Social Media Principles

Unlike LinkedIn, where I accept requests to connect from people with similar interests and a common professional background, on Facebook I accept friend requests from people who regularly share items of value to me. 

If they’re not regularly sharing items of value to me, I’ll delete their friend request. How else can I receive information/news from someone I trust or get to know someone better?

Value could be posts of a personal or news/professional nature. For example, personal items are of great value in getting to know people I want to get know better. Relationships grow by seeing a family’s vacation or a collegue’s speaking engagement across the world.

News items could come from people who follow niche subjects and share items with their commentary or stories from main stream reporters and bloggers who are Facebook friends.

Facebook relationships/connections blossom based on what is shared. On LinkedIn, though people share from time to time,  connections are largely based on each other’s “rolodex.”

So when looking to be-friend people on Facebook, you probably should be sharing regularly – personal or professional/news items.

People are not necessarily looking to befriend people on Facebook just because they know them already when will not get to know them any better or see items of value posted by them.

Facebook is all about relationships, relatonships grown through sharing and engagement.

I saw in my feeds yesterday that Arizona Attorney, Jill Wiley, had been named the new chair of the board of Meritas, a global alliance of independent law firms.

Word of Wiley’s appointment came from an Asian business publication, which by being an influential publication has its stories syndicated by Google News.

I subscribe to the word “Meritas” to see news about Meritas. Why?  Meritas is a network of almost 8,000 lawyers in 200 law firms in 90 countries and 245 markets. When you’re a publishing company like LexBlog, Meritas leaders and members are the folks with whom you’re looking to build relationships.

Seeing the announcment I wanted to give a “kudos” about Wiley’s appointment to Meritas, Wiley and her law firm, Waterfall, Economidis, Caldwell, Hanshaw & Villamana.

It’s easy to do via Twitter by including the Twitter handle of Wiley, her firm and Meritas in my Twitter shoutout. They’d each get an email and notice on Twitter about my tweet, it’s like a virtual handshake.

Problem was that neither Wiley nor her firm use Twitter. Forget failing to use an information and news medium that lawyers and their clients use, what a lost opportunity for leveraging Wiley’s role with Meritas.

  • Leaders in associatons need to stay relevant to membership. By sharing info helpful to law firm leaders as well as Meritas news, Wiley could establish trust and a growing relavence of Meritas across its membership.
  • Create a Twitter list of Meritas law firms and its lawyers usng Twitter. Mertias and its leaders could re-tweet the things these folks are proud of.
  • Create easy to use feeds monitoring the firm members’ names. Again, shout-out news about them.
  • Wiley and her firm’s clients see all this interaction with lawyers and law firms around the world. Members of other legal networks see the news and information shared, the interaction and the relationships built between Meritas lawyer/law firm members. Wow.

These ideas are just off the top of my head. I am sure there are other ways to use Twitter for busness relationships and growing network membership.

No time? Too complicated? Ethical issues? You’re really saying I am not going to move forward with innovation nor am I going to go out where the people are, where they communicate.

This stuff is pretty easy and takes minutes.

It’s not my point to dump on Wiley, her firm or Meritas. My point applies to any network or association leader.

By and large, such folks are absent from Twitter and are trying to grow membership and remain relevant to the members they have with the same methods used thirty years ago.

So many opportunities for leaders with Twitter.

Computer scientist and author, Jaron Lanier, in a ballyhooed op-ed in the Guardian, challenges us all to delete Facebook.

Lanier was no fan of Facebook before (having already urged people to delete their social media accounts), but after Cambridge Analytica he saw it the perfect time to challenge everyone to beat the addiction, make a political statement and redefine your social life.

The problem for lawyers is that Facebook represents the opportunity to engage the public where they are and on their terms.

Like it or not, lawyers have an ethical obligation to make legal services accessible to people – not just to the impoverished, but to middle income individuals and small business people. To do this as a lawyer you not only need to go where the people are, but you need to establish trust by listening, sharing and nurturing relationships.

More people spend more time on the Internet on Facebook than any other place. Social media, Facebook included, represents the town square, the coffee shop, the church group and the civic board of today. It’s where lawyers establish enough trust and value in people’s minds that legal services, at least though a lawyer, remain a viable answer for consumers and small business people.

Lawyers jumping off Facebook can do so out of fear (perhaps legitimate) or to make a political statement, but by doing so they are turning on the public they serve. Access to legal services will only decline.

Lanier says:

Before Facebook, there were ways to do most of the things that Facebook allows, and there still are. There are other ways to keep up with friends, be informed, discover local events, announce your own life events, publish opinions, meet new people, and so on.

That’s simply not true. Before Facebook, lawyers did not have a forum for such engagement with the public. A forum that enables lawyers to bring access to legal services by establishing trust and demonstrating value.

Lest you think the public is bailing on Facebook en masse, I expect you’ll find that the vast majority of Facebook users still find the social network integral to their social, community and professional life.

In fact, Mark Zuckerberg, while apologizing and promising changes protecting privacy, in a conversation with the New York Times’ Kevin Roosecommented on the “Delete Facebook” hashtag campaign on Twitter.

I don’t think we’ve seen a meaningful number of people act on that, but, you know, it’s not good. I think it’s a clear signal that this is a major trust issue for people, and I understand that. And whether people delete their app over it or just don’t feel good about using Facebook, that’s a big issue that I think we have a responsibility to rectify.

There’s much not to like over what we’ve discovered the last week, but my former rector, agreeing with my sentiments on Facebook, may have said it best, ” Facebook remains a true option for something good. But it’s harder to say so.”

For access to legal services, Facebook is more than an option, Facebook represents an opportunity for lawyers to bring access to legal services. As such, lawyers have an obligation to see the storm through.

A lawyer’s word of mouth today is in fact social media. If you fail to develop and maintain your online reputation, it might be developed anyway and not represent the best you have to offer.

This from attorney and legal blogger, Jennifer Brandt, who co-chairs the family law group at Cozen O’Connor, a 700 lawyer firm in 26 cities.

Despite the benefits of having an online reputation and presence, many lawyers feel this is somehow beneath the level of the profession. Many of these same lawyers adhere to the antiquated notion that business should be developed by word of mouth only and not through what they may deem as online “advertising.”

What these folks don’t realize, however, is that the word of mouth today is in fact social media. Moreover, if you fail to develop and maintain your online reputation, it might be developed anyway through online rating systems or client commentary – and it may not represent the best you have to offer. (emphasis added)

Having no presence on social media is just as bad for lawyers.

If there is a dearth of information about us online, a prospective client may question why this is so and thus similarly question our fitness to take on their matter.   They may view us as old-fashioned and not in touch with current trends that could benefit their representation.  As such, it important for both seasoned and new attorneys to consistently monitor and improve their online reputations.

The average person using the Internet spends over two hours per day on social media. About 80% of people under age 50 use social media, with the number only dropping to 64% for those age 50 to 64. (Pew Research Center)

People receive news and information, collaborate professionally and engage each other personally across social media. Social media, blogging included, represents the town square, the coffee shop and the bar association meeting and more of today.

The first thing I look for when hiring a professional today — lawyers included — is their Internet presence. What are they saying, what are their peers saying about what they are saying and what are their patients, customers and clients saying about them.

I just retained legal counsel today to represent LexBlog on various transactional matters. I knew of the lawyer and his expertise from his blogging and social media use. It was another lawyer, who I first met via her blogging, who suggested I hire him. Believe it or not, I am more like your public today than you think.

I’m with Brandt, on the value of a reputation – and today, an online reputation.

It is well established that a lawyer’s greatest asset is his or her reputation. In this day and age, this includes one’s online reputation. Developing and maintaining an online reputation can be done for little to no cost, and the return on this minimal investment is astounding.

Lawyers generate their best work via word of mouth and relationships. The Internet did not change this. The Internet accelerates reputations and relationships. No online presence just accelerates how far you are falling behind in the public’s mind.

The Denver Post announced the layoff of 30 reporters and editors this afternoon. The layoff represents a third of the Post’s staff and the fourth major layoff in three plus years.

It’s going to be impossible for the Post to continue covering what they have.

It’s not merely a question of being able to cover what you have in the past, there’s a real question of whether newspapers as large as the Denver Post will survive at all.

Seattle’s second paper, the Post Intelligencer is long gone – and so are any number of other major metro’s. Newspaper circulation, on a steep decline, is approaching circulation levels of the 1930’s.

The closing of newspapers does not mean the end of meaningful news. The news may even be better.

News is really what someone tells us – that’s it.

When the means of capturing and reporting the news was in the hands of the few — newspapers, radio, television — we got our news from a few sources.

That’s changed with smartphones, laptops, blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and more.

If you’re over 65 you may watch news on television and read it in newspapers. Not those thirty or forty and younger. In fact, they’re capturing and reporting the news on a smartphone in addition to watching it on a smartphone.

Look at today’s National School Walkout, covered, reported and viewed by millions on Twitter — including the only student who walked out his school, a young black man, whose Twitter video has been viewed by 3.1 million people and counting.

Facebook was used by parents and students throughout today to share news of the wakout in their town. The news was shared on Facebook pages and across Facebook groups for schools, towns and cities. It’s a safe bet more parents received reports of the walkout from Facebook than local television or newspapers.

Little question the news today spread faster with more detail and emotion than newspapers and television stations could equal. National and local news will even call on citizen journalist’s tweets for pictures and video footage of the walkout to include in their own coverage.

Yes, newspapers are on the decline — and yes, we’ll lose something if they all but disappear. But citizen journalism may provide us with something better.

“The internet is not ruined just because there are a few assholes on it.”

This from author, journalism professor, media consultant and long time blogger, Jeff Jarvis,  discussing the positive things he is seeing with the open Internet, digital journalism, Internet advertising and social media platforms.

…[L]et’s please remember that the internet is not ruined just because there are a few assholes on it. This, too, is why I insist on not seeing the net as a medium. It is Times Square. On Times Square, you can find pickpockets and bad Elmos and idiots, to be sure. But you also find many more nice tourists from Missoula and Mexico City and New Yorkers trying to dodge them on their way to work.

Let’s bring some perspective to the media narrative about the net today. Please go take a look at your Facebook or Twitter or Instagram feeds or any Google search. I bet you will not find them infested with nazis and Russians and trolls, oh, my. I will bet you still find, on the whole, decent people like you and me. I fear that if we get carried away by moral panic we will end up not with a bustling Times Square of an internet but with China or Singapore or Iran as the model for a controlled digital future.

Too many lawyers, law professors, legal technology entrepreneurs, access to justice leaders and other legal professionals stay away from social media and even blogging because of their belief that the Internet is overrun with noise and crazies.

Very few law schools incorporate social learning into their teaching as a means of getting students to learn, collaborate and network across social media channels. Law professors and deans, who shy away from the net out of ignorance, don’t see the potential.

A business colleague stays away from social media, in part, because of the Russians meddling in our election and businesses possibly violating people’s privacy.

A consultant who helps law firms build a more profitable and efficient practice through the use of technology questioned my second guessing the majority of law firms’ failure to use social media strategically, wanting empirical evidence that social media could be worthwhile for lawyers.

I am not against social media but I do think it tends to be an echo chamber where those who do use it talk a lot about it to others who use it, while most of my atty friends & clients see it as the time suck it can be.

I suppose it could be a time suck to hang out with and engage those discussing only the subject of social media. But ask any appellate lawyer, general counsel or legal entrepreneur using social media to learn, network and grow business if that’s who they’re hanging out with.

Things are far from perfect on the Internet, per Jarvis, and it’s going to take an effort to solve some of its challenges.

First let’s be clear: No one — not platforms, not ad agencies and networks, not brands, not media companies, not government, not users — can stand back and say that disinformation, hate, and incivility are someone else’s problem to solve.

But I’m with Jarvis, “The net is good.”

Good for lawyers, legal journalists, access to justice leaders, legal technology entrepreneurs, law students and legal association leaders.

Staying away from the Internet because you see a few asses on it is dumb.

“Way too many journalists use social media to broadcast rather than being social,” Joy Mayer, a veteran journalist and director of Trusting News, a project that helps journalists earn the trust of their communities, tells Christine Schmidt for a story in Nieman Lab.

It’s not so much about gaming Facebook’s algorithm or working with the Facebook changes as much as it is taking advantage of Facebook as a truly social platform.


Being social involves listening, responding, and adjusting what you’re doing based on the feedback you’re getting…The biggest way newsrooms in this project are having success on Facebook is by participating in the conversations that happen there and using every interaction as an opportunity to explain their credibility.

Journalists are learning to be social online because of trust — people don’t trust journalists.

With two-thirds of respondents to an international survey citing concerns of bias, spin, and hidden agendas as reasons why they often don’t trust news outlets, national outlets like The Washington Post have taken steps to increase understanding. Local news has a wee bit of an edge over national news in (still-low) trust polls, and To rusting News primarily works with local news organizations, which often drive audience members’ first personal interactions with journalists.

Sounds a lot like lawyers – both as to the trust factor and the use of social media to broadcast rather than being social.

People, the vast majority of whom use social media, don’t trust lawyers. Using social as a broadcast medium to grab attention or to seek traffic to your website only breeds distrust.

Mayer’s advice to the media applies equally to lawyers. “It has to be on us to rebuild that relationship rather than just hoping that if we continue to do good work, they’ll notice it.”

Too many legal marketers are advising lawyers that the Internet is all about getting eyeballs.

One advertising agency was telling a good law firm this week that the firm should put all their blogs inside their website. Why? Traffic to the website, despite the fact the blogs were establishing trust and authority by lawyers “coming out” and away of the firm’s advertising — their website.

Rather than engaging the firm’s target audience by listening to what they were saying or what was being said about them and engaging in that discussion via their own blog posts so as to build trust, the agency’s advice was to broadcast.

Other law firms have been concerned of late that Facebook’s algorithm changes may reduce the eyeballs on content the firm is sharing.

The firms’ lawyers don’t participate on Facebook as a way to engage clients, referral sources, business colleagues, the media and bloggers. The firms look at Facebook as a distrbution channel.

Then there’s the “auto-share” to social media. Write a piece of content or a blog post and it’s automatically blasted at Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, regardless of whether the author participates on these social media.

Good lawyers get their work because they’re trusted and reliable authorities in specific areas of the law. Social media builds trust, so long as you are social.

Lawyers put a lot of time into penning blog posts and articles. Take a page out of the 30 newspapers who are already working with Mayer’s “Trusting News” project to increase readership by having reporters being social on social media.

Way too many law firms use social media to broadcast rather than be social. Don’t be one of them.

I am beginning to use Twitter more and more as a source of news and information from people and organizations I trust.

As part of doing so, I am whittling down the number of people I follow on Twitter to a more manageable number. By manageable I mean being able to open up my Twitter homepage and scroll thru the feed in a fashion in which I can find value.

Value, for me, is getting news and learning things, being able to share items I think of value to my followers (retweet or share with my comments) or being able to engage those sharing items.

I have taken down those I am following to about 550. At one time I was following close to 10,000 and I took that down to less than a 1,000 a number of years ago. But 1,000 followers was still too much for a worthwhile feed on the Twitter home page.

Following 1,000 I never used the Twitter home page for news and information. It was too much of a fire hose. Sure, I shared items on Twitter, engaged people who engaged my tweets, occasionally looked at my Twitter lists and did searches, but I never used Twitter as a news and information feed.

Twitter’s homepage works as a news and information feed when following 550.

Whether on my iPhone or iPad, more preferable than my MacBook for reading Twitter, I see some good stuff from some good people. I engaged a couple New York Times’ reporters this afternoon, a law school, a law firm and other individuals — all by following the Twitter home page for a bit. I picked up some good stuff to share and comment upon for my Twitter followers.

I see people with tens of thousands of followers and an equal number of people and organizations they are following.  I know some folks that use or have used software that generates followers for the sake of followers and follows back in return. Some follow in the hope of getting followed back.

Assuming you’re not so vain, what’s the point? You cannot use Twitter for news and information when following a ton of people.

I get that you want to be nice to the people you know who are following you. It’s been tough unfollowing people I know who follow me. But if what they are sharing is not of enough value, what should I do? I can still stay connected and get to them in other ways – Facebook, LinkedIn, face to face and when they engage me on Twitter by liking or retweeting items I share.

Looking at Twitter as a news and information feed, the news and information from my friends and colleagues may be very valuable to others, but not too me. Though Comcast gives me 800 channels I don’t watch them all.

When Twitter was new, people asked “Should I follow back everyone who follows me? Isn’t it the polite things to do.” Not if you have a ton of followers and following them back means an unreadable “fire hose.”

Traditionally, I got my news and information primarily from my news aggregator, Feedly. By following sources and subjects that I selected and organized into folders I stayed abreast of items like you would via a newspaper (tailored in this case) and had plenty to share with my Twitter followers.

I am looking forward to now also getting news and information from Twitter, the people’s network – for knowing what’s happening and what everyone is talking about, right now.

Facebook Live is coming to the American courtroom.

More than 40 years after the Florida Supreme Court (@flcourts) welcomed cameras to its courtroom the court will become one of the first in the world to use social media media for official live video.

In a Tuesday press release, the Court announced that Thursday’s 3:30 p.m. event will showcase, on Facebook Live, the annual Florida Bar Pro Bono Awards honoring lawyers who donate services to people in need. Afterward, Facebook Live will be used permanently for all oral arguments, starting with February’s.

Chief Justice Jorge Labareleasrga nails it.

In the 1970s, Florida became the first state to allow broadcasts of its court cases at a time when every other court in the nation refused it. This Court’s experiment with transparency showed everyone a better way to balance First Amendment rights against the rights of people involved in a trial or appeal. Social media will be our next step in moving this highly successful model of openness into the Twenty-First Century.

The court staff believes that Facebook Live – with access to the world’s 2 billion Facebook users – will, in time, eclipse the reach of other broadcast methods now being used. More than two-thirds of American adults already use Facebook.

With a smartphone in their pocket or purse, a desktop computer or digital streaming to the family room TV, people can easily watch the Supreme Court live. Just follow or scroll over to the Court’s Facebook page. You can watch as you browse other items in your News Feed.

I expect Facebook will archive the videos just as it does with my own Facebook Live videos. This will enable the court to share the video on Twitter and on its site or blog.

The Florida Bar has a reputation nationwide for limiting lawyer’s engagement of the public via the web and social media. Not so with the Court.

Justice Labarga and his fellow justices approved a sweeping court communication plan in 2015. The communication plan, called “Delivering Our Message,” was approved and forwarded to the Court by the Judicial Management Council, a court advisory body that includes judges, lawyers and non-lawyers

While emphasizing the importance of time-proven principles of effective communication, the plan called on Florida’s courts to embrace recent advances in technology and communications, including social media and podcasting.

The Court and the council saw the opportunity to maintain transparency as technology evolves – to go where the people are. Relationships of trust with the press and the public would be built and maintained as a result.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook knows that Facebook will serves as the epicenter for public discourse in the years ahead – in the United States and world-wide. In the States that means real connections of the three branches of government with the people. The Florida Supreme Court is showing other government bodies the way forward.

The Court is also showing lawyers, law firms and many bar associations who are afraid of their shadow when it comes to Facebook to get over it. Facebook is where you go if you care about communicating with people.

Facebook’s News Feed changes, as announced in a Facebook post, by its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, ten days ago, are good for lawyers and bad for law firms.

Legal bloggers should take note as your blog posts lead to engagement, relationships and a stronger reputation when they “move” socially across Facebook and you have built a stronger reputation by networking on Facebook.

Per Zuckerberg:

…[R]ecently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.

The change, already being implemented:

I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.

We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.

What can you expect in your News Feed? Again from Zuckerberg:

…[L]ess public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.

The Facebook pages run by law firms, most of which are not getting seen anyway, will be seen even less. Articles and announcements from such law firm Facebook pages are unlikely to even get seen in the News Feed of people who have “liked” the law firm’s Facebook page.

The change is good for lawyers who are Facebook friends and engage with industry leaders, business colleagues, clients, referral sources, bloggers and reporters, in addition to family and personal friends.

Why? Because Zuckerberg expects the time you spend on Facebook to be more valuable and more meaningful when there is more engagement with your personal Facebook connections.

At its best, Facebook has always been about personal connections. By focusing on bringing people closer together — whether it’s with family and friends, or around important moments in the world — we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent.

This evening, I skimmed through the first twenty items in my Facebook News Feed. All, but one, were from business colleagues – mostly lawyers, one personal friend and one New York Times reporter with whom I am a Facebook friend. Though some of these Facebook friends were sharing personal items, most were sharing business or legal commentary.

Facebook will no longer be an option for lawyers. Privacy and ethical hang-ups are not legitimate concerns. They merely reflect ignorance or an unwillingness to adapt to the change in which people network.

The Facebook posts in my News Feed tonight included posts from one of the leading media/First Amendment lawyers in the country, a former large state bar president and a leading privacy and data security lawyer. My Facebook friends who are lawyers offer value to me and others, they’re not promoting themselves nor chasing down clients.

Business development for lawyers, offline or on the Internet, is all about networking to build relationships and to build a name. Facebook, at its best, is all about such social interaction, making it perfect business development.

Perfect though for individual lawyers doing the networking, not so much for law firms trying to promote the firm and its lawyers.