First up, the post title is just for fun. Read on, and I’ll try to explain.
Kevin O’Keefe’s got a post up about one of my favourite topics, the social side of blogging; which arose out of my 2nd Lexblog Q&A session (#1 was on SEO) published this past Friday. This time, the topic was Lawblogs.ca and the state of the Canadian legal blogosphere.
Now, I’m not sure I made the claim that Canadian legal bloggers were better at the social side of blogging, but I did state that it was something “we do well”. And mostly, I believe that to be true.
If you read through Kevin’s post, and follow-ups via Dan Hull and Scott Greenfield, you’ll see similarities. Lots of linking going on, and not much reciprocating discussion. I say discussion, and not reciprocal links, because you can’t fake this stuff. While links can be encouraged (some suggestions to follow), being authentic is equally important. It counts with readers, other bloggers, and especially perspective clients. And besides, as many experienced bloggers will tell you, it’s almost impossible to have a good blog-versation without linking!
My advice for creating a strong law blog presence has always been to mix authenticity with the social side (see my ‘you gotta say thanks post‘ for more thoughts). What do I mean by the social side? Mostly it’s about identifying your blog’s subject sphere(s) and regional position, and then creating tactics to connect with the appropriate communities – links, blog comments, trackbacks, blogrolls, private email, etc.
Going further, I decided to jot down a few thoughts, below, on what I think are important elements in becoming a good social blogger. Are they Canadian-esque? Sure. Why not?… :)
8 Tips on How to Blog Like a Hockey Loving Northerner:
- Read & Track Your Peers – Get an RSS Reader, and create a reading list. You’ll never know the true power of blogging if you treat it like a firm newsletter. The more bloggers you read, the more comfortable you’ll be knowing, commenting, linking, and eventually emailing your peers. I recommend following blogs both within your region, and with common subject interests. And never limit your reading by geography. I’m proud to have as many blogging peers in the UK as I do in Canada and US markets. Within my first year of blogging, I had contacts on every continent around the world. Having a global network is always a worthy investment for the future!
- Make A Blogging Buddy – Seriously, let’s call this ‘Step One’ in how to blog socially: Make a friend, and have their back. Track them closely, and whenever they post something notable, be sure to link them up! This only works if the other person gets it and reciprocates, but really, it’s just savvy blogging. Let me give you an example from my own experience – my blogging friendship with Connie Crosby. Connie knows if she’s got a post that needs extended play, all she needs to do is drop me a link via email. We don’t have a written pact, and we’ve never discussed this. Call it digital good will… or the golden rule with a blogger’s spin. :)
- Cover Prior Blog Discussion Before Adding Your Commentary – This is just a good habit to get into. Run your blog topic through Google Blog Search or Technorati before adding your own take. Be sure to quote relevant portions of the available commentary, and always link to (cite) the other bloggers involved.
- Welcome the New Guy! – It used to be… when someone new started blogging in your niche or region, and you’d write a ‘welcome to blogosphere’ post to help get them started. Simple acknowledgement. Perhaps the legal blogosphere is too big to do this now? That’s fine. But what about continuing this tradition on an intra-subject basis? or smaller regions? If the Canadian legal blogosphere is worth admiring, then perhaps each US State could adopt a similar approach?
- Cite your Post’s Inspiration -or- Tip Your Hat Please! – How do I say this politely? [in Canadian? ;) ] If another person’s blog post inspires you to write, EVEN if you don’t quote them or mention them, it’s good blogging etiquette to type the words [hat tip] or [source], and link back to their post as acknowledgement. Why do it? Well, it’s nice; but it’s also evident to other blog readers/writers what you’ve done. People who read blogs often follow 30-50 other blogs on the exact same subject. … Honestly, It stands out like a sore thumb. Just don’t do it.
- Link to Your Friends Business Homepage – While it’s great to link to your peer’s ideas, if you’re serious about building your personal network, nothing grabs attention like a link to their livelihood. Links are votes online, and helping a peer’s company rise up in the search results is a good will builder. (Are you sensing a ‘pay it forward’ theme yet?) And before I get comments about linking to one’s competitors… Yes, I believe it’s ok to do so, and yes, I believe the search engines reward it, if it supports the site’s subject relevancy. Still worried? Find your blogging friends out of state. :)
- Personal Profile Linkage – Adding a link to someone’s personal profile webpage is a wonderful gesture because it helps them rank for their name in Google. Do you know how many Steve Matthews there are out there? Economics Prof, Former Pro Football player… it’s rough I tell you! rough!
- Build, Build, Build that Network! – See tip number 2 (above). Close friends are key. And true, one blogging buddy isn’t going to cut it; but 500 facebook friends may not make an impact either. Online professional networks, in my opinion, are built around having a core group of strong close contacts. Identify your core group, and then seek strategies that a) get you closer, and b) expand the number trusted peers. Build it around subject expertise, or regional experience, but build it!