Scott Greenfield picked up on an interesting dilemma we’re in with social media controlling the flow of our news and information. Commenting on new rules being laid down in the Reddit community following its CEO Ellen Pau being ousted by community demand, Greenfield shared:

…[T]here remains an amorphous sense that the internet is out of control and rules are needed, even though the expression of rules is almost impossible to state without resort to vagaries that come down to what the powers that be like or don’t like. Most of us agree there is bad stuff in there, but what is bad defies doctrinal definition. It’s mostly Potter Stewart’s definition of obscenity from his concurrence in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it,” and it’s applied by every individual with a keyboard.

Social media businesses have asserted their right to control what appears on their pages. It may stifle speech, but since there is no right to free speech in somdeone else’s house, it’s their right to shut out any damn thing they please.

As one Reddit community member commenting on the new rules put it:

So speech that you like is fine, speech that you don’t like isn’t. Got it.

At first glance, Facebook and Reddit, with their goal to become the front page of our daily newspaper brought to us be a disparate community of people seem all about free speech.

But what happens when these social networks start deciding what’s good for us and what’s not? Same with Twitter.

What we see could easily be altered without kicking people or subjects off Facebook by just adjusting the algorithms ever so slightly. What if Facebook favors one political candidate or cause more than another?

Scary thoughts when you realize that social networks are becoming the major and, in some cases, the primary news outlets for Americans. Per a Pew Research study earlier this year, 63% of respondents said Facebook serves as a source for news, and an equal number said the same about Twitter.

I’m not one to be spreading thoughts of conspiracy theories. I don’t think social networks are clamping down on free speech. In fact the speech they are enabling and the positions they have taken in favor of free speech are expanding speech.

I do think social media need to take their role as the purveyors of news, insight, comment and opinion seriously. There will be many views — and even people — social media finds offensive. But ought social media shut those views down because the masses demand so? Which town square do the minority head to in order to be heard?

The LexBlog Network is a network of over 1,100 blogs and 8,000 lawyer commentators. In addition to supporting these commentators we curate and disseminate their insight and commentary. Social media at the individual blog level and at the network level.

What if speech is fine on the LexBlog Network except when our community members or we, as the facilitors of the network, don’t like it? We just shut down those who are charged with protecting free speech in our society — lawyers?

You get the point. The limits of free speech may still be defined as “you’ll know it when you see it.” We just have a whole new crew deciding speech in the days of social media.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Viktor Nagornyy

Hardly.

Twitter has been in and out of the news over the last couple months. Most of the coverage and commentary negative.

Twitter has not realized its potential. Twitter has not experienced the success of Facebook. Twitter needs to refine its business model. Twitter needs to develop products. Twitter needs to replace its CEO, Dick Costolo – which it did.

You get it, a lot of piling on. One Harvard Professor and former corporate executive called Twitter the Blackberry of social media.

This type of coverage raises questions in lawyers and business professionals minds as to whether Twitter remains important. Should I continue to use Twitter? Should I start using it? How so?

I am getting these questions.

For the 99.999999% of the world who are not Twitter shareholders, Twitter is more important than ever.

More people are using Twitter than ever. Especially those looking to keep up abreast of niche information, such as the media, bloggers, and business leaders.

Don’t get wigged out that Twitter doesn’t serve as a social network for you.

Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone told the Telegraph’s Sophie Curtis @scurtsy that he never saw Twitter as a social network.

I always felt it was more of the world’s news feed. Especially now that they have Periscope [an app which allows live streaming of video]. If something’s going on, there’s going to be 53 angles from Periscope, and a stream of tweets – it’s like a Bloomberg terminal for the world.

When I was at Twitter I always said over and over that it doesn’t matter how many people have downloaded or registered. It only matters what they’re doing on the network. The goal ideally is to get to hundreds of millions of happy people, then you have a business.

Exactly. As a I told one Texas lawyer this last week, look at Twitter as the AP, UPI, Reuters, Bloomberg. Get detailed news and information from those in the know, from those on the scene and on niches like never before.

If you want to take it a step further, get your news on this tele-type. Share your own commentary (blog posts) and niche news/information that you read. You’ll establish yourself as an intelligence agent in a niche.

Twitter is no sooner going away than the moon. It’s where the world turns for news, sports info and current affairs. In the case of breaking news anywhere in the world, you can pick up reports, pictures and videos from people on the site.

Twitter has more than 500 million users, of which more than 302 million are active users. The service has handled upwards of 1.6 billion searches a day.

For those of you who use Twitter regularly, you’ll also find the social component in Twitter. One Dallas lawyer told me last week he began representing a company after the CEO and he got to know each other via Twitter exchanges about recreational activities.

Twitter is not going away. Twitter is one of the social media you should know and master.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jason Mrachina

A question arose in a legal marketing discussion group this morning about the merits of a law firm having a Twitter feed in the name of a niche practice group or in the name of a law blog. For example China Law or Pharmaceutical Patents.

A topic Twitter feed can be a source of news for third parties and internal lawyers, but you have a couple challenges. One, will it be kicking out news all the time and two, you will lose the social aspect which drives social media.

On the first point, as surprising as it sounds, you may find a twitter feed in an individual lawyer’s name to be a more reliable stream of news and information.

Lawyers with niche expertise need to stay up to speed. Sharing items from their news aggregator takes a minute.

In addition, as an individual lawyer you are more apt to get social media ‘love’ than a group is. Meeting people on line and off line, people coming up to you at conferences telling you they like your stuff and like you etc. Twitter exchanges regarding what people share of yours and what you share of theirs.

This positive feedback and desire to engage with others keeps you going. It’s human nature.

Groups tend to be who’s up next? Who is not pulling their weight?

Who is tweeting — do they know what to tweet and favorite to get our group tweets retweeted? It’s not so much you who moves your tweets as it is others favoriting and retweeting what you tweet. This grows your influence. Influence gets you suggested as someone to follow on Twitter and gets your Tweets displayed on Google.

I have seen many an online effort by a group or company stagnant — and in public you look lame. Do you want to worry about maintaining yet another thing? You already have enough to do.

Two, social media, by its name, requires being social. It’s how media moves today.

New York Times reporters have personal Twitter accounts to move their stories and to build a name for themselves. Building their relationships gets their stories shared.

Building relationships also develops gets lawyers connections, phone calls and work. It’s why social media works  so well in business development.

When I see a group or company Twitter account I am apt to ask who is tweeting. I want to have a relationship with the source. I want to trust that they are knowledgeable on the subject.

Why would you want to risk lawyers saying I don’t need to use Twitter, we have a group or blog Twitter feed?

In considering a group feed, I’d go slow and ask what is the reason for a group Twitter account? What is the goal? Will a group account help us achieve that goal? Are there better ways to achieve that goal?

Twitter is a powerful way for a lawyer to establish themselves as an intelligence agent on a niche and develop relationships, the combination of which bring in work. A group feed is unlikely to realize nearly as much and may even undermine an effort to get individual lawyers to use Twitter.

 

Want to see the interests of your Twitter followers, their occupation, their net worth and education? It’s now possible.

Twitter introduced this morning a new tool to help users better understand their audience on Twitter.

From Andrew Bragdon (@AndrewBragdon), Product Manager, Revenue:

With audience insights, you can easily discover valuable insights about your followers and the people who have engaged with your organic Tweets. You can also identify new, relevant audiences to target for an upcoming campaign. Your audience insights dashboard provides aggregate information about user demographics, interests, purchasing behavior and more.

Twitter audience insights
Twitter audience insights

For lawyers and law firms, I wouldn’t look at Audience Insights as a tool to glean information for advertising on Twitter. Most law firms are not sophisticated enough to benefit from Twitter advertising to promote thought leadership and value ads for targeted audience.

However, there is value in looking at the demographics of your Twitter followers as a lawyer or law firm.

  • See the ROI you are realizing by having built a wealthy, highly educated, and business savvy Twitter followers as a result of your sharing valuable information on Twitter. This information will keep you motivated. 
  • Comparing audiences of one lawyer to another or a lawyer to the law firm. This will give you a feel as to which lawyer is offering more value on Twitter, probably on a niche, than another lawyer. Comparing audiences may also guide you as to what should be shared on whose account should it be shared.
  • Looking at where your audience consumes information. Is it on mobile more than a non-mobile device?

Based on what I can see about my followers I am going to keep tweeting. It’s a nice demographic.

  • Top interests are technology, business, finance, current events and entrepreneurship.
  • Top occupations are in the professional, white collar, health, management, marketing and sales arenas.
  • They are fairly well to do with almost 20% having a net worth in excess of $1 million. An additional 25% having a net worth in excess of $250,000.
  • They are well educated with 31% having a graduate degree with an additional 38% having a college degree.
  • 73% are from the United States, 7% from the U.K. and 6% from Canada.

Twitter Audience Insights Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 10.28.30 AM

To get started, login to ads.twitter.com and select ‘Audience Insights’ from the ‘Followers’ drop down, or login to analytics.twitter.com and choose ‘Followers.’

Not to worry (famous last words), privacy was a top priority for Twitter with Audience Insights. Advertisers see aggregate insights, while all user information is kept private.

h/t Napier Lopez (@napilopez) of  The Next Web

Image courtesy of Flickr by Duncan Hill

Twitter is teaming up with Google to bring Twitter’s real-time content to Google’s search results.

As Twitter’s Jana Messerschmidt (@janamal), VP Global Business Development & Platform announced a couple days ago, Google users will now see relevant Tweets in their search results within the Google app (iOS and Android) and mobile web. The desktop web version is coming shortly.

What’s it mean for lawyers? A couple things.

One, people searching your name, as any prospective client would, will see your Twitter handle and Tweets displayed prominently, often at the top of the search results page. On some searches you’ll see a person’s name and Twitter handle displayed above the search results themselves.

Here’s the results for a search I did for Sally Falkow (@sallyfalkow), a digital PR and social media strategist from Los Angeles. Her name, picture and link to Twitter right at top above the search results. And I didn’t include any reference to Twitter in my search, I just searched her name.

Twitter name on Google

Here’s the first four results on Google on a search for my name. You’ll see the fourth being my Twitter handle, picture and my live tweets. A user can scroll to the right to see more of my current tweets. If they click on the tweet, they’ll go to Twitter for the complete tweet and the media associated with the tweet.

Legal Tweets on Google

You got it. If you have a Twitter account and do not use it, everyone will know it. You can draw your own conclusions as to what that says about you. Tweeted three times three years ago? Don’t have a picture of yourself?

You may have also created a problem for yourself if you created a Twitter handle in a pseudonym such as ‘Mississippi Injury Lawyer.’ Your tweets may not get seen in Google when people do a search on your name and the social signals influencing search on Google could be lost.

On the other hand if you are staying abreast of business and legal developments in your field and share what you are reading on Twitter anyone searching your name will know you’re on top of your game. They’ll also know you’re more innovative than most lawyers.

Second, tagged content on Twitter will be displayed on Google searches. Here’s a search I did just now for #SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States). You’ll see legal news displayed from the LexBlog Network and Reuters.

legal tags twitter on google

It’s hard to tell how tags on Google will be used. Most people following Twitter tags will use the Twitter app to do so. However the Tweets will now be indexed on Google by subject and source. This gives Google yet another social signal of your degree of influence on an area of the law.

No one knows for sure where things will head when Google experiments like this. But I’ll bet there was a strong mutual interest for getting tweets indexed on Google.

Twitter has been floundering business-wise of late. Doing something sexy like this and getting its name out in the news and throughout Google doesn’t hurt. Twitter pulled its tweets off Google years ago, now they’re back.

For Google, they’re indexing more content, particularly content based on social media. That can help Google better surface what people want to see. Google+ didn’t give Google this the way they planned.

Bottom line, I see the move as making Twitter more relevant and more important for lawyers

Image courtesy of Flickr by Scott Beale

Well not exactly, but Charlotte Banks (@GSCharlotteB) of GeekSnack reports a new Twitter homepage for non-users is going live soon.

Lawyers, by my calculations, are mostly non-users of Twitter. Though it may seem everyone around you is using Twitter and that it makes all the sense in the world to do so for staying abreast of legal developments and networking, less than 15% of lawyers use Twitter.

In an attempt to grab some attention and attract new users, Banks reports that according to company insiders, Twitter is going to launch a radically different homepage.

No question Twitter doesn’t make it easy for a new user to see the value in Twitter. A few pictures accompanied by “tweets” that can look like gibberish to the amateur eye don’t exactly make it clear where to start. Not a lot of social networking pull at play.

If Twitter is going to attempt to become a true social network, I agree with Banks on what Twitter needs to do.

Twitter needs to redesign its homepage and create one that will make the visitor feel like they truly should become a member of the community. The company could do that by making these visitors see the potential Twitter has for discussion, conversation, marketing and plain old social networking, right off the bat. In order to do that, the new homepage should include featured tweets, some additional information about what Twitter can do for you, why one would advertise with Twitter, and show people with whom a user could connect.

Here’s a screenshot which has been leaked, and supposedly tested for the past few months.

new-twitter-homepage

new-twitter-homepage-two

The focus appears to be a friendly feel and to draw new users into popular channels. Users will then see tweets and users by subject, as opposed to the splash screen that welcomes prospective users before they sign up today.

Will this get Twitter more users? Your guess is as good as mine, but I have my doubts.

Twitter as a firehose of news—when not harnessed effectively by the user—will never attract a majority of people. An AP or UPI teletype never made it into households.

We may just rely on the minority of people to move news and information across Twitter. That news will then surface in other ways online and offline.

Though Twitter executives don’t like relinquishing control of their feed to third parties, Twitter works well when it is broken down into niche subjects. Think lawyers, lawyers in Texas, lawyers doing family law and lawyers doing family law in Texas.

Having third-party editors, such as bar associations, publishers or social networks such as LXBN, curating such Twitter feeds by true niches makes it easier for a lawyer to see the value in Twitter – for learning and networking.

What do you think? Will the new “Happy Twitter” with channels get lawyers to see the value in Twitter and join the social network? I don’t see it until we break Twitter down into niche areas of the law.

I see the changes more of a way to create some much needed buzz about Twitter than to morph Twitter into a widely used social network.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Rosaura Ochoa

There’s been a good amount of discussion in sessions at the Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference today about building social media equity as a lawyer and law firm.

Nancy Myrland (@nancymyrland), a legal marketing and social media strategist, discussed raising social media capital before you have a crisis at hand. A press release, press conference, or exclusive interviews with key reporters are not likely to cut it today when bad news moves like lightening across social networks. You better have people on social media who you have relationships with and whom trust you.

This social media capital only comes from having a real and genuine online presence. Rather than websites and press releases, we’re talking of individuals using social media – blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It’ll take the lawyers as opposed to the law firm’s communications and marketing professionals carrying the water.

This is also a sound message to the professionals at the LMA Annual. Whether you’re looking for mentors, networking opportunities, deeper relationships with friends and colleagues, looking to meet speakers and LMA leaders or, in the case or companies serving LMA members looking to meet attendees, you have a golden opportunity to build social media equity and relationships.

The easiest way to do so is to follow the #LMA15 hashtag on Twitter. When you see valuable information shared  (it will usually be a point from a presenter), retweet it. You’ll be including the Twitter handle of the person who tweeted as well as the person who was presenting as the person presenting will almost always have their handle included. By including the hashtag, you’ll get seen by all of the other attendees on Twitter.

Now watch the people who retweet you and favorite your tweet. These represent opportunities to meet these folks while there. At a minimum, look to connect on LinkedIn.

When attending sessions, Tweet out what you like, giving the attribute to the presenter and again, including the hashtag.

Be discriminate in your tweeting. You don’t need to look over-chatty. You can also space out your tweets and retweets using Hootsuite.

Haven’t used Twitter like this before? It’s okay, you need to start to get out of your shell sometime. If you’e an introvert, perfect. This type of thing gets people coming your way as opposed to feeling clueless in trying to network in a room or a conference — I always did.

Take it up a notch with a blog. Share other people’s stuff and your observations about what you are learning. Talking about yourself and your company can be a turn off, focus on others and offering value.

No blog? Try Facebook or LinkedIn. You can post directly on Facebook or on LinkedIn publishing in a about 15 minutes. Include the hashtag at each and the share the title, link, and hashtag on Twitter.

Maybe this just represents notes to yourself, that’s okay. Growing a network while making notes is a heck of a lot better than notes you toss on the shelf.

There’s 18 other things you can do with social media and social networks at LMA, these are just a few of my thoughts.

I wish I was at LMA Annual. I cannot be there this year. It’s an excellent conference presented by people who know all about giving.

I picked up my iPhone this morning and started scrolling through the feeds on my Twitter homepage—a lot of good stuff from some very bright people.

It got me to thinking that, like many folks, I don’t relax and slow down enough to garner the value I can receive from my social media.

Media in years past has been the television, newspapers, the radio and magazines. Today, media for most of us is each other. We receive news, information and insight from people we have come to trust, whether we have met them or not. That’s okay. After all, we never met Walter Cronkrite, Tom Brokaw, or Bob Woodward.

But with news and information flying all over the place on social networks, how do you capture the value?

Here’s how I do it through each of the social networks. Others, I’m sure, have their own ways.

  • Twittter. I have whittled the list of people I follow to six or seven hundred. I used to follow most of the people who followed me. I stopped that when it got about 13,000 people. 13,000 is a firehouse from which I cannot get any value. Plus there’s no chance of engaging the smart folks who are sharing items on Twitter with a retweet or a favorite. I have created lists—i.e.) legal reporters, law firm CMOs/Managing partners, bar associations—but I’ll confess I do not use them as much as I could. Following six or seven hundred sounds like a lot, but not everyone tweets all day long. It’s manageable. I use the Twitter app on my iPhone and iPad for this.
  • Facebook. I get as much value from Facebook as anywhere. I share items which I am passionate about and this has attracted people with similar interests who have since become my friends and whose items shared I now see. I also befriend people that Facebook suggests I may want to befriend when they have a high number of mutual friends. This has resulted in having friends all around the world in business, media and more—reporters at major publications and executives at leading corporations, including Google and Apple. I then engage these folks via likes and comments to the items they share. Facebook’s algorithms are then more likely to surface items on my newsfeed that these people share and/or items I am apt to find of interest.
  • News aggregator. My tightest news, that is news from sources and on subjects I have identified, is fed to my news aggregator. I use Mr. Reader on my iPad. I set up Feedly, which then feeds into Mr. Reader. Here, my feeds are organized into folders such as law, strategic partners (companies I would like to work with), WordPress (news related to WP), Facebook (news related to FB), Seattle, Notre Dame, etc. Most days I will scroll through my feeds by folder, beginning with the law, glancing at the headlines much as you would browse headlines in a newspaper. When I see something of interest I open it up and read it. If the item would be of interest to my followers, I share it on Twitter.
  • LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn much less for news and information than the first three. I open my iPhone and check out the notifications for items that people I know have have shared or published. I get some good information and can easily engage with a share or a like.

There’s other apps people use, such as Flipboard as a news aggregator or Hootsuite for aggregating social network feeds—I’m just sharing what works for me in garnering value.

The bottom line for me is value—whether that’s value in the news and information received, which allows me to grow as a person and be better equipped to help the people I serve, or value in the personal relationships that blossom from social media. Without this new form of media, I would never have met the people I have.

As Notre Dame Football Coach, Lou Holtz said, the only thing that’ll change you from the person you are today and the person you will be five years from now are the books you read and the people you meet. Today, Lou might include the items of value you read and the people you meet from social media.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Phanatic

The vast majority of items I share on Twitter I share only once. I don’t repeat tweets.

One exception I’ve been making of late is tweeting to hit time zones in the case of sharing my blog posts on Twitter. I often blog in the late evening, Pacific Time. Rather than wait until the morning to share my post on Twitter, I share it that night.

Invariably, I see followers from the UK, Germany, Spain, Australia and around the world retweet my post. And why not, it’s the next day for them.

I am now starting to re-think my practice of not sharing tweets multiple times all together.

First, the items I am sharing on Twitter are mostly items written by and news about others. My tweets are about twenty to one other’s content versus my own. So if I do share multiple times I am tooting the horn of others, not just my own – so to speak.

Second, when you share an item on Twitter, you’re likely to reach about 5% of your followers. This per Leo Widrich (@leowid), co-founder of Buffer, a widely used web application that schedules and buffers items shared on social media.

On social media you need to go where your audience and network is located. On Twitter, people look at their feed sparingly, if at all. If you’re going to reach them, you may need to Tweet more than once. Heck, maybe it’s the polite thing to do.

Guy Kawaski, in his new book on the Art of Social Media with Peg Fitzpatrick, preaches multiple tweeting eight hours apart. He strongly advises that it’s worth having six times more clicks on a single tweet and risk the slight chance a few will unfollow you.

Third, the world is indeed a big place. I have followers all around the globe. LexBlog’s business is organically expanding world-wide. Having a law blog to establish yourself as a go-to lawyer is not a uniquely American phenomenon. I ought to build relationships and a name globally.

Finally, there are tools like Buffer, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck that can help me do the job. I’ll use Buffer because it allows me to schedule my tweets, re-share tweets and see which tweets perform best.

To start with I am likely to re-share those tweets which have gotten clicked on and re-tweeted the most. Rather than three times every twenty four hours, I’ll go for once every twelve hours. Maybe early morning and then again in the evening.

What should you do? I’d suggest trying multiple tweeting — so long as you make it a practice to share valuable items of others. Value being measured not by whether a tweet gives you ‘mind share’ with your followers, but whether it adds value to the life of your followers.

Lastly, here’s a brief video from Buffer on the science of why it makes sense to share multiple times on social media.

Though Leo discusses other social media, I’d limit my thinking to Twitter for now. The law is unlike building a brand for ice cream through social media.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Alvaro L. Paris

Facebook reported Wednesday that they’re seeing a sizeable shift to visual content, especially video.

In just one year, the number of video posts per person has increased 75% globally and 94% in the US. And with people creating, posting and interacting with more videos on Facebook, the composition of News Feed is changing. Globally, the amount of video from people and brands in News Feed has increased 3.6x year-over-year.

Since June 2014, Facebook has averaged more than 1 billion video views every day. On average, more than 50% of people who come back to Facebook every day in the US watch at least one video daily and 76% of people in the US who use Facebook say they tend to discover the videos they watch on Facebook.

Today re/code reports that Twitter’s anticipated video service is only weeks away.

The feature, which will allow users to shoot, edit and post video directly through the app, is Twitter’s attempt to get more clips on the service — and more engagement. Right now, the only way for regular Twitter users (that is, not advertisers, or certain publishers and celebrities) to share video is to do so through Vine, Twitter’s standalone, six-second video app.

Twitter’s goal is to have an easy to use video service that will drive more engagement and get more people using its social network.

Facebook or Twitter video for lawyers? Probably Facebook, as strange as that may sound to many of you who do not use Facebook or use it only sparingly for sharing of personal items.

Sources have it that Twitter’s video may capped at twenty or thirty seconds. If that is the case, the videos would presumably then be on continuous play. Entertaining and engaging, but closer to Vine and Instagram video. Not something I envisioned when I blogged about Twitter video just days ago.

Facebook’s video service has a ten minute limit for unverified users.

Videos can be easily uploaded from a smartphone or computer the same as you would add a photo to Facebook. You then describe, caption and tag. Simple video from a smartphone or edited after a professional video shoot, either way Facebook works.

I could easily see lawyers and law firms doing videos, for Facebook, of business associates, lawyers, referral sources and fellow businesses in their community. The key will be reporting and value to viewers, not talking about the law firm and its lawyers.

YouTube is no doubt the king of online video, but there’s not a built in social network that we’re all using already as is the case of Facebook. Facebook moves the news.

Probably why some are predicting Facebook will challenge YouTube – in time.