Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn, Oh My!
March 11-12, 2011
First, before I begin, I would like to thank Saskia Melhorn for asking me to speak here at the joint Houston Area Law Librarian/SouthWest Area Law Librarian Meeting. I spoke here two years ago about the Wild, wild web. And in that short time, we have seen quite a few folks tame and colonize it.
I also talked about the print media’s decline and the internet’s rise. And it has all held true—the web isn’t going away and its presence is felt and seen everywhere, every day.
In fact, today’s big headline hit my blackberry at 12:16 a.m. I happened to be up—which reminds me.
So, let’s begin.
Who in here feels like when they log into any of these 3 sites they are entering an alternative reality?
The land of Oz, if you will?
Who among you just wants to click your heels—or your mouse—and just go back home—that is, Internet Home?
Who feels a terror, akin to the Cowardly Lion, when they see all those Tweets fly by like winged monkeys?
There is no need to yearn for home or to fear the great and terrible Wizard of Oz.
Usually it is just some small person running things from behind a green curtain.
So let me be Glenda the Good Witch and guide you through this beautiful Land of Alternative Realities.
But, first, let’s take a look at the topography of Oz … or, in this case, the web.
Think of the internet as a body—a body of knowledge.
And as with any body, there are a number of systems including the muscular system, the skeletal system, the nervous system, the circulatory system, the endocrine system and the digestive system.
Well, it is the same with the internet.
As anyone who has ever had a baby knows, the first three systems to develop are the brain, the heart and the spinal cord.
There’s something romantic about that isn’t there?
wisdom, love and courage …
the brain, the heart, the backbone (or spinal cord) …
Anyways, let’s look at each of these in terms of the internet:
The brain: you can think of this as the computer.
The heart: spurs the flow and interaction between computers.
The spinal cord: the beginnings of the pipelines through which content begins to travel.
So let’s think back to the beginnings of the web.
The very first thing that the founders of the internet did was network siloed computers to create redundancy and protect data.
So the first thing was the computer, or the brain.
Next created the network; or the spinal cord.
Finally, they created a messaging system, or the circulatory system.
So we have just identified the first layer of the internet’s ecosystem:
Computers, networks and messaging systems.
Then comes the second layer: here comes the beginnings of the tech bubble in the ‘90s.
We got web sites, LANs and email.
Then chat programs like ICQ, AOL, Prodigy and Yahoo came along.
Then comes the third layer, which brings us up to the 2000s.
Here we see the birth of blogs and Twitter.
As well as whole, new independent platforms and networks like MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
In fact, I would consolidate LinkedIn and Facebook to be self-contained systems that are parasitic in nature because they will leach from web sites, Twitter and blogs.
And there is the whole omnipresence of Google that overshadows the entire hemisphere of the web.
And lastly, I read in today’s New York Times, that a number of new start-ups will be announced at this week’s SXSWi: group chat available on smartphones.
The new applications, most of which are free, include GroupMe, FastSociety, Beluga, Kik, TextPlus, PingChat, HurricaneParty and Yobongo.
Only GroupMe and PingChat are available for the Blackberry. GroupMe, Beluga, Kik, PingChat are available for the android, and the rest are only available on iPhones or iPads.
So now we can see the entire topography of the web.
Feeling uncomfortable? A little lost? Are you starting to click your heels so you can go home?
Well, let’s go back to that fallen house and get your ruby red slippers. Because the only way you’re getting home from here is to take that long yellow brick information highway with me.
So let’s talk about creating your own little Oz from your own computer.
How do we begin?
Just like Dorothy and the Scarecrow did, with the brain, of course!
And what did we say that was? Content: A web page!
We will call it YOWL: just like you, it will come into existence in the 21st century, kicking and screaming. It stands for Your Own Little World.
What! I can’t do that, you say. It costs too much. It takes too much work. You don’t know how.
No, sir. I am not taking that for an answer.
Let me tell you about 3 Geeks. I set up the blog in less than 10 minutes on blogger.com. It was free. It was simple. It gives you no excuse.
Just start writing. Right now, I run 3 personal blogs. Granted, one is withering. But at one time, I was running 5.
People ask me, “what do you write about?” I answer, “what do you read about?” Then that is what you blog about.
If it still scares you, read a few blogs to start getting ideas. For starters, may I recommend “Three Geeks and a Law Blog”?
Still don’t want to write a blog? Okay, then set up a LinkedIn page. That is no different from any other web page. It is your own personal web page. You can’t get much more personal than an online resume.
Unless it is a Facebook page.
And, then, of course, there is the ubiquitous Twitter.
Let’s talk about LinkedIn.
How many of you don’t have a LinkedIn page?
It is a professional networking site that allows you to connect with colleagues, peers, recruiters and vendors. Currently, the target market is individuals but they are making their company profiles more robust.
In fact, in January they added some new functionality.
On the company site, you can add products and services, practice leaders, service recommendations, and banner images.
The company home page supports video. You can add a “Follow us on LinkedIn” button to your web site, feeds blog posts and tweets to your overview page, clients can make recommendations without visiting linkedin. LinkedIn added new functionality to their groups to allow for trial periods and there is now a LinkedIn Share button that acts like the FB share button.
As for FB, y’all are used to seeing individual FB pages. But did you know that there are 2 other kinds of pages: organization pages and community pages?
Here’s a company Facebook page. Basically, all it is repurposed web content posted to a Facebook page. It’s nothing spectacular but they wanted to take ownership of the page.
How many of you are on FB and interacting with companies? A good local example is Dessert Gallery.
They’ve done a great job of creating a good, solid fan base.
Now just this past week, FB upgraded their business pages and it is causing quite a bit of a ruckus. Small business owners are complaining because those that have built up a large following have lost some functionality: fans can no longer recommend or share a company page to their friends. This just seems dumb to me since that’s 99% of the beauty of FB: sharing. But more than a few have suggested the reason for this change is to shift more revenue to FB ads. Which sounds completely realistic to me.
So let’s move on.
Facebook is generating community pages using Wikipedia content.
LinkedIn is doing the same thing, creating company pages based upon employee pages.
So if you don’t take control of these pages, they can be hijacked and used for ill-gotten gains.
And these pages are being created for your attorneys and your law firms, even if you aren’t taking ownership of them.
How many of you already have one? See? It wasn’t so hard was it? And they are all free. Well, sort of. We’ll get to that later.
Lastly, let’s set up that Twitter Account.
First, here’s my account. I’m using the new profile that they updated about 9 months ago. I had to reformat my background to accommodate the 3 Geeks photos. And you will see the status update field followed by my stream.
Some new functionality was added to Twitter with this profile upgrade: it is easier to see a snapshot of your followers; instead of opening a new page, their profile displays on the right side.
But I really don’t go to this page very often as I use a third party app to update my twitter account. More on that later.
The 3 most important things on this page are 1) your photo, 2) your handle and 3) the link back to your web page, be it your web site, your LI or your FB account.
And again, if your law firm hasn’t laid claim to their Twitter handle, it could very well be hijacked. Just like we had domain name wars, your firm could face the same problem on Twitter.
So if any of your law firms are afraid of engaging in social media and say that they need to think through their social media policy first; well, they better hurry. Because, whether they know it or not, every attorney who has a bar number in the state of Texas has a web page, with contact information and a map to their office.
And there is no need to create a social media policy any stronger than what is currently in existence to protect their web page as long they are only repurposing web content.
You do have to make sure that appropriate disclaimers are in place.
So there you have it. The first layer: the brain.
So who else did Dorothy encounter? That’s right.
The Cowardly Lion. And what was he looking for? Courage—or a spine. And what did we say that the spine was? The nervous system or the network, if you will.
Fortunately, what this past decade has done for the internet is eliminate the need to build that infrastructure. Technology has progressed to a point where it has removed the necessity of building out that network by relying on random site visits or by pushing people to web sites by e-mail campaigns.
Instead, these new sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn let us populate and grow our network by importing our contacts from our e-mail systems into their systems.
By doing that, these sites are establishing connections for us by letting our friends see our other friends and spotting potential new connections.
That’s why these social media networks are growing so quickly.
If you think of the web like an organism, these networks are developing like a cancer!
So, before, when you sent 1 email to 10 people, maybe, 1 person would forward it.
Now, if you send 1 tweet or 1 status update, it is automatically showing up on all of your imported contacts, followers, friends or connections walls or profiles.
And who knows how many they will send it to?
So why exactly does Twitter work so much better than e-mail? Because it is short. In a stroke of brilliance, sheer luck and necessity—they limited the message to 140 characters.
Twitter and Facebook revolutionized the message.
So you now we are getting to the “heart” of the matter. These interactions, tweets, messages, are the circulatory system.
Now we know everyone hates those chain e-mails. They are too long, with their glittery, animated carebears embedded into the often sappy poem about how you and all of the sender’s 50 closest friends are her bestest friends and wants you to affirm the friendship with a forward to all of your bestest friends and a reply to her.
Now, a 140-character tweet eliminates all of that embarrassment. If you just read a great article or watched a hilarious video, you can send in less than 30 seconds. When you get the tweet, you can read it in less than 15 seconds. Sending it on takes less than 5 seconds.
No more bloated e-mails.
The same with law firm news, events and publications. It is forcing our lawyers to write smarter not longer.
Blog comments, Tweets, texts and the status updates are creating a whole new milieu for messaging. Eliminating the need for emails, these exchanges are typically a line or 2 long. As mentioned with Tweets, which mimic texts, you are limited to a certain character length.
And, now, with the parasitic features available on LinkedIn and Facebook, these sites will pull your tweets into their environment so you only have to post on one environment and it will be replicated across all of your sites.
LinkedIn integrates with Twitter, Twitter can push out to Facebook, and 3rd party apps like HooteSuite and Tweetdeck allow you to handle multiple profiles all at one time.
Now that we have examined and dissected the body of the web, let’s see how we can master it to become our own little men behind the curtain.
I was going to say something clever here—like, he is me or she is he … well, you get my drift …
So let’s say that you have created your profile on LinkedIn. You look fabulous, you have a nice pic.
By the way, an aside on pictures: make them photos of yourself that are recognizable.
Dark photos, faraway photos, photos of two people or photos of your dog, baby or company logo are not acceptable. Social media is all about personal relationships.
No one can relate to you if they can’t see you.
And then make sure that you use the same photo on all of your sites. This is the beginning of personal branding. It doesn’t have to be a glamour shot. Just make it a relaxed, approachable snap shot of you.
Walk through examples: weird, too far. Beach? A faraway car?
So you have your own little world built and created. Now you want to get it circulating in the internet galaxy.
So let’s think about your launch strategy: how are you going to start your social media campaign?
Well, once again, it is comprised of 3 components: 1) what’s your goal, 2) who is your target audience, and 3) how are you going to get there?
Well, we are going to treat this like any other road trip. Where do we want to go? Dorothy wanted to go home. Who was her target audience? The Wizard of Oz. And how was she getting there? The Yellow Brick Road.
So let’s think about you: what do you want?
You want a wildly popular web site.
Who do you want visiting your site?
Your peers? Your staff? Your boss?
How are you going to get there?
social media a/k/a peer pressure a/k/a word-of-mouth.
You don’t have to answer these questions but it will help you. You can just start randomly tweeting and building out your network but you will have a better chance of hitting your target if you bear these three questions in mind: where are you going, who are you targeting and how are you getting there.
Lastly, we haven’t talked about the Yellow Brick Road or those super Ruby Red Slippers, have we?
Where do they fit into this story? Well, they are the means and the way of reaching our goal—they are the tools or your secret weapons.
And for us, it is TweetDeck, or HooteSuite or any of those free 3rd party apps that are out there, ready and waiting to help you make your way through the quagmire of social media.
These are both excellent online tools that help you manage the Twitter stream. Or should I say Twitter Tsunami?
TweetDeck allows you to segment and categorize your tweets into discreet columns so that it is easier to follow folks. I have columns set up for my fellow geeks, competitors and areas of interest. It makes it easier to catch up on news, too.
But the secret of the ruby red slippers? Well, that’s the media, baby.
Once you are going strong, making connections, reaching out to people, networking, blogging, making a name for yourself?
That’s when a star is born.
I’ve seen it so many times, it’s now inevitable.
We’ve all seen it: Justin Beiber got his big break on YouTube. Sephora gave a young, unwed mother in England who sold eyeshadow on ebay her own make-up line—and she doesn’t even have a beauty license. A young woman’s blog about her culinary hero, Julia Child, turned into a multi-million dollar movie.
Heck, your own little three geeks here, in 2 short years were named one of the top 12 blogs in the country.
And it does matter to your firm. They just don’t know it yet. Unless they claim their name, they will get hijacked. If they don’t participate, they will get left behind. And if they say that it can’t be proven that it will land them a client; well, how will they know it until they try?
They’ll be like Auntie Em and the folks back home. In black and white and all wind-blown.
I hope you now realize, like Dorothy, although she claimed there was no place like home, she racked up quite a few frequent flyer points for her frequent visits back to Oz.