Legal blogging isn't dead, it's just changing.
I’ve written quite a bit about legal blogging over the years. Since 2006, I’ve been following legal blogs, tracking the trends and predicting the future of blogging for lawyers.
Last summer, I concluded that legal blogging, while not dead, was changing, in large part due to the influence of social media. Social media sites have replaced some of the functions of blogging, since many such sites are more effective at achieving some of the benefits blogging used to offer, such as professional networking. On the flip side, social media sites provide newfound and very effective forums for promoting blog posts.
A recent report (http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Generations-2010.aspx) issued by the Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center supports my conclusions. According to the report, for the younger generation, blogging is being replaced by posting on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. In comparison, the older generations, always the last to latch onto new trends, are finally beginning to blog.
The statistics regarding blogging from the report indicate that between 2008 and 2010:
- Blogging dropped 2% for 18-33 year olds
- Blogging increased 6% for 34-44 year olds
- Blogging increased 5% for 46-55 year olds
- Blogging increased 4% for 56-64 year olds
- Blogging increased 2% for 65-73 year olds.
These statistics are striking for any number of reasons. First, for the older generations, the increase in blogging is only between 2-6%, which is, all things considered, a fairly small increase for a 2 year time frame. This is so especially given that the use of social networking sites increased between 12-32% for those same age ranges during the same time frame.
Also significant is that blogging is decreasing for the younger generation. This matters for two very important reasons.
First, this generation’s behavior is predictive of the general trends regarding the use of technology in the future, so more likely than not, two years from now, blogging will decline amongst the older generations as well.
Second, 18-33 year olds are the consumers and business people of the future. For that reason alone, their habits and choices are important. Businesses need to understand this generation and will want to be present online wherever this generation spends its time.
Of course, just because members of generation are choosing not to blog, doesn’t mean that they’re not reading blogs. As I’ve oft repeated, blogging is not dead, it’s simply changing. People will continue to read and consume blog posts.
However, one trend that I think will become more evident over the next year or so is that individual blogs will decline and group blogs will become the blogging standard. Many individual blogs will continue to succeed, but group blogs will dominate. This is because group blogs provide more varied content, different viewpoints, and draw in more eyes, since the individual bloggers can promote the group’s blog across their own social networks.
For lawyers, the most effective group blogs will consist of blog posts from geographically diverse lawyers focusing on the same practice area, such as criminal law, environmental law or personal injury law.
Generally speaking, group blogs from lawyers within the same firm are far less effective, in my opinion. Often, these types of group blogs consist of posts drafted by associates who are required to post and thus have no true passion for their subject matter. For that reason, these types of group blogs tend to fall flat.
And, it’s passion that separates the good blogs from the bad. If you enjoy writing and have a passion for the topic about which you are blogging, your blog, whether it’s a group blog or an individual one, will be a success.
Passion is the key element; if your passion shines through, people of all ages will want to read, discuss and share your blog posts. And, after all, isn’t that the point of blogging in the first place?
Nicole Black is of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach in Rochester. She co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise, and is currently writing a book about cloud computing for lawyers that will be published by the ABA in early 2011. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.