It’s frustrating to begin to write a post or article and realize you have nothing new to add to what the guy before you has written—especially if you are a busy lawyer trying to establish a name for yourself in the blogosphere. So how do you stay visible on the web and offer good content to your social networks? I’ve begun experimenting with “curating”—a form of social news aggregation—to create The LPS Reader, a newsletter of my handpicked, top 10 favorite posts of the week. I couldn’t do a better job myself, even if I had time to try.
Several online curating publishers now offer tools to reach more expanded audiences. None of them are perfect, but they all offer methods of highlighting good content and sustaining visibility. Here are my three favorites.
Summify creates a daily email summary of relevant news by syncing with the social networks you connect it to, including your RSS reader. (Here’s an example of my daily summary.) Within your reader, you can pick and choose which feeds you want it to include. Summify then scans the content from those streams and picks the top articles to include in your summary, where and when you choose. You manage how often you want to publish (daily or more) and the number of articles you want to have included.
With Summify, you don’t get to select which individual articles are included in your summary, since Summify scans the content provided by your follows and subscriptions and chooses for you. If you want to shift the focus, however, you can use the subscription manager to add or eliminate certain kinds of content. For example, to keep my summaries from being too tech-oriented, I eliminated some of the tech subscriptions I have in my reader to produce more law practice content.
Summify also enables you to find others in your network and follow them, see who’s following you, and search for other Summify users you might want to follow. In this way, it operates as both a curating system and a social network.
I love Scoop.it. The app’s digital formatting has a feel of a print newspaper and can make you forget you’re looking at a computer screen, and it’s use is really intuitive. Create a topic in your account, install the bookmarklet on your toolbar and then bingo: Every time you see a post or site you want to include, just click on your bookmarklet, make any changes you like to the introductory copy, click Publish, and it gets added to your topic’s page. You can then share your updated page to any of your social media networks, publish it to your blog or create a dynamic widget on your website. Your topic also gets its own URL and RSS feed, and from the keywords you input, Scoop.it will suggest content you might want to include on your page.
In addition, a community button tells you who in your online network is using Scoop.it so you can follow their topics. Scoop.it encourages interaction—its rating system is based on quality and its goal is to become a repository for researchers. It is feature-rich, easy to use and nice to look at, and you have complete control over your content.
Paper.li is a more robust version of Summify, with several pages of content on various topics you choose by set categories. Unfortunately, they don’t have a law category (can you imagine?) but you can work around that by using keywords to direct the crawlers to legal content, and the keywords can be different for each source you program it to include. Paper.li has all the standard sharing features, including auto-posting, email subscription, and an RSS feed and embed code for your website. However, it does not share the community features of either Summify or Scoop.it, and is purely devoted to pushing out curated content to your network.
These curation tools are a free and easy way to get through the busy signal on social networks. Why not experiment and see what develops?
Donna Seyle is a blogger, writer and founder of Law Practice Strategy, a resource center for lawyers seeking to establish a solo or small firm or wanting to take their existing practices into the 21st century. She is a graduate of Southwestern University School of Law and has 22 years of professional experience in the law in California, Hawaii and New Mexico. Donna regularly blogs at the Law Practice Strategy Blog.