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Aine Creedon (@anye_east), writing for Non Profit Quarterly, reports that social media labs for seniors are catching fire in New York.

As more senior citizens have begun to adopt social media, the New York City-based nonprofit Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) works to help keep older populations connected. As fifty percent of adults over the age of 65 are now online, OATS reports seeing an increase in older adults signing up for classes and using social media. In order to facilitate seniors’ use of social media, the organization has partnered with the AARP and is now expanding its curriculum of social media classes.

OATS executive director Tom Kamber [@thomaskamber] tells CNBC, “For many older adults, social media represents the gold standard for successful use of technology. An older adult who is on Facebook and Twitter and who can use LinkedIn has made it, so to speak. It represents a successful adopter of technology.” OATS also offers a variety of classes for seniors looking to engage with others online, from Facebook 101 to Social Networking in the Digital Age, a “hands-on” introduction to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

I am not saying lawyers should be treated akin to senior citizens. But social media labs open to lawyers at regular times during the week may make a lot of sense.

Lawyers are busy people who generally don’t like being told what to do and when to do it. Law firms who have had social media training sessions for their lawyers have had mixed results — and that’s being generous if we’re measuring success by impact.

Of special interest as to lawyers, Kamber finds seniors are more interested in using social media to empower themselves, while younger people are interested in social media for entertainment purposes.

Empowerment, the perfect word for lawyers. The key for law firms, and LexBlog for that matter, is empowering lawyers to network through the Internet. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Social media labs could be focused on empowering lawyers. You can’t ‘do social media’ for a lawyer. It’s not about producing content, generating traffic, and distribution channels. It’s about real and authentic engagement to build relationships and grow one’s reputation.

LexBlog is working with a number of law firms to ‘train the trainer’ when it comes to networking through the Internet (effective use of social media). Regularly scheduled labs by the trainer using our curriculum and material feels like a good fit.

Success leaves clues. Maybe it’s time I check in with OATS and AARP to find out more about what they are doing. Taking a page out of their playbook could help lawyers.

If any of you are conducting social media labs in your law firms, let me know. If you don’t mind the publicity and letting the word out to competition, I’d welcome highlighting your good work.

Image courtesy of Flickr by J B Curio.