Today’s Two for Tuesdays will be a little bit different, because I’m talking about tools rather than tips. Though using each of these tools is actually a tip…it’s possible I haven’t had enough coffee today. 

So, jumping right into the tools instead! The first of these tools is one I knew about, but didn’t understand the benefits of until recently, while the second is one I’ve been using for a while, but finally started to use a bit more fully. 

Tool One: Zite

The first tool I recommend is Zite. Yes, I know they were just purchased by FlipBoard, and ultimately, the technology will be incorporated into FlipBoard, but for now, I’m recommending Zite all on its own. If you read my recap of Kevin O’Keefe’s last webinar, you’ll already know that he mentions Zite as a tool that he uses as a blogger. 

I’m going to go further and say that while Zite is an important tool for bloggers, it’s even more important if you’re interested in becoming a thought leader in general, primarily online, but also off. 

Let’s talk about the "what" and the "why." 

What Is Zite?

As Kevin said in his webinar, "Zite is like the Pandora of content – it learns what you like based on what you tell it." That’s an excellent way to describe it. Zite themselves say: 

We all want to be in touch with the “Zeitgeist” — the spirit of our times. We want to know the current events, important ideas and smart opinions that are circulating in our world-what’s happening and what’s interesting. And we want to be challenged with experiences that are new and unexpected."

With so much information available online today, it’s increasingly difficult and time-consuming to find the content we want. That’s where Zite comes in. Zite evaluates millions of new stories every day, looking at the type of article, its key attributes and how it is shared across the web. Zite uses this information to match stories to your personal interests and then delivers them automatically to your iPad or iPhone."

Zite harnesses and blends decades of research that it has tuned during six years of product development. Only Zite delivers your personal slice of the Zeitgeist."

Basically, Zite is like a news magazine that you create yourself, based on including topics that you like, and then later, by indicating which articles you liked or didn’t like to further refine your preferences. 

Why is Zite Useful for Content & How Will it Make Me a Thought Leader? 

I was initially resistant to using Zite, for a couple of reasons – first, I was familiar with FlipBoard and thought they were the same. And although I like the flashy look of FlipBoard, to me, it was simply another way to have to read my RSS content. 

Sure, it’s an attractive way to read it, and very slick, but I mostly read my RSS on the go with my phone, using Feedly (that’s my second tool, so we’ll get to that in a moment). 

I just wasn’t sold on why FlipBoard or Zite would be useful to me (and I considered them interchangeable). But when Kevin said that Zite was really like the Pandora of content, and would bring me NEW content based on my preferences, that’s when I really started to pay attention. 

I’ve got my core set of feeds that I read regular, full of thought leaders in legal and legal marketing. And while I will always read those articles and posts closely, I was lacking in where I could regularly find additional news – not just in the legal sphere, since I’m well connected to the smart people in my industry, who regularly share that content – but those outside of the legal industry, who might have some new and unique advice on networking, business development, content marketing and more. 

Plus, I like to keep up on what’s popular (is there an angle that I can look at in legal marketing?) and on topics that are just of interest to me. And Zite allows me to do all of this. 

So, in the offline world, I’m up to date on the topics that everyone is talking about – I don’t have to go searching online for the articles or links people mention; they come right to my iPad. It cuts out that extra step, which saves me time. I can speak intelligently on the subjects that people are interested in, and add in my own thoughts on the content that I’m interested in as well. 

And in the online world, it’s even better – right from Zite, I can email someone a link to an article I think would interest them, and add my thoughts in the body of the email, I can email myself an article that I want to read later and maybe use as fodder for a blog post, or I can share the article through social media.  Each of those things helps to establish me as a thought leader, because I’m curating content in certain topical areas and sharing that with my networks – and I’m doing all of that without having to do the additional legwork of searching online. 

Secondly, on days when I’m busy? I don’t have to look at it at all. It’s not building up in my reader, waiting for me to review it. It’s just there when I have the time, or am looking for some additional inspiration. 

So how about a couple of best practices that I see being useful for using Zite? 

  • You can search and subscribe to topics within Zite that interest you – they’ll give you a few suggestions of what’s popular to start with, but you can also set up your own searches. Take a look at the keywords for your practice area – perhaps you focus on patent law, or medical device litigation. Search for these and subscribe to news about those items. 
  • Once you have those news items filtering through, there are a few things you can do with them: 
    • Tweet out the ones you find particularly helpful, that you may not have any additional commentary for. It reinforces the idea that you are on the cutting edge of the news in that area, and that you’re the go-to source for the latest information. 
    • Craft a blog post around the articles where you do want to add your two cents. Make sure to link to the original article, reference the author, and then connect with that person through social media to further engage them in the conversation. This is again reinforcing the idea that you’re a thought leader in this area because you’re both looking at a current topic and you’re adding your own thoughtful commentary. 
    • Email your clients when an item seems particularly relevant to them – the way you might have cut out a magazine article and mailed it to them previously. Give them a few lines in the body of the email as to why it impacts them, and offer to speak further about it. Again, you’re positioning yourself as a thought leader, because you’re showing your clients that you’re up on the latest news, and that you’re always thinking about how something might impact them. 
  • As you use Zite, you can give either a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" to each article you read (you can also swipe up or down on the main page) to indicate to Zite what your preference is – to see more articles like that, or fewer. This helps Zite to "learn" your preferences, so that over time, it becomes more and more targeted to the things that are useful to you. 

I wish I’d paid attention to Zite sooner, because for me, it really is a breakthrough. But it’s never too late to get started, and hopefully, their integration with FlipBoard will only bring us a better user experience. 

Tool Two: Feedly

My second recommended tool is Feedly. It still makes me a bit sad to suggest it, because I haven’t gotten over losing Google Reader yet, but Feedly is a good substitute. Feedly is an RSS reader, described by Wikipedia as

a news aggregator application for various Web browsers and mobile devices running iOS and Android, also available as a cloud-based service"

Since the demise of Google Reader, I’ve been using Feedly for all of my RSS content – these are feeds that I know about that I’ve subscribed to, such as The Legal WatercoolerCorcoran’s Business of Law Blog, and Myrland Marketing Minutes. Most sites have an RSS feed these days, so that the news you’re interested in can be set up to come right to you in one place (your RSS reader), instead of you having to do the extra work of searching it out on individual websites – I mean, who has time for that? 

But why stop at the feeds you know about? One of the things I started to do recently was to set up more keyword searches, similar to what I’m doing with Zite. If I mouseover the search box, Feedly will offer me a few category areas to choose from, if I’m so inclined, or I can go ahead and add search items of relevance to me. 

Recently, I added things like "business development," "content marketing" and "legal marketing" (in quotes so that it searches for the entire phrase, and not each of the words – computers are very literal). As you type in these phrases into the search box, Feedly asks you whether you want to search for those items within your existing subscriptions, within some suggested relevant feeds, or through Google News or YouTube. 

I subsequently set up subscriptions for each of these to search Google News and now, search results come right into my RSS reader. Similarly to Zite, this is giving me the benefit of bringing me new information that I might not come across otherwise, all without having to do the extra work of looking for it. 

The downside is that I’m getting a LOT more information coming into my reader than ever before – but I can set up folders to filter out the main culprits and review those only when I have time (as I’m doing with Zite). And similarly to Zite and most other reader tools, I can send email directly from Feedly, or share individual articles with my social networks. 

Efficiency and Thought Leadership

To sum up, each of these tools is about two things – efficiency and thought leadership.  Before, I would have to read lots of different newspapers and magazines to hunt down the articles that I found interesting or relevant, or I would have to scour the internet to search them out, either by searching Google, or looking through news sites. 

But now, only those things I’m interested in (and those that are popular, and so *might* be of relevance to me) are coming through – not only does that cut out the work of finding them, but it cuts out the noise as well, which helps me to stay more focused. 

And all of that helps me to be a thought leader in a much faster way than every before. These tools are doing the hard work of curating the content for me, and then I can pick and choose from that content what my networks might find useful, based on my regular engagement with them. That focuses my blogging on things that are of interest to my networks, shows my networks that I’m a go-to source for the topics that I want to be known for, and offers another reason for people to engage with me, both online and off. 

So run, do not walk, to grab these two tools if you haven’t already. And as always, add your thoughts or further suggestions for other tools in the comments below! 

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Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. She is a dynamic, influential international executive and marketing thought leader with a passion for relationship development and authoring impactful content. Griffiths is a driven, strategic leader who implements creative initiatives to achieve the…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. She is a dynamic, influential international executive and marketing thought leader with a passion for relationship development and authoring impactful content. Griffiths is a driven, strategic leader who implements creative initiatives to achieve the goals of a global professional services network. She manages all major aspects of the Network, including recruitment, member retention, and providing exceptional client service to an international membership base.

In her role as Executive Director, Griffiths manages a mix of international programs, engages a diverse global community, and develops an international membership base. She leads the development and successful implementation of major organizational initiatives, manages interpersonal relationships, and possesses executive presence with audiences of internal and external stakeholders. Griffiths excels at project management, organization, and planning, writes and speaks with influence and authority, and works independently while demonstrating flexibility in thinking, especially in challenging situations. She also adapts to diverse and dynamic environments with constant assessment and recalibration.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

In 2021, the ILN was honored as Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer European Awards, and in 2016, 2017, and 2022, they were shortlisted as Global Law Firm Network of the Year. Since 2011, the Network has been listed as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network, recently increasing this ranking to be included in the top two percent of law firm networks globally, as well as adding two regional rankings. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry and was included in Clio’s list of “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful, and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was chosen as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February 2009.