#Digital100Image – the power of the imagery

The #Digital100Image

We’d like to see more people use great imagery in their work in the professional services sector.

Today, we’re proud to announce the inaugural Digital 100 photography competition: #Digital100Image

 

How do I enter the #Digital100Image competition?

The method is simple: Enter one of your own photos on this week’s theme: “wellbeing” by 3pm GMT on Thursday, 26 March 2020.

Enter via Twitter – replying to this tweet and/or tweeting using the hashtags #Digital100Image and #wellbeing

Enter on LinkedIn – replying to this message and/or sharing using the hashtags #Digital100Image and #wellbeing

Enter using Instagram – replying to this message and/or sharing using the hashtags #Digital100Image and #wellbeing

Enter by email

Or send us a WeTransfer to the.team@2bd.me including a photo, your name, your role and your social media handles.

 

How can I vote in the #Digital100Image competition?

On Thursday evening, our three judges will shortlist a few images for a public vote.

On Friday, we will share a voting system on social media. Everyone gets one vote.

Voting closes at 5pm GMT on Friday 27 March 2020.

We’ll announce the winner as soon as we can after the voting closes on Friday.

 

What are the prizes in the #Digital100Image competition?

One: The kudos of winning The Digital 100 photo of the week competition and being promoted on social media as the week’s winner.

Two: We’ll do you a free audit of one social media channel for you for free – either a LinkedIn company page, a Facebook page or a Twitter account.

 

Who are the judges in the #Digital100Image competition?

For w/b 22 March 2020, the judges are:

Robert Phillips – photographer

Anne Kenedy – photographer

Simon Marshall – founder of TBD

 

What are the rules?

Theme The theme for the week beginning 22 March 2020 is “wellbeing”.

Decisions: Judges’ decision is final and will include, among other things, deciding which photos fit the theme, which should be added to the shortlist.

Deadline: Image files to be received by 3pm Thursday 26 March 2020 by one of the above methods.

File size:  no larger than 5MB, please.

Copyright: We will share your image in the promotion of this competition, so by entering, you grant us the right to share it across our social media and web pages until 31 December 2020.

Votes: Votes need to be cast through the official channel – a SurveyMonkey survey which we’ll link to from our various social media.

Entries by judges: Judges cannot enter the competition for a week in which they are judging. Obviously.

Judges: The head judge, Simon Marshall, may substitute a guest judge in for each week, even during the course of the week.

Why is Wikipedia so important to law firms’ digital marketing strategies?

Wikipedia – one version of the truth?

It’s probably not unfair to say that law firms and the British struggle with Wikipedia.

Brits often seem obsessed with opinions and not facts at the moment. Some people call it a post-truth world, others say the truth has simply been put on hold. Ironically, we can’t even agree on that. One definite fact is that in the UK, our use of the world’s most trusted information source Wikipedia is only one-third of France’s usage (we have similarly sized populations, according to Wikipedia: 66.5m and 67.02m, respectively).

Yet law firms struggle with Wikipedia for a different reason: they don’t get to hold the pen.

Of the top 50 law firms by revenue (according to The Lawyer’s 200)

  • 42 of them don’t even have a Wikipedia page.
  • 7 of those who do have Wikipedia entries have minor page violations
  • 11 of the firms who do have major page violations
  • Only 40/100 have trouble-free Wikipedia pages.

These warnings are publicly displayed on top of the page as either:

  • Too much like advertising copy; and/or
  • Written by someone too close to the firm.

The warnings look like this:

Wikipedia warning message

Please note that it gets worse when we go to the top 100 law firms where 59% of all firms either don’t have a page or have minor or major violations.

Why is Wikipedia so important to your web and social strategy?

Google treats Wikipedia as a really strong trust signal. Wikipedia has a very high domain authority, a sign of how well trusted it is by others.

So much so that Google ranks wiki pages very highly in its search results normally in the top one or two results. (Remember that the top two results will still normally get over 60% of all clicks.)

It often uses wiki as a trusted source for information in knowledge graph too which often boosts traffic much higher. That’s a story for another day.

Why is it so well trusted?

Because Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced version of the truth.

It’s not perfect: see for example the raging debate over who invented the telephone: you’re either Team Meucci or Team Graham Bell.

But in the internet age, Wikipedia is the closest thing we get to absolute truth.

How much does Google love Wikipedia?

Enough to buy its data and use it as the basis for its ongoing natural language programming work. Last decade, Google bought a copy of Wikipedia’s data called Freebase. It has redeveloped its search algorithms on the basis of that data.

What is Google trying to achieve by buying this data?

The only thing that Google cares about is producing the best results for you. It’s trying to perfect how it produces search results.

Search Google for ‘Christmas’ in March, and you’ll get a set of results about a Christian festival.

Search the same thing in November and you’ll likely get a recipe for making Christmas pudding.

Google’s improvements in search are a little like a world land speed record they comb the path and remove any objects that get in the way of an optimal performance. They think about user intent: what you want to achieve with your search.

A few years ago, Google knew that people had been gaming its algorithm, filling pages with keywords and such. So it set about changing the rules. The latest iteration of Google’s algorithm is almost impossible to game because it’s based on natural language.

What’s natural language programming?

NLP is where Google analyses literally every word and phrase on a page and tries to make sense of it a bit like a human would.

Part of the challenge of that is knowing what things are: concepts, objects, companies, animal, vegetable, mineral.

To make sense of the world, Google needs to understand semantic triples or RDF (Resource Description Framework): subject-predicate-object

According to Wikipedia:

The components of a triple, such as the statement “The sky has the color blue”, consist of a subject (“the sky”), a predicate (“has the color”), and an object (“blue”).”

What’s interesting here for us is understanding that to make sense of the world, Google needs to know what a subject is.

In our example, the subject is your law firm.

So my question for you is: does Google ‘know’ the name of your firm?

Possibly not.

As far as Wikidata is concerned, 39 of the top 100 law firms don’t ‘exist’ as entities or subjects. We know, of course, that they do in the real world it’s just that nobody among the 24,000+ active Wikidata users has bothered to tell them that the law firm Freeths exists.

This news is probably especially shocking to Freeths’ 844 employees (according to LinkedIn).

Is it easy to create yourself as a subject (aka an entity)?

The best thing to do is to get someone independent to create it for you and set it up with all the various attributes that you know are going to draw people towards you.

NB Do not create your own Wikipedia page. It is likely to get pulled down. You need to get an existing editor to do this for you. Here at TBD, we don’t create Wikipedia pages for people.

What you should also do is get someone independent to create your entity on Wikidata.

Wikidata how to start

So, in Freeths’ case, they might choose to include the fact that their name is Freeths, but that they also get called Freeths LLP. Oh, and that they used to be called Freeth Cartwright. And that their website is freeths.co.uk (but not freeths.com) and that they are headquartered in Nottingham. And add in their logo. And the fact that their LinkedIn address is https://www.linkedin.com/company/freeths-llp/ and so on.

Because then, when Google is trying to make sense of who on earth Freeths is, and Wikipedia is trying to source information about Freeths, it knows if people mean that specific organisation and not a competitor.

What are the benefits of getting this right?

Benefit number one: Web traffic to and from Wikipedia is huge.

Here are the top 10 firms’ Wikipedia pages traffic for 2019:

Firm name Wikipedia page views
DLA Piper 131,653
Clifford Chance 98,488
Hogan Lovells 82,048
Allen & Overy 81,197
Linklaters 77,710
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 71,934
Slaughter and May 66,173
Norton Rose Fulbright 65,958
CMS 57,161
Eversheds Sutherland 55,802

 

As per usual, Slaughters outpunches its 14th place for revenue ranking by placing 7th in this list.

The real outperformers are, however, Mishcon and DWF who rank 12th and 13th for Wikipedia views and yet only 32nd and 22nd for revenues, respectively. (Mischon because of their work for Gina Miller on Brexit and DWF because of its listing on the stock exchange).

Views per employee top three firms

  1. Slaughter and May
  2. Harbottle & Lewis
  3. Dickson Minto

Dickson Minto’s rankings are surprisingly high in this table until you see that this is because there’s almost no information on them on their website – so readers are using Wikipedia as a proxy to find out more about them.

More stats

Only 34 of the top 100 firms are getting Wikipedia right at the moment. In the latest edition of The Digital 100, they get a perfect score.

At the other end, 37 firms are getting the lowest score possible with no Wikipedia and no Wikidata page.

The 29 in between have minor or major tweaks to make to improve both their standing on Wikipedia and on all their google results.

We provide more in-depth view of this in the latest edition of The Digital 100.

Benefit number two: Google’s algorithm trusts entities (law firms) with a wiki page and treats them to higher page rankings as a result

That means that, for a similar article to a competitors’ if you have a Wiki page and they don’t, then your article will most likely outrank theirs.

(And if you outrank theirs, you’ll get more traffic and more leads than them).

So, let’s say we search Google for £directors’ duties”. This is the result I get (yours may differ slightly depending on Google’s personalisation results). It’s drawn from Wikipedia.

 

Search results for directors' duties

But it’s then quickly followed by these:

Search for law firms and directors duties

So, the first thing to note is that Wikipedia comes out top in the snippet. Snippets give people info before they click through to a page. Recent evidence points out that this produces less and less web traffic although it does put your content in front of more people.

Next, we’ll see that Burges Salmon outperforms both companies house and the IoD on this search. That’s quite the result. Finally, Stephens Scown appears in slot 3.

The content for BS and SS is similar enough as you’d expect. But Stephens Scown does not have a Wikipedia page. Is this the only reason it ranks lower? No. But despite using the precise phrase we’re searching for in comparison to Burges Salmon which does not use that phrase in the URL or H1, it underperforms its SW counterpart.

In Conclusion

Wikipedia is one part of your armoury to get higher web rankings and an independent view of your firm. If you’re not on there, you need to find a way of having your business promoted on there.

If you’d like to know how to get more of your thought leadership in front of people, then please contact us or subscribe to The Digital 100.

How do I improve my social media reach?

With more people than ever working from home and free from interminable meetings, now is a perfect storm for producing and sharing great content for both your regular content and your advertising options.

How can I get more reach for my social media posts?

The first thing to note is that the giants of social media have changed their algorithms.

These social media used to reward Shares and Likes the most. A highly Shared article would be promoted to the top of the pile, appearing higher up in readers’ streams and so would be seen and read by more people.

In 2020, that’s no longer the case. Nowadays, social networks boost articles with the most/best Comments, then those with high volumes of Likes and then, to some degree, those with a high number of Shares.

The rationale is simple: Comments are a stronger signal of engagement with a piece of content. Commenting takes more effort. Comments are less likely to be replicated. They mean that audiences spend more time on the platform, which is part of the platform’s plan. Next are Likes. Despite Likes only taking a split second, they do signal trust in the content. Shares are now ranked third in terms of importance because the networks want people to either create content or Like or Comment on it, but not just Share others’ which is less social and less likely to result in people spending more time on their platform.

There’s nuance here, of course. The best options are to have people Comment and Like your article as this will extend the degree to which social networks promote it. Likewise, Sharing with a Comment is rewarded with greater reach than just Sharing as it’s a sign of greater engagement.

So, if you write a piece and want it to reach a larger audience, it’s worth encouraging them to Comment or writing content that will compel them to add their opinion.

What if you don’t feel comfortable asking others to Comment?

There are several ways to ask people to engage with your content:

  • First, you can write “I’d be interested to hear others’ views” at the end of the status;
  • Second, you can ask others for their opinions to go in the article as you’re writing it – this *always* goes down well; and/or
  • Third, you can tag them and ask them at the time of sharing. Deploy this option if you have flagged it to them already or if you are close enough to them that you know that they will definitely respond. 

You may feel awkward asking people to Comment. I which case, I think that you need to know about the Benjamin Franklin effect.

What is the Benjamin Franklin effect?

Franklin wrote in his autobiography that:

“He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

The modern version is this:

“If you want someone to like you, ask them to do you a favour.”

Scientists explain this cognitive dissonance as follows: If you like someone, you’ll help them. But if you help someone, your brain assumes that you like the person. Otherwise, why would you be helping them? It may sound odd, but it works.

Another reason that people are willing to help is that you are validating their expertise. By saying: “Please can I have your comment?” you’re showing that you value your contact’s opinion. And everyone likes to be valued.

Finally, add to this the fact that you are showing yourself to be less than perfect – vulnerable even – as you ask for help, and people are increasingly endeared towards you and more likely to help.

It’s a powerful combination and will produce great results if deployed well.

What difference does having Likes and Comments make?

We’ve run the stats and for every Like, LinkedIn promotes your status to around 100-200 extra people. The same for any Comment.

After evaluating your content as to how good it is (yes, really), LinkedIn only initially serves your content to a small group of people – perhaps 100 or so. If none of them Like or Share it, then it will quickly be forgotten and won’t appear in any more feeds.

The golden hour

If, however, within the first hour of it being released, it gets Likes and Comments, then the algorithm rewards it with more and more exposure which is a virtuous circle likely to get you hundreds or thousands of views.

This is why it’s so essential to make sure that your content is something that people can genuinely engage with from the outset. If they purely Like it, then it will run its course. If they Like and Comment, then it will stick around for hours and even days.

Testing our theories

Bram Vanoirbeek – a friend and fellow digital marketing geek – and I created this status to test our theories. It contains some really good thinking from around our industry and the results were as good as we’d hoped for. Within an hour, it had had almost 700 views. Within four hours, it had been seen over 2,000 times. After 20 hours it had been viewed over 3,500 times.

You can see the results in the live post here

 

What should I be doing right now?

Right now, people are working remotely and seeing them face to face is currently hard if not entirely banned. So using content as a way to get in front of people and remain front-of-mind makes good business sense.

Just not the old “draft it and fire it out” kind.

Let’s put the social back into social media.

Oh, and if you’d like an audit of what you’re doing, we can help – see our LinkedIn audit here.

Covid-19 – culture wars for UK and US law firms?

How much do you value your people?

The old saying goes that you should dump a partner who is ‘rude to the waiter but nice to you.’ Which begs the question, what message does it send to your employees and clients, your lawyers and your targets if you think it’s okay to treat your business professionals as second-class citizens?

This point arose in relation to business professionals in an interesting exchange this morning on law firms’ Covid-19 plans with Gina Passarella, the editor-in-chief of American Lawyer and Richard W Smith, a leading Australian business development director.

A background on remote working in law firms

Gina’s tweet below prompted our debate:

Gina and her team have done a great job of reporting on firms using or testing their remote working systems over recent days. As have the UK legal industry titles – see this piece from today’s The Lawyer, for example. That level of transparency is essential for our industry.

The UK firms – or those with a major UK element – seem to have good business continuity plans in place, and many of the top 100 firms have tested them over recent days. Some firms have asked people to come in and work on alternate days or weeks. Some have banned intra-office travel and plan to close all offices except on a skeleton staff for a single day or more.

But the question arose as to whether or not US firms were ready to do this from two perspectives: technology and culturally.

Are law firms technologically ready to work remotely?

Technologically, of course, it should be perfectly possible to have all your people work remotely. Prior, one-off incidents have been well handled and I have been part of comms teams at both US and UK teams in times of snow, bomb threats, floods, deaths, activist threats and a whole load more. It wasn’t always easy going, but we learned from each challenge, and our systems improved each time. But consistently, over all those challenges, technology enabled us to keep our people, clients and communities informed and the wheels turning.

So not having the technology in place to – pretty much – conduct business as usual is at best shortsighted and, at worst, negligent.

And, making it look easy, as ever, is Quinn Emanuel. Their move in 2015 looks prescient in having all its lawyers relocate for a week to work in a location of their choice: (https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/quinn_emanuel_announces_work_from_anywhere_program)

It shows that it’s technologically possible and maybe even that it should be done to foster better teams.

Are law firms culturally ready to work remotely?

Culturally, however, many firms are going to be challenged by Covid-19.

Firms who have long supported agile working seem to be taking many of the challenges in their stride, conducting much of their business as usual. I’ve worked with smaller firms over recent days that simply sent one email asking people not to come into the office nor see clients face to face. They’ve also backed it up with open, social media delivered messages to the same effect. Their leaders owned the issue and communicated about it in a timely fashion. That’s how well-prepared they are. Face to face meetings are rescheduled on Zoom instead, but work gets done. Maybe some BD and coffees get slated for a later date, but in a digital-first age, it’s possible to keep on marketing and developing business online.

But the question that really bugged me in our exchange this morning was whether or not this remote working would apply to “secretaries”.

A cultural point of difference between US and UK firms?

I’ve worked at both UK and US firms and it’s frankly astounding that the idea of “us and them” keeps resurfacing even in 2020. If you’re bothered, then look for the debates on Twitter and LinkedIn on the use of the phrase ‘non-lawyer’.

In my experience of several UK firms, everyone at the firm is part of the team and is treated as an equal in both small and large ways. Not always, not everywhere, but predominantly. Outliers get reminded that we are all professionals.

Certainly, when it comes to something as life-threatening as ‘should the lawyers get to work at home during a pandemic but the secretaries work in the office?’ the answer at a UK firm will, in my experience, be consistent for all the people who work at the firm.

But at US firms? Not so much, in my experience. It’s changing, but maybe Covid-19 is the moment when it changes forever: that business professionals are valued in the US firms as highly as they are in the UK firms.

The Quinn remote working initiative mentioned above related to associates – not business professionals. Would the same move involve business professionals now? That’s for Quinn to say. They have, of course, already closed their NY office last week due to a partner contracting Covid-19.

Adapting your policies in light of Covid-19

If you have a set of stated values, these should be demonstrable in how you approach your comms in relation to your people, your clients and your work today and over the coming weeks.

There are some big questions in play here and it’s worth thinking about them as you finalise your approach:

  • Does our approach demonstrate our culture?
  • How will this resonate with our people?
  • What do clients expect of us? (NB not ‘What do we think clients expect of us?’)
  • What are our clients doing in relation to their people?
  • How will this communication land with our target clients? Are they more likely to get a sense of who we are after reading our approach?
  • How will this land with our potential recruits?

 

After all, nobody wants to date the person who’s rude to the waiter.

Si

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