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Monday, March 9, 2020

LinkedIn, Reddit, or Facebook, what will it be as a learning center on legal blogging? All are options.

I’m a big believer in the open net for purposes of discussion, asking questions, learning the advancement of ideas.

I suppose this comes from the wonderful discussions that blossomed on niche areas of the law across Prodigy, Compuserv and AOL in the 1990’s.

Those we were not technically “open,” you needed to log in with a user name and number. We also had bulletin board systems (BBS) with only limited discussion on legal.

But these places, back in the day when browsers were not widely used and we were years from having search, were the open net. Millions of people like me took to the net seeking help and to help others. The net was a wonderful place then.

Mind you, I am talking lawyers, consumers, small business people, in-house counsel, corporate executives. law librarians, law students legal professionals and more taking part in these open discussions in the 1990’s. No one was waiting around for bar associations and the like to tell us it was okay to talk to others and that it was okay to carry those conversations onto the Internet.

LinkedIn was founded not long after we started LexBlog. When LinkedIn groups started, we jumped on the name Legal Blogging Group.

The LinkedIn Legal Blogging Group took off. Thirty to sixty people applied to join every week – the group was not open to all, you applied so that we (I) could see that the person was “legit.” Spam from companies selling to lawyers was not near as big but it was there.

In addition to people finding the group through LinkedIn, anyone who inquired of using LexBlog’s publishing platform received an invite to the group. Good opportunity for them to learn more about legal blogging from legal bloggers – and goodwill generated for LexBlog buy providing a forum for learning.

With some exceptions, groups seemed to die out on LinkedIn. In the Legal Blogging Group we had a ton of people who just wanted to push their blog posts to others by posting them to the group. LinkedIn facilitated this spamming by enabling people to cross post across groups – legal marketing companies became the biggest violators.

With the spam and LinkedIn’s apparent lack of work on groups, we just didn’t see a lot of activity and new members. The group became an after thought for me to clean up now and again.

But a month or so back I hit a button on the privacy settings to the group. More people started joining.

My gut says the algorithm work Microsoft is doing now that it owns LinkedIn is also causing a rise in the group’s relevance and visibility.

Makes me wonder if we can revive the group into something that resembles the days past. Place for questions, answers, resources and getting to know people. I’ll confess not a bad a place to generate business – not by selling, but by building a reputation as a company that cares and helps.

As much as LinkedIn is there, one cannot say come here or there to talk and get support. The net doesn’t work that way.

Town squares blossom all over the place. As a business or someone who likes to help people, you need to go where the people are. No matter whether that’s where you like to hang out. No matter if you don’t feel comfortable there. It’s not about you – it’s about the people you should care for.

And forget about, “that’s for personal use, this is for professional use.” Tell that to Starbucks, people talk about all types of things there – lawyers talking to clients even.

For legal blogging discussion, we have to look at Reddit. Reddit has a vibrant “subreddit” on blogging.

I answer a lot of blogging questions on Reddit. Not on legal blogging, but on blogging in general.

Blogging, across all verticals, has more in common than not. Legal professionals, as much I’m sure they would think the subreddit was not for them could learn a lot.

Could we get a subreddit on legal blogging going? I’m not sure. More questions on the law are asked and answer on Reddit than anywhere on the net, but I don’t know if we can get the traction.

Facebook is used by more people in the world as a social network than any other medium. We’re talking billions and that includes about 95% of legal professionals, for both personal and professional reasons.

Facebook’s algorithms rock. You only see what’s of value and of relevance to your life. Blow that off, by saying it’s only junk, you’re only boasting of your own ignorance. Used effectively, nothing works as well for networking (learning included) as Facebook.

Facebook is also working of late to improve its groups. The features of the groups, the way the group’s relevant posts integrate into our personal Newsfeeds and more.

As I started my thinking here, it was to announce a revival of the LinkedIn Legal Blogging Group. That’s part of the equation for helping legal professions, but Reddit and Facebook are going to have to considered. They’re where people are congregating as well.

And what about YouTube – it’s just an inch behind Facebook in its size as a social media network.

Stay tuned.

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Big thanks to Sheppard Mullin and its CMO, Vickie Spang, for working with LexBlog to be the first law firm in the country to launch a digital magazine featuring the curated insight and commentary of the firm’s lawyers.

Rather than additional work for the firm’s lawyers “In the Know” aggregates and curates, via an editor, blog posts and other pieces available via an RSS feed.

Original pieces may be published as well, whether from the firm’s lawyers and leadership who do kit blog or from professionals outside the firm, whether they be in-house counsel, business people or other authorities.

Each of the contributors has their own profile with their background and body of work. A lot of inspiration there to keep those bloggers blogging. 😉

Sheppard Mullin’s “In The Know” runs on LexBlog’s Syndication Portal product, a SaaS publishing solution that includes free support, free core upgrades and free new features. Portals run on technology comparable to the software running LexBlog.

Sheppard Mullin, was one of, if not the first, of LexBlog’s large law firm clients. I remember very well where I was sitting when they called and said if we start buying five or ten of “these” blogs can we get a discount? Sold, was my response.

It was one of those feeling all entrepreneurs get. “This is going to really work. People like what we created. They’ll pay for this. We can make it.”

Not for a minute have I grown to big for my britches. I still pinch myself to make sure it’s not dream when we come up with a new idea, thinking it’ll work, but never knowing for sure until we bring it to market and see people take money out of their market and put it in our pocket.

It’s been that way with Portals, already running bar association sites with more to come. And now we’re going to move Portals to the law firm market.

Thanks Vickie, you have been a good friend over the years, and to the entire team at Sheppard Mullin. You guys have been true innovators. It’s been a true honor to serve you along the way.

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