Different Strokes for Different Folks

Posted on April 7, 2010. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , |


This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Different Strokes for Different Folks”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


Different Strokes for Different Folks

During the last week of March, I was privileged to speak at one of my favorite legal conferences, ABA TechShow.

My two presentations focused on educating lawyers about how to create an effective online presence: “Creating Your Online Presence” and “Managing Your Online Presence: The Care and Feeding of the Online You.”

While at TechShow, my new book, “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier” debuted and my co- author, Carolyn Elefant, and I participated in a “meet the authors” session and hosted two “Taste of TechShow” dinners with conference attendees.

An interesting theme became apparent throughout all of the events, both in the form of the audiences’ comments and questions during my presentations, and during conversations over dinner or with attendees who stopped me in the hall to discuss social media. The overarching theme — one that didn’t surprise me — was that different social media plat- forms have had varying levels of effectiveness for different lawyers.

Some find Facebook pages to be extremely effective, while others found them useless. Some claim to have obtained nearly all of their clients via their blogs, while others stopped blogging because they deemed the task a waste of time.
Some say Twitter is a very useful platform, while others long ago abandoned it as a pointless time-suck.

During each of my interactions, I attempted to flesh out the reasons for the varying levels of success with the different forms of social media. It became obvious that success in using social media depends on any number of factors, including the lawyers’ goals, areas of practice and locations.

As I mentioned, the “theme” didn’t surprise me. In fact, it is one of the central premises of our book. As we explain in the introduction: “[L]awyers should use a practical, goal-cen- tric approach to social media, which … enable[s] lawyers to (1) identify social media platforms and tools that fit their practices and (2) implement them easily, efficiently, and ethically.”

In other words, before diving into social media, lawyers first should determine their goals, then make intelligent, informed choices regarding the online platforms that will help them to achieve those goals.

Many goals can be achieved through the use of social media and we devote a chapter to each goal in our book — networking and building relationships; locating information to support areas of practice; gain competitive intelligence and customer feedback; showcase your expertise; brand yourself and your law practice and increase search engine optimization and improve quality of leads.

Once you’ve identified your goals, the next step is to determine what social media platforms are the best fit for your goals, practice areas, location and, most importantly, your personality and comfort level with the platform. If you are uncomfortable with a platform, then your social media efforts likely are doomed to fail from the very start.

Those who find writing a chore most likely will find that blogging is not for them. A video blog, podcast or a completely different type of social media plat- form might be a better choice.

If the informality of Twitter puts you off, then perhaps writing a blog or participating in LinkedIn groups might be a better fit. In some cases, a very basic online presence, including a Web site and online attorney directories, may be the only online platforms you wish to use. There’s nothing wrong with that approach. The bottom line is that there is no right way for a lawyer or law firm to use social media effectively. It’s not a “one size fits all” approach, nor is it possible to throw together quickly a compelling social media presence.

Instead, creating and maintaining an effective online presence is a matter of learning about the platforms available and implementing a tailored, well-thought out social media plan.

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“Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier” Preview Launch at ABA TechShow

Posted on March 19, 2010. Filed under: Misc. | Tags: , , , |

Book coverMy new book, Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, will be published in just a few weeks. My co-author, Carolyn Elefant and I are extremely excited about it and will be launching a preview of the book at the upcoming ABA TechShow in Chicago.

Hopefully, we’ll have the chance to see many of you at TechShow and discuss our book and social media issues in general!

You can catch up with us at any of the following events:

You can view an excerpt of the book here and soon you will be able to pre-order the book here–just enter product code 5110710.

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Twitter 101 for Lawyers

Posted on November 4, 2008. Filed under: Networking, Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 | Tags: , |


This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Twitter 101 for Lawyers.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

On Twitter I am @nikiblack.  You can follow me here.


Twitter 101 for Lawyers

While I’ve often repeated my recommendation that lawyers ought to take advantage of the networking and micro-blogging service, Twitter, I’ve yet to explain how to do so.

Not surprisingly, it is the “how” that matters because, at first glance, Twitter seems like anything but the wonderful tool that it is.

First things first —what is Twitter? Twitter is a free, Web-based communications platform that allows users to share information with others who have similar personal and professional interests. Users communicate using text-based posts (“tweets”) of up to 140 characters in length.

Twitter currently has more than 3.2 million accounts registered, and its user base is expanding quickly. Companies and individuals use Twitter in a variety of unique ways, which are constantly evolving.

For example, large businesses, including Jet Blue and Wegmans, use Twitter to provide information and, occasionally, personalized customer service. Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign uses Twitter to connect with and update supporters. News outlets such as the BBC use Twitter to rapidly disseminate breaking news.

In some cases, news breaks on Twitter before the major news outlets report on it, which happened during the recent earthquake in California. California-based Twitter users were the first to “tweet” about the earthquake as they experienced it.

Of course, you’re probably wondering whether Twitter has any value to you as a lawyer. It does. With Twitter you can network with other lawyers across the country and the world; promote your practice and its Web site or other online presence; receive news updates relevant to your area of practice and connect with potential clients or referral sources.

Twitter is an invaluable resource, as long as you know how to use it. The first step is to create an account at Twitter.com. Make sure to choose a user name that is easily recognizable and promotes your practice.

The next step is to locate people and organizations you’d like to follow, including people you already know, those who practice in the same area of law, potential clients and users with similar personal interests. There are a number of ways to do this.

Locate people you already know by running your Web-hosted e-mail address through Twitter’s system. (You’ll be prompted to do so when you first sign up.) Once you’ve connected with people you know, check their follower lists and “follow” anyone who interests you.

Online directories, such as Twellow, conveniently categorize Twitter users for you. Review the directory to locate people with whom you’d like to connect.

Recently, two really useful lists were published by JD Supra (an online platform that allows lawyers, law firms and legal professionals to publish and distribute work online to a wide audience) at their blog, JD Scoop.

Both lists were created by Adrian Lurssen. The first is a list of “145 Lawyers (and Legal Professionals) to Follow on Twitter.”

The second is a list of “Legal News Feeds on Twitter.”

You also can search Twitter using Summize to locate people who are discussing topics that interest you. For example, if you’re interested in wine, you can run a search for “wine” and other wine-related terms to locate other oenophiles.

After you’ve located people and companies, consider using a Web application such as Tweetdeck or Twhirl, which make the interface far more user-friendly by allowing you to organize and keep track of your conversations on Twitter.

Once you’ve set up an account and connected with a few people, start Tweeting about your day-to-day law practice, your firm’s blog or other online presence, news of interest to you and your followers and any other topics that interests you.

Engage in conversations with other users by responding to their Tweets. Simply type “@username,” then add your comment.

It only takes a short amount of time to set up an account and familiarize yourself with Twitter. Once you do, you may wonder how you ever practiced law without this amazing resource.

-Nicole Black

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