Social Media Principles

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.

Last week a friend asked on Facebook what we thought about President-elect Trump tweeting the possibility of a nuclear arms race with Russia. Was it appropriate for a world leader to be tweeting on such sensitive matters?

The reaction of most people was that it was reckless for the President-elect to weigh in on matters as serious as nuclear weapons in a tweet.  Rather than a reasoned discussion, we have world leaders guessing as to the President-elect’s intent.

Others responded that the President-elect was using Twitter as a press tool, much as corporate leaders are being coached to do. The President-elect was using Twitter to communicate directly to the people, as opposed to going through the traditional media.

I get the concerns about what is proper commentary by a president on Twitter. I was pretty alarmed hearing about the tweet on nuclear arms. But we may be looking at things as they were, not how they are today.

What would be better? Getting a podium, putting flags behind it and asking the media to come to the “Florida White House to be” for a statement or press conference?

Seems a bit outdated to then have reporters reduce what the president said to a sound bite of about 140 characacters when the president could have tweeted it.

The President-elect’s tweet on nuclear arms got the news out and generated discussion world-wide via social media. Vladimir Putin offered a tempered response that what Trump said was obvious and discussed in his campaign. Putin added that he looked forward to visiting the United States and President-elect upon invitation. This and we saw Putin’s Christmas card and message to the President-elect.

A U.S. position stated and reaction diffused all in one day because the President-elect relayed our position via Twitter. Ten years ago we would have been be waiting for the next day’s newspaper to begin two-weeks of news coverage on the subject.

Yesterday, on not nearly as sensitive a matter, we had Hall of Fame basketball coach and president of the New York Knicks, Phil Jackson,  and Jeanie Buss, part owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers, announce on Twitter the ending of their seventeen year relationship and four year engagement.

Rather than statements from their publicists, as we’d have had in the past, we had tweets from Jackson and Buss.

Law firms regularly issue press releases on firm or client related matters. Press conferences, though declining, are used by firms and their clients on high profile matters. Why not use Twitter instead?

Law firms and their leaders are neither celebrities nor politicians. Their news is not going to draw such immediate interest. The legal industry also runs a step or two behind when it comes to the innovative use of the Internet.

But their are some advantages to using Twitter.

  • Twitter does enable law firms to speak directly to their audience, including industry reporters.
  • Twitter enables law firms to control what the press reports on the firm’s position.
  • Twitter allows law firms to get out in front of a story such as a strong group of lawyers departing the firm.
  • Twitter enables law firms to immediately respond to reports they feel are unfair or unwarranted.
  • Social media, including news emanating from Twitter, is where a majority of people get news today.

Will Twitter replace press releases and press conferences for law firms? Overnight, no, but Twitter or another form of social media will replace the way law firms and their leaders release news and make statements — sooner or later.

Facebook Live provides law firms the opportunity to present streaming news and information to their target audience without going through an intermediary.

Think about how Facebook Live broadcasts compare to the status quo of getting lawyers on traditional video broadcast, television.

Get marketing and public relationships professionals working on “packaging” particular lawyers. Public relations then works their contacts with the networks or local television. Then jump on things when breaking news arises or look for opportunities to get on television with evergreen information and coverage.

When successful, something that’s far from given, you need to wonder if your target audience actually saw the lawyer on TV. Did the influential reporters and bloggers, who are active on social media and who influence your audience, see the lawyer?

Because most of the target audience did not see the lawyer on TV, you’ll do a press release and announce on social media that the lawyer was on TV. Doing such a press release, something traditionally looked at as pretty cool, can seem awfully lame today.

How seamless is Facebook Live? On Monday morning I got word, via Facebook Live, of the shooting of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey. The live Facebook feed was coming from the news agency, RT.

In addition to the horror of the recorded video of the shooting that RT was running along with its Facebook Live reports from the scene, I was struck by the concept that Facebook was bringing me news of the day, live.

I didn’t click on anything. I happened to be on Facebook as part of my own networking and sharing. Up came RT’s live feed at the top of my Facebook News Feed.

Admittedly I use social media more than most legal professionals, but I am old enough to be amazed that Facebook was bringing my news live—from across the world, with footage caught on a smartphone, presented to me on my iPad on a cellular connection as I had my morning coffee at the kitchen table.

My news, not via The New York Times app (which is pretty fast), not via a news site like CNN (which I hardly use), not via reading The New York Times newspaper (which I no longer do for “current news”), or via watching traditional network TV news (which I never do). Live news “floating” in front of me.

Later Monday, I received news of the truck driving into a Christmas crowd in Berlin the same way. Facebook Live coverage, again from RT, a network I have not “liked” on Facebook—ever.

What’s RT streaming Facebook Live from its Facebook page have to do with a law firm? Everything.

If a lawyer or practice group wants to engage a niche audience, say immigration law for healthcare institutions, they could do a lot worse than a lawyer jumping on Facebook live and reporting on relevant developments. Perhaps even interviewing fellow leaders on immigration law or health care HR executives on Facebook Live.

Facebook will see to it it that the firm’s target audience will see the video. Some of those viewing the video will share, like and comment on the video. Maybe the world won’t see it, but a couple or three hundred folks will see it. And they’ll be a significant percentage of the target audience the firm is looking to reach.

I ran into a veteran law firm marketing professional and told her of this post and the opportunities that await law firms in using Facebook Live. She explained that law firms were neither equipped nor ready for Facebook Live. She’s excellent in the work she does, but raised the reality that large law was not prepared to address Facebook Live.

Ready or not, Facebook Live is already a reality in major industries, including healthcare, a huge markets for law.

Beth Snyder Bulik, writing on Facebook Live for FiercePharma noted:

[S]everal hospitals including the Mayo Clinic, UNC Healthcare and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin [are] successfully using Facebook Live with live-streaming events such as “ask a doctor” sessions, lectures, fundraisers, and guided tours. UNC Healthcare, in fact, reported results of its Facebook Live streaming that included a 480% increase in daily interactions and a 75% increase of page likes in the first six months. One of its live chats about the Affordable Care Act has been replayed more than 2,000 times.

Mark Zuckerberg is pushing Facebook Live harder than any other feature on his social network. New features for video and Live are coming every couple weeks. He’s weaving Facebook Live into the fabric of our Facebook use, the latest being videos being displayed across the top of mobile apps and a video icon at the bottom to take us to recent “Live” recordings.

Rather than doing what other firms are doing, law firms would be well served to focus on where the world is headed. Facebook Live.

“Right now, approximately 1 in 4 Americans is dealing with some sort of legal issue. Half of those people are Millennials.” This from Attorney Nika Kabiri (@nikakabiri), Director of Strategic Insights at Avvo.

Where are these twenty to thirty year olds? Where would lawyers go to network with millennials in order build relationships and name?

The Chamber of Commerce? Kiwanis? Bar associations? Country clubs? Civic boards? Hardly. Millennials, like most Americans, are socializing, networking, helping others  and seeking information on social media.

According to the Pew Research Center:

A majority of Americans now say they get news via social media, and half of the public has turned to these sites to learn about the 2016 presidential election. Americans are using social media in the context of work (whether to take a mental break on the job or to seek out employment), while also engaging in an ongoing effort to navigate the complex privacy issues that these sites bring to the forefront.

Which social media are Americans using? 68% of all U.S. adults are Facebook users, while 28% use Instagram, 26% use Pinterest, 25% use LinkedIn and 21% use Twitter.

And which social networking site do millennials use?

  • 88% use Facebook
  • 60% use Instagram
  • 41% use Snapchat
  • 36% use Twitter
  • 34% use LinkedIn

Millennials, per Kabiri, want a lawyer who’s adaptable to the current legal and social climate. They want an attorney who reflects the times and who’s up-to-date.

Yet how many lawyers have adapted to the current social climate? How many lawyers really use social media to build a name for themselves and network with peers and the general community in order to build relationships.

Everyone in law talks a good game. This from Thomson Reuters’ Legal Solutions Blog earlier this week.

The American Bar Association and approximately 14 states now require that lawyers remain informed regarding benefits and risks associated with the use of technology in support of the practice of law. This requirement essentially places the duty to remain current on the evolution of legal support technology on par with the obligation to remain current on changes in the law itself. Lawyers are now routinely required to develop and maintain adequate knowledge associated with the opportunities and challenges connected with use of technology. All lawyers thus have a professional responsibility to develop at least a basic fluency in technology use.

Yet when I go to find the Twitter handle of a leader on the ABA Futures Commission so that I can give her a positive attribute, I can’t find a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn account for her.

Thousands of lawyers and other professionals are dependent on the leadership of large law firm managing partners, executive chairs and other executives. Yet how many of them are leading by example when it comes to social media. How many of them are as conversant in using something (social media) that’s as simple and as obvious to use as a cell phone for the average American.

Fear, lack of time, and other excuses don’t cut it anymore. Your employees, families and the American people in need of legal services are dependent on you to act.

Kabiri’s post may relate to legal services at the consumer and small business level. But don’t think for a second that consumers of legal services at the corporate level don’t look to see how potential counsel has adapted socially.

More than one in-house counsel has told me how funny it is when a lawyer bio or law firm website talks about innovation and being tech savvy, when the lawyer they are looking at doesn’t even use Twitter.

It’s easy to dismiss social media and take comfort in the fact that the people and the clients that you know don’t use social media much. Of course they don’t. How could you connect with and engage those who do?

Making a move to social media offers huge rewards. Not only are their millenials on social media looking for professional services people and firms they trust, but your competition sucks. The vast majority of lawyers and firms won’t act – they’ll remain doing what they’ve always done — lagging the average American when it comes to social change.

Most law firm leaders question the value of blogging and other social media by lawyers. What could be learned? What could such activity do for professional and business development?

At law schools, it’s worse. Deans and career development professionals dismiss social media out of hand. Most warn law students to stay away from blogging and social media for fear students will say something that will forever haunt them.

I thought these folks were just ignorant. They didn’t know what they were talking about. They never tried blogging and social media for professional, business and career development.

But reading a piece in Inside Higher Education by college professor and writer, John Warner (@biblioracle), got me wondering if the privileged status of those in large law and academia wasn’t the reason for their shortsightedness.

Professor Warner took on Georgetown Professor Cal Newport, who had written in the New York Times two weeks ago, that professionals and students should quit social media before it hurts their career. Newport, who’s never had a social media account in his life sees social media use as the enemy of “deep thinking” which in turn hinders professional development.

Newport sees professional success as hard, but not complicated.

The foundation to achievement and fulfillment, almost without exception, requires that you hone a useful craft and then apply it to things that people care about. This is a philosophy perhaps best summarized by the advice Steve Martin used to give aspiring entertainers: ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’ If you do that, the rest will work itself out, regardless of the size of your Instagram following.”

Warner knows this is sheer fantasy. Sure, we should all strive to be be good, but we’re not all on a level playing field. Some of us need social media and blogging to make a name for ourselves.

Take two of Warner’s favorite scholars and professors, Tressie McMillian Cottom and Roxane Gay.

As women of color, history shows us they likely need to be better than “good” in order to receive the recognition that Prof. Newport believes will come if you do what the meritocracy asks. These women had every reason to believe that their being good would indeed be ignored.

And so each in their own way used social media not to tweet memes or fart around, but to advocate for recognition of their (and others’) “goodness.” In addition to their distinguished scholarly and professional work they utilized the tool of social media to become public voices. They made space for themselves that otherwise might not have been available.

It worked. Not only do Professors Cottom and Gay now frequently publish in prestige outlets like The Atlantic or the New York Times, but they also have established platforms independent of those outlets where they may be heard. Prof. Cottom’s essay “Finding Hope in a Loveless Place,” for my money the most profound work of commentary in the wake of the recent election, became a viral read after being posted on her own blog.

Look at those who have achieved so much through blogging and social media on the law.

Allison Rowe, who as a young lawyer spoke at the Kentucky Derby to international breeders, just one year after chasing her dream to do equine law. A dream begun with a blog. Would the next firm to hire Rowe have given her the opportunity to do equine law but for her Equine Law Blog?

Staci Riordan, who put the name on fashion law as a young lawyer at a more traditional law firm, Fox Rothschild, via her Fashion Law Blog and the use of Facebook long before most of us ever discovered the social network.

Think Rush Nigut, a “Triple-A city” lawyer in Des Moines, would be recognized by the Wall Street Journal as one of the nation’s leading franchise law attorneys without blogging. Being so good no one could ignore him was hardly going to get Nigut on the national stage.

Warner’s right.

The source of Prof. Newport’s narrow gaze is the same flaw we see in all self-help books, a singular focus on the success stories. His oeuvre: How to Win at College, How to Become a Straight A Student, How to Be a High School Superstar are all targeted to the relatively privileged, those who are competing from the already rarefied air, for example, those for whom the advice not to take so many A.P. courses may apply because their high schools actually offer A.P. courses.

Prof. Newport peddles a fantasy, a lie, one that resonates with a narrow slice of the professional class and all but erases the experiences of those who have been traditionally marginalized.

Is it possible that those leading large law firms come from a narrow slice of this professional class? The best colleges, premier law schools, clerkships and onto law firms in high rises with huge starting salaries. Senior partnerships generating a seven figure salary.

Law school deans and tenured professors with strong academic pedigrees may have shared some of the same privileges.

No question these folks worked hard to get where they are, but they may have had an edge over the less privileged or disadvantaged. Women and minorities certainly hold less senior management positions in large law than white men.

Many studying to be lawyers were simply not as smart from an IQ standpoint. Many had to work to put themselves through college and law school, permitting less time for studying. Others raised a family and worked full time during law school.

Sure, many lawyers overcame the unequal playing field. So much so that they could not be ignored. But many lawyers have not and will not without the advantages presented by blogging and social media.

It’s important that the privileged appreciate what they were given and realize the opportunity social media and blogging provide the less fortunate.

That didn’t take long.

Last week, Georgetown professor, Cal Newport, who has never had a social media account, wrote in the New York Times that professionals ought to quit social media before it damages their career.

Not in the sense that one could say something which could come back to haunt them, but that social media was mindless entertainment that served only to distract you fostered by companies not long for the world.

Newport was trying to sell books and The Times, papers. A little controversery draws attention, as evidenced by the flood of blog posts and news stories referencing Newport’s piece.

But this week The Times righted the ship with some sound advice applicable to law grads and lawyers looking to advance their careers.

Patrick Gillooly (@pgillooly), director of digital communications and social media at the career site Monster, writes that you should not quit social media — and that doing so will actually damage your career.

The absence of a social media presence makes you invisible to employers and customers, per Gillooly.

Tools are available that enable employers to search all the digital bread crumbs you leave behind to see a fuller picture of who you are and how you might fit within their organization.

Most employers and customers I’ve talked to are ultimately looking for confirmation of their excitement about you, not reasons for suspicions or doubts. Not having any profile could be seen as a red flag, so why give a potential employer any reason to question your candidacy?

When we have job candidate at LexBlog, the last thing I want to look at is a resume. A word document that’s been tailored to fit our opening, the same thing every candidate is presenting. C’mon.

What’a extraordinary about a resume? What initiative does it show? How can I see how the person carries themselves around other people?

Gillooly’a right with me.

Your social media presence — and, really, your whole digital footprint — is no longer just an extension of your résumé. It’s as important as your résumé. Social media use is now a standard of the hiring process, and there’s little chance of going back.

Cultivating your social brand lets employers and customers know your passions, what you’re learning and with whom you’re networking.

What can I really learn from your law firm web site bio or your LinkedIn profile alone that distinguishes you from another lawyer or job candidate?

As Gillooly says, you need to demonstrate you’re staying on top of information, news and developments, much of which is being shared and discussed on social media.

Take it from someone who is using social media all day long to help people find careers they’ll love and disagrees with Newport.

…I don’t support abandoning social media. I suggest we embrace it, fully and more actively than ever, but also thoughtfully and deliberately. In doing so, we create important career opportunities, from simply expanding our networks and improving our knowledge, to exposing ourselves to jobs we may not have previously considered.

It’s clear that social media is here to stay, so why not make it work for you?

A career in law presents wonderful opportunities. Use social media wisely to realize them.

I played with my Twitter profile and home page recently. I thought I needed to be clearer as to who I am, what I do and what my company offers lawyers.

After all, my Twitter profile page may generate more page views than my blog and LexBlog’s website. Shouldn’t it say what LexBlog does, how we do it and maybe even include a call to action. Like everyone else, I am always looking to grow my company’s business.

So rather than the “personal me,” I changed my profile to read, “CEO and Founder of LexBlog. We help lawyers make a name for themselves with our comprehensive blog publishing software offered as a service (SaaS). 15,000 bloggers strong.”

I swapped out pictures of Seattle, ballparks, family and the like for my header image to a big RLHB in red for “Real Lawyers Have Blogs,” the name of  this blog.

Regardless of my poor marketing copy and taste, the pitching with a profile didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like me.

Wilder yet, the profile didn’t work. In the couple weeks the new profile was up, the number of people following me on Twitter leveled off.

So I went back to my personal style. Header image of the Pike Place Market and a profile description leading with who I am as a father, husband, lawyer and runner who happens to be helping lawyers making a name for themselves with my team at LexBlog.

This profile was me. I felt comfortable with it. Pitching my company and what we do along with a call to action was marketing or advertising.

My Twitter followers started to go up again. Not that the number of followers is a measure of success. But it is a sign folks dislike me less than before — always a good sign.

What’s the lesson? Go with what you’re comfortable with on your social media profiles. Err on the side of being personal in nature versus taking a corporate/marketing approach.

Social media by definition is social. Person to person — real, autrhentic and engaging. The outcome being relationships and trust.

Social media, despite what some marketers may tell you and despite how many lawyers and law firms act, is not a means to draw attention to yourself, your law firm or even your content.

I have run across Twitter handles such as Dallas Divorce Lawyer, personal Facebook headers with the name of law firm, it’s website and phone number and LinkedIn profiles boasting of the number of connections and listing overpowering accolades.

In addition to not knowing who the “person” really was, I never followed them, became their friend or connected with them. The person lost the opportunity to realize what social media offered.

The marketing approach is a turn off to the people who you want to engage. You’ll lose the opportunity to nurture relationships and build trust with clients, prospective clients, referral sources, bloggers, reporters and influencers.

Sure, there’s a difference in the professionalism required on your Website and LinkedIn and the more informal Twitter and Facebook. But in all cases, I’d suggest making yourself approachable.

People who like you will find out what you do and who you do it for. By virtue of who you’re engaging on social media and what you’re discussing and sharing you’ll have defined yourself and your niche area of work.

Give people a chance to like you. Go with the softly stated approach.

Georgetown computer science professor and blogger, Cal Newport, warns in a piece in The New York Times that professionals ought to be quitting any social media service they’re using because it’s going to hurt their career.

Most social media is best described as a collection of somewhat trivial entertainment services that are currently having a good run. These networks are fun, but you’re deluding yourself if you think that Twitter messages, posts and likes are a productive use of your time.

Funny thing is, just like the many lawyers teaching of the perils of social media, Newport has never had a social media account. Not a one.

First, he sees social media as a huge suck of time and stress. Newport cites a recent New York magazine essay in which Andrew Sullivan felt “obligated to update his blog every half-hour or so.” With Facebook, Sullivan wrote, “the once-unimaginable pace of the professional blogger was now the default for everyone.”

Newport sees this “low-value” level activity of posting marginal items every 30 minutes thinking it’s of high value to your career, as the “same dubious alchemy that forms the core of most snake oil and flimflam in business.”

See what I mean about Newport sounding like the lawyers on bar panels warning of the perils of social media? Neither have a clue what they are talking about when it comes to the effective use of social media and both revert to straw man arguments to make their point.

I have friends and connections across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. They include professors, lawyers, doctors, business executives, association leaders, reporters, and publishers. None of them are blogging or posting to social media every half hour or so. None of them are feeling compelled to do so.

Instead, most of these folks are using social media to learn, network, build relationships, and do business. In many cases they’re advancing their reputation and business relationships at a far faster clip than they could without using social media.

Senior Microsoft attorney, Dennis Garcia (@DennisCGarcia), wrote at Bloomberg that Twitter’s invaluable for lawyers for learning, networking, getting news, being an evangelist, and building a strong reputation. Countless leading lawyers feel the same way.

I get Newport’s point that we should be so good at our craft that no one could miss us. But getting good at what we do comes in part from having a network of thought leaders you know and engage. No way you’ll have the network that someone does who uses social media effectively.

Being good and living under a rock is also tough way to grow your business too, something Newport may be unfamiliar with.

Second, Newport sees social media as addictive and sucking the brain power one needs to perform at a high level.

The idea of purposefully introducing into my life a service designed to fragment my attention is as scary to me as the idea of smoking would be to an endurance athlete, and it should be to you if you’re serious about creating things that matter.

I laud Newport for accomplishing what he has as a computer scientist; penning numerous journal articles and four or five books. Things I could never have accomplished.

But could you imagine me writing a piece for The New York Times counseling computer scientists how they should teach, conduct research, and write books? It would be a joke—I’ve never been there.

I am sure Newport is seeing things in his classrooms and on campus with students and young professionals using smart phones for mindless activity. Kudos to him for being worried about the time spent on such activity, but he’s way off base telling business people, professionals and students that social media is a hazard to their career.

I personally know of law school students who got elite jobs at General Motors and UK law firms via Twitter. They’d be huge in debt and scrambling to find a job if they listened to those warning not to use social media.

I get penning sensationalistic articles in The New York Times in an effort to sell your new book and raise your profile. But, as with lawyers listening to some lawyers, there’s the danger to students, recent grads and professionals who may listen to misguided information from the unknowing.