Social Networking Websites

Although I have a blog and accounts with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Plaxo, I am not a big “rah rah” social media cheerleader for the sake of being one. There is much about social media that is overhyped, which is probably why I liked G.M. Filisko’s article in the January edition of the ABA Journal, “Social Media or Snake Oil: Does Social Media Measure Up to the Hype?” I saw many parallels in it in terms of how I have used social media and thought it offered some honest advice.

After the jump, I will point out a few things that have helped me along the way with social media — and reveal its biggest “not-so-secret” secret….

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Social media savvy teen causes national controversy in Australia

‘Tis the season for… lover’s revenge via the Internet. Last week, Elie brought you the tale of a cuckolded man who filmed his wife making out with a fellow SMU Law student (and intervened to throw a weak punch). Then the husband posted the sad, sordid video to YouTube. Because shame makes the hurt go away.

Meanwhile, over in the land down under, a 17-year-old in Melbourne is using her social network savvy to punish a couple of Australian football players who allegedly did her wrong. Kim Duthie claims to have scored with two of the players (and to have had a miscarriage as a result). Feeling used and abused, she’s now using all the digital tools at her disposal — Facebook, YouTube, Formspring, and Twitter — to broadcast her story, as well as a handful of naked photos of the St. Kilda football players. This girl makes Karen Owen look like a saint.

And apparently she didn’t think through the legal implications of putting photos of the football players’ “lands down under” up on her Facebook page…

Read on at Forbes.com.

So lawyers, if you’ve recently been laid off or have been out of school for over a year without a job, it’s probably time to look at your résumé and take out any reference to the fact that you’re, you know, “dynamic.”

Sure, you might be. But so is everyone else. And, more importantly, nobody cares anyway.

LinkedIn’s analytics team reviewed 85 million LinkedIn profiles and came out with a list of the most “clichéd and overused” phrases found on people’s resumes.

As they succinctly say, “You know what they are — those ambiguous ones that really don’t tell you anything.”

Here are the 2010 top 10 buzzwords used in the U.S., according to them….

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Small law firms have many of the same management issues as Biglaw firms, but often deal with them differently — for example, setting billable hour requirements and adjusting pay scales to keep their lawyers happy (or at least just happy enough not to quit). One such issue that keeps coming to my attention is social media marketing.

Biglaw firms have formal departments to handle logos, social media, and the overall direction of their firms’ brands. Small firms have… well, they have the attorneys and maybe a do-it-all firm manager (like we had at my old firm). Thus is born a market for the web and SEO experts.

But wait, this is not what you think! This is not another self-help article about how to fix your website or use Twitter (like a pro!). There are more than enough of those.

Instead, I want to explore a less popular position…

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In the comments earlier today, I remarked that it feels like law students are gearing up for finals. You can just tell. We’re getting more and more psuedo-substantive legal arguments that only look at one side of the issue, but are said as if the commenter is some kind of expert in whatever law he or she is talking about.

It’s cute. I really like this time of year. It’s like watching chicks frantically trying to learn how to fly before the flock has to migrate south.

[Cue David Attenborough voice] While it appears that the youngsters are having fun and games, this is a time of deadly seriousness for the students. Nerves are getting frayed; passions are inflamed. In the American South, we have an example of just what can happen when two law students collide over proper social etiquette at a time when ‘A’s are scarce. At a place called Florida State University College of Law, a missed assignment sent two dominant females into the arena called “Facebook”….

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This morning, the Senate had a TSA oversight hearing to discuss serious issues around secure air travel, notably the use of see-through-your-clothes scanners and aggressive “crotchal area” patdowns. A highlight was the TSA head offering any of the senators that wanted one a sample patdown to experience it for themselves. No happy ending guaranteed.

For the patdowns and scanners, that is. “There must be a way to figure out how to do what’s necessary… and for the privacy concern to be addressed because it’s legitimate,” said Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in her opening remarks.

Frequent flyers are increasingly annoyed with their air travel experiences, whether they’re being scanned, felt up, paying for extra bags, or having their flights delayed or canceled. One U.K. man turned to Twitter in January to vent his frustration when his visit to a lady friend in Ireland was thwarted by a snowstorm. Paul Chambers tweeted, “Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your sh*t together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

The British sense of humor tends to be dry. Chambers’s was too dry for the courts there. He was convicted of being a menace and ordered to pay $4,800 in costs and fines. When his appeal was denied last week, it caused an explosion on Twitter. And those protest tweets will soon be turned over to police…

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What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Unless it involves defamatory Facebook postings and a retaliatory lawsuit.

The new CBS show The Defenders has Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell dramatizing and glamorizing the life and work of Las Vegas attorneys. But for the real attorneys working in the tumbleweeds of Nevada, it can be a tough gig. Ask Jonathan Goldsmith, a “60% Bankruptcy / 10% Family Law / 10% Criminal Defense / 5% Personal Injury” of counsel at Rosenfeld & Rinato. (They don’t bother with associates there — you’re either of counsel or a founding partner, even if you’re just two years out of law school; Goldsmith is a 2009 University of Las Vegas law grad.)

Goldsmith was plaintiff’s counsel in a divorce case, and the husband being divorced, Jordan Cooper, took a disliking to him. Which he naturally expressed on Facebook…

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I’d like to believe we live on a planet where reason dictates the choices we make as well as the policies of law firms. As numerous personal experiences and Above the Law articles have demonstrated to me, this isn’t always the case. And nowhere is this irrationality more perplexing than firm policies towards LinkedIn recommendations.

LinkedIn has a feature that allows lawyers and clients to write recommendations of each other. For a recommendation to be published online, it has to “accepted” by the person being recommended. The problem is, major law firms are prohibiting the use of LinkedIn recommendations by their attorneys (both inbound and outbound). Referrals and peer-to-peer recommendations are the lifeblood of most practices.

So why are so many firms prohibiting their use online?

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This past week, bestselling author Seth Godin pointed out that most bloggers and users of social media are failing miserably:

There are millions of songs on iTunes that have sold zero copies. Millions of blog posts that get zero visitors each day.

The long tail is real… given the ability, people create more variety. Given the choice, people seek out what’s just right for them to consume. But, and there’s a big but, there’s no guarantee that the ends of the long tail start producing revenue or traffic. And a million times zero is still zero.

So what are attorneys with little or no traffic to their blogs doing wrong? Let’s discuss….

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Almost two years ago, I joined Twitter to help find a publisher for a book I was writing. A couple weeks later, a friend I followed on Twitter asked, “Does anybody know a contracts lawyer?” I responded and won a new client. A lawyer winning business on Twitter was somewhat unusual at that time, but it isn’t anymore. In the 2010 ABA Technology Survey Report, 10% of respondents “had a client retain their legal services as a result of use of online communities/social networking.” While 10% may seem small, it represents a dramatic shift in law firm attitudes towards social media.

So how are the successful attorneys doing it? By personally maintaining a presence online: 56% of attorneys reported having a presence in 2010, up from just 43% in 2009 and 15% in 2008. (In 2008, the social networks mentioned in the survey were Facebook, Second Life and LawLink — so times have changed a bit.) Bottom line is, there has been a clear shift over the last three years. Take a look at the classic innovation curve:

For those unfamiliar with the Rogers Innovation Curve, think of the first group of innovators as those who stood in line for the first iPhone, and the second group of early adopters as those who did their research and jumped on for the second version of the iPhone. The early majority represents widespread acceptance of the technology, and the late majority is when people like my father (who just recently stopped dictating emails to his secretary) buy iPhones. The laggards are those who have not yet figured out how to turn on their computers.

Participating in social networks is no longer a fringe activity enjoyed by the innovators and early adopters; it is now enjoyed by the early majority and a piece of the late majority. Social networks have hit the mainstream for lawyers, and since lawyers tend to lag behind the rest of the population in acceptance of new technology, I suspect there is even greater penetration among businesses and key decision makers.

How are different groups of lawyers responding to the social networking revolution?

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