In a year that’s looking like it will be defined by “fake news,” readers are searching more than ever for people with expertise to help shine through the crap. But if one recent study is to be believed, the benefits of blogging cuts both ways.
According to a recent survey by the researchers at Ipsos MORI, a slim majority of people believe lawyers are not the most trustworthy people. Only 52 percent of respondents trusted or believed that lawyers generally told the truth.
That put them just about midway between nurses (who 93 percent of people trusted) and “politicians, generally” (only 15 percent). They edged out pollsters with a 3 percent lead, which seems good after the year we’ve had. But when you compare to the average person on the street—who 65 percent of respondents found trustworthy—it doesn’t look so great.
Of course lawyers have been trying to shake the untrustworthy stereotype since long before audiences celebrated the death of one in “Jurassic Park.” (And the seem to be trending upwards, at more than double where Ipsos MORI has them in 1983!) The difference is, it’s never been easier to establish a rapport with people looking for you.
Sure, you’ve heard the benefits of blogging before—it’s the 21st century word of mouth, gets your name in front of eyeballs with minimal effort, it’s networking without leaving the couch, etc.—but it seems crucial to argue for blogging as a way to cut through fake news like a hot knife through butter. Social media has made for a polarized world, online and off, and it’s hard to ignore that these days people’s online universes may not even touch someone’s on the opposite end of the political spectrum. And if someone on your news feed shares an article—factual or not—you’re more likely to not only click on it, but believe it.
“There’s a good reason for this,” wrote Adam Penneberg for Fast Company in 2011. “We humans are hardwired to commingle with one another offline and on- and the web and its platforms like Facebook and Twitter make it more efficient than ever. That’s because virtual relationships can be as real as actual relationships. The truth is we’re all one step removed from reality, living life through the prism of our own minds.”
These days almost any business, promoter, or service provider is looking to leverage tools like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites to get themselves front and center on people’s screens. It’s affecting how newsrooms package stories, how brands connect to the younger generations, and even (apparently) what we can expect of President-elects. Everyone’s trying to soak up the implicit trust shared between individuals online.
Lawyers—though perhaps traditionally known as luddites, however unfairly—shouldn’t be exempt from this. Using social media and blogging as tools, it’s more than easy to connect with readers, it’s a neccessity to bridge the gap as Kevin O’Keefe has oft said. From a blog post earlier this year:
The problem is that most consumers don’t hire a lawyer. Some are scared to death of lawyers. Others believe they cost too much. Some wouldn’t know if they had a legal need. And others wouldn’t know what lawyer to call.
That’s where blogs published by decent, caring and passionate lawyers looking to make a difference and looking to make a name for themselves can make a heck of a difference.
People go to the Internet for everything today. Google remains the leading place when searching for information and services though social networks are running a close second.
If a lawyer is penning a blog on family law, startups, niche injury, class action/mass tort matter, probate or whatever they’re going to get seen. And seen by exactly the people who need their service.
…As the consumer reads a post the more they get to know you. You care. You explain things in a way that they can understand it. You’ve talked about people calling you without the obligation to hire you.
And while that trust in online sources is tremendous, it can be even greater if the searcher feels like they know what they’re in for, and if they know who’s on the other side of the screen. In fact the Ipsos MORI survey found that in the case of Brexit, Remain voters were more swayed by their level of respect for “experts” who were able to give a clear and reasoned opinion.
“Arguments from lawyers who understood European law or economists who had a grasp of the financial implications were convincing. It was trickier with business figures as a number were either donors to the major parties or had previous political links,” said one Remain voter cited in the report.
Blogging is a golden opportunity that bridges the gap between readers and lawyers, while also helping to battle the swath of misinformation being spread on the internet. After all, everyone’s already looking there.