Archive for January, 2011

LinkedIn Adds Videos to Company Profiles

January 31, 2011

This article outlines eight recent features LinkedIn has added to its company profiles including the ability to upload a video about your company.   There is also the ability to stream blog and Twitter posts to your company page.

Downside: Managing these Account

I hate to be the pessimist but it does seem that for small businesses, managing both personal and business social media sites can be overwhelming.  Are you posting different information to your company profile than you are to your personal?  Should it be the same or different?  Which type of profile is the most important for visibility?  I will spend some time looking into these questions and share the pros and cons over time.

ABA Says, “Time for Website Checkup!”

January 30, 2011

The ABA issued this year greeting and reminder of things lawyers should do – techwise.   One was to look at your online presence, photos, text, messaging and make sure its consistent and effective. Another suggestion was to have your website reviewed by “fresh eyes.”

And look at what your colleagues & competitors are doing

At DSD Law Site Solutions we have this offer to look at your website and one key competitor – for free.  If you want a more robust analysis, we will look at your website in the light of four competitors/colleagues for a relatively small charge.

Attorneys: Follow Taco Bell’s Quick Response

January 29, 2011

Taco Bell recently got hit with a class action lawsuit that claims the company is using “non-beef” substances.  Rather than sit back and take it, the company has gone social – posting a Youtube video and respond on Twitter and Facebook as well.

What an Attorney Should Do if Hit by Bad Press via social media:

  • Respond quickly and truthfully.  If the complaint has any validity own up to it and explain how you corrected the situation are moving on.
  • If its completely false, report the comment as abusive to any website provider who made the comment available.
  • Invite questions and additional comments.  Make sure you are the one who is above board, accessible and ethical.

LinkedIn IPO – What about a Niche Focus?

January 28, 2011

Here is a copy of the S-1 filing for LinkedIn’s IPO filing.  While the media is focused on what this means to the viability of social networking IPOs in general, I’d like to focus more on a direction I’d like to see LinkedIn take post IPO.  In the S-1, LinkedIn promotes itself because of its “Exclusive Focus on Professionals” but they haven’t done a good job tailoring their profiles to specific types of professionals.

Attorney Example

Increasingly, LinkedIn profiles are problematic for attorneys because of ethics concerns in how they display and reveal information.  Here are three specific areas of concern:

  • Use of “Specialties” to describe a professional’s expertise: Many State Bar associations restrict the use of “specialties” by attorneys who haven’t been legally certified for their practice expertise by the state bar association where they practice.  For lawyers, this portion of their LinkedIn profile could be re-labeled and include something like, “focus area.”
  • Revealing Contacts: LinkedIn allows only two choices for professionals in this regard – either show all your contacts or none of them. Many lawyers may have clients listed as connections and have to make their setting private because of confidentiality concerns.  If LinkedIn allowed you to designate which contacts lawyers would like public and which should be private, this would make lawyers more comfortable with the service.
  • Recommendations: Again, many state bar associations require attorneys to place disclaimers on any testimonials on their behalf but this is difficult to do on LinkedIn because attorneys don’t control the form or format of the recommendation form that recommenders use.  A special field could be built into profiles allowing for disclaimer language to be included.

Not just Attorneys

Many professions have extensive rules about how their members present themselves to the public.  While the labeling may differ, the ethical concerns are pretty similar across professions.  If LinkedIn wants to be known as the “professionals” social networking website, then it should start examining ways it can make various professions feel more comfortable.

Jurors & the Internet – What Can They Do?

January 27, 2011

I attended a Webinar on Social Networking and Attorney Ethics recently in which the presenters stated that jurors can “Google” attorneys in the case.  However, this article suggests that courts in Texas, at least, don’t allow jurors to review an attorney’s “track record.”

Slippery Slope

I’m not sure it makes any sense to allow a juror google an attorney but then say they can’t research how well they have done in court. The one would automatically lead to the other.  Now, this article is focused on jurors in Texas while the presentation I saw focused on California.

Possible Settlement in NLRB Facebook Case

January 26, 2011

Yesterday, the NLRB board was planning to hear a woman’s case claiming she was fired because of negative comments she made about her supervisor on Facebook.  Previously, an NLRB attorney advocating for this employee had argued that the employee was protected under the First Amendment to speak out, even against her employer, on Facebook and the like.  This impacts companies in a big way because many of them have social networking use policies that state an employee is not allowed to disparage the employer’s image, reputation or brand.

Now comes word that the hearing was postponed in an effort for the two sides to come to a settlement.  This would be disappointing in that it would leave the issue unresolved.  However, it does suggest that if employers want to avoid facing these kinds of claims, they might want to craft their policies and procedures with more nuance and caution.

Engaging in Social Media & not Damaging Firm IP

January 25, 2011

Here is an article about an upcoming program about  how to engage in social networking as a company while not giving away trade secrets or degrading the company trademarks.  Its short on specifics because they want people to sign up for their Webinar in the next couple days. Fair enough.

Reflects Lawyer’s View of Social Media

Even though the article is skimpy on actual content, it does reveal the risk-adverse lawyer’s perspective on social networking.  Two of the recommendations provided by one of the attorneys are particularly cautious.  This attorney recommends that companies keep a “tight rein” over social networking in order to avoid inadvertent loss of confidential information.  If by tight rein, the attorney means limiting use of social networking by employees, then this is too broad a restriction.  Her other recommendation is to thoroughly investigate all social networking providers to make sure they are secure and preserve ownership right to the company’s content.  What if Facebook doesn’t pass muster according to this standard?  The attorney would recommend not creating a presence on the most popular website in the world?

No Strategy Assessment

This is an example of how lawyers are too quick to examine legal risks and exposures without considering the overall business strategy of the organization.  This is why lawyers in many businesses aren’t part of a company’s strategic thinking and team.  The key value a lawyer brings is identifying the risks and coming up with legal strategies to minimize them within the context of the overall business strategy.  If businesses don’t take risks, they won’t grow.

Twitter a Challenge in the Court

January 24, 2011

This article is one more sign of just how fundamental a change Twitter and other social media bring  to the legal system.  In this case, its a concern that tweeting the developments in a lurid Canadian criminal trial is providing readers with a crude and inaccurate picture of what is happening in the courtroom.

Tweeting doesn’t allow for the context necessary to make sense of information and the trial participants are asking for a “national debate” to make social media more appropriate and useful in Canadian courts.

SEO for Lawyers: Start with Google & Drill Down

January 23, 2011

Here is Google’s 2010 Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide which not only includes lots of great tips but more importantly conveys key principles when thinking about SEO.

Focus on your website visitor first

This is the key message from Google both for SEO and the user experience.  There are lots of companies offering SEO and if they are employing “tricks” to push your website up in the rankings, there will be a cost and the nonmonetary portion will most likely be paid by your website visitors.

Specific terms related to your practice

If you just follow Google and their various optimization tools they will suggest you use terms very common to your area of law. For example, if you are a divorce attorney, they include lots of variations on “divorce” but they may not look at “legal separation” or “annulment.”  They won’t look at more granular terms like child support, visitation rights, alimony, spousal support and the like.

Think about someone facing a divorce

They may have a specific issue that they are trying to understand before they hire an attorney. They may have heard about legal separation but not understand what it means.  If you spend a few sentences helping a visitor get the difference between that an a divorce and annulment, they will have a positive opinion about you and be more likely to contact you if you are nearby.

Don’t Obsess about Keyword Popularity

Many times it will be your specific discussions that grab people not your sprinkling “divorce lawyer” liberally on every page so don’t be a slave to popularity.

Remember to think like a non-lawyer

If your client base isn’t other lawyers, then remember to translate your legal terminology into plain english.  Don’t exclude legal terminology because often people hear a legal term and want to learn more but don’t focus on those terms exclusively either.

Stored Communications Act & Social Media

January 22, 2011

Here is a recent case where an employer was liable for statutory damages under the Stored Communications Act because the employer took the employees’ personal email account log-in and used it to access their accounts.  They were looking for information about violations of a noncompete clause and they found it in those emails.   The employee counter-sued and won.

How Does this Relate to Social Media Usage by Employees?

What if the employee had set up a Twitter account for their company and used their private (Gmail or Yahoo) email account to register with Twitter and communicate with company vendors, clients and prospective clients privately?  Now say that on other grounds, the employer decides  to terminate the employee. Afterwards, the employee sues for wrongful termination and the employee gets access to the employees log-on information for the private email account attached to the Twitter account and decide to review the email traffic? If the employee finds out, he might have grounds for another cause of action under the Stored Communications Act according to this decision.

What Should an Employer Do?

If you want an employee to promote the company through Twitter make sure that:

  • The employee is instructed to use the employer’s email domain for all social networking profiles
  • That a unique email account is to setup for the employee to use for social media.  That way if an issue arises and that communication must be revealed, it will be much easier for the employer to identify the appropriate email alias for that analysis.