Archive for February, 2011

Social Networking & the 1st Amendment

February 15, 2011

Here is an article that lists out various attempts by employers and professional regulatory bodies and their attempts to restrict the use of social media by employees and others.

Public vs. Private

One aspect of the analysis to consider is whether the entity doing the restricting is in some sense “public.”  Therefore, police departments, school districts and municipalities may have a harder time restricting employee speech than do private entities such as professional football teams.

The restrictions of the Pueblo Police Department disallowing its officers to identify as working as police officers, seems overly broad.  Why shouldn’t officer receive training about what is and isn’t appropriate social media conduct?  They could even sign a form stating they abide by a code of conduct but to disallow them from factually disclosing their professional affiliations goes too far.

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Law Firms Are A’Tweeting

February 14, 2011

This article discusses the recent adoption by law firms of social media outlets such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.  The article goes on to say that law firms are basically reposting their news and events as tweeted headlines with links to the articles.  There isn’t the sense that a professional service firm need to engage its audience in the same way a consumer products’ company like Apple or Nike would.

Provide real value

It would take staff time and attorney resources to brainstorm how to create a unique client or prospect experience on Twitter, time and resources that are better spent on more traditional forms of marketing – or so goes the argument.

But I think a firm could take an existing practice or sector newsletter that provides recent developments in a particular niche, create Twitter friendly headlines and provide unique value for clients.  Too often these recent development newsletters are just summaries of recent relevant cases. Attorneys don’t ask a simple question – why does this ruling or legislation matter to our clients?  That simple exercise would add tremendous value to clients and prospects and would be good training for young attorneys.

An Example

The recent settlement between an employee and American Medical Response generated tweets such as, “NLRB Settles Charge Claiming Employee was Sued for Facebook.” But this doesn’t alert an employer to the real issue.   The tweet could read, “Employers should review employee policies in light of NLRB settlement.” This reframing gets the attention of employers.  The recent development article can still be a case summary but at least now Tweeter followers know why they should read it.

 

Business & Personal Social Media – Separating?

February 12, 2011

Two news items raise the question of whether people will increasingly separate their personal (Facebook profile) from their business (LinkedIn profile) .

  • Facebook announced its overhaul of its Facebook Pages which makes it easier for individuals to utilize Facebook as their professional identity
  • The number of users logging onto business websites using their LinkedIn credentials went from 3% in July 2010 to 20% in January 2011.

Growing social networking sophistication

I’m not convinced that web users are going to all move in one direction or another.  What I think is happening is that users and social networking websites are becoming more knowledgeable about how they want to navigate through the social networking waters.  Social networking identities will reflect real life identities – some people live in suburbs, some in big cities, some prefer the country.  And social networking websites will work to provide their users with all the choices the want so that they will continue to come back and engage online the way that works for them.

Attorney Bios Need to Join the 21st Century

February 11, 2011

Here is an example of a new type of attorney biography courtesy of Larry Bodine.  Its different because rather than being a single page with links out from it to specific, related information about the attorney in question, it has tabs which cover different aspects of the attorneys experience and expertise.

Pros and cons

On the plus side, this provide a richness to the attorney bio that allow very interested visitors to more deeply explore his or her experience. There is also a search engine optimization advantage as well because the tabbed pages will register as hits so attorneys can know types of information, visitors care about the most.  On the con side, it means that visitors have to make an extra click to get at information they want rather than seeing it all the same page.  For Mr. Jessup, who has a “Articles & Presentations” page, the promise is greater than the reward because he only has two articles or presentations listed.

Join my LinkedIn network?

I have been advocating that attorneys add a link to their LinkedIn profile for months but the language here “join my LinkedIn network” seems a bit premature.  First off, Mr. Jessup doesn’t allow visitors to see his contacts so why would joining his network add value for someone?  Next, what is the value of his “network” if any web visitor can join it?  The better language would be “see my LinkedIn profile.”

Conclusion

I believe that its better to add appropriate links to a single page than creating multiple pages for the same attorney.  I think its simpler, clearer and more effective to link out to social networking sites and use their servers than the firm’s.

Replace “Strategic” with “Use Case”

February 10, 2011

When I work with clients and prospects I always start from the top – what do you want your website to do.  Sometimes I get conflicting information.  The first thing an attorney sometimes says is, “I want people to contact me for legal services from my website.”  However, later on in the discussion, they tell me that the leads they get from their website are mostly garbage and that it takes too much effort to wade through them.

Qualifying Website

This is a website that helps successful attorneys obtain better leads and better referrals.  Many solo practitioners who have been in business for a number of years rely mostly on referrals however, if their website also attracted strong leads, they would be happy.  A “qualifying website” focuses on giving referral candidates and interested website visitors enough of the right information about the attorney(s) to call him or her.  That call should be warm – the potential client should be prepared to pay the attorney’s going rate and understand the basic types of service they should expect.

Why a “Use Case” is Important

Seth Godin blog has a good post about this topic today, using the example of an architect providing a client with blueprints before they have even sat down and talked about what the client wants.  That’s why at DSD Law Site Solutions, we start our conversation with attorneys shaping the “use case” for their website visitors and that may mean driving some visitors – those not appropriate for the attorney’s legal services – away from the website.

Reserve your Calendars for February 28th – Linkedin for Lawyers

February 9, 2011

On February 28th I will be a featured speaker on an audio program sponsored by the Center for Competitive Management helping attorneys get more out of LinkedIn.

Here is the link.

Contra Costa Attorneys – Check out the BAR Group

February 8, 2011

One of the difficult issues for any small business is identifying the right resources for your specific niche.  Attorneys, in particular, have demands that only apply to them – professional responsibility issues that effect how they can talk about clients, how they can work with clients and how they can obtain new clients.  And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the many special issues for lawyers.

Big firms can manage this

But solo practitioners and small firms have to spend an inordinate amount of time managing their businesses rather than practicing law.

The Bar Group to the rescue

Business Advisory Resources (B.A.R.)  is an independent network of local professionals providing a wide variety of business resources to small and solo law firms in Contra Costa County.  We aim to be the one-stop shop for busy Contra Costa attorneys to assist them with the business of running their practices.  Check out our website and read our blog, “Bar Tips” where we are featuring each of our businesses and what they can offer Contra Costa attorneys.

Bookkeeping Tips – this month

Check out what Monica Casale of Optimium Accounting has to say about ways to collect bills from clients.

Employee Wins in Facebook – NLRB case

February 8, 2011

The complaint filed by a medical technician employed by American Medical Response of Connecticut claiming she was illegally terminating in part because of her comments on Facebook, has ended in a settlement.  While the employee will not be returning to work and the financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed, the company did agree to revise its “overly-broad” restrictions to insure they don’t “improperly” restrict employees from discussing work issues on social media websites while employees are not at work.

Next step for employers

Carefully review your employment policies related to what employee can and cannot say about their employer and when those restrictions are operative. If employers aren’t ready to revise the language of those sections because its unclear what language is now acceptable, note the section of the NLRB news release that states that American Medical Response will not discipline employees from discussions they have on social media sites, off hours, about their work.  HR professionals should be aware that they shouldn’t use those sections to discipline their employees until that language has been suitably revised.

We Are in the Army Now – Social Media Edition

February 7, 2011

Last month the U.S. Army released its social media handbook, a 39 page document that outlines what works and doesn’t work for its personnel.  One thing that I like about the manual – it make a distinction between the responsibilities pertaining to personnel and leaders.  Too often companies try to make their policies a one size fits all affair and with social media, that doesn’t work.

Sunday Freebie – Password Manager

February 6, 2011

This lead comes from John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing who always has great leads on useful links.  I haven’t yet tried LastPass but I will check it out.  Aren’t you tired of having to keep an updated spreadsheet hidden away somewhere that you frequently forget where you put it, in order to get into programs you use less than daily?

Or maybe its just me…