Introduction to Social Media for Lawyers

Social media or networking has been defined as: “Interaction with external websites or services based on participant contributions to the content. Types of social media include blogs, micro blogs, social and professional networks, video or photo sharing, and social bookmarking. Examples of social media sites are YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, WordPress, MySpace, RSS, Second Life, LinkedIn, Delicious, etc.”[1]

The Conference of Court Public Information Officers defines social media as: “highly interactive, multimedia, websites and programs that allow individuals to form into communities and share information, knowledge and experiences more quickly and effectively than ever before.”[2]

The top 10 social media channels that impact Lawyers include:

YouTube

YouTube is a video sharing site where you can post your own original videos, watch videos, and share videos online. Lawyers have been using YouTube increasingly to overview their law firm and services for purposes of internet marketing. Once a video is created and uploaded, it can be found by searching on key words on various search engines. A search on “Personal Injury Lawyer” will yield over 13,000 videos.

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is a way to store, search, and share your favorite web sites or content so others can view. One popular use of social bookmarking is to share top stories and post the story for others to comment or vote on. Another common social bookmarking practice is to submit links to your blog or website to increase traffic and visibility. Some of the most popular social bookmarking sites include Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Yahoo! Bookmarks, Diigo, and Google Bookmarks.

PhotoSharing

Social photo sharing is a way to store, edit, and share your photos online. If photos are stored publicly, they will often be crawled by major search engines. If photos are tagged with individual names, they become easier to search for online. Online photos may put a client or case at risk. Popular photo sharing sites include Photobucket, Yahoo! Photo, and Flickr.

Facebook

Facebook is a website which allows the user to create an account by inputting an email address and password. Once the account is created, the user is able to invite “friends” to be a part of their network. Facebook has a “News Feed” which allows the user to post specific information chosen by the user. This information can include anything from what the user is doing at any given moment to posting a picture or beginning a discussion in which other users can read and comment. Facebook also allows private messages to be sent to other users or friends similar to an email message. The appeal of users to Facebook is the ability to communicate in either a public or private forum with other users in written format almost instantaneously. This can be done by either a personal computer, laptop, netbook, ipad, or mobile phone. Facebooking can be done from anywhere there is an internet connection.

Twitter

Twitter is a website where a user can create an account similar to Facebook and send “tweets” which are limited to 140 characters of content created by the user. Twitter allows the user to “follow” other persons with Twitter accounts who then receive the tweets instantaneously. This allows people to have followers and also to follow other persons having twitter accounts.

MySpace

MySpace is a website that allows the user to create an account and post specific information about the user, which may be for any purpose the user chooses including personal or professional. Pictures, music and other types of media can be uploaded to the website and also accessed by other persons who have a MySpace page.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a website that is predominantly used for individuals to network themselves in a professional capacity. The user is able to create an account which then contains specific information about the user including education, work history, special designations, accomplishments, etc. Users are able to endorse other users and write comments as part of the endorsements.

Avvo

Avvo is a website that rates doctors and lawyers and includes information such as whether a lawyer has ever received discipline by the respective Bar Association in which the lawyer is licensed to practice. Lawyers are able to claim their profiles and include information such as their education, work history, and memberships with professional organizations. After a profile is claimed by the attorney, the user can endorse other attorney’s work, which further has an impact on the rating of the attorney.

Blog

A Blog (short for “weblog”) is a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.[3] Attorneys may create blogs on hosted sites such as Blogger, HubPages, or Squidoo or they may add a blog to their own website domain. Different types of Blog technologies include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

RSS

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and it is a group of web site feed formats that can be added to web sites for the purpose of sharing information. Many Lawyers add RSS feeds to their own web sites to allow visitors or other professionals to subscribe to the new content that gets added. In some cases, an RSS feed has replaced a company newsletter. You can also add RSS feeds from major news sources such as Google, Yahoo!, or CNN to your own web site.

[1] Guidelines and Best Practices for Social Media Use In Washington State; Office of the Governor in Coordination With Multiple State Agencies and Contributors (November 2010).

[2] Conference of Court Public Info. Officers, New Media Comm., New Media and the Courts: The Current Status & a Look at the Future (Aug. 26, 2010) at http://www.ccpio.org.

[3] Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blog?show=0&t=1305502048.