I received an email recently from fellow lawyer and law blogger, Bob Tarantino (Twitter: @bobtarantino) inviting me to a Toronto Blogger Meetup this January 26th at 7:30pm at PJ O’Brien’s (behind the King Eddy hotel).
I will be attending and hope other Canadian legal bloggers (or blawgers as I prefer) will join us.
In anticipation of what will prove to be an enjoyable and collegial event, I noticed that Bob has invited some social media law marketers, as well. I look forward to meeting each and everyone of you. Yes, that includes you, Mark C. Robins.
I doubt we will have much to talk about, except the weather, or perhaps whether the chicken wings and nachos are edible. That’s okay.
You see, I’m not a potential client. I don’t want to monetize my blawg. I don’t want to know about your SEO expertise or why signing up for your legal directory will generate Gardiner Expressway-esque traffic congestion and get me umpteen clients.
This will likely elicit “Social Media Shock and Awe”.
Despite my and some of my colleagues’ protestations and criticisms of your business tactics and social media marketing efforts, I cannot help but admire your chutzpah. You really, really want lawyers to like you, to buy into your social media zeitgeist and to buy what you’re selling. Hey, it’s a free country and a free market.
I know what you’re thinking: “What the hell does he know? He’s no Adrian Dayton, the social media law guru! Adrian says social media marketing works!”
Well, let’s take a look at the august Mr. Dayton’s latest contribution to the law of social media (or is it social media law?), shall we?
In his column at the National Law Journal, Dayton posits: “Are social media snake oil? The battle rages on and provides the following paradigmatically shifty, thought leaving advice:
“Results will vary, but the social media practices that don’t work are coming into focus. Here are just a few to avoid:
1. Broadcasting. Try not to overload Twitter or LinkedIn with frequent messages without also responding to others, commenting or participating in conversations.
2. Self-promoting. Don’t broadcast awards you won, deals you finished or how good you are at lawyering. This not only turns people off, it adds to the noise online.
3. Spamming. Never send newsletters, white papers and other materials to people who haven’t requested them. Those found guilty of spamming in the social media will lose credibility very quickly.
So what does work in the social media world? Adding value. Create content that helps and informs your contact and clients. Be generous with your knowledge. Help those in your sphere of influence and your reputation will grow in the online world.
I don’t expect the debate over social media to subside anytime soon, and there will always be laggards — just as each office still has a senior partner who refuses to use e-mail. One thing is becoming clear though: Social media aren’t going away. They are changing the way people communicate and share information in a fundamental way, so law firms that don’t want to be left behind need to figure out how they can participate in this new world.”
Did you notice something missing? Of course, you didn’t. It all sounds very promising. Chock full of verbiage, buzzwords, platitudes. Empty calories that are hard to burn off. As my old contracts prof used to say: “An invitation to treat is not an offer if the treat is uninviting.”
What is missing is this: Brian Tannebaum.
With all the empty talk about “authentic engagement” and “adding value” and “content creation” etc., Dayton doesn’t have the guts to address his most vocal critic.
Why? The answer is simple: The Truth Hurts. The fundamental problem is that social media law marketers all want to be Sally Fields: to walk up to the social media awards podium, smile and wave, and accept the statuette and proclaim: “You like me, you really, really like me!” Constant social validation and positive feedback leads to “blogonanism’ and hairy palms.
There is an emerging trend among social media law marketers who actually believe that they are card-carrying members of the “legal blogging community.” Of course, some evince terms such as, “blawgosphere”, “blawgs”, “blawging” or “blawger (“blawgger” just looks awkward to me).
That’s fine. Really. It doesn’t matter if you prefer the phrase “law blog” (although to be precise, it should be law weblog, but I’m picking nits).
Credibility and respect are a function of personal and professional reputation—both online and offline. Competent lawyers, by and large, are untrusting, suspicious and resistant to change —it is either an innate or learned trait cultivated in law school and fermented through the travails of legal practice.
Social media law marketers need to understand that the blawgosphere is neither homogenous nor hierarchical. Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice makes this important point in his insightful post: The Bridges of Harris County (note: real lawyers are commended to read about the pending referendum vote to amend the Texas State Bar rules of professional conduct proposing, inter alia, to prohibit criminal lawyers from charging “flat fees”):
“Mark Bennett, the Texas Tornado, then coined the term “practical blawgosphere” in making a distinction I missed.
‘Scott Greenfield commented on the new wave of blawgs bringing vitality back to the blawgosphere. I think he’s right — but Scott and David are talking about entirely different places on the web. Just as law professors and criminal-defense lawyers inhabit different places in the real world, Scott’s Blawgosphere is not David’s.’
Bennett was right. This wasn’t as much a new guard/old guard schism, but a practical/academic one. We might all be writing stuff in the blawgosphere, but there was almost no overlap on the part of the lawprofs. We didn’t interest them.”
Just as Mark and Scott both identify the difference between practical and academic blawgs, there is also a third kind of blawg which social media law marketers should immediately adopt and identify with: The “Flawg”.
What is a flawg, you may ask? Perish the thought that it might be what one failed social media marketing enthusiast suggested a few years back:
“The other day, someone close to me brought up the term ‘fake blog’ referring to bloggers whose sole intent is to create a blog to make money. Let me make a distinction: it seems there are two types of fake blogs. The first pertains to those whose only intent is to make money through google adsense or affiliate links via fake content. The second type pertains to those who have a blog about their life or an aspect of their business/area of expertise, and subsequently have relevant affiliate links and google adsense to capitalize on the suggestions they make.
A ‘fake blog’ is much more easily stated as a “flawg” -not to be confused with “flog”, which has negative connotations.
In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with having a flawg since well-intended flawgs are essentially a derivation of ‘word of mouth’ or viral marketing. For example, if I check out a fellow bloggers’ post about a new album they really enjoy, listen to it and then buy the song through itunes via a link in their post, what’s the harm in that? That blogger has made buying a good album easier for those who read their blog.
Therefore, although the idea of flawging may be a horrific notion to some bloggers, it seems like a natural and largely resourceful evolution of blogging. Flawging has become a marketing trend that will likely stick around for awhile -at least until it evolves into a different format when the next trend in technology rears its head. “
Now there’s some real game-changing ideas.
But I digress. No self-praising social media law marketing guru or Twitter Life Coach would want to use the term “Flawg” if it meant “fake blog”. Heaven forfend.
Here’s my definition:
Flawg”: noun. A legal blog without any substantive legal content that is created, monetized and promoted exclusively for profit. A Flawg will often contain posts about the latest legal tech gadgets, or the how to gain new clients through the awesome power of the internet, in the absence of anything remotely legal to discuss;
“Flawger”: noun: someone who flawgs. Usually, a non-lawyer/social media law marketer, (but also a disbarred/suspended/unemployed/underemployed/retired/or failed lawyer who quit) who writes blawg posts about how to write blawg posts, SEO, ROI, iPads, cloud computing, top ten lists, and enjoys attending law marketing conferences and twittering about using #hashtags.
I won’t bother telling you about “Splawgs”. I’m sure you can figure what that means.
This is my gift to the social media law marketers. You’ll never be part of the blawgosphere, but now you can create your own flawgosphere. You’ve got to admit, it’s better than “SoShill Media“.
Off you go.
Glad to help.