Lawyers and law firms have always published as a means of demonstrating their expertise.

First in hard copy newsletters and articles. With the Internet came email newsletters, email alerts, PDF’s, and articles on websites.

Blogs have elevated the level of engagement some, whether it be via comments or bloggers referencing what others are blogging or reporting, but in most cases law firms have played it close to vest by publishing static articles and alerts to their blogs that might as well have been in print.

Lewis Dvorkin, Chief Product Officer of Forbes Media and longtime journalist, in a good column this morning, says those days are over. Publishers need to recognize the power of social. What does that mean?

Far more than some well-placed sharing buttons on a page and tweeting out stories. Certainly much more than racking up Facebook fans and Twitter followers, or Stumbling our content.

It means Web pages that come alive with individual voice and activity, not the static, lifeless news pages I see on so many other news sites. It means providing our staffers and contributors with tools that enable them to easily publish text, photos and video — then knowing they will engage, one-on-one, with readers as passionate as they are about the world of business. It means putting real-time usage data in the hands of journalists and writers so they can better understand audience interests and consumption patterns. It means respecting the audience by deeply integrating comments into the flow of our product experiences, online or in print.

Dvorkin picked up from business strategist and author, Brian Solis, the three keys to social power in publishing. Listening, learning, and adapting.

Apply them to your law firm.

  • Listening. Monitoring online conversation and publishing in your niche. You can’t be social or engaging if you don’t listen to what is being reported or shared by others with similar interests.
  • Learning. Shed your your arrogant – write like a lawyer – upbringing. You need to learn from those who are experiencing blogging and social media success. You can’t stick your head in the sand and say this is what our law firm does.
  • Adapting. People value a voice, context and perspective from credible individuals. They want community through you referencing and engaging others with like minded interests. No more pablum legal alerts and updates.

Lawyers and law firms have so much to gain from social in their online publishing. Success will not come from following others. You can’t be be paralyzed by fear (False Expectations that Appear Real).

You need to listen, learn and adapt. Read Dvorkin’s piece and draw analogies as to what you can do in publishing at your law firm.

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