, too. Social networking really got going in the early 2000s; and, it was college-aged kids, at the dawn of Facebook, who really provided the initial push for this thing to take off. Those folks are now approaching 30. Everybody older, though (including me), sort of missed the boat, and had to catch up later. The genius of Twitter, then, may have been that it introduced older generations to the concept of social networking in a really boiled-down way, so that they, too, could intuitively “get it”, in a sense. I think the progression worked something like this: Older folks were on LinkedIn, because it was a professional resume profiling and building website. That’s easy to understand; and, it’s easy to use. But, they didn’t really utilize the social networking features. Then, Twitter rolls up, and they jump on that, because they now understand the power of status updates and what pure online, social communication is about, because that’s really all that Twitter is. Now, it’s on. These folks start using Facebook, too, initially, maybe, because they wanted a way to talk with their kids on their terms, or to see pictures of their grandchildren; but then, in using the program, and connecting with family and old and new friends, much of the full power of social networking (and social media, when they begin to broadcast content, and realize that they can soft-sell their businesses on these services) is revealed to them. Although, I don’t know that the importance of the Newsfeed, as analogous to a screened Twitter feed, has yet been clearly picked up, which is why I spent some time discussing its importance in the above section. (Ain’t I nice?) And, certainly, there are those who took the LinkedIn-Facebook-Twitter path, as well; but, I think the learning curve is the same, in the sense that Twitter is the driving force for teaching older generations what it is that social networking really is and does. So, if there was use of Facebook, initially, it became more robust, and much better understood, through the use of Twitter.) What that parenthetical aside just told you (or, one thing that it told you–see, you love my parenthetical asides, you know you do), was that the older crowd, say, the 45-54 year old age demographic, is adopting and using Twitter (really, has adopted Twitter, some effectively for business). And, that’s a community of interest you want to reach, too, right? Right. One part of this is accessing those young persons who are becoming the driving economic engineers of society; but, the other part is accessing those people who already are that. I think that Facebook is the best spot for the former, and that Twitter is the best spot for the latter. If you can project yourself via Twitter as a specialist/subject matter expert/niche performer/boutique stylist/ what have you, you’re more likely to engage those who are suc
cessful and comfortable (relatively), as opposed to those who will become so, as they grow all up. The combination use of Facebook and Twitter allows you to access the potential and the kinetic energies of the business world. (Harnessing that energy just might make you the most powerful person in the universe. Careful of burning yourself, though, and don’t stick any forks into any light sockets. Trust me.) So, Twitter’s one great way to access the establishment. The Man, opened to your approaches. But, keep in mind that, you’re not only going to get the people you want to commune with on Twitter, but also everybody else, too, including crackpots, spammers, pornographers and various other low and mean creatures. So, you must be careful, careful of who you follow; but, perhaps more so, careful of who you appear to advocate for, who you retweet. I would never use Twitter if I didn’t do it for work. It’s like Facebook Lite . . . very Lite. (Don’t you love it when the traditional spellings of words are changed for the purposes of sales and marketing, especially when it’s driven by a beer company.) I don’t get much out of it, personally. (Why not just use one service, like Facebook, that has an update stream and lots of other stuff, too?) But, I do get some decent mileage out of utilizing it for the purpose of marketing LOMAP. That, coupled with the fact that it’s not overwhelmingly difficult to use, and the fact that it’s not really time-intensive, means that Twitter is an attractive option for the advertisement of products and services. (Yeah, obviously, I know, that’s why every business and celebrity is on Twitter.) I like Twitter for work because it’s a great place to republish your stuff = content. It also has a potentially exceedingly broad reach. If a person with a number of followers, or a business with the same endowment, decides to validate your content by retweeting you, or making a nice remark about something you’ve done or said, you’re reaching a bunch of people, yeah, but you’re also becoming an influencer within yet another community of interest. And, that reach can extend out as far as internet communication exists. I am always amazed when someone from Germany follows me. (And, I have a ton of German followers. As I’ve said before, I am the David Hasselhoff of Twitter.) So, Twitter allows you to access a global market of consumers, by means of short bursts of information, whether original to you, or forwarded. And, retweeting takes, literally, like, one second. Plus, there are organizing platforms to help you to manage the deluge that will become your unchecked Twitter feed, platforms like TweetDeck and HootSuite. There is much to recommend the use of Twitter, and very little, including the spectre of lost time, to argue against it application in the context of business marketing. I have, previously at the LOMAP Blog, written in great detail, and at great length, on methods for getting the most out of Twitter as an agent of your marketing platform. You may find my tome on Twitter push available here.
. . .
I’ll end. (Yes, there is an end. Now, if you’ll excuse me . . .) I’ll end by providing to you what I believe are seven effective tips for the use of social media in marketing your practice, generally. Let’s call these the . . .
(1) Identify Your Niche/Specialty; then, promote it, most vigorously
(2) Don’t Be Uber(German Twitter people influence)-Professional; in my experience, clients like lawyers who are human beings; act like one and you know, this is the internetting, people like a little sizzle with their steak and shake
(3) Engage Others; while you’re being so darn engaging yourself, you charismatic old devil, you
(4) Discover Communities of Interest; these are whence you will draw your potential clients and referrals, as determined, eventually, through your ROI analysis)
(5) Be Consistent
(6) Be Repetitive; because you’re always ”on message”
(7) Create and Utilize a Marketing Plan; to manage your social media marketing platform, and especially for that continuing ROI analysis
. . .
At the risk of sounding like a 15-year-old girl: You really have to go out and buy the new Taylor Swift album; it’s super awesome.
(I know, 15-year-old girls probably don’t use semicolons. Touché.)
But, you know that I have a sophisticated American musical taste, right? So, no I don’t play any instruments, and I don’t listen to Beethoven regularly or anything; but, I do listen to songs that are over 18 minutes long, and I know what a pedal steel guitar looks like. So there.
Now, while you may have been led to believe that Taylor Swift is one more crap pop star, it’s just not the case. Her lyrics are always great, and often jarring in their uniqueness and quality. (Yeah, almost all her songs are about love; but, what songs aren’t?) Musically, she has matured with each successive album outing. Her music is diverse within her range; and, if you take the time to listen through an entire album, you’ll likely find that her conceits and flourishes are much more than what you would have expected a modern artist capable. She’s certainly not some other invented stage kid, like Justin Beiber. In fact, Taylor Swift is the best modern singer-songwriter that I can name, and by a wide margin. (Yes, the field is mostly fallow; but, still . . .) And, “Speak Now”, released this Monday, nearly cements the place of that rating.
For someone who seems to be, for all the world, a sweet girl, Taylor Swift takes names, writes them down, and then composes songs trashing the people attached to those names. It seems that there are two surefire ways to get yourself onto a Taylor Swift album: break up with her, or steal her boyfriend.
(It seems the only safe place to be is to registered as her unrequited love, like a male Beatrice, like the dude from “Hey, Stephen”, off of her last, “Fearless” album.) And, yeah, there are plenty of those songs on this album (really, it’s like Carly Simon wrote “You’re So Vain“, and liked the feeling of killing that relationships so much that she was like, “Man, all of my songs are going to be about this from now on”), perhaps the most virulent in the strain being “Better Than Revenge”, in which she tears apart some chick I never heard of for stealing from her Joe Jonas, who I wish I never heard of. (Includes the immortal line: “She’s not a saint, and she’s not what you think: she’s an actress/But, she’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress.” Oh, snap.) My most cherished revenge track on this disc, however, is “Dear John”, in which she absolutely eviscerates John Mayer, in the style of John Mayer, for almost 7 minutes. (If someone is trashing John Mayer, count me in. Room for squares, indeed. Shut your piehole, John Mayer. You suck.) And, the love songs (and the revenge songs are sort of love songs; they’re just about love gone wrong–terribly, horribly wrong) making up this album are finely wrought, as always. But, a close listen reveals some new subtleties, lyrically and musically (there’re shades of 80s music here, a very little country, some stuff that sounds like Fleetwood Mac, etc.), especially in comparison with her last album. This sort of growth bodes well for Taylor Swift; being so young, she hopefully has a lot of albums left in her; and, I am interested to see the ways in which her talents develop.
There are some other tracks on this album which I should highlight, for various reasons:
“Mine” is the prevailing radio hit. It’s really catchy, and is more of the sort of song that would have appeared on her last album; so, it’s a nice segue therefrom. It is, however, representative of the movement toward a more mature musical and lyrical flavor.
“Speak Now” may be my favorite Taylor Swift song ever. This is an immensely cool song about a girl who makes an objection at a wedding, to successful termination. Really excellent lyrics here, often striking. (This is something of an opposite cousin to Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar”, in which the protagonist breaks off her own wedding, when she discover that her groom is, well, a white liar.)
“Never Grow Up” is a sad song about moving away, and moving on, and experiencing, for the first time, the ravages of time. A very mature effort, which appears as an outgrowth, and perhaps an extension, of last album’s “The Best Day”.
“Enchanted” is a straight pop song that draws you into a great, hooky chorus. It’s quiet at times, but effectively so.
“Long Live” is a song that will be played at roughly 93% of high school graduations over the next 20 years. Mark it down. It’s a cool song; and, due to my aforementioned, made-up statistic, it will be the anthem for everyone who turns 18 between 2011 and 2031. (It seems like a really good idea to write songs for occasions. The Beatles’ Birthday never overtook “Happy Birthday to You”; but, that was a long road to hoe; and, it will still always be popular, because of its connection to a marked day. Billy Joel’s “This Is the Time” was probably more like a graduation song; but, Taylor Swift’s version is more specifically so, and should thus be longer-lived in that sub-genre.) There’s also an element of the “lost love” theme here, which is well, and subtly, played.
“Mean” is the only song that could be considered anything like a country tune on this album. It’s really excellent; and, it, perhaps unconsciously, addresses a couple of the meanings of the word “mean”. This song sort of hearkens back to the “old” Taylor Swift. You see, when Taylor Swift started out, she was a country singer. “Tim McGraw” was a country song, about a country singer. So was “Teardrops On My Guitar” (a country song, not about a country singer) . . . that is, until they drafted a pop version of the song, for consumption on stations similarly situated to Boston’s Kiss 108. At that point, it was all over. And, since her first album, Taylor Swift has become less and less country, to this point, where she is about as country as Jason Mraz is. I mean, it was probably a shrewd move on the part of her team: the country genre will always be a limited one, respecting sales: most people, especially those with disposable income, buy pop music; so that’s where the money is. Being a country fan, though, as I am, it is disappointing that Taylor Swift has been essentially lost to country music, especially because, as “Mean” signifies, she offered a more of a traditional country sound than that prevailing in Nashville these days, which is in perpetual motion toward pop anyway.
But, once I got over the fact that Taylor Swift was not a country singer anymore, I could listen to the music and enjoy it just fine. Or, as fine as I could. But, hey, if you’re not a country fan to begin with, this sort of inane banter don’t matter a french lick.
Now, when I say that you should rush out and grab the new Taylor Swift album (which I intended to make clear previously), I should clarify: you should go out and grab the Target Deluxe Edition of the CD, which includes six more songs: three more originals, two acoustic versions of album tracks and one (ugh) pop remix . . . of a song that was already a pop song to begin with. (Ummmmm . . .) The highlight of the additional tracks is “Ours”, which certainly could have been an official album track.
Hopefully this little review has been effusive enough in its praise to ensure that I will never be cut down in a revenge song on any futu
re Taylor Swift album.