Pinterest announced a new feature last Friday–secret boards.

Now, I know you are wondering: why in the world would a law firm care about Pinterest? Well, as I suggested in an earlier post, Pinterest is law firm-friendly. You just need to be creative!

So what can a law firm do with secret boards? Well, for one, keep track of competitors and clients, of course!

Another nice feature is that it you can invite folks to a private board to view your photos. I find Pinterest to be a great place to look at very large graphics, particularly infographs and charts. So if you had to showcase a large number of graphics to  a disparate group, this would  be a perfect spot to do so. They can leave comments and mark items as favorites.

Secret boards are also a perfect way to build your boards and test-drive them before a launch. We all know how lawyers want everything to be perfect before we push send. So this is a way for us marketers to set up a board, pick just the right images and arrange the lay-out before it goes live.

And, as always, make sure that you have rights to post the images that you are using–we don’t want to run afoul of the law.

Just a few thoughts on how to use my new favorite social media site!

New Orleans’ based newspaper, The Times-Picayune, announced that it is shifting its print publications to a three day a week schedule instead of its traditional seven days a week model. The focus of the paper will shift to its free online content and will attempt to look at ways of making online advertising more profitable. In addition to the Times-Picayune, the Birmingham News the Press-Register in Mobile, Alabama, and The Huntsville (Alabama) Times will also shift to a 3 day print schedule.
[note: see Ted Jackson’s gut-wrenching photo of the T-P staff hearing the announcement.]

Print newspaper subscriptions have suffered significantly in the age of the Internet. Although no one is saying that reporting is becoming obsolete, many of us are thinking that “print” reporting is becoming obsolete and the shift is to online or mobile app platforms. In fact, in today’s Houston Chronicle (print edition) an ad was run right next to this story saying that “Sunday Circulation” was up 2.8% for the Chronicle. Notice how the ad shows the iPhone, iPad, online, and print editions?? We librarians have felt the pains of a shift in how our consumers use our services, but I’d be the first to admit that I would much rather deal with the change in library industry than be a reporter today.

The whole issue of “Print vs. Online” has been raging for years now, with print being a consistent loser. The one element in this battle, however, has been the idea that advertising revenues are what will keep these news resources going (be they in print, online, app, whatever….) However, I just got off the phone with Toby Brown and asked how the heck can advertising dollars be spread over such a large number of resources in a way that can keep them afloat?? I just don’t see how current advertising structures will be sustainable over the next few years. In fact, Fox and NBC-Universal just sued DirecTV because they’ve developed an “ad hopper” which allows DirecTV customers to automatically skip over advertising.

It is a bizarre time in the news and media world these days. As we shift more and more away from traditional sources of news and entertainment, and we go online, streaming or app our way into the future of information access, the economics of the industry will constantly shift in order to try to support the industry. I thought that Vince Gill hit something on the head when he tossed out the fact that music singles today cost 99¢. A single in 1960 cost… 99¢. The prima facie economics of the news and media industry just don’t add up to profits. Consumers don’t want to pay more, pay walls don’t seem to be the answer, and advertisers are being more selective on where they place their ads. I, for one, would hate to be an advertising director in a major corporation right now.

Where will it all lead?? Here’s some of my (random) thoughts on the subject:

  • More “app-based” access. Apps would give the media provider more control over making sure ads aren’t skipped, and that ads are targeted at appropriate users (no Cadillac ads sent to 12 year old girls.) App platforms will include iOS devices, Android (mostly Kindle Fire), and gaming devices like XBox360.
  • More online access. Similar to the app-based, media providers will push their wears to where the eyes are. I’m sure that more attempts will be made to push ads to the right people, and prevent them from skipping over the ads… however, the success rate will be much lower than the app-based platforms.
  • More “subscribe to play” access. Many providers will shift to collaborative efforts and prevent their products from entering into homes that don’t have access to their product in another way. Initially this will mean you need a Cable TV subscription in order to use their online service. I think, just like the pay wall, this will fail. It is already being floated out there to keep Hulu-Plus subscribers from having access to certain shows, if they do not have a cable tv subscription.
  • More “crowd-funded” access. You’ll see more efforts like KickStarter on media projects. I could imagine a newspaper having a KickStarter project that funds their business for a three-month period of time, and in return gives something back to their supporters. People are eager to fund projects that they feel strongly about. Imagine that instead of a subscription, a newspaper says that for $50.00 you support our paper, and in return we dedicate a section of the paper to you or to a cause you support?? For $100 you get your name printed at the top of the first page for one day, etc. May sound silly, but one musician raised $450,000 from her fans. Media outlets do have fans, perhaps there is an opportunity here for them as well??

Everything is going to change. How will it end up?? No one knows. The only thing that seems to be understood at this point in the game is that it will take some clever thinking to come to that answer.

Yessirree. A 300-page application and $185,000 will buy you your very own “dot-brand”.

What am I talking about? The latest craze in domain names–new generic top-level domains (gTLD). So companies like Nike and Coca Cola can now own .nike, .coke, and all of their permutations.

So of course I think to myself, what crazy law firm is going buy .law or .lawfirm? Well, they aren’t of course.

According to Lisa’s Rule of Legal Technology, most law firms do not engage in any new technology until it has been implemented in Corporate America for at least 5 years.

I predict the first buyers will be someone like Thomson or Lexis. They will likely buy their own brands but may make a bid for these more generic terms.

Okay, so setting aside the immediate issue of purchasing one of the new gTLDs, let’s look at some potential legal issues.

Who exactly decides who gets what gTLD? An organization called The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)–an international non-profit organization created in 1998 to create policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers. According to their articles of incorporation, filed in California, ICANN shall

operate for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole, carrying out its activities in conformity with relevant principles of international law and applicable international conventions and local law

Well. Hmm. Call me suspicious, but let’s say an entity decides to buy “.twinkle” who decides who gets it? ICANN.

So what if 3 people want to buy “.twinkle”: a twinkle maker, a composer of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and someone who has social networking site named “twinkle.com”?

According to ICANN, the trademark owner trumps a non-trademark owner; an open network will win over a private one; and a distributor of twinkle sites to geo-specific twinkle sites will win over a private twinkle site.

So in my scenario, I anticipate a good, hard fight. And don’t get me started on potential antitrust and cyber-squatting issues!

HA! And this world will never be free of us lawyers. NEVER, I say!

There has been a ton of buzz on the latest social web site, Pinterest, and a number of folks have been asking me if this is a viable site for law firm marketing.

I say “yes”.

After studying the site and reading Jessica Roy’s “5 News Organizations To Follow On Pinterest”on MediaBistro.com, I think law firms–particularly large law firms–are in a prime position to take advantage of the site.

Here the basic features of Pinterest:

  1. Pins: any image or video can be pinned and descriptions can be added. For law firms, one way to use this feature would be to post images of your attorneys.
  2. Boards: virtual pin boards are collections of pins. 
  3. Following: you can follow the boards. For law firms, follow your clients, law schools, bar associations and legal periodicals.
  4. Repinning: the equivalent of retweeting or recommending, capture your firm’s mentions on others’ boards under your own. I could foresee this happening if a bar association posts a video of one of our lawyers’ speaking or receiving an award.
  5. Likes: similar to “liking” on Facebook, there is no capture on your virtual pinboard, just a notification that you recognized the posting. Again, if a colleague, client or recruit has an image that has achieved a success, it is an easy way to acknowledge them.
Are you ready to get started? Here are a few ideas to get you going:
  1. Showcase your task-force teams
  2. Put together a collection of case study stats and infographs
  3. Create a virtual pinboard of your offices, scenic views, amenities and art.

Have some other ones? Let us know in the comments below.

This is a presentation that was given to the Minnesota Legal Career Professionals (MnLCP) on January 12, 2011.
I always enjoy talking about social media. It’s a huge passion of mine, right up there with movies. I once gave an entire speech comparing Social Media to the Wizard of Oz. But don’t worry, that’s not this speech!
Throughout this talk, I will be making a couple of other movie references—so keep your ears and eyes open.
First of all, how many of you have a LinkedIn account? 24
A Facebook account? 25
Good, I am speaking to the advanced class.
But for those of you who may not know or need to find good analogies to take back to your colleagues here is one straight from the horse’s mouth, LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner:
LinkedIn is a professional online networking site, as opposed to Facebook’s more social site. What does that mean?
While Facebook is in the business of helping you make connections in your personal life to facilitate social interaction, LinkedIn is focused on mapping connections between professionals, to help develop them within three degrees of connection.
By the way, anyone recognize these two folks? The one on the left is John Hodgman, he was the Father’s voice in animated movie Coraline. The other one is Justin Long, the voice for Alvin in Alvin and the Chipmunks.
And these are the real-life guys. The one on the left, for those of you who didn’t see the Facebook movie Social Network, is Facebook’s owner Mark Zuckerberg. The one on the right is LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner.
What do I mean by degrees of connection?
I’m sure everyone’s heard of six degrees of Kevin Bacon: a game created by four Albright students after watching the movie Footloose during 1994 blizzard. The four students wrote a letter to Jon Stewart, telling him that “Kevin Bacon was the center of the entertainment universe” and that every actor could be connected to him through 5 other actors or less.
Well, this idea of six degrees of separation has its origin from an Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy, who wrote a collection of short stories called “Everything is Different”. This idea influenced a great deal of early thought on social networks and LinkedIn is a spin-off of that idea.
I’ll give you some examples. Anyone that reads our blog, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, know that I am a huge admirer of Ashton Kutcher.
Well, I will have you know that I know people that know people that know Ashton Kutcher. He is only three degrees away from me.
And the same with Barack Obama. I, in fact, have a better chance of meeting the president than I do of meeting Ashton. It’s so sad.
Mr. Obama and I have a second-degree relationship while Ashton and I have a third-degree relationship—or what they call a loose connection.
Those third-degree relationships is where LinkedIn comes in and helps you to explore, build out and strengthen these more nebulous relationships.
Right now, there are 153 million people in the U.S. workforce and 3.3 billion people in the global workforce. This  is LinkedIn’s target audience. And your potential audience.
Currently, LinkedIn has 135 million members in over 200 countries, with nearly 60% outside of the U.S.
And in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area there are over 1,700 LinkedIn profiles that show up in a “law practice” industry search.
So, now we’ve set the stage for why we have to active on LinkedIn, let’s talk about how do you market yourself in this digital landscape?
How many of you have heard of the Four Ps of marketing?
The four Ps are a basic principal of marketing that was introduced in 1953 by Harvard Advertising Professor Neil Borden in his American Marketing Association presidential address. The concept was later published in his article, “The Concept of the Marketing Mix.” And, actually, he borrowed the term “marketing mix” from an associate, James Cullton, who developed the idea in 1948 to describe the role of a marketing manager. So if you ever wondered just what exactly a marketing manager does; well, you are about to find out.
The four Ps are:
1.                Product
2.                Placement
3.                Promotion
4.                Price

Product

So let’s talk about the 4 Ps in relationship to you. What is the product? That’s right: you. You, as an attorney, are the ultimate product in any law firm—you are the intellectual property of your firm. Only you know and have the relationships, knowledge and skills to negotiate, procure, and win business. So we know we have a great product—there is no denying that. But unless you are known you will not be retained. So how do we get you noticed? Well, that brings us to a sub-set of  the first “P” –packaging.

Packaging

What is packaging?
Well, at its most basic—it is the manner in which you present yourself. It can be as basic as your personal style, your voice, your delivery of services. But in terms of LinkedIn, it is your profile. You have got to make sure that you are taking full advantage of all of the offerings available on your LinkedIn profile.
Many people overlook the additional plug-ins and sections that are available for your profile.
These plug-ins allow you to include certifications, if you are board certified, organizations, publications, legal updates, blogs and tweets.
I would encourage you to these over after the session ends and explore some of these options as well as many other third-party apps, including Martindale’s Lawyer Ratings, Amazon’s Reading List and the hottest social network, SlideShare Presentations.
Now, I am going to assume that most of you have already built out your profile. Let’s face it, LinkedIn has been around for 10 years—as a matter of fact, it was founded in Reid Hoffman’s living room in 2002. If you haven’t built a profile, then now is the time. According to Lisa’s Rule of Law Firm Technology, if the technology has been adopted in the general culture for 10 years or more, then Law Firms can safely bring it into the walls of their firm.
So let’s move on to the next “P”.

Placement

Now placement with regards to online activity is probably the most esoteric concept for people to understand since it is has no physical reality—it is all about virtual presence. So let’s look at it another way.
We know the basic marketing principle behind placement is which shelf in the grocery store that you want your box of cereal to be—optimally, at eye-level.
Well, the same holds true for LinkedIn. So LinkedIn’s goal is to be where the eyes are.
So what is LinkedIn doing to help you make this happen? LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner (3:10) explains that “when you meet someone in a professional context for the first time, one of the first things you do is exchange business cards—you exchange professional identities. We have learned that the more our professional identity is out there, the more potential opportunities accrue to us.”
“Whereas if you were to meet someone in a personal context or in a social exchange—say that you go to a party and meet someone for the first time—it’s very rare that you would say, “here’s my home address and my cell phone number.”
“So there is a difference with regards to the context.”
“So that the more that people can put their professional identity out there—in LinkedIn’s case—it’s your profile—you update your profile. The fresher and more relevant your profile information, the more likely it is to be search-engine optimized. So when someone does a search on a major search engine for your name or someone like you, your LinkedIn profile is going to show up at or near the top of the results.
That’s an incredibly valuable piece of digital real estate because you get a chance to represent your experience, your skills and, most importantly, your ambitions. And that’s how opportunities accrue to people and the more they see these opportunities, the more engaged they become. Not only with their profile, but with their network, sharing information and knowledge within a professional network.”
So that leads us to search-engine optimization. Simply put, you want to make sure that you are on the first page of any search engine result. So, say for example, you perform a search for Minneapolis trademark attorney, you make sure that you or your firm’s name shows up in the search result.
I’ll give you an example, we at Fulbright have worked really hard to make sure that all of our attorneys show up on Google’s first page if you do a search for them.
So for instance, Ronn Kreps’ firm bio is number one, followed by his LinkedIn profile. That’s the way we like it at Fulbright and we built our web site with this purpose in mind.
So how do you make  sure that your LinkedIn profile is search-engine optimized? Make sure that you are building your profile with your target audience in mind. One common mistake that I see, is that profiles are built to an internal audience. They write things like so-and-so is a “practice head” or so-and-so “leads a department”.  
If a GC or a business owner is looking for a lawyer, they are not necessarily looking for practice heads or department leaders; they are looking for law firms, attorneys or lawyers. So make sure and use these kinds of words liberally in your profile. There are a number of locations in your LinkedIn profile to plug these words in: your summary, your experience, your organizations.
Another way to search engine optimize your profile is to update it regularly. You might want to calendar a 15-minute task once a week to make sure and update your profile with fresh content. Which leads to the next “P”: Promotion.

Promotion

Now, most attorneys don’t like to talk about promotion. They start getting nervous about advertising rules and ethics. Which they should.
But there is also this knee-jerk reaction to any form of marketing that go back to a time when lawyers could just hang out a shingle in their home town and wait for work to come in.
Well, those times are gone.
In 2011, the ABA reported that there are over 1.2M lawyers in the United States (ABA). In Minnesota, there are just over 23K—with a population of roughly 5.3M people, that’s 1 lawyer for every 227 people.
According to a 2011 New York Times article, 888 folks had passed the Minnesota bar. Legal services has become an increasingly competitive market place. I still remember when the first commercial by a lawyer came out in Texas. I was a freshman in college and was sitting in the dorm’s TV lounge when a whole room of college kids began booing at the screen.
Now, it is just a fact of life.
Plaintiff and criminal lawyers have seen the advantage of this and have plowed full steam ahead. Bigger defense firms have been much more reticent but as they get squeezed out of more and more market share by other law firms, they are beginning to take legal marketing more seriously.
So how can you use your LinkedIn profile to help promote you and your law firm without violating any ethical rules? In short—a disclaimer.
Make sure and study your ethical rules with regards to board certification and make sure that you put appropriate disclaimers to ensure that you are not creating any expectation of a attorney-client relationship. Those are the most basic of guidelines. – by the way, this particular disclaimer is pretty interesting. It is from a 2009 30-minute fan film called the Hunt for Gollum, which is based on the appendices of the Lord of the Rings.
But, in all seriousness, there is no need to fear posting on LinkedIn. My general rule of thumb—which I got, by the way, from the general counsel of the European Newspaper Financial Times—don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t put in a business email.
So let’s get back to promotion.
Do you know what the most under-rated tool is on LinkedIn?
The status update.
I bet you thought I was going to say groups. Well, as you will soon see, this will factor into this ubiquitous but under-utilized tool.
Let me give you a good example.
One of our lawyers just finished writing an article. He wants to get it published—every single lawyer that I know wants to get their article in a law review journal or a legal periodical. Fair enough; there is a merit to that desire. It legitimizes you, it gives you some street cred.
But I would argue that these publications do not get in front of your target audience. Remember, people that might retain your services may or may not be readers of these types of publications.
And in this day and age, who has time to read?
Everyone is increasingly relying upon Kindles, iPads, search engines, keyword results, scraped content, Law360 emails, other emailed newsletters and the like.
So how do you take advantage of that?
A few simple steps:

  1. If the magazine has agreed to publish the article, immediately list it on your LinkedIn profile with a link to the online publication. If the publication does not have it published online, then make sure and it get it online somewhere. Fulbright regularly post our lawyers’ reprints to our firm’s web site.
  2. Once the article is on the web, post a status update on your LinkedIn profile. This automatically sends a notice to all of your contacts that you have just written an article. This is reaching your first degree relationships.
  3. Next, post a status update on any group that you belong to. This will send a notice to all of the group members that you’ve just written an article—this is reaching your second and third degree relationships, or people you don’t know but who have similar interests and who you’d like to get to know.
  4. Next, advise the site administrator of your firm’s LinkedIn profile so that they can post it as a status update on the firm’s LinkedIn page. Faegre & Benson is doing a good job of this.
  5. Lastly, If you have access to any other social media pages like Twitter, Facebook, etc., make sure that this same information is sent out to these sites.
So, theoretically, an article written by the attorney that I mentioned to you in my earlier example has now has gotten in front of: 43,000 hard copy readers + 100 LinkedIn contacts + 250 members of LinkedIn Group 1 + 100 members of LinkedIn Group 2 + 4,000 LinkedIn Company followers + 2,000 Twitter followers.
And the biggest difference between those hard copy readers and the LinkedIn connections?
What is the likelihood that someone will tear out your print article and mail it to a colleague versus someone pushing the Forward/Retweet button? It is so much easier to do it electronically—it makes the person forwarding the article look smart and, ultimately, it makes you look smart.
There is just not enough good content out there. The web is starved, hungry for fresh content. That’s what keeps the beast going. So if you are speaking, writing, meeting, talking, going to meetings, why not get all the mileage you can get out of your activity by providing status updates?
By putting your select, well-positioned and strategic updates online, you are positioning yourself as an expert in your field.
I call it the “Cocktail Party” strategy.
We have all been at those cocktail parties where someone walks in and just seems to take over the room. They know everyone, everyone knows them and now they know that the party just got good and now, we are all in for a good time.
Well, you can be that person. But you can’t do it if you aren’t at the cocktail party. Heck, if you aren’t on LinkedIn and participating, you don’t even realize that there is a party going on.
I know of entire reputations that are made simply by being online. I have watched, first hand, entire reputations built on the web. Take 3 Geeks, for example. My friends Toby and Greg have turned themselves into Legal Technology rock stars by simply churning out their blog, tweeting good content and developing online relationships.
And the do think that the movie Julie & Julia was about cooking? No. It was about blogging. A girl decided to blog about her daily attempt to cook one Julia Child recipe a day. It was about blogging, not cooking.
And I have seen this happen over and over again in other industries: cooking, make-up, music, entertainment. And young lawyers are making their names known by simply connecting to one another online.
What don’t see are the behind the scenes interactions that aren’t on display online. Toby, Greg and I are constantly getting phone calls, emails, and lunches about going to conferences, doing product reviews and writing CLE programs.
Which leads to the final “P”—price.

Price

Now, traditionally, price is the value that customers assign to the product. Both offline and online, this is a tricky proposition.
In pricing, there is perceived value, the reference value and the differential value.
What does this have to do with LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is free, so why do you have to worry about this?
Well, I think that the better measurement for LinkedIn’s spend is not money but time.
In today’s online economy, I measure not how much money I am spending online but how much time I am spending online.
Everyone hates the onslaught of emails.
My prediction is that everyone is going to get a clue and start pulling the plug on their lives. We will see more unplugged vacations, more unplugged retreats, more unplugged spaces.
We are seeing it in movie theaters and business retreats. Vacations that are off the grid are becoming more and more desirable.
And consumers are becoming savvier about Groupon’s daily deals and walking away from these fire sales.
We are learning, one by one, how to be more thoughtful about how we spend our time online. So it is about striking that balance between how much time we want to spend online and how much of our contact’s time do we want to take? We don’t want to exhaust our contacts and wear out our welcome.
So let us consider the contact’s perceived value of your status update. Everyone is always quick to say, “I am not getting on X, Y or Z social network, why should I care what so-and-so had for lunch?”
Agreed. We don’t want to read about that sort of drivel nor do we want to contribute to it.
Our updates, then, should be meaningful and pertinent to our audience.
That means that we should be carefully selecting and culling our contacts list and providing them with meaningful content that could make a difference to their business.
So don’t think about your contact list in terms of sheer volume.  Instead, look at them as providing you with potential revenue. Now this does not mean only having relationships with GCs. It also means developing relationships with people who influence or come in contact with GCs. Do not be so single-minded to think that only lawyers know lawyers.
One of the best stories that I have about this is about one of our IT guys. Back in 2005 we were chatting when I found out that his daughter was an assistant GC at CountryWide. You know I beat a path to our subprime practice group! And don’t forget the summer interns—sure they may not have taken the job with you and may be working at a competitor. But that won’t stop them from moving to other jobs and possibly going in-house at some point in their career.
This just goes to show how your status updates can become valuable to your contacts because, they in turn, can use that information and Pay It Forward to their contacts.
The reference value is about how your status updates stack up against your competitors. If you aren’t making any updates, your competitors are winning that particular race. If you are making updates and no one else is, as Charlie Sheen would say, that’s WINNING! If you are in a competitive market, then you need to be hitting it hard and matching your competitors update for update.
The differential value is about how your updates differ from the competition. Are your updates short, forward-friendly and links easily accessible? Is the content inviting other to forward?
By the way, did you know that if you say “please forward” or in Twitterese, “please RT”, you stand an 80% chance of being retweeted than if you don’t? It just goes to show you: It never hurts to ask.
And include a link, be it a photo, an article, a video. And the link should be shortened so that it will maximize your space. There are all kinds of shortners out there: Tiny URL, Bit.ly are just two.
So in the in end, the price that your contacts pay is the time that they spend reading your updates. Make it worth their while.

Conclusion

So LinkedIn is just one tool in your online arsenal. I hope this whets your appetite and encourages to try other online tools—Twitter is another great online tool that integrates very well with LinkedIn.
In fact, you can now use #IN at the end of a tweet and it will automatically repost your tweet as a LinkedIn status update, but only if you if have your Twitter profile tied to your LinkedIn profile.
Finally, as it’s explained in the famous “ignore the blond” scene from 2001 movie, A Beautiful Mind, (2:02) real life economist John Nash says, “Adam Smith said that the best result comes from everyone doing what’s best for himself. Incomplete. Incomplete, ok? Because the best result would come from everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself and the group. Governing Dynamics, gentlemen, Governing Dynamics. Adam Smith was wrong.”
This movie was based upon a 1998 Pulitzer prize-nominated book of the same name. In 1994, Nash ended up winning the Nobel prize for his revolutionary work on game theory. This game theory was the mathematical method for analyzing calculated circumstances that would end up playing an instrumental role in online algorithms for  games, markets, auctions and peer-to-peer systems.
All of which led to the development of sites like LinkedIn.
“The best result will come from everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself and the group.”

After attending a 4-hour grammar class–yes, I know, I am a geek–I was heartened to witness that there are those still out there who are positively impassioned about punctuation.
The class erupted in a thirty-minute discussion on–get this–how many spaces should follow a period.
Good grief.
You would have thought we were talking about which soda as better: Pepsi or Coke. No fewer than thirty-five people weighed in on the matter. These were their thoughts:
  1. If you are typing on a typewriter (and, really, who does this?), it is two spaces.
  2. If you are tweeting, it is one space–if you have even written a complete sentence, that is.
  3. If it is a legal document, it is two spaces.
  4. If it is a mobile device, most phones automatically make it a period followed by one space, if you enter two spaces.
  5. If it is web copy, it is one space.
Finally, after nearly coming to fisticuffs, the consensus was to use one space after a period.
Geez. You woulda thought it was the Grammargeddon.

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.

Interested in all things digital? Well, if you didn’t know, for the first time in its history, the 9th annual D: All Things Digital is going to be streaming its sold-out conference. Kicking off the conference will be Google exec Eric Schmidt, who will step up to the mike at 6:15 PDT. Netflix CEO and Founder Reed Hastings will speak tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. PDT. Featured speakers include Hewlett-Packard CEO Léo Apotheker, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, DARPA director Regina Dugan, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows division.

Are you starting to think that your e-newsletter is looking a little tired? Interested in adding some social media features?
Here’s a quick guide on what to consider when undertaking a redesign:
  1. Look at your current newsletter and identify what’s lacking. If you are working with a committee, ask each person to come to the brainstorming session with a current newsletter marked up with their suggestions. At this stage, all ideas are welcome and all will be considered.
  2. At the first meeting, review all suggestions then talk about big-picture goals:
  1. over-all look and feel
  2. new functionality
  3. high-level goals (broader content, broader reach)
  • At the end of the first meeting, task each member to bring back at least 1 example of a newsletter that they admire. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a legal e-newsletter. Want some inspiration? Go to the PRSA Silver Anvil Awards site or LMA Awards site.
  • At the second meeting, finalize design, content.
  • It may take a few more meetings, depending upon how detailed you want to get. But remember, when breaking up your goals, make sure that they are SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-framed.And make sure to measure the success of your redesign. Take a benchmark of your current newsletter so you can see how well your new design works and whether you may need to tweek it. Track results too, to demonstrate a real ROI. The great thing about e-mailed newsletters is that they are web-based and fluid so they can be easily updated from issue to issue.

    We’ve all probably sat through those “60 Apps in 60 Minutes” programs at a conference and watched as a bevy of applications flew past us on the screen. Those are cool, but what how many of those do we actually use when we get back to our office? So, we’ve asked you to share with us any apps you use for work and why it helps you do your job, and you didn’t disappoint!

    We have suggestions for Blackberry (which is probably still the “standard” mobile tech for lawyers these days, iPhone, iPad, and Androids. So, get your mobile devices ready for some new apps to try out and let us know if we missed a good one or two.

    Next week’s Elephant Post question is at the bottom of this post, so make sure you take a look and share your perspective with us.

    Lawyer Perspective
    Dropbox for Blackberry plus Docs to Go

    I use this so that I can sync documents that I may need to look at on the road.  Documents to go gives a more readable format to many of these documents.  While the BB screen is still small, as a solo, I can’t be totally out of touch when out of the office so the combination of Dropbox and Documents to Go is great.

    Lawyer Perspective
    Twitter’s App

    Twitter lets me keep up with science websites.  Since I can no longer devote the time scouring journals, this is a great way to stay somewhat informed and access the articles I am specifically interested.

    CCO Perspective
    Email

    Scoop of chocolate, Scoop of vanilla. Email is still the most important mobile app.
    The bulk of business communication runs through email. If you can’t get email on your mobile device, you’re not leaving the office. It’s why blackberries are still so prevalent. They have a great email app.

    Online Marketing Perspective
    AT&T Code Scanner

    Well, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t use all the usual suspects but I thought I would mention my latest favoritest: AT&T Code Scanner.
    Used to read QR and datamatrix codes and 1D bar codes found in print publications, it links me straight to the related web site.
    Totally cool, I have to credit Mr. Robert Downey, Jr. and Esquire magazine for turning me on to this coolest of the cool features. See my post “Are You Ready to Augment Your Reality?

    Doctoral Candidate in Legal Informatics Perspective
    Omnifocus

    The Omnifocus app allows me to keep track of my tasks and sort them according to teaching, researching, writing reports, supervising thesis, blogging, etc. By using different views or perspectives, I can present the task according to my whereabouts and deadlines, so I am not constantly overwhelmed by the amount of to-do’s.
    In addition, I can sync all tasks between my iPhone, iPad, iMac and MacBook which allows me to access them anytime and anywhere.

    KM Attorney Perspective
    Mindo

    Mindo is an iPad version of common mind-mapping tools.  A consultant on one of my projects started mind-mapping a conversation we were having one day and I was shocked at how useful it was to see our thoughts being displayed as inter-connected nodes on a screen and moreso how often I refered back to the map in the coming days. Since then we have instituted mind-mapping as part of standard project planning process.
    Mindo is great because it mimics most of what the desktop applications do, but of course, is mobile. Ideas and concepts can be color-coded, shaped or linked across the map.  Whole sections can be relocated and bring their related concepts along with them. As ideas come to me on my commute, waiting for a flight, or late at night I can jot them down and then map out how certain things are related to each other, where dependencies lie or missing pieces need to be filled in. Mindo can then output your map as an image, a pdf or in the common mindmap file forms used by the much more expensive desktop solutions. It is Dropbox and email friendly from within the App. All this for $7.

    Information Pro Perspective
    Chromemarks Lite
    David Whelan

    Chromemarks is an Android app that synchronizes my Google Bookmarks to my phone.  Since I use Chrome on multiple computers, I can keep my bookmarks sync’d up between browsers on Google Bookmarks.  Chromemarks extends that so when I’m away from my PCs, I can still quickly get to bookmarked information.

    Knowledge Management Perspective
    TripCase

    TripCase is a great (and free!) travel app – it keeps your travel itinerary in one place; automatically tracks your flights and sends you alerts; updates your gate and baggage carousel information automatically; when you input a hotel it automatically pulls in the contact information, check in & check out times, and other key info; provides weather, maps, and directions; allows you to enter information for flights, hotels, car rentals, activities, meetings, restaurants, and more; and allows you to send copies of your full itinerary to others. I’ve noticed a few limitations (can’t remember what those are right now), but I find the UI very simple and appealing, and most importantly — I’ve found it to be more up-to-date and accurate with flight delays and gate information than the airlines’ websites or even announcements at the airport!

    IT Perspective
    iThoughtsHD

    The coolest app I use for work is called iThoughtsHD which is basically MindMap for iPad.   iThoughtsHD is a very powerful tool for getting ideas out of your head and onto “”virtual paper””.  MindMapping is great way to  brainstorm and we use all the time to flush out ideas.  The iPad version is simple to use and very effective.  You even have the ability to share your maps via DropBox, email, wifi, mobileme, etc.

    Lawyer Perspective
    Twitter for Blackberry

    I use Twitter for Blackberry to keep up with my tweets while on the go.  It has helped me network for our firm, get media coverage and exposure for our cases and legal issues we are experts on, and has helped me start to promote my own business Stacey E. Burke, PC (site to come).

    Next Week’s Elephant Post

    What Legal News Resources do you read to keep up with industry news that affects your profession?

    I have the wonderful job of researching dozens (maybe hundreds?) of different legal rags everyday. There are definitely some good legal news resources out there, and we thought we’d let you share a few of your favorites with us. For example, I enjoy the Osmosys Legal Industry Monitor for generic legal news (plus it is FREE!!) So, let us know what it is that you read when you sit down at your desk each morning. We try to make this easy by embedding the form to fill out, but of course, you can email me your answer, or DM it to me in a 140 characters of less. (really, just fill out the form below and make it easy on  me!!) If you need to see the form in another browser window, or see what others have answer, then you can click the links below, but really, just  fill out the stinkin’ form!!