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Virtual town squares at lawyer’s marketing disposal

Greg Sterling at Search Engine Journal picked up on an excellent story by NY Times’ Bob Tedeschi about “an emerging category of sites forming a kind of ‘virtual town square,’ so-called hyperlocal content sites (awkward term) that focus on particular communities or neighborhoods.”

From Bob:

Before the days of the printing press, town squares served as the main forum for exchanging community news and gossip. Now comes the virtual town square.

Across the United States, citizen bloggers and deep-pocketed entrepreneurs are creating town-specific, and even neighborhood-specific, Web sites where the public can read and contribute items too small or too fleeting for weekly newspapers.

From Greg, who provides a great summary of various virtual locales lawyers ought to be checking:

It may well be, however, that many of these sites end up just being labors of love or a reasonable business for one or two people but not much more. Yet it is precisely these hyperlocal sites – as well as local user-generated content more generally – that are doing the ‘spade work’ and gradually building a kind of ‘infrastructure’ for the local Internet.

I’ve been working on the net for 10 years, as a practicing lawyer marketing himself, legal community leader/builder at AOL, as founder of Prairielaw, a virtual legal community of lay people and lawyers, and now LexBlog. No question in my mind this is where legal marketing is headed.

Blogs play the role of your mouth. But it’s the community context, whether defined by locale or subject, that provides the context for your and other like minded folks’ blog posts and comments.

It’s this discussion in a community context which provides lawyers the opportunity to market and allows consumers of legal services to evaluate a lawyers skill, passion, and expertise.

Town squares of 1850 = blogs and virtual communities of 2006 and beyond.

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