3 “expert” writing tips that can screw-up your law firm’s digital voice

Posted on 05-10-2014 by
Tags: social media , blogging , Upgrading Your Skills , writing

 Submitting to experts is a quick way to quiet your law firm’s digital voice. When I started writing for the internet, I surrendered to the experts and their writing tips. But being a “tip” zombie prompted me to write some pitiful posts.  

Adhere to these three writing tips at your own peril. They can suck the engagement from your blogs and your social media. 

Expert Tip #1 - Know your audience

My audience encompasses lawyers, in-house counsel, paralegals, law students, etc. When I began blogging, this audience snubbed me. They ignored titles like:

“1st Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment in Source Code Copyright Case.”

A crummy title, yes, but even my best titles fell flat. The reason: knowing your audience isn't the same as decoding your audience. Sure, my general audience practices law, but their online engagement is sparked by other subjects, including:

  • work-life balance;
  • business management;
  • productivity; and
  • social media use.

Knowing your audience falls short of getting in their heads (which takes time). The law isn’t the only subject motivating lawyers. To drive home the point, compare the engagement of these two LinkedIn posts, the first concerning productivity, the second attorney training:

“Stop wasting your precious time! Top 10 time killers [infographic]” (approx. 93 clicks) 

“Training attorneys better: A key ingredient to thriving in the 'new normal'" (approx. 16 clicks)

Expert Tip #2 - Write what you know

Karl Iglesias, in his book, Writing for Emotional Impact, says this: “The common advice is to write what you know, but …  it should be more like write what makes you feel, what intrigues and fascinates you ….”

Good advice, but even if a subject intrigues you, it’ll flop online if your reader isn’t intrigued. You’ve decoded your audience: the next step, intrigue them. These two subjects both intrigued me, but only one intrigued my LinkedIn audience:

“Employers sneaking into social media to bypass interviewees' rights” (approx. 110 clicks)

“SCOTUS justices unable to override single-minded convictions, according to scientific studies” (approx. 7 clicks)

In a nutshell, write what you know, but also, grab your reader’s attention. Pinpointing a hot topic or an interesting angle isn’t always easy. My gut tells me what’s interesting, though admittedly, it’s hit and miss. But you’ll hit more often if you hunt for intriguing and fascinating topics.

Expert Tip #3 - Demonstrate your expertise

A very thin line separates “showing” your expertise and “proving” your expertise. Your ego draws this line in the sand, and when you cross it, you torture your readers with wordiness and rambling. 

Already, this blog  feels too long, but it’s nothing when compared to my earliest blogs. One of my first blogs, “Your Good Will Hunting Moment: Arguing for the Non-Practicing Entity or against the Patent Troll,” had eight sections and 18 very long paragraphs. That’s overkill for a blog. Brevity would have enhanced readability, but ego demanded proof of my expertise – about 2,000 words worth of proof.

Don’t blog a treatise to prove you’re an expert. Readers will bail. A great title can pull someone in, but if your blog is over the top, the reader will scram without reading the first paragraph.  As recently noted by Digital Flavor, web users do not read – they scan. Web users are rushed, and they don’t have time to wade through your paragraphs of expertise. 

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