I’m enjoying the addition of ALM’s (American Legal Media) publications in the feeds in my news aggregator, Feedly.

Through a subscription I just bought to ALM’s Law.com I receive feeds from the entire ALM network of 15 national and regional news publications, as well as commentary from leading voices in the legal field. I bought a subscription to Law.com for about $350/year, the rate given to small law firms. LexBlog, though not a law firm, qualified.

While most of the stories are about legal issues, law firms and the business of law, there are quite a few stories of interest to me and my followers on Twitter.

Stories on digital publishing, technology, business development, social media and the like. When I say quite a few, it’s probably about 5%, but that’s a higher percentage than my other feeds from sources and subjects I monitor in my aggregator. In addition, there are stories regarding law firms, companies and people of which I am interested.

The ALM is not one central feed through the law.com url, but comes via subscribing to each of the ALM legal publications. I went through the list of ALM’s featured legal publications and added them one at a time to Feedly (see above picture).

As many of you know, I share on Twitter a fair number of stories written by others – reporters, bloggers and columnists. I read stories in my aggregator for learning and staying abreast of news and developments, just as you’d read newspapers, periodicals and blogs.

From a business development standpoint for LexBlog and I, I meet and build relationships with the people (virtually to start with) whose stories, columns and blog posts I share. Who wouldn’t be curious who it is that’s sharing their story on Twitter?

They found out their story is being shared by me because I include their Twitter handle in my tweet. I also meet the people and companies who are the subject of the stories I share as I’ll include their Twitter handles.

In addition to potentially building relationships with reporters, bloggers, business people and companies, I serve as an “intelligence agent” for my followers on Twitter. I am combing the news in my aggregator on certain subjects and sharing the stories and blog posts with my followers. Not only does this build a name for me as being on top of my game on these subjects, but people come to rely on me as a source of helpful news and information.

ALM’s news feed is a good fit for me because of it’s legal bent, the reporters and subjects of the stories who I can meet, the quality of the journalism and my sharing of news and columns which folks would not otherwise see behind a paywall. I pay for my subscription to get the feeds, but non-subscribers can read the stories when shared by a subscriber on Twitter and other social media.

Sharing others’ content on Twitter seems to have built a lot of good will for me over the years. The more I share like this, the more people who follow me on Twitter, the more people like their stories shared by me and the more people share my blog posts. ALM’s feeds can only help.

Thanks much to ALM’s Shawn Harlan in business development and their chief sales officer, Allen Milloy, who helped me get the subscription.

The concept of distributed content may have gotten a big boost Monday when Apple announced “News,” its free newsreader app allowing publishers to syndicate their stories directly onto an iPhone or iPad.

The Flipboard-like interface has some commentating that News signals the death of Flipboard, a popular magazine-format mobile app. I am not sure we’re going to see the death of Flipboard, but there is no question that the articles displayed on News will look as good if not better than the articles displayed on the publisher’s site.

apple-news-ios9

The app will have several prominent content partners at launch, including The New York Times, Condé Nast, BuzzFeed, and ESPN. Here’s a complete list Apple displayed at its announcement.

ios9-news-orgs

Though large publishers get the billing in Apple’s announcement, there is every indication that smaller publishers, a la bloggers, will be able to have their content fed into News. Apple is already calling for publishers looking to be included to register their RSS feeds with News through an interface called News Publisher. I have already done so.

The bigger point in all of this is as Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton says, “individual news brands aren’t the primary point of contact with news any more.”

Think about it. In time, your law blog may well be consumed by more people in aggregators of news than at your blog itself. Your law blog may already be consumed on Feedly, Flipboard, social networks and in some legal networks a la the LexBlog Network.

Rather than fear the concept of distributed content, you ought to embrace it. There are hundreds of millions of Apple mobile devices on which people consume news and information. People will become accustomed to reading their aggregated news and information on these devices just like they did a newspaper. The exception here is that the publishers, writers and editors will not be working for one company.

You’ll still have your standalone blog sitting apart from your website. Your blog gives you stature and a home base from which people can subscribe and from which your content will be indexed on Google. Heck, you’ll need the stand alone blog for Apple’s News to see if you are a publisher of niche news and commentary—or an advertiser, as would be the case of a blog inside a law firm website.

Key for law bloggers will be publishing a good blog. Are you providing information of value? Are you sharing unique insight and commentary, as opposed to dry legal summaries. You’ll need to grow influence and niche readership for services such as Apple’s News to pick you up.

At the end of day, news aggregation by the big players is good news for the good legal bloggers. It validates the value of niche publishers, including lawyers, and provides yet another distribution channel.

Great news for lawyers. As reported by VentureBeat’s Tom Cheredar (@TChed), Flipboard’s latest update integrates Zite’s suggested content feature.

At the heart of “Flipboard 3.0″ is deep integration of technology from Zite, the mobile news recommendation service Flipboard acquired from CNN back in March. Zite is known for being able to recommend a large selection of fresh content about both broad and specific categories. Today’s Flipboard update adapts that intelligent recommendation technology in the form of 34,000 topics users can now follow.

As way of background, Flipboard is a personal magazine app that provides users a single place to keep up on the topics, news and events they care about. It’s been popular among the legal profession because of it’s visually attractive interface that allows users to flip through their content.

As opposed to merely subscribing to feeds from sources on a reader such as a Feedly or Flipboard (until now), Zite technology curates content on a subject, for example bankruptcy, from the most influential sources (blogs or traditional media) and serves the content up to you.

Better yet, Zite is like Pandora. The more you use Zite to select, view, and share content, the smarter Zite gets in serving up the most relevant content for you.

And there’s more with Zite’s integration with Flipboard.

…Zite’s technology really does an awesome job of helping you discover great user-created digital magazines on Flipboard. That’s significant because user-created Flipboard magazines have been around for a while now, but I’m guessing a lot of people weren’t motivated to discover or follow good ones. (The idea of sifting through a stranger’s curated digital magazines sounds about as fun as reading a collection of persuasive essays written by community college students. There are some gems, but you have to sift through tons of dull/uninspired essays before finding them.)

flipboard-topic-pickerLogging onto Flipboard on an iPhone or iPad, you will be presented an opportunity to do a search. Upon searching you’ll be presented with a handful of topics to follow and related magazines worth checking out.

Based on your viewing habits, Flipboard will then suggest other topics and related magazines to follow. Your content will then be curated for you, much like the editor of a magazine or newspaper would do for you.

The topics displayed here are random in nature. As a lawyer you will need to dial in on areas of the law, subjects in the law, names of industries represented, and consumer groups. It may take a little time to get what you need. And it’s possible based on your niche, that you’ll not find a perfect topic heading.

Here’s a three minute video with Flipboard’s CEO Mike McCue on Flipboard’s update. Perhaps not all of it relevant for you as a lawyer, but it’ll give a feel of what Flipboard Can do for you.

The gold in Flipboard, now with Zite, is the content presented that you’ll then use for networking online. Networking requires engaging in relevant existing conversations. It’s the content that represents the conversation.

Share the content, comment on it, and reference the content in blogging and you’re entering relevant conversations. It’s this engagement which builds relationships and word of mouth.

Zite, which I’ve described as a Pandora for content, has been acquired by Flipboard.

Zite, which had previously been acquired by CNN, was popular among lawyers because of its ability to curate news and information on niche subjects. As opposed to having to subscribe to feeds from various sources and on key phrases on a reader such as Feedly, Zite curated the most influential content on a subject, for example bankruptcy.

The more a lawyer used Zite for sharing or by marking preferences, the “smarter” Zite got. You got more and more of what you liked.

For bloggers, Zite served as powerful listening tool to follow what leading bloggers and reporters were writing on a subject. By sharing on short form social media what you were reading and referencing in your blog what you reading, you networked for business development.

I really admired the guys at Zite and what they created. You can see why in their CTO Mike Klass’ (@mikeklass) post about the acquisition.

Ali Davar and I founded a company in 2005 called Worio whose mission was help people find information they weren’t getting through friends, social media, or search. Our plan was to deploy sophisticated machine learning techniques to understand people and content to build a better search engine. A short six years later, we released a news app for the iPad called Zite. The specifics were different from what we imagined in 2005, but the vision remained intact: not to “filter” news, not to save people time skimming headlines, but to understand them well enough to find that one article from an obscure blogger about medieval knitting they didn’t know existed and would have never have otherwise found, but is exactly what they were looking for.

Though it’s expected that Flipboard will incorporate technology from Zite, the Zite app is going to shutdown. From Klass:

Our goal is to get the things that are great about Zite into Flipboard before shutting it down. We will also build a way for you to transition your data from Zite into Flipboard. Until then (for six months at a minimum), we will continue supporting Zite. Our users mean the world to us; after all, what Flipboard saw in us, you saw first. We hope you come with us and help us shape the future of news.

Much of how we look at the world today is based on search. We search for things on Google. We subscribe to searches from Google News. We subscribe to blogs and news sites via RSS.

More powerful than search is discovery. If a machine knows what you like, the sources you follow, and who you trust when they share content, the machine can tailor information for you. Just tell the machine who you are and it’ll serve up the news and information you’re interested in – no search.

That was Zite. When I logged in with my Gmail address and shared with Zite my social networking and Google Reader accounts, Zite preloaded folders of content it created. Those folders included ones on social media, entrepreneurship, baseball, technology, and business. Wow, talk about knowing my interests and bringing me content. All without a search or telling Zite my interests.

Mike McCue (@mmccue), the CEO Flipboard, understood what guys like me wanted from Flipboard and how Zite could fill the void.

[A]lthough you can already read thousands of sources from over 20 regions on Flipboard, you want easier and better ways to discover content about the things that matter to you. Adding Zite’s expertise in personalization and recommendations to Flipboard’s product experience and powerful curator community will create an unparalleled personal magazine for our millions of readers. (emphasis added)

I am optimistic that the Zite experience will live on and make for an even better Flipboard. I’ve been testing Flipboard as a “discovery” tool by subscribing to subjects, but the experience has been lacking and the content stale when compared to Zite.

Thanks to the guys at Zite for building a great app which has improved the lives of many lawyers and the people they serve.

This is a guest post from Paul Wickler, one of LexBlog’s Account Managers. Previously with Thomson Reuters and a creative agency partnering with XBox, Paul now works with LexBlog clients on blogging and social media strategies. 

Feel overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible task of trying to keep up with everything you need to keep track of online? Try using Feedly to help filter the flow of information while making consuming and sharing the work of others more manageable.

Feedly is a content aggregation application for both desktop and mobile platforms. It allows users to place text and multimedia content into categories for easy organization and helps saving time by creating a central repository for all of your media. Feedly is also great for online authors looking to keep a close eye on key issues, words and phrases pertaining to their blog.

Getting Started

Feedly requires a Google account to sign up, so your first step—if you don’t already have one—is to head over to Google and create one. Next, visit Feedly and click Get Started. Mouse over the grey sidebar on the left, click the My Feedly tab, log in, and you’re ready to start adding content.

Adding Content

Now that you are signed up it’s time to start adding and organizing content. Click the “+Add Content” tab to search for feeds by url, title or #topic and click the + sign to add.  Clicking Tracking tools, located under the list of feeds, prompts a search of the term or phrase on Google News or Youtube, a great way to find new sources and channels to follow.

Organizing Categories

Categories are key in getting the most out of Feedly. Keeping your reading/viewing materials well-organized allows for easy navigation to the sources or topics you want to see without the need to wade through unrelated items. When adding a feed, you will automatically be prompted to either create a new category, or enter the feed into one you had created previously. When you log in to Feedly, you can always on All on the left side to see a running list of posts for all of the feeds you have added, or on a category to see sources listed under that category only. Using the drop down arrows in the sidebar next to each category will also give you a quick view of what feeds you have added to each. Editing categories is also a snap. Click Organize to remove/edit categories and the feeds listed under them.  You can also move feeds to other categories just by dragging and dropping.

Customizing Your Views

View your content in a number of ways by clicking the Settings spoke in the upper right hand corner of the viewing window. View by titles only, full article, or others to organize according to personal preference. Experiment to find the view that works best for you.

Explore and Have Fun

Don’t make your Feedly use all work and no play. Discover the platform according to your hobbies and passions. Like baseball? Create a category with feeds from your favorite teams, writers and news sources. Love to cook? #Hashtag search your favorite ingredients and create a category featuring great food blogs.  Don’t be afraid to explore Feedly by searching out your interests and passions, it is the best way to learn that platform and will be a lot of fun in the process. With tens of millions of users, Feedly is the leading RSS reader available to legal professionals today.

Feedly dominates post Google Reader worldTechnology journalist and lawyer, Derrick Harris (@derrickharris), shares that Feedly is dominating the post Google Reader world.

Feedly is crushing everyone else trying to filling the gaping void left after Google killed its Reader product. It’s also becoming a significant driver of traffic overall, ranking No. 14 in Parse.ly’s top 30 list and producing more than 7 million page views. (Parse.ly measures traffic sources for major media players)

Here’s a graph showing Feedly getting almost eight times the use of the next RSS reader.

Feedly over other RSS Readers

And a chart showing Feedly as one of the leading sources of traffic to news sites.

Feedly generates news traffic

Not to worry that your blog is not included among the major news sites looked at for Feedly traffic. This report does tell you that Feedly is being used as a source of news and information by your audience and that those reading content via Feedly are sharing to social media via Feedly.

Over the last month, Feedly was the sixth leading source of traffic to my blog, trailing only Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and Google News.

As of a couple months ago Feedly had over 13 million users, up from 3 million in April and was handling over 32 million feeds of content. From everything I can tell, Feedly’s management has risen to the occasion with the necessary servers and related resources to meet our demand for a good RSS reader.

As way of background, Feedly is a news aggregator application for various desktop Web browsers as well as mobile devices. Feedly compiles news feeds from a variety of online sources (blogs, mainstream media, Google News alerts) for the user to customize and share with others. Feedly is a big time saver for many legal professionals. Rather than receive news via email, including Google Alerts, or search and browse for content, Feedly delivers users just the news info they’re looking for – in curated folders. Sharing is a cinch with sharing to Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter built right in to Feedly.

Google Reader No one internally at Google deemed it important enough to even work on, much less save.

That per Matthew Lynley (@mattlynley), business reporter for BuzzFeed, who writes Google Reader died because no one would run it.

The decision had little to do with consumers — the RSS reader was very popular with a core set of power users — and much more to do with corporate politics. At Google, Chief Executive Larry Page and his inner circle of lieutenants, known as the “L Team,” simply did not view Google Reader as an important strategic priority. Internally, it became obvious that despite Google Reader’s loyal fan base, working on the project was not going to get the attention of Page, several sources close to the company told BuzzFeed.

……

Google teams, like those at other tech companies, have product managers, but much of the company’s leadership comes from its engineers. As a result, many product decisions come from and are executed by engineers, as was the case with Google Reader. Eventually, as Google Reader’s importance declined internally, the engineering leads — the de facto leaders of the project — were moved onto more high-priority projects. (By the time Reader was shut down, the team didn’t even have a product manager or full-time engineer, according to AllThingsD.)

Google Reader began, like other Google products, as an experiment run under Google’s policy that employees devote 20% of their time to personal projects of interest. Adwords, a product that drives the lion’s share of Google’s $30 Billion in revenue began much the same way.

There’s been all sorts of discussion around the net as to why Google was shuttering reader. I had heard Google did not have a full product team, including privacy professionals to make certain the necessary privacy laws, protocols, an internal guidelines were followed. Others, including Google, talked of a decline in usage. Google also suggested that it was focusing on its core products such as Android, Chrome, Google+, and Search and eliminating products beyond that core.

But, Lynley reports,  “the major factor is a bit simpler: No one wanted to devote the time and energy necessary to keep the project alive because it wasn’t going to get them anywhere with Page.”

20130707-215242.jpg Law firms need to be careful when buying the same social media monitoring services that marketers in corporate America are buying. They may not be useful for a law firm looking to use social media to build relationships and reputations at an individual lawyer level.

As David Benady (@davidbenady) writes in the Guardian, marketers in major corporations buy monitoring services that will search out mentions of a brand on blogs, forums, Twitter, and other social media sites.

The main monitoring services include Salesforce’s Radian6, Heartbeat from Sysomos, Brandwatch, Face’s Pulsar and Crimson Hexagon. In addition to mentions, the services attempt to pick up sentiment — whether positive or negative — about a brand.

These social monitoring services are expensive. Corporations may be paying over $100,000 a month. Although I have heard of major law firms buying such services, I am not aware how much they are paying.

The bigger question is whether such monitoring services will help lawyers build relationships and enhance their reputation as an expert in their field. It is individual lawyers who get hired in most cases after all, not the firm itself.

If I am a lawyer looking to use social media effectively, I am listening to key words and key phrases relevant to my area of law and the industry I represent. That’s in addition to the obvious ones – my name and the url of my blog.

I want company names, case names, regulations, and the names of other thought leaders. When such names are mentioned in influential sources – trade publications, blogs, Twitter, newspapers, and other mainstream media, I want it fed to me.

I also want to have RSS feeds set up from relevant blogs and other influential sources. Twitter lists with the influencers and thought leaders are also critical.

With that sort of listening environment, I pick up a 360 degree assessment of the relevant discussion in my field. I can now strategically share what I am reading and engage in the conversation through my blog and other social networks.

Without such an environment, I am operating in a vacuum and totally in-equipped to take part in social media. Heck blogging and using Twitter without monitoring like that could be considered just making noise, rather than partaking in a conversation that builds trust, relationships, and a reputation.

If law firms are buying such monitoring services, they need to know if they can set an environment like the above for individual attorneys, not just groups. And that it’ll be an easy use monitoring system for lawyers. If the services can do this, it’s imperative that the law firm set up the monitoring for the effective use of social media by individual attorneys.

Social media for law firms, a professional service business that gets its work via the relationships and the word of mouth reputation of individual lawyers, is different than social media for a consumer brand.

Picking up the firm’s name or the name of individual lawyers in social network and the sentiment toward them, good or bad, is hardly enough.

Image courtesy of Flickr by IntelFreePress

Google Reader Closing Down Just a reminder that Google Reader – by far and away the most popular RSS Reader for the last six or seven years – is shutting down this Sunday, June 30.

Come Monday, July 1, you will no longer be able to access Google Reader or your RSS feeds stored there.

If you are using Google Reader as your RSS reader, act quickly to ensure you preserve your RSS feeds. Download your RSS feeds from Google Reader, and save your feeds as a file on your computer. By doing so, you’ll be able to import your feeds to a new RSS reader. This blog post from LXBN manager, Colin O’Keefe (@colinokeefe), shows you how.

If you’re looking for a direct replacement to Google Reader—another RSS reader, plain and simple—Feedly is a good fit. Feedly is available in a website interface; as a browser application for Chrome, Safari and Firefox; and for mobile apps on both the iOS and Android platforms. LexBlog Account Manger, Christopher Rachal, explains how to set up Feedly.

If you’re open to trying something a bit different and very popular among the legal community, mobile-only magazine-style apps Flipboard and Zite are excellent for discovering new content. Both are available for iOS and Android, for your smartphone and tablet.

Zite is not a RSS Reader, per se. Zite curates content, much like Pandora curates your favorite music and gets ‘smarter’ based on your preferences over time.

In addition to being a personalized magazine by subject, Flipboard will accept an import of your feeds from Google Reader. LexBlog Account Manager, Kristina Corbitt (@kriscorbitt), covers using Flipboard as your Google Reader replacement.

If you are a LexBlog Network member with questions about the value of RSS readers or alternatives to Google Reader, please contact your account representative at LexBlog.

Image courtesy of Flickr by 衰尾道人.

google-reader-logoGoogle reader will no longer be available come July 1. Google is warning users to download a copy of their feeds before then.

Some of you may not use a RSS reader. But thousands of us in the LexBlog community have found RSS invaluable to have news and information fed to us from websites and blogs. Not only are we better informed, but this listening serves a critical role in our engaging others via blogging and other social media.

I’d like to know what you plan on using with the demise of Google Reader. On your desktop and on mobile. On Mac or PC. On IOS or Android. And even on Windows 8.

I read all my feeds on an iPad. The interface for reading is nicer than on my MacBook Air or monitor and the applications for mobile are far superior to desktop apps.

Historically I have used a combination of Mr. Reader, Flipboard, and Zite. Mr Reader, which I’ve used 90% of the time, gave me all my feeds by source (blog or publication) and subject (Google Alerts). It organized my feeds by folder, has a wonderful interface for reading content, and the sharing feature, which includes Buffer, is really nice.

Flipboard, with its eloquent interface and regular feature updates, has been drawing me in of late. In addition to getting my feeds, I’m now able to key in a term such as ‘publishing’ and see curated news on the subject from across my social network – very cool and getting cooler. One reservation I have with Flipboard is that it doesn’t organize all my feeds by folder allowing me to skim trough them all for my sharing and blogging. The other is that Buffer is not incorporated into the share feature, you need to email through Buffer.

Zite I use occasionally to see the best of certain subjects as curated by Zite. Many lawyers in our community love it.

With the demise of Google Reader, I am told Mr. Reader, dependent on Google Reader as its data base, will no longer work. I am playing with Feedly (Mac only) as a replacement, but, for me, the interface and sharing features are not nearly as nice. Buffer is included, but there’s a delay from hitting share until the share window appears.

My gut tells me that until someone nails a reader with the features I like that I am headed to Flipboard. Rather than curating my feeds by individual sources and subjects, I’ll allow ny social network to do it for me.

What do you plan to use and why? I’d welcome your input to share across our LexBlog community.