Archive for October, 2009
This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Real-time Web a Game Changer.”
Real-time Web a Game Changer
You’ll have to forgive me for having online technologies, including social media, on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been speaking about social media for lawyers quite a bit in recent months and am now enmeshed in the process of writing a book with Carolyn Elefant about social media for lawyers, which will be published by the American Bar Association.
As a result, I’ve spent a good deal of time mulling over how the rapidly changing world of online technology will affect the legal profession. The technologies are evolving at a rapid pace and changing the world around us on a global scale.
Rest assured, our profession is not immune to the paradigm shift. Social media, cloud computing, mobile computing, real-time Web and real-time search are some of the core areas predicted to be game changers over the coming year.
Lawyers cannot afford to ignore the trends and should, at the very least, make an effort to learn and understand the concepts.
Two major developments were announced last week that will make one of the predicted game changing trends —real-time Web and real-time search —a more viable reality. Twitter announced agreements with Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) and Google to allow both engines full access to its data, as produced in real time.
Microsoft also negotiated an agreement with Facebook that will allow Bing access to some of Facebook’s data.
Of course, some of you are probably wondering: What is the real-time Web, and why should I care? Good question.
In July, Wikipedia described the real-time Web as:
[T]he concept of searching for and finding information online as it is produced. Advancements in web search technology coupled with growing use of social media enable online activities to be queried as they occur. A traditional web search crawls and indexes web pages periodically, returning results based on relevance to the search query. The real time web delivers the most popular topics recently discussed or posted by users. The content is often “soft” in that it is based on the social web —people’s opinions, attitudes, thoughts and interests —as opposed to hard news or facts.
Now in its infancy, the real-time Web soon will be commonplace, and will allow instantaneous access to information on any topic or event, as soon as that information becomes available, and as the event is occurring.
At first glance, that may not seem to be an earth-shattering concept, but it is a paradigm shift worthy of note. Lawyers should sit up and take notice.
User-generated content, the fundamental building block of the “social Web,” now is more influential, and instantaneously is given more credence as aresult of appearing in search engine results as soon as it is created.
Criticisms of legal employers or law schools appearing on Twitter have become infinitely more powerful.
Small businesses, including law firms, that use Twitter or Facebook as part of their marketing efforts online can strategically tweak their marketing approach on those platforms to mirror trends and topics affecting their business, and thereby appear higher in search engine results.
Astute lawyers likewise will use real-time search to locate issues and trends that may affect their areas of practice, then tailor their marketing and litigation efforts accordingly. Class action attorneys, for instance, can search for real-time complaints about a particular drug or product and predict when or where a class of injured people may exist long before their technologically deficient colleagues get wind of it.
Make no mistake about it —real-time search finally is here, and it’s going to alter the way that business is done. It’s a game changer, folks.
At the very least, learn about it and understand its ramifications. If you’re feeling especially daring, put it to work for your law practice. It can never hurt to stay ahead of the curve, especially when most of your competitors don’t even realize the curve exists.
These slides are from my recent presentations with Lisa Solomon at conferences in NYC and LA.
This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Still more social media for lawyers: Participate!”
Still more social media for lawyers: Participate!
My thoughts continue to be focused on social media because of two upcoming speaking engagements on lawyers and social media.
The first is sponsored by Gotham Media Ventures, to be held Thursday in New York City. I’ll also be speaking Oct. 16 in Los Angeles at the American Bar Association’s Solo and Small Firm conference.
One important concept I intend to stress to attendees at both conferences is that engaging in focused online participation and interaction is the best way to amplify
and reap the benefits from an online presence.
It’s not difficult to do, as long as you’ve followed the advice from my two previous columns in this series:
Establish a basic online presence and identify the online platforms with which you are most comfortable participating. The final step is to dive in and interact.
Learn and interact, exchange information and network and share your content, including blog posts, recent achievements and media mentions.
Of course, an individual’s level of participation and interaction vary from one platform to next The key to effective participation is to be genuine, transparent, and to provide useful, relevant information no matter what the context.
Interact and converse, rather than merely broadcast and boast. Don’t be afraid to share personal interests occasionally alongside professional ones. Doing so humanizes you and makes you appear more approachable to potential clients and other attorneys.
Attorneys with a law blog should respond to people who comment on posts. Post comments to other law blogs, leave links to your blog when inputting your name and contact information.
Link to other law bloggers’ posts, discuss the points raised and offer your take on the issue.
Engage in a conversation with other bloggers. You’ll make new connections, increase the number of incoming links to your blog —important for search engine optimization —and, perhaps, you might even learn something new.
If online forums are your platform of choice —groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, or online legal communities Lawlink (lawlink.com), Martindale-Hubbell’s “Connected” (martindale.com/connected) and the ABA’s legal network, “Legally Minded” (legallyminded.com) —be sure to check in a few times each week
When visiting a forum, reply to posts from other attorneys if you’re able to offer useful commentary or information. Start new discussions relating to your areas of practice by asking for input regarding a change in the law, soliciting advice as to the procedures in a particular court or jurisdiction or asking participants for opinions on how to handle a particularly thorny procedural
By participating in online legal forums, you’ll gain useful information, increase your reach online and network with new colleagues.
Users also can engage in conversations with colleagues using the status update feature on Facebook and LinkedIn. Post your firm’s most recent blog posts to your accounts on those sites, post occasional updates about your professional activities and accomplishments, link to interesting news stories relevant to your areas of practice and comment on your colleagues’ recent activities. By doing so, you’ll provide colleagues and friends with useful and relevant information, engage with them, maintain professional and personal relationships and promote your practice and accomplishments.
Finally, if Twitter is your online platform of choice, follow my 50-30-10-10 rule. 50 percent of “tweets” should provide followers with links to articles, blog posts and other online content you think might be of interest; the percentage includes “re-tweets,” or re-posts of tweets from other users, of relevant content; 30 percent should be replies to other users’ tweets —in other words, engage in conversations with others 20 percent of the time; 10 percent of tweets should consist of self-promotion, including your firm’s blog posts and information about professional
activities and accomplishments;
Tweet about your personal interests and hobbies about 10 percent of the time. Doing so, again, will do much to humanize you, make you more interesting to your followers and allow you to connect with non-legal users who share similar interests.
That segment of your audience should not be ignored —they are your potential clients or referrers, with whom we all know it’s always a good idea to connect.
In summary, an effective online presence revolves around visibility, relevancy, personality and engagement. Find the forums with which you are most comfortable and put these principles to work. You’ll find it well worth your time and effort.