By Kevin O'Keefe

How to get value from the firehose of social media

Drinking from firehouse social media

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

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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