Ian Macdonald got into blogging after he realized that the Arsenal blog he was reading was fielding a lot of interest by dedicating themselves to a particular specialty. But if the Inside Business Immigration blog was going to be successful, he knew he’d need more than that.
For starters, he’d need insight. Blogging, as anyone knows, is a lot of time and effort, and Macdonald didn’t want his team to be pouring all that effort into an empty audience. So when Greenberg Traurig approached him about refurbing the blog, he wanted to make sure it was part of a larger plan.
“I wanted to incorporate that audience into a larger marketing initiative,” said Macdonald, who’s served as the editor of the blog for a few years now. “With immigration, which is my job and my passion, I decided to push the firm to overhaul its blogging platform and increase blogging activity. I wanted to put us in a place where we can show our expertise through this window; combining the client need for information with our want to express how great we are.”
Macdonald and his team started using the tools at their fingertips to help learn about the blog’s audience, and meet them where they were instead of blogging for them to catch up. Successful posts turned into follow up webinars, tailored client development, or more in-depth articles down the line. In return they’ve seen their material developing in a way where the audiences get more and more sophisticated, leaving the team with balancing the insight of insiders with the ease of access for outsiders.
As the editor, Macdonald proofreads all the articles before going to print, which means extra reading on top of all other blog-related reading. But that time investment is definitely worth it to maintain the high standards of Inside Business Immigration—which is extra important in a time when immigration can be a bit of a hot button issue.
Their blog posts have definitely their share of started discussions (and debates) on social media platforms. But their goal is always to be a neutral presenter of facts and legal impacts a new legal development may have.
“We stay neutral by just focusing on the legal issues and the facts. If there’s an interpretation [in the post] we make sure to give both sides of that interpretation. We also maintain integrity by making sure that anything that the surveys we may cite to the secondary sources sometimes used are viable,” said Macdonald.
It’s a strategy that’s paying off for them with clients, as well as attracting reporters from “some of the big newspapers” interested in jumping off of a blog post. Macdonald acknowledges that it’s sometimes a lot of work, even with posting duty being circulated across about 40 authors in the firm.
“Immigration is one of those topics where there’s generally something to blog on everyday or two,” said Macdonald. “Being an active blogger requires a lot of background work; all the reading, maintaining, making sure everybody is pulling their weight, making sure we are current, making sure the messaging in one our clients want to hear about. But that’s where the data analytics come in.”
“Without the ability to see [things like] who’s reading, how often an article is read, we’re kind of moving in a dark room and not sure if we’re dealing with an elephant or a tiger. We really wanted to hone in on our posts using that data structure.”
Which made mobile-friendliness key. According to Macdonald, a majority of people these days gain access to blog information via mobile devices. Keeping Inside Business Immigration readable on mobile helps put the blog in places other than just the blog, in the same way that pushing the content out to social media and RSS feeds does.
And when the day is done, Macdonald and his team are passionate about immigration law. Though maintaining a fresh blog may involve a lot of behind the scenes legwork, it’s worth it.
“You don’t want to get into a place where we have busy activity for one month of the year, and then people get busy and you have a dead blog for eleven months of the year,” said Macdonald. “Have fun, don’t get too caught up in the detail, and see it as an extension of what you’re telling clients on the phone or via email every minute of the day.”