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Will lawyers ever stop using Twitter for something besides soliciting their next criminal defense client?
If lawyers’ use of television, radio and billboards are any indication, probably not.
But can social media be used for something more than solicitation, self-promotional spam and merely being funny? I think so. Still trying to wrap your head around how you might use social media? Perhaps Mayor Booker will give you some ideas.
In a recent interview, TechCrunch’s Greg Ferenstein sat down with Newark Mayor Cory Booker to discuss our interdependence and the role of social media in government:
“My government now can move a lot quicker because I don’t have to wait until a field director from the engineering department to discover something. We don’t have to wait for someone to write an email. Most of us would drive by, see a traffic light out and say oh that’s a shame the traffic light’s out. But now, which is amazing to me and a wonderful point of accountability, is that I will find out through my twitter account what’s going on and what’s going wrong in my city before my departmental directors do.”
Obviously, quick and efficient communications aren’t the cornerstones of practicing law. And interacting with people publicly as a lawyer is, in many ways, different from interacting as a Mayor.
But I do think there are some takeaways from Booker’s approach.
If people don’t think it’s you behind that post, comment, tweet, update, etc, you’re just more noise.
And lack of authenticity is not limited solely to lawyers who outsource their social media. There are plenty of lawyers who press publish & Tweet themselves that have been, to borrow from Leo, “sanitized and vetted to the point that anything remotely interesting is zapped.”
Take a notes from Mayor Booker and don’t filter your voice. Especially through someone else. Don’t just retweet the nice things. Engage your critics. Learn from your mistakes.
Be reasonably accessible. If you’re too busy, no worries. But think about this. If people call you and send you emails and you never respond, would you be surprised when they stop calling and emailing?
Everyone is busy. If you want to isolate and insulate yourself, be my guest. But people’s expectations with regard to access is changing. Including the expectations of colleagues and clients.
Does that mean you need to sit with twitter open all responding to every @reply directed at you? Of course not.
Getting back to ideas
The public square has gone digital. Yes, it is true, it’s for better and for worse. Personally, I have no emotional response to kitten memes. I know, I’m a horrible person. But the social web is also a place to have a dialogue.
If your blog posts and social profiles read like ads, you shouldn’t be surprised when you get ignored, unsubscribed, unfollowed, unfriended and blocked.
You’re a lawyer. You’re one of the most educated people in our society (unfortunately, by a mile).
You should be a leader in the marketplace of ideas.
Plus, as Mayor Booker points out, social media can provide a new lens for transparency and accountability.
As Rich Barton puts it, “if it can be rated it will be rated. If it can be free it will be free, and if it can be known it will be known.”
And that includes lawyers. You’re getting rated. You’re getting talked about. And everyone can see.
Don’t want to participate? Your choice.
Of course there are risks with blogging and social media use. Risks to you, risks to your clients. Many of these same risks existed before Sir Tim Berners-Lee was even born.
But you figured out how to balance those risks, your professional obligations and the vast advantages that communications technologies have afforded all of us. You’ll figure out social media too.
Mayor Booker provided some examples of how he uses social media as a Mayor. There’s no shortage of posts about how lawyers can use twitter. Even here at Lawyerist. And there are also slide decks and even books. If you’ve found some good ones, feel free to post them below.
But I’m always curious about how lawyers are using social media beyond socializing and spamming. Have you seen any? Does social media have a place in the practice beyond networking?