For lawyers, the problem with blogs and social media is that they take time. And who has any excess of that?
This is the problem that a relatively new company called Scroll aims to solve, for both large and small firms. For large firms, it provides a platform through which marketing directors can manage all of a firm’s blogging and social media. For small firms, it essentially becomes your marketing director, creating and posting social media content on your behalf.
On top of that, it offers a service that it claims will help fuel your blogging and social media by using artificial intelligence to keep you up to date on topics you follow.
Scroll was started by Marlet Edwards, an attorney in Raleigh, N.C. After practicing law for 14 years, she came to understand how difficult it is for lawyers to keep up with social media.
Her company has no proprietary technology. Rather, she is licensing two separate platforms from two different Raleigh-based companies and combining them to help law firms manage and create blog and social media posts.
Social Media Management
The first part of what Scroll offers is the social media management platform, which it launched in September. The platform allows a firm’s marketing director (or some other designated person in the firm) to create a blog post and then schedule it to publish simultaneously to any number of blogs within the firm. These can be individual attorneys’ blogs or practice-area or industry-focused blogs.
The marketing director can then create a social media post and similarly send it out simultaneously to the LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts of all the firm’s lawyers or any subgroup of lawyers.
Although published en masse, these posts remain identified with the individual lawyer. When a reader clicks on a social media post, it takes the reader to a blog site branded to the lawyer, with the attorney’s bio and other information, as well as a lead capture form that creates a marketing list specific to that attorney (see image above).
Attorneys are not shut out of the publishing process. Each attorney in the firm can log in to his or her own dashboard, where the attorney can create his or her own posts also see everything the firm has scheduled to go out for that attorney. If the attorney does not want a scheduled post to go out, the attorney can delete it.
If any comments are made to any posts, both the attorney and the marketing director are notified.
This reminded me of another product, ClearView Social, which similarly aims to let marketing staff queue up content for lawyers to post to social media. (See my posts about it here and here.) But Edwards distinguishes her platform, which she describes as an opt-out platform, from ClearView’s opt-in approach.
With ClearView, the queued social media content is sent in an email to all the attorneys in the firm. Each attorney then reads through the list of content in the email and picks the items to share. The attorney, in other words, as to opt-in to sharing the content.
With Scroll, the marketing director schedules the content that is to be shared. Unless the attorney logs in to the dashboard and opts out of an item, it will be shared as scheduled.
Finding Content Using AI
Anyone who blogs will tell you that one of the biggest challenges is coming up with a regular flow of ideas to write about. Scroll addresses this through a second platform it licenses and offers to its customers, Tanjo, which was developed by SZL.it in Durham, N.C.
Tanjo helps you discover and organize content of interest to you. It uses artificial intelligence to learn from your content selections and deliver similar, relevant content. (Sort of like what Pandora does for music.)
Users create what Tanjo calls Smartboards to organize their content around the specific topics that interest them. They can also follow others’ Smartboards. Tanjo describes this as “like Pinterest for knowledge.” Tanjo will automatically find and post relevant content to these Smartboards, but a lawyer can prime the process by posting an initial set of articles to train Tanjo.
Edwards suggests that lawyers and marketing directors use these Smartboards to keep up with a topic or industry and get ideas for blog and social media posts. One of her customer firms is using it for competitive intelligence.
Content for Smaller Firms
A final prong of Scroll’s service is designed for smaller firms that do not have marketing directors. Scroll will not only help them manage content, but also create it.
Scroll offers a service in which it creates general-interest legal articles and posts them to a lawyer’s or firm’s social media accounts. Users get access to a dashboard where they can see what is in the pipeline, manage auto-posting, and publish their own posts.
For an additional fee, Scroll will provide attorneys with blog posts specific to a practice area. These are written by law students or law school graduates.
What’s It All Cost?
Scroll offers two prices for its social media management platform. For $10 a month per profile (or per lawyer), a firm can use the platform to manage its social media posts. If a firm wants the full blogging and social media system, that costs $30 a month for each blog profile (plus a one-time, per-firm set-up fee of $1,200).
Use of the Tanjo Smartboards requires a separate subscription of $50 per month.
For content, Scroll charges $50 per month for the feed of general interest articles to a firm’s social media accounts. For custom blog posts, it charges $150.
The Bottom Line
When I first wrote about ClearView Social, I expressed concern about any platform that makes an attorney merely the conduit or redistributor of content someone else has chosen to share.
Somewhere along the line, I got the apparently crazy idea that if there is value to be gained through social media, it will come only through engagement and conversations. But in the rush to exploit social media as marketing tools, way too many users have gone from engaging with social media to spamming it — to sending out as much stuff as they can as often as they can.
This would be my concern about Scroll. The idea of having someone in the marketing department sending out content in the name of the firm’s attorneys, and requiring attorneys to opt out of that content, is troubling. Attorneys should be responsible for content that goes out under their name, both ethically and professionally.
I think ClearView’s opt-in approach is the better one. At least there the attorney is taking responsibility for what gets sent out.
For the same reason, I’ve never liked the idea of ghostwritten blog posts or social media feeds managed by outsiders. I know that this stuff is now common in legal marketing. At a minimum, if lawyers are not going to write their own posts, they should be reviewing and approving them before they go out.
From what I understand of Scroll’s platform, it could be used this way. Instead of forcing lawyers to opt out of content, it could be used to queue up content and have them opt in. In my mind, that would be the better approach.