Social Media Principles

The ABA Techshow, one of the largest legal tech gatherings of the year, runs the rest of this week in Chicago.

Legal technology companies, new and old, will be there in spades.

All seeking attention. All wanting the love.

The companies and their people will be all over social media. Look at who we are. Look at what we do. Look at a new feature we just launched. Look at who we partnered with.

The problem is you get the love on social media only when you give the love on social media. At a ratio of about ten to one, too – you’ll receive ten times as much love as you give.

Rather than looking at social media as a neon sign with your name in lights, look at social media as a means to have a conversation with someone and to build a name over time. You do this by giving a little love to the people you’d like to talk with – online or offline.

It’s not hard. Make a list of the people and companies at Techshow with whom you’d like to engage.

If you’re seeking publicity for your company or a new product, the influencers ought to be at the top of your list.

The influencers? Leading tech bloggers, reporters (if you can find any), trusted industry leaders who have a nice presence on social media – could be company leaders, lawyers, bar executives or anyone who’s developed a nice following over time.

Also on the list are the names of companies and individuals who’d you like to meet, if not at this show, then down the road.

Maybe it’s a company or two with whom you’d like to work with. Or a company founder or executive from whom you’d let to get a little guidance.

Now you need to stick out your hand and shake theirs – online.

Monitor the #abatechshow hashtag on Twitter. When the people or organizations on your list tweet something they are proud of, a new product launch, that their team is in Chicago or whatever, retweet it, giving them a little kudos. Maybe it’s them reporting something you could share.

Just like walking into a room full of folks at a conference, you can only engage those people there. So be flexible as to those you’re engaging on Twitter via the ABA TechShow hashtag. By engaging those not on your list, you’ll meet others.

As you walk around the exhibit floor, make note of the companies and organizations you’d like to meet. Stop at their booths, talk to the people and get to know them a bit.

Also, put together a Twitter list of the people and organizations whom you’d like to engage. The list will pick up everything from these folks, including that which didn’t reference conference hashtags.

Take picture or two of the people and their booth. Share the photo on Twitter, giving a shout out to the company as to what you thought particularly cool. Maybe it was the people, the history of the company or a new launch. Doesn’t matter.

Make sure in all your Tweets, you’ve included the Twitter handle of the individuals and organizations. That way they’ll see you.

Social media, for building a reputation and relationships, is all about shining a light on others. Doing so you’ll end up in conversations, online and offline.

Niki Black, an attorney and legal technology evangelist at MyCase, does a wonderful job of giving love to others on social media as means of building MyCase’s brand.

She’s blogged about her observations at conferences, giving shoutouts to people and companies as part of her reporting.

This last year she’s been doing video interviews of legal tech entrepreneurs, innovators and influencers right at MyCase’s booth. The videos are nicely edited and then run over a few months time – all strategically shared across social media. Who wouldn’t like that type of love?

Beer for Bloggers events, hosted by LexBlog at tech conferences over the last thirteen years, were started as a way to give a little love to Bloggers and other industry professionals who always spoke kindly of LexBlog online and offline.

For the last ten years, LexBlog has conducted video Interviews at legal conferences all over the country. We wanted to portray the people interviewed as heroes for companies they founded or initiatives they launched, be it even their blog. Conference coordinators loved it was well.

Be different. Engage others. You think you’ll get the ear of Bob Ambrogi, the “Dean of Legal Tech Reporting,” by shouting at him and the world on Twitter.

  • “Easy timekeeping wherever you go – stop by Booth #318 while at ABA Techshow…”
  • “We will be at booth 821 #ABATECHSHOW tomorrow in the Startup Alley section #legaltech”
  • “Boost #SEO, #PPC and turn visitors into customers. Contact us for a FREE consultation at 619.567.9322. #ABATECHSHOW”
  • “…is going to #ABATECHSHOW this week and we’re revealing new product! Stop by Booth 808 and see what the buzz is about!

ABA Techshow, a conference filled with down-to-earth tech companies, industry leaders and lawyers, is a great place to learn to use social media the right way.

By giving a little love.

I cringe when I hear legal marketers discuss social media as a means for distributing content.

It’s as if they didn’t get to the first word in social media – “social,” meaning getting to know and enjoying other people.

Here’s five reasons why social media is a heck of a lot more important to you, as a lawyer, than using it to distribute content.

First, social media is a how we, as a society, interact today. We communicate and get to know each other online. If you’re not using social media, how can you credibly engage and connect with people?

Look at the numbers. 79% of online Americans use Facebook, 32% use Instagram, 29% use LinkedIn and 24% use Twitter.

Americans are living on social media. 76% of Facebook users visit the site at least once a day and over half of Facebook’s users visit several times a day.

Second, social media represents an opportunity to learn.

Coach Lou Holtz used to say the only thing that will change you from person you are today and the person you’ll be five years from now are the books you read and the people you meet. Social media delivers this in spades, though in short firm media, versus books.

By using Feedly as your news aggregator you may monitor sources (blogs, newspapers, trade periodicals) and subjects (terms of art, cases, companies). Not only will you, as a lawyer, stay abreast of developments in your field, you’ll build a network to kill for by connecting with the knowledgeable people whose items from Feedly you share on social media.

Third, social media provides you with the opportunity to build a name for yourself. While some lawyers are chasing attention through SEO, Adwords and distribution services, you’ll be building a name. A name that lasts a lifetime.

By focusing on a niche area of the law or locale, effective social media use enables you to establish yourself as a “go to” lawyer.

Fourth, social media enables you to build and grow relationships far faster than you can offline. Along with a name, relationships are how good lawyers grow their book of business.

By sharing other’s content on Twitter you not only build a name in a niche, you build relationships with the people who favor what you’re sharing.

When blogging, reference what influencers are discussing. You’ll build influence with them, and soon see them referencing what you’re blogging. In time you’ll be connecting and meeting with these influencers.

Share your blog posts on LinkedIn not just as a means of distribution, but as a way of getting to know the people you’d like to meet – you’ll find them liking and commenting on your posts.

By friending on Facebook people who can add value to your life (business associates, referral sources, association leaders, reporters, executives) you’ll be surprised how you get to know others you’d have never known otherwise. People who are more apt to respond to a message from you on Facebook messenger than an email.

Look at content as the currency of networking — of building relationshiops. Who you meet and the relationships you build are much more important than the “content” itself.

Fifth, social media is the great equalizer. Never before, could you, as an individual lawyer on your own, build a name and relationships as fast as you can with social media.

Large law firms offer their lawyers the power of sophisticated marketing and public relations. Today, a lawyer effectively using social media can achieve more than lawyers in multi-billion dollar law firms.

Sure, people consume news and information on social media. For many Americans, social media has supplanted the newspaper and television as their leading source of news.

But don’t miss the more important things social media provides you as a lawyer – much more important things than distributing content.

I’m enjoying the addition of ALM’s (American Legal Media) publications in the feeds in my news aggregator, Feedly.

Through a subscription I just bought to ALM’s Law.com I receive feeds from the entire ALM network of 15 national and regional news publications, as well as commentary from leading voices in the legal field. I bought a subscription to Law.com for about $350/year, the rate given to small law firms. LexBlog, though not a law firm, qualified.

While most of the stories are about legal issues, law firms and the business of law, there are quite a few stories of interest to me and my followers on Twitter.

Stories on digital publishing, technology, business development, social media and the like. When I say quite a few, it’s probably about 5%, but that’s a higher percentage than my other feeds from sources and subjects I monitor in my aggregator. In addition, there are stories regarding law firms, companies and people of which I am interested.

The ALM is not one central feed through the law.com url, but comes via subscribing to each of the ALM legal publications. I went through the list of ALM’s featured legal publications and added them one at a time to Feedly (see above picture).

As many of you know, I share on Twitter a fair number of stories written by others – reporters, bloggers and columnists. I read stories in my aggregator for learning and staying abreast of news and developments, just as you’d read newspapers, periodicals and blogs.

From a business development standpoint for LexBlog and I, I meet and build relationships with the people (virtually to start with) whose stories, columns and blog posts I share. Who wouldn’t be curious who it is that’s sharing their story on Twitter?

They found out their story is being shared by me because I include their Twitter handle in my tweet. I also meet the people and companies who are the subject of the stories I share as I’ll include their Twitter handles.

In addition to potentially building relationships with reporters, bloggers, business people and companies, I serve as an “intelligence agent” for my followers on Twitter. I am combing the news in my aggregator on certain subjects and sharing the stories and blog posts with my followers. Not only does this build a name for me as being on top of my game on these subjects, but people come to rely on me as a source of helpful news and information.

ALM’s news feed is a good fit for me because of it’s legal bent, the reporters and subjects of the stories who I can meet, the quality of the journalism and my sharing of news and columns which folks would not otherwise see behind a paywall. I pay for my subscription to get the feeds, but non-subscribers can read the stories when shared by a subscriber on Twitter and other social media.

Sharing others’ content on Twitter seems to have built a lot of good will for me over the years. The more I share like this, the more people who follow me on Twitter, the more people like their stories shared by me and the more people share my blog posts. ALM’s feeds can only help.

Thanks much to ALM’s Shawn Harlan in business development and their chief sales officer, Allen Milloy, who helped me get the subscription.

The more I use social media, the more convinced I am that social media is not about distribution of your content nor garnering traffic to your website or blog. Especially when it comes to a lawyer’s or law firm’s best use of social media.

Social media is much different than marketing, gaining mindshare or branding. Social media operates at a higher level than these things which have been around forever.

Lawyers, law firms and legal marketing professional settle short when it comes to social media. They’re looking for traffic, distribution, branding and attention. They’ll even measure success by attention, circulation and followers. Tools will be used to measure traffic and who’s looking at what.

Isn’t that same thing we’ve had for the last 40 years (since Bates). Ads on televison, ads in legal publications, articles in legal and trade publications, radio ads, yellow page ads, sponsorships, brochures and custom publishing of books and magazines. All of these used by large and/or small law. Success with each measured by attention.

Look how social media is different.

Social media is about relationships (social is in it’s name) and building a good name for yourself. Not randomly but strategically with a target audience.

How so? By identifying the people and organizations you want to meet. Follow what they publish. Follow their names and the subjects which are relevant to them. It’s easy to do with a news aggregator.

Now share the things they’d be interested in. Everyone is interested in things they’re proud of. Maybe it’s something they’ve written – a blog post or a press release. Maybe it’s a story about them. Maybe it’s a story written by someone else that would interest them.

Twitter and Facebook make it a snap to share items. You can share stories to each directly from your news aggregator. With Twitter mention the subject and the blogger/reporter penning the story by including their Twitter handles. In Facebook, once you’ve built out a network, include their names and they’ll see you.

What happens? A lot. When I shared a news story on Facebook about LawToolBox, a legal tech company, on Sunday night, their friends, employees (from as far away as India) and colleagues in the legal tech space liked and commented on my post.

By the next night, the owners, who I consider friends and with whom I share business ideas, both liked that I shared word of a recent success of theirs.

Just by following in my news aggregator news updates from LawToolBox’s website, I’m building a tighter personal and business relationship with people and an organization I want to build a relationship and name.

Another example is Dennis Garcia, Assistant General Counsel for Microsoft. Since Dennis and I met on Twitter less than a year ago, and then face to face, Dennis is regularly retweeting and liking items I share on Twitter — especially thhose that relate to Microsoft.

Dennis is a good guy, and there’s no question our relationship is nurtured through social media. I know his name and reputation is growing as far as I am concerned. I suspect it’s the same for Dennis as to me.

Why does it matter? Because I am now sharing a business idea with Dennis. Imagine that, I’m talking with a guy over a beer, who probably reports to Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, about a business idea.

Imagine if my goal in social media was circulation, traffic and branding. I could drop a million of my articles out of a helicopter over Dennis’ or LawToolBox’s offices. What are the odds they would say this guy is brilliant, I need to reach out to him on social media or give him a call.

Heck, that wouldn’t happen if one of their employees handed them one of my articles every week. But isn’t that what law firms do? Looking at circulation and with technology, who the recipients are and where they’re located.

On social media, love is important. We all want a little love. Hey, what’s wrong with that.

Zig Ziglar, the consummate salesman and sales coach, would have done great on social media. Zig said “you can have everything you want so long as you help enough other people get what they want.”

Social media, if you’re looking to realize its true potential, is all about giving — and then waiting for the relationships that ensue.

Not just with the party you may have gifted, but with those who join the ensuing conversation. They’ll join the conversation via retweets and likes on Twitter, likes and comments on Facebook and comments and likes on LinkedIn. You’ll get to know them and them you.

You’ll meet and get to know the people who want to on the net and then face to face. Incredible people and organizations who you’ll get to do business with because they know you, trust you and like you.

The legal profession is all about relationships and a name. Leave distribution, traffic and brand behind. Use social media effectively to achieve so much more.

Law firms using Snapchat for publishing commentary and engaging their audience. Sounds a little crazy, but so did law firms using Twitter for sharing news in 140 characters just five years ago.

Snapchat, an image messaging and multimedia mobile application launched just five years ago, is going public within the next month with a valuation of close to $20 billion. A lot of people in the investment community believe Snapchat is here to stay and that the number of users, now 160 million, and revenue are only going to grow.

I’ll confess. Though I have a Snapchat account, I have never used it.

But when Ken Doctor at Newsonomics reports that the New York Times is going to devote a half dozen staffers to publishing a daily Snapchat edition, it makes me think that there’s a publishing opportunity that awaits us in Snapchat.

The Times is not alone, the Washington Post shared last week that it will be the breaking news source on Snapchat’s “Discover.”

CNN which has been using Snapchat for a couple years, publishes a mix of content, per Digiday, including international stories, entertainment news and political coverage — in text and video form. It has also experimented with creating Snapchat-exclusive interactives, such as one it made about the Supreme Court.

Snapchat is seen to represent a new direction in social media, with its users wanting a more in-the-moment way of sharing and communicating. With less emphasis on an accumulation of ongoing status leaving permanent material, Snapchat focuses on fleeting encounters.

Messaging apps with these characteristics surpassed social networks in unique digital audience within the last year, per Doctor, and Snapchat takes advantage of this trend. Snapchat, a mobile app company also takes advantage of the growing mobile networking phenomenon.

How do users communicate or publish on Snapchat?

By creating multimedia messages referred to as “snaps,” consisting of a photo or a short video, which can be edited to include filters and effects, text captions and drawings.

Snapchat “publishes” content via “Stories” and “Discovers.” Stories allow a user at a specific event to contribute “snaps” to a curated story promoted to all users.

“Discover” is an area containing channels of ad-supported short-form content from major publishers, including BuzzFeed, CNN, ESPN, Mashable and People.

I thought Snapchat enabled users to share pictures and video that disappeared upon the recipient’s viewing. But “Memories” allows snaps and story posts to be saved into a private storage area, where they can be viewed alongside other media stored on the device, as well as edited and published as snaps, story posts, or messages. Snaps can also be retrieved by search.

If I am butchering how Snapchat works, please excuse me. Like I said, I’ve not used it.

The amount of media being delivered via Snapchat is staggering. In May 2015, users were sending 2 billion videos per day, which jumped to 6 billion by November. By 2016, Snapchat had hit 10 billion daily video views.

Like social networks before it, Snapchat’s user base is gradually getting older. Three years ago, Snapchat was only being used by 5% of smartphone users age 25-34 and 2% of users age 35+, according to comScore Mobile Metrix. By last year, the numbers moved to 38% and 14%, respectively – probably not too far off Facebook’s maturity.

Marketers are attracted to Snapchat because it allows brands to be more genuine. There is apparently room to be real rather than to run display ads.

What could all this mean for lawyers and law firms?

  • We may have a new and growing medium for engaging clients, prospective clients, referral sources and influencers.
  • A new medium that will enable genuine exchanges establishing trust and relationships.
  • How Snapchat will be used by lawyers, who knows?
  • Of course, not everyone needs to use Snapchat, there’s only so many hours in the day.
  • Those who choose to use the medium will need to use it like the masses, free of the constraints lawyers and bar associations place on innovative social apps.
  • Learning to use Snapchat effectively will come, like it has with other social media before it, through trial and error,
  • Lawyers and law firms using Snapchat will likely have an edge on others who are not reaching such a large audience on the audience’s terms, just as lawyers have had an edge via other social media.

I have a hard time believing I am blogging about Snapchat for lawyers. When is the number of social media a lawyer could use ever going to stop? How crazy can the next social media be?

But I remember blogging about Facebook and Twitter in their early days, blowing off each as inappropriate for lawyers and business development.

If I have learned anything since, it’s that social media for cryptic communication that looks unprofessional and that could only be used for personal exchanges can become a very real way of building a name and relationships, professionally – the linchpins of business development for lawyers.

Where are we going with Snapchat? Who knows? But if I’m a betting man, I’m not betting against Snapchat being used by lawyers for business development.

Per a study from Pew Research released this week, just as many Americans get their news online from social media as news organization websites.

Almost twice as many people get their news from social media as search engines (35% to 20%) and over twice as many when it comes to email, texts and alerts.

While there are a number of pathways Americans use to get news online, two in this study stand out as the most common: social media and direct visits to news organizations’ websites. When asked how they arrived at news content in their most recent web interaction, online news consumers were about equally likely to get news by going directly to a news website (36% of the times they got news, on average) as getting it through social media (35%).

What may have seemed impossible five years ago, social media (people passing information on to people whose trust they have earned) is the equal of a news organization site (CNN, New York Times, Washington Post) and far more important than email for getting the news in this country.

Social media for lawyers news

A person’s age has some effect on whether they receive news from social media – but only after age 50.

…[Y]ounger online news consumers got their news through social media 47% of the time on average, about double the rate of those 50 and older (23%), and about on par with those ages 30 to 49 (42%). Those 50 and older, on the other hand, stand out for their heavier reliance on news organizations’ emails, texts and alerts.

What does this mean for lawyers and law firms?

  • Social media is more important than other ways of reaching your target audience. You may feel comfort in knowing the number and employers of email subscribers for alerts and emails, but over 40% of people 50 and younger get their news from social media while 15% or less get their news from emails and alerts.
  • The news, information and insight you publish must be shareable. This is going to favor blogs and other publications off the firm’s website on a separate domain. Such publications command authority and are more likely to be shared by people. Websites and their content, no matter what you do, tend not to be shared.
  • You need to develop an effective social media presence, particularly as individual lawyers, versus the firm. This means sharing and citing others news and information whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or in your own blog. Those who share are better received, get followed by more people on social media and find their news and information gets shared more. No question there is the role of a law firm’s Twitter feed for acting as a “mini-AP” on news subjects.
  • Social media is twice as important as search when it comes to people receiving news. Start focusing as much, if not more, time and money on social media as search rankings.

Law firms and lawyers spend too much time and energy on websites, website ranking in search and pushing their news and information at people via email and alerts. Getting others to socially share your news and insight is in fact the key factor in getting your audience to read the insight and news you publish.

Michigan State University College of Law is hosting their second annual Social Media Bootcamp this Saturday (Feb 4). I couldn’t be more honored to be leading the workshop. We had a great time last year.

The workshop is open to law students, lawyers, academics, judges, court staff and all other legal service delivery professionals.

The interactive workshop is designed to help law students, lawyers and legal services providers improve their professional use of blogging and other social media, whether you are beginner or a pro.

You’ll learn how to effectively utilize social media to build a personal brand, establish expertise, and build an online community. You’ll also learn how social media can be used for learning, advancing the law, and networking as a law student, lawyer, law professor or other legal professional.

If you’re a practicing lawyer, you’ll leave knowing how to really use the Internet to get the type of work you want from the type of clients you want to represent.

We’ll cover, among other things:

  • Use of a news aggregator (Feedly) for listening to the influencers and identifying items to share
  • Blogging on a niche to build your name, a network and advance the law
  • Twitter for listening, establishing yourself as an intelligent agent, building social media equity, and building relationships
  • Facebook for building solid professional relationships and sharing personal and professional information and insight
  • LinkedIn for more than just a profile, but to engage, to build a name – and in the case of lawyers how to get work

Law student, professor or law school administrator and looking to blog, ask me about the LexBlog sponsored Law School Blog Network. You’re entitled to a blog on our comprehensive blog publishing software and related services – for free.

Complete details:

  • Date: Saturday, February 4, 2016
  • Time: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
  • Event Address: 648 N. Shaw Ln, East Lansing, MI 48824
  • Room: Castle Boardroom (3rd Floor)
  • Parking: Free on weekends in the parking ramp next to MSU Law
  • RSVP

Questions? Contact Amy Krieg, Assistant Director for Career Development, kriegamy@law.msu.edu or (517) 432-6830.

Big thanks for Michigan State Law for having me back again. This may be the third or fourth time in the last couple years. You’ve opened my eyes to the passion of law students looking to do great things – often, for other people.

Hope to see how this year’s social media contest is going too. past participants have ended up at with positions at Honigman in Detroit, General Motors, London law firms (internships) and West Coast companies in the agriculture/food business.

Legal tech companies are heading en masse to New York City next week for ALM’s Legaltech Show – now billed as LegalWeek.

Billed as the largest and most important legal technology event of the year, over 10,000 people, including decision makers from large and small law firms, will attend educational sessions and walk the exhibit halls filled with hundreds of legal tech company booths.

Tens of thousands of dollars will be spent by companies in product announcements, booths, alcohol and what not to enhance their brands and sell wares.

The wild thing is that the founders and executives of these tech companies don’t have a clue when it comes to using technology and the Internet to market and sell.

Rather than take responsibility for learning how to use the Internet for relationship building, marketing and selling, the executives hire public relations and marketing professionals to do the job for their company. Crazier yet is that those they hire usually don’t know what they are doing either.

A couple weeks ago, lawyer and legal tech entrepreneur, Zach Abramowitz @ZachAbramowitz, penned a piece in Above The Law about the challenges legal tech companies face in selling to law firms.

I meet a lot of legal tech companies, and I cannot tell you how many great products I’ve seen way which I later discover have zero meaningful traction. I’m not the only one.

Abramowitz went on to reference an interview with Mark Harris, CEO & founder of Axiom, who said:

Selling tech-only solutions into the legal industry today would be like selling a conveyer belt to a blacksmith in the late 1800s. You cannot sell the instruments of industrialization to artisans! They aren’t ready for them and have no idea what to do with them!

So, before legaltech can have its analogous fintech moment, the legal industry needs to make headway on a services-led, but tech-enabled approach to industrialization. We have to build the factories before we can embrace the tools that make the factory better!

The problem with guys like Harris (and maybe you) dissing law firms and their use of technology is that maybe you’ve done nothing to engage law firms, earn their trust and educate them. At least not in an effective fashion.

Legal tech companies coming to Legaltech sell the same way companies sold 100 years ago – through traditional marketing, advertising and sales. Virtually none of them leverage the Internet in a way that engages influencers, customers and prospective customers.

Hundreds of companies have booths at Legaltech. They are relying on websites, emails and cheesy social media to try to grab people’s attention to come to their booth.

I am getting three or four emails a day asking if I want to come by a company’s booth to meet the company’s CEO or founder. Understand that I am the CEO of my own legal tech company who just happens to blog and have some aptitude using social media.

I don’t know the company emailing me. I don’t know the CEO. In most cases, neither I nor my social media/blog followers have any interest in the company’s product.

The person sending the email doesn’t even know who I am, they are firing off random emails to a list of recipients. In the PR or marketing person’s mind I am a channel to get the company’s message out because I blog and use social media.

Though they may be selling something great, I have no reason to trust them.

One can only assume these companies are sending the same message out to lots of bloggers, reporters and influencers, all of whom know how to use the Internet to engage and build relationships. It’s almost like saying, “Yeh, I sell a tech product, but I am a total noob when it comes to using the Internet, how bad did I embarrass myself?”

So not only do the companies have to keep selling in an expensive and tiresome way, but they leave the people they ought to be connecting with wondering how innovative and tech savvy the companies really are when they don’t even know how to use the net when it comes to sales, marketing and business development.

How many of the companies have CEO’s and founders strategically and effectively blogging to build a name, develop relationships and grow business? How many of those companies will have their audience seeking them out based on the name they have built and relationships they nurtured online? Probably none.

Sales, marketing and business development is best done, or at least started, online today. Not with websites and email campaigns but through mediums being used by your customers, prospective customers and their influencers. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn should be used by company leaders as individuals, not by the company.

People learn about products, services and company leaders socially. They learn to trust a company, it’s leaders and their counsel through online engagement – think blogging and social networks.

Don’t get me wrong. Face to face discussion is critical to sales. But accelerating relationships and your reputation makes selling much easier.

It’s never been easier to market and sell than today. But you don’t do it the old fashioned way, or else you’ll embarrass yourself.

If you’ve read this far and you’re a legal tech exec attending LegalTech wanting to know how to leverage the Internet for marketing and social selling, drop me a note. Lunch or a drink is on me and I won’t be selling you anything.

There has been a lot of discussion of late about fake news on Facebook.

Some folks believe fake news affected the outcome of the presidential election. One law professor recently told me that most of the stuff on Facebook was fabricated. It won’t be too long before I’ll be at conference where lawyers will be told to stear clear of Facebook because of hoaxes and fake news.

Big mistake. Less than one percent of news and information on Facebook is fake. That’s probably about the same as mainstream media.

Also not to be lost on you, as a lawyer, is that Facebook has almost 2 billion users, and that 44 percent of Americans get their news from the social network. If you’re not sharing information and commentary on Facebook you’re missing a huge opportunity.

I’m with Mark Zuckerberg who recently posted,

Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes.

Having said that, Zuckerberg is looking to limit the fake news that there is and show people that they will find meaningful content and accurate news on Facebook.

Zuckerberg knows he must proceed carefully when you get into “the truth” and censorship, let alone Facebook’s desire to maintain its status as a technology company and avoid the responsibilities that come with being a media company.

Identifying the “truth” is complicated. While some hoaxes can be completely debunked, a greater amount of content, including from mainstream sources, often gets the basic idea right but some details wrong or omitted. An even greater volume of stories express an opinion that many will disagree with and flag as incorrect even when factual. I am confident we can find ways for our community to tell us what content is most meaningful, but I believe we must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves.

David Pogue, reports in Scientific American this week that Facebook has already taken action.

  1. If you tap the V button at the top right of a post and then choose “Report this post,” you’ll see a new option called “It’s a fake news story.” On the next screen, you’ll have a choice of options, including “Mark this post as fake news.” (Other options include “Message Chris Robin” [or whomever posted the story] to let them know they fell for it.)
  2. If enough people flag a story as fake, it will be sent to a fact-checking organization like Snopes.com or PolitiFact. And if the outfit determines that yes, the story is bogus, it will appear on Facebook with a red banner that says, “Disputed by Third-Party Fact Checkers.” That banner will include a link to the fact checkers’ article explaining why the story is false. The stories still appear, but with flags that identify them as phony and lower in your News Feed.
  3. Facebook will employ software and algorithms to help identify fake stories. For example, Facebook has learned that when lots of people read a certain article but then don’t share it, it’s often because the story is phony.
  4. Facebook is trying to shut down the financial incentive for fakers. Its engineers have eliminated the ability for the fakers to create Web sites that impersonate actual news sites, for example. And the company will analyze sites that draw ad dollars from Facebook traffic, and will cut them off if they’re in the business of fake-news fraud.

Though cynics argue that fake news generates eyeballs and ad revenue for Facebook, people use Facebook because of the value it brings to their lives. Value comes from accurate information and news — and the engagement that ensues.

Gaming a popular site is not without precedent. A whole SEO industry has sprung up to game Google in an effort to get Google users to visit third-party sites lacking valuable information. Through software and algorithms, Google reduced the junk to a minimum – enough so that the world uses Google as the leading source of information — including lawyers for a lot of legal research.

The above four steps are just a start, Facebook has the brightest social engineers in the world working for them. If anyone can eliminate fake news, they can.

How we receive news and information has changed dramatically in the last decade. Television news, newspapers and news websites carried the day five or six years.

Today, people receive news socially – from people they trust. Facebook, as the largest social network is likely to become the leading source of accurate news and information for Americans.

Many legal tech companies bemoan the difficulties of selling technology to law firms when law firms are so far behind the times.

In reality, it’s the legal technology companies which make it tough on themselves by using outdated marketing, sales and business development methods.

Last week, lawyer and legal tech entrepreneur, Zach Abramowitz @ZachAbramowitz, penned a piece in Above The Law about the challenges legal tech companies face in selling.

I meet a lot of legal tech companies, and I cannot tell you how many great products I’ve seen way hich I later discover have zero meaningful traction. I’m not the only one.

Abramowitz went on to reference an interview with Mark Harris, founder of Axiom, who said:

Selling tech-only solutions into the legal industry today would be like selling a conveyer belt to a blacksmith in the late 1800s. You cannot sell the instruments of industrialization to artisans! They aren’t ready for them and have no idea what to do with them!

So, before legaltech can have its analogous fintech moment, the legal industry needs to make headway on a services-led, but tech-enabled approach to industrialization. We have to build the factories before we can embrace the tools that make the factory better!

The problem with dissing law firms and their use of technology is that maybe you’ve done nothing to engage law firms, earn their trust and educate them. At least not in an effective fashion.

Legal tech companies have innovative technology, yet they sell the same way companies sold 100 years ago – through traditional marketing, advertising and sales. Virtually none of them leverage the Internet in a way that engages influencers, customers and prospective customers.

So not only do the companies have to keep selling in an an expensive and tiresome way, but they leave the people they ought to be connecting with wondering how innovative and tech savvy the companies really are when they don’t even know how to use the net when it comes to sales, marketing and business development.

Perfect example is LegalTech in New York City, coming up in a few weeks. I just saw a long list of exhibitors who are spending a fortune to do what companies like them did in 1949 – have a booth. They are relying on websites, emails and cheesy social media to try to grab people’s attention and come to their booth.

How many of them have CEO’s and founders strategically and effectively blogging to build a name, develop relationships and grow business? How many of those companies will have their audience seeking them out based on the name they have built and relationships they nurtured online? Almost none.

Sales, marketing and business development is best done, or at least started, online today. Not with websites and email campaigns but through mediums being used by your customers, prospective customers and their influencers. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn used by company leaders as individuals, not by the company.

People learn about products and services socially. They learn to trust a company and it’s advice through online engagement – think blogging and social networks. People seek the input of others on social networks.

I can’t tell you often I have seen someone at a law firm ask on Facebook about a tech company and their product and no one knows much about the company. The reason is that the company’s leaders have refused to get out and mingle with people online.

Don’t get me wrong. Face to face discussions are critical to sales. But accelerating your reputation and relationships leads to meetings and sales.

It’s never been easier to market and sell than today. But you don’t do the old fashioned way.