Archive for April, 2011

Social Media Policies – Carrots not Sticks

April 29, 2011

I will be discussing social media policies next month at a Alameda County Bar Association presentation with Jessica Braverman an employment attorney specializing in this area of employment law.

Engagement policy versus restrict policy

Isn’t it better to have employers creating a great work culture so that rather than controlling and restricting social media use by their workforce they would gain a competitive edge by unleashing the social media potential of their workforce to every corner of the Internet selling their company, brand and products.?

Two of two companies

Wal-mart highly restricts their official social media presence to less than 20 official Twitter profiles.  They also have an official blog.  Wal-mart clearly identify to their customers the handful of official social media representatives of their company.  They obviously don’t trust their employees to act as social media evangelists.  What if each store had its own social media publicist or perhaps every department in that store had them.  Say these folks had a couple hundred Twitter followers and could publicize when a hot product gets delivered to the store and at the lowest available price?  Seems like this would be extremely powerful advertising.  No doubt, Wal-Mart is afraid of losing control.  What if those “evangelists” went rogue and posted negative messages?  Or what if they people retweeted in a negative way?

Dell has a different approach

The computer maker has developed an a training course through a social media university that allows any of its employees to take classes and get certified.  More than 9,000 have taken those classes and more than 1,000 are now certified and disseminating their Dell positive messages in appropriate fashion on the Internet.  Clearly this approach requires great trust in your workers.  It also requires confidence that the training is effective in letting employees lose on the Internet.  But really, even if an employee is unhappy at their job, the worst thing they could do if they are moving to another company, is to provide negative public postings about a current or previous employer.  Not something any prospective employer wants to see.

Maryland Social Media Bill – Dead?

April 28, 2011

Last month I blogged about Maryland SB 971 which restricted employers rights to demand employees provide them with username and passwords information about social networking websites.  It turns out that the legislative session ended with no action on the bill.  It isn’t known whether the bill will be re-introduced next year.  This article is a good update on what the implications of this legislation could mean to employers.

Social Media Changes Taco Bell’s Message

April 25, 2011

Taco Bell announces a new campaign that directly takes on the withdrawn lawsuit claiming that it wasn’t serving beef in its tacos.  The campaign is entitled: “Would it kill you to say your sorry?” And it’s aimed at the law firm that filed the class action suit now dropped. Taco Bell is spreading the campaign through traditional advertising and also social media outlets like Facebook and YouTube.

Is Social Media the Impetus behind such a Campaign?

Its one thing for Taco Bell to publicly defend itself against untrue allegations that go to the heart of their product.  This campaign is different because they do more than defend, they go on the attack against the law firm that filed the suit.  With passive, traditional advertising – TV commercials and print campaigns, such an approach could sound peevish and vindictive.  A powerful company using its brand might to go after a small fish – an Alabama personal injury law firm.  But social media which allows consumer to interact on the same playing field as corporations makes such a personal campaign more acceptable.  People can write on the Taco Bell Facebook wall just as they would on their friend from college.

Prediction: we will see corporations act more like people in selling their goods and services, willing to fight back and to take more risks in how and where they disseminate their messages.  Lawyers and law firms, take note!

Social Media Conflicts at the Workplace

April 24, 2011

When is it okay for employees to take to Facebook and the like to complain about their workplace and isn’t it?  This isn’t an easy question to answer though more clarity should be coming down the road.  Here is a good article that does a good job of laying out the issues .

Why Your Company Should Have a Social Media Policy

Checkout this program which I will presenting on along with Jessica Braverman an employment attorney.  We will be addressing these issues in greater detail this Thursday, April 28th at Jack London Square in Oakland.

Bar Associations – Helpful for Attorneys?

April 23, 2011

Here is a useful post from the Solo Practice University about the value of Bar Associations.  The author does a good job of looking at all the ways that Bar Associations are helpful – from free resources for legal research, setting up your practice, figuring out where to practice and the like.

What about Local Bar Associations?

She doesn’t address county bar associations in this post but I would suggest that they are where attorneys can really get lots of value. They provide plenty of room to get involved, connect with other attorneys, write articles and give presentations. I belong to a couple of top-notch county bar associations – Alameda County Bar Association and the Contra Costa County Bar Association.  They provide individual attention to assist their member attorneys to get as much as they can out of the bar association experience.

Can Attorneys Reply to Blog Comments?

April 22, 2011

This is a question that Kevin O’Keefe answers in this post.  He had received a question from a law firm where one of the attorneys was worried that by answering a blog comment, an attorney client relationship is formed.

Too Categorical

Mr. O’Keefe responds by saying that its unlikely unless the comment is a specific question and the attorney gives a specific answer.  The other issue that comes up if the attorney does answer specifically and the commenter is located in a different juridiction, there could be an issue of unauthorized practice of law.

Rule of Thumb

Mr. O’Keefe provides a couple ways for attorneys to look at this safely. Remember the reasonable man theory and also think of social networking as a different forum for familiar activities.  So would it be reasonable for an attorney at a panel of industry professionals to refuse to answer question because there might be an issue that his/her answers could be construed as offering legal advice?

Big Firms: We Want Our Own Professional Rules

April 19, 2011

One of the challenges for large firms that cross state borders is how they comply with state bar rules that impact their web presence. Obviously, these firms can’t have a website or Facebook page for each state that complies with that state’s specific rules on how attorneys can present themselves online.  Should law firms then make sure that they are complying with the strictest rules in the United States?

Rules Applying to Firms with Sophisticated Clients

This proposal is more concerned with lawyer mobility and conflicts of interests regulated by the various 50 states and D.C.  However, their proposal is to create a single “clearinghouse” that would create a uniform set of regulations to facilitate the practice of law across jurisdictions.

Snowball’s Chance?

This article suggests the difficulty such a proposal faces.  Consider this: most of the attorneys in the ABA policy making body come from small firms who might see this proposal as providing special treatment for the large firms.  Ouch.

Social Media Give Small Businesses Big Boost

April 18, 2011

This survey shows that no one group has benefited more from social media than the entrepreneur.  This makes sense because social media is a low cost and high visibility tool unlike expensive advertising efforts that formerly was the key method for businesses to build their credibility.

Here are some top findings:

  • 90% of small businesses found social media helpful for their business
  • 88% believed it had increased their exposure
  • 72% found that it increased traffic to their website and increased their subscriptions
  • Linkedin was  more popular among the self employed than with marketers and the self employed were planning to increase their use

Twitter: End of Business Cards for Lawyers?

April 16, 2011

Lets consider the source: an attendee at the ABA Tech show in Chicago.  Jay Shepherd claims that attorneys at this show were trading their twitter handles rather than business cards.

Hype Wary

Social media including Twitter have been around awhile now and this kind of hype typically attends the earlier stages of a new tech development.  What I call the “Gee Whiz!” moment.   These moments are always announcing the death of something and this article is no different.

Still, I get his point – Twitter is a great way to communicate quickly and easily.  It allows attorneys to continue a dialog as a matter of course whereas the business card requires capturing the information and sending out an email to connect.  I do think its time however, to advance the dialog a bit and talk about adding a Twitter handle to the business cards rather than throwing away those dusty boxes altogether.

Social Media Policies for Employers: Examples

April 15, 2011

On April 28th, I will presenting with Jessica Braverman about social media policies for businesses and one of the things that I will be looking at are the many publicly available social media policies that various organizations have written and shared online.

One observation:  Many of these policies are specific to an aspect of social media – a blog, Twitter or Facebook policy and I think that’s a mistake – but more on that at presentation!