What is Twitter and How Can I Use It?

I attended LegalTech New York and took some notes from Monday, February 2, 2009.   They may be a little rough, so please forgive any typos.

From the conference: What is Twitter and How Can I Use It?

  • What is Twitter and why should ‘I’ use it?
  • At the end of the day is Twitter the “ultimate time waster” or a “great tool”?
  • From ‘huh?” to “a ha!” – one lawyer’s journey into the Twitterverse. — alternative title “How I learned to stop worrying and love to Tweet!”
  • Time to Tweet? How to use Twitter without losing time to Twitter.
  • Lawyers, Twitter and Client Development
  • How lawyers are using Twitter for sharing and camaraderie among each other

Bob Ambrogi introduced the panel.

Moderator: Monica Bay, Editor-in-Chief, Law Technology News, incisivemedia

Panelists:
Matthew Homann, Founder, LexThink LLC
Kevin O’Keefe, Chief Executive Officer, Lex Blog
Chris Winfield, President, 10e20

My notes of the presentation:

There are already several lawyers and a handful of law firms using Twitter. Chris Winfield polled the audience to see who is on Twitter – quite a few.  Maybe 30-50%

Twitter is about the conversation – it’s not to do “old fashioned” marketing and just slam your message down someone’s throat.   But, as I’ve said, I believe that it can be used to publish marketing-type updates.   Not that it should be used exclusively for that, but it is one possible use.

Chris went through all the basics about how to use it, including search, hash tags, etc.

Chris actually tweeted as he prepared for his presentation and asked people to tell him what Twitter is.  He got many responses and displayed them to demonstrate the way people use it and the value  they find.

Went over Twitter tools:
– search.twitter.com
– TweetDeck
– twitterFon
– EasyTweets – for easy Twitter marketing

Described ways to use Twitter as a lawyer
– learn
– build relationships
– make connections

Matt Homann

Many people in the audience were tweeting the presentation using #LTNY to indicate “Legal Tech New York”

Why do people use it?

– it’s a Kool-Aid application – once you use it and get it, you can’t stop talking about it.
– Matt gets his news from Twitter – through featured and trending topics.  It often has news that does not make it to the mainstream media.  And Twitter users often break news much more quickly than mainstream media.

Twitter is like a river – you can’t see it all at once.   And don’t feel overwhelmed if you miss something – you’re not supposed to see it all.  But, you can always search for key words and find what people have said after the fact.

It is a way to initiate a relationship – the best thing that you can do is make the connection and then follow up with a phone call or some other “real” in-person conversation.

Kevin O’Keefe

Kevin was a Twitter skeptic, but after using it for a few months he was converted.  He gave a concrete example of how he made a customer contact through a Twitter conversation about baseball.

Social Media is more important than search engine optimization.
Kevin — like Guy Kawasaki — would rather go without his cell phone for a week than to go without Twitter for a week.

The Twitter small talk leads to real conversations and relationships.

I had a chance to chat (really, a real conversation – face to face) and he mentioned that he knows of some practicing lawyers who have landed clients through Twitter.
LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Law Firms on Twitter – An Update

Back in August 2008 I wondered “Is the AmLaw 100 on Twitter?” The answer was a resounding “no.”  There were a couple of “exceptions.”  Skadden had an account, but it  seemed to be simply parked, with no updates.  It’s still there, still with no updates, but now has 25 followers (including LawyerKM).  It also appeared, back then, that Orrick had an account, but based on the updates, it was clearly “brand jacked” as Steve Matthews put it, in the comments on that post.  The Orrick Twitter account still appears to be controlled by someone other than the firm, but it now has 49 followers, and two new/different updates, which are less offensive than the previous updates.

That was almost six months ago.  This is now, and the new answer to that question “Is the AmLaw 100 on Twitter?” is: well, not really, but sort of.

Here’s what I found looking around Twitter:

  • Fulbright & Jaworski has apparently embraced Twitter.  It appears that the account was started in October 2008.  Since then the firm has acquired 106 followers and posted 53 updates.
  • Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP has 73 followers, 25 updates and has been tweeting since December 2008. [updated 2/1/09]
  • McDermott Will & Emery started tweeting in December 2008.  84 followers and 40 updates.
  • Weil Gotshal & Manges also started tweeting in October 2008.  It has 65 followers and has posted 61 updates.
  • Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice gets the award for the best Twitter image (a bulldog) and slogan (“Innovators @ Law!”).  I also like their first update: “Launched the new Womble Carlyle Twitter page. Get current information on the legal issues facing your business. Friend us, we won’t bite.” With 92 followers and 86 updates, they have been tweeting since November 2008.

You’ll notice that the firms mostly post links back to their websites.  Not surprising – this is law firm marketing, after all.

There are several AmLaw 100 firms that have apparently claimed their accounts, but have done nothing with them.  This is a smart move if they are trying to avoid the fate of Orrick.  Here’s a list of firms and possibly their Twitter handles.  I say possibly because this is based on my research on Twitter – I have not contacted any firms to ask whether they have, in fact, claimed their Twitter accounts.  I didn’t include hyperlinks because, for the most part, there is nothing to see on the Twitter pages.  But the URLs, as listed, are valid.  If you see some that have one follower, it’s me.

  • Akin Gump – http://twitter.com/AkinGump
  • AlstonBird – http://twitter.com/AlstonBird
  • Arnold & Porter – http://twitter.com/arnoldporter
  • Baker & Hostetler http://twitter.com/BakerHostetler
  • Baker & McKenzie – http://twitter.com/bakermckenzie
  • Baker Botts – http://twitter.com/BakerBotts
  • Bryan Cave – http://twitter.com/BryanCave
  • Cleary Gottlieb – http://twitter.com/ClearyGottlieb
  • Davis Polk – http://twitter.com/DavisPolk
  • Debevoise & Plimpton – http://twitter.com/debevoise
  • Dickstein Shapiro – http://twitter.com/dickstein_llp
  • DLA Piper – http://twitter.com/DLAPiper
  • Fish & Richardson – http://twitter.com/FishRichardson
  • Foley & Lardner – http://twitter.com/FoleyLardner
  • Gibson, Dunn – http://twitter.com/GibsonDunn
  • Goodwin Procter – http://twitter.com/GoodwinProcter
  • Hogan & Hartson – http://twitter.com/HoganHartson
  • Holland & Knight – http://twitter.com/hollandknight
  • Howrey – http://twitter.com/howrey
  • Hunton & Williams – http://twitter.com/huntonwilliams
  • Jones Day – http://twitter.com/jonesday
  • Latham & Watkins – http://twitter.com/lathamwatkins
  • Dewey & LeBoeuf – http://twitter.com/deweyleboeuf
  • Mayer Brown – http://twitter.com/mayerbrown
  • Morgan Lewis & Bockius – http://twitter.com/morganlewis (has four followers and is following four others)
  • O’Melveny & Myers – http://twitter.com/omelveny
  • Patton Boggs – http://twitter.com/pattonboggs
  • Paul Hastings – http://twitter.com/paulhastings
  • Paul, Weiss – http://twitter.com/paulweiss (I think that this may be a person named Paul Weiss – probably not the firm)
  • Proskauer Rose – http://twitter.com/proskauerrose
  • Reed Smith – http://twitter.com/reedsmith (this is a “marketing guy” in Austin Texas – probably named… Reed Smith)
  • Ropes & Gray http://twitter.com/ropesgray
  • Schulte Roth – http://twitter.com/Schulte
  • Seyfarth Shaw – http://twitter.com/seyfarthshaw
  • Sidley Austin – http://twitter.com/sidleyaustin
  • Simpson Thacher – http://twitter.com/simpsonthacher
  • Sonnenschein – http://twitter.com/sonnenschein
  • Squire Sanders – http://twitter.com/squiresanders
  • Sutherland Asbill  – http://twitter.com/sutherland
  • Vinson & Elkins – http://twitter.com/vinsonelkins
  • White & Case – http://twitter.com/whitecase
  • WilmerHale – http://twitter.com/wilmerhale
  • Wilson Sonsini – http://twitter.com/wilsonsonsini
  • Winston & Strawn – http://twitter.com/winstonstrawn

I may have missed some.  If so, please let me know.

It’s not just the AmLaw 100 on Twitter.  Here’s a list of other firms that I’ve encountered from comments on Twitter:

  • Deacons (Australia) – 140 followers, 120 updates.
  • Staton Law Firm (Huntersville, NC) – 73 followers, 28 updates.
  • Clements Law Firm (Charlotte, NC) – 66 followers, 2 updates.
  • Christensen Law Firm (Draper, UT) – 4 followers, 1 update.
  • Hinshaw (USA) – 32 followers, 0 updates.
  • Gowlings (Canada) – 66 followers, 24 updates.
  • Patel & Warren (Houston, TX) – 47 followers, 12 updates.
  • Jackson Walker (Texas) – 79 followers, 18 updates (has 13 other associated Twitter accounts, and check out their website, which has a prominent “Follow Jackson Walker on Twitter” link).
  • Simmons Cooper (Illinios) – 80 followers, 130 updates.
  • ShannonGracey (Texas) – 173 followers, 31 updates.

And for those firms that have not *yet* jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, here’s the good news:  You’re still in the Twittersphere.  You may not be tweeting, but others are tweeting about you.  For example, the ABA Journal has a Twitter account, has posted more than 4,400 updates, and has almost 1,000 followers.  The AmLawDaily also posts updates about firms.  It has 188 followers and has made over 350 updates.

Others are Tweeting about law firms, as well.  There is a huge community of lawyers and others in the legal profession on Twitter.  They post updates about firms big and small.  Unfortunately, these days, a lot of what they’re are saying has to do with law firm layoffs.  There’s even a Law Firm Layoff Tracker on the Lawshucks website that’s, sadly, a hot topic on Twitter.

The question remains: should law firms be on Twitter?  Some say no, but that lawyers at firms should be.  Maybe these are the Twitter purists.  Perhaps they think that Twitter should be all about the conversation and not about simple broadcasting and posting links.  My personal opinion is that Twitter conversations are great, but law firms should be on Twitter.  It is a marketing opportunity, just like a law blog.  It’s an opportunity to get a firm’s content in front of more eyes and drive more traffic to its website.  If a firm’s lawyers also use Twitter, then all the better.  Those lawyers can have Twitter conversations and build relationships.  But the two needn’t be mutually exclusive.  Firms might not engage in Twitter conversations, but neither do the many of the mainstream media outlets, like Fox News, CNN Breaking News, and New York Times.  Twitter–in its short life–has grown into more than just a place to chat.  It is a place to post news and information that others will chat about.

Being a mere mortal, and there being only so many hours in the day, I’m sure that I missed some law firms on Twitter.  If you know of others, please let me know by leaving a comment.  Thanks.

Finally, if you’re going to LegalTech NY this coming week, you won’t want to miss “What is Twitter And How Can I Use It?” – a panel discussion moderated by Monica Bay with panelists Matthew Homann, Kevin O’Keefe, and Chris Winfield.   It’s Monday Feb. 2, 2009 at 3:00 PM.  I’ll be there.   And feel free to DM me and say hello – http://twitter.com/lawyerkm- in person.

In the meanwhile, join the conversation about Twitter in the comments below.

  • Should law firms be on Twitter?  If so, how should they use it?

Update: Thanks to Bruce Carton for pointing out his great list of BigLaw Lawyers on Twitter.  He noted a few firms I missed (now updated above).

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

kmlpfollow-me-on-twitter



An Even Better Must-Follow KM Tweeter List

David Gurteen, a definite KM must-follow tweeter, has come up with his own really nice list of must-follow tweeters.  Check out his KM Tweeters! blog post.  He merged, removed duplicates and sorted my list list of lists and turned them into links [very helpful! Why didn’t I think of that?!?] to the individual’s tweet page.  And he listed his Top Ten Tweeters, a few I hadn’t been following.  Also, he reminds us to use #KM when tweeting about knowledge management, a practice I find really helpful because it allows me to create an RSS feed of knowledge management tweets.

follow-me-on-twitterLawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Must-Follow Twitterers on Twitter | Knowledge Management

Over the past few weeks, I’ve asked people to send me their list of “must-follow” Twitterers (or Tweeters).   Yes, there are other ways to find people to follow.  There’s Mr. Tweet, which somehow magically finds and suggests influencers and followers in your network for you.  There are several lists of certain types of Twitterers.   Adrian Lurssen of JDSupra compiled a list of 145 Lawyers (and Legal Professionals) to Follow on Twitter. That list has ballooned from 145 to over 500. Adrian also posted a list of Legal News Feeds on Twitter, which is quite good.  

But I wanted to know the “must-follow” Twitterers – right from the source.  So I asked my Twitter friends.  Of course, the people who contributed to this collection are among my must-follow Twitterers, so be sure to check them out.

Here is the list of their lists (in the order in which they were received):

Steve Mathews recommended:

  • @jordan_law21
  • @Charonqc
  • @Geeklawyer
  • @conniecrosby
  • @ErikMazzone
  • @SCartierLiebel
  • @time2simplify
  • @jeiseman
  • @mikemac29
  • @JDTwitt
  • @kevinokeefe
  • @RobLaGatta
  • @GrantGriffiths
  • @denniskennedy
  • @infobunny
  • @carolynelefant

Victoria Prather recommended:

  • @mediabistro

Tony Hartsfield recommended:

  • @mikemac29
  • @jennsteele
  • @bburney
  • @beaum
  • @denniskennedy
  • @didomenico
  • @dougcornelius
  • @dwilkinsnh
  • @eschaeff
  • @gheidenreich
  • @jdtwitt
  • @jordan_law21
  • @kevinokeefe
  • @kmhobbie
  • @lawyerkm
  • @legalblogger
  • @matthomann
  • @mbeese
  • @tamischiller

Jennifer recommended:

  • @nikiblack
  • @carolynelefant
  • @stevewhitaker
  • @jimduncan

Mike McBride recommended:

  • @BrettTrout
  • @Denniskennedy
  • @stevematthews
  • @nikiblack
  • @tonyhartsfield
  • @jennsteele
  • @dougcornelius
  • @conniecrosby
  • @commonscold
  • @kevinokeefe
  • @carolynelefant
  • @complexd

Stan Garfield (who was kind enough to include the Tweeters’ names) recommended:

  • @gsiemens – George Siemens
  • @4KM – Alice MacGillivray
  • @mathemagenic – Lilia Efimova
  • @dweinberger – David Weinberger
  • @pekadad – Lee Romero
  • @valdiskrebs – Valdis Krebs
  • @rossdawson – Ross Dawson
  • @klowey22 – John Hovell
  • @dougcornelius – Doug Cornelius
  • @chieftech – James Dellow
  • @etiennewenger – Etienne Wenger
  • @smithjd – John D. Smith
  • @unorder – Shawn Callahan
  • @carlfrappaolo – Carl Frappaolo
  • @driessen – Samuel Driessen
  • @dineshtantri – Dinesh Tantri
  • @lawyerkm – Patrick DiDomenico
  • @borisj – Boris Jaeger
  • @nimmypal – Nirmala Palaniappan
  • @VMaryAbraham – Mary Abraham
  • @cdn – Christian De Neef
  • @kdelarue – Keith De La Rue
  • @rsims – Ray Sims
  • @jackvinson – Jack Vinson
  • @dankeldsen – Dan Keldsen
  • @amcafee – Andrew McAfee
  • @s2d_jamesr – James Robertson
  • @innotecture – Matt Moore
  • @trib – Stephen Collins
  • @snowded – Dave Snowden
  • @elsua – Luis Suarez
  • @DavePollard – Dave Pollard
  • @euan – Euan Semple
  • @johnt – John Tropea
  • @NancyWhite – Nancy White
  • @panklam – Patti Anklam
  • @WestPeter – Peter West
  • @AndrewGent – Andrew Gent
  • @jschunter – Johannes Schunter
  • @DavidGurteen – David Gurteen
  • @stangarfield – Stan Garfield

Updated List (commenter and email generated):

Great lists!  Thank you all for contributing.

If you would like to contribute to this list (I will update it), you can email your list to lawyerkm [@] gmail.com with “twitter list” in the subject line, or leave your list in the comments field.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Twitter about Knowledge Management? Use #KM

Back in October I started using #KM when posting knowledge management related posts on Twitter and asked people to join in the fun. The idea of a hash tag is nothing new to Tweeters, but this seemed especially helpful. KM (without the hash tag) is often the abbreviation for kilometers. Lots of people have joined in. Thanks! If you’re on Twitter and you post about knowledge management, please use #KM. If you use an RSS reader, you can set up a feed to deliver the results so that you don’t miss a thing.

twitter-km


LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms


All My Clients Come From Twitter | Knowledge Management

Twitter

Follow LawyerKM on Twitter

I’ve written a bit about Twitter and micro-blogging in law firms.  I’ve had my doubts about it’s value both inside and outside law firms.  I’ve also praised it for being good at what it is.  If you think that Twitter is a complete waste of time, think again.

I came across a interview with Laura Fitton, founder & CEO of Pistachio Consulting, on Global Neighborhoods.  Check out the whole interview, but here’s the takeaway:

All my work now comes from people I know through Twitter. All of it. Not only do all my clients come from Twitter, by the time someone contacts me, they thoroughly understand how my mind works and have already decided I am the one for the project.

While the size of my Twitter network is crazy, the quality of it is what *really* blows my mind. I now routinely stumble across someone absolutely fascinating and brilliant who I had no idea was following me. My Twitter network includes some extraordinary and influential professionals including VCs, CEOs, CIOs, VPs; the executive producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm; the editor in chief of CIO Magazine, authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto and hundreds of other extraordinary people, many of whom I have never met face-to-face.

All of these brilliant and accomplished people–all of them trace back to things that happened on or because of Twitter. Connecting to so many smart people – online and off – via Twitter has been like hitting a big cool oasis in a lifelong desert. I love nothing more than hearing people’s ideas and passion. That fires me up and keeps me going.

Wow.  Maybe Twitter is not such a waste of time, after all.  Granted, @Pistachio, as she is known on Twitter, is a consultant who helps “companies harness the business power of microsharing quickly and effectively”  [Laura prefers the term “microsharing” over “microblogging”].  So, it follows that Twitter, the leading microblogging site, would be fertile ground for her.  But can lawyers reap the same benefits from Twitter?

Law firm blogging guru Kevin O’Keefe said that Lawyer Marketing with Twitter has Arrived and his company, LexBlog, “may pick up some very good work through Twitter – with larger law firms.”  But what about practicing lawyers picking up clients?  Kevin pointed out a bit of a gaff by one public relations firm that apparently used Twitter to find plaintiffs for a class-action lawsuit.  The Twitter community did not react positively (“…ambulance chasers…” and “have some pride” were tweeted in response).  The PR firm later retracted the posting.

Legal web marketing consultant Steve Matthews, of Stem Legal, noted that there are a lot of lawyers on Twitter.  But the question remains: can those twittering lawyers turn 140-character tweets into cash?  Steve suggests that “[w]ith Twitter, like most forms of web marketing, the value is found in the big picture & the cumulative effect of using it as but one piece of the web-lawyer’s marketing toolbox.”  I’m no marketing expert, but that makes sense.

Twitter shouldn’t be seen as a billboard on which lawyers declare their ability to trounce insurance companies and win large settlements for injured clients.  It should be a way for lawyers to engage in conversations and form relationships, which may lead to trust, confidence, and maybe — just maybe — a new client or more work from an existing one.

So, do you lawyers out there have any success stories about getting business from Twitter?  We’d love to hear about it.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

More Micro-blogging in Your Law Firm | Knowledge Management

When it comes to micro-blogging (“MBing” – I just made that up), Twitter started it all – on the web.

Then came Socialcast (which I covered here), and then the much-hyped Yammer, which won the top prize at TechCrunch50.

Now, there is a new kid on the MBing block: Present.ly.

Present.ly and the other MBing applications are all about constant awareness. According to their website, though, Present.ly is not a micro-blogging application, it is a “micro-update communications tool for your company” that provides your employees with “the ability to instantly communicate their current status, ask questions, post media, and more.”

In addition to short, frequent updates, there are other features, such as the ability to attach files (like documents, pictures, and videos).  It also supports the most popular internet browsers and mobile devices, including BlackBerry and iPhone.  An interesting twist, and one that I think is essential to enterprise adoption, is the ability to form groups – this allows more focused tweets (so that you don’t have to bother the entire firm with your message).  Finally, Present.ly is customizable and it offers a Twitter-compatible API so that you can adapt tools you use for Twitter to Present.ly.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. So, should you run out and start micro-blogging in your law firm?  That’s a very personal and firm-specific question.  I noted my doubts about law firm micro-blog adoption and Jevon MacDonald listed some pros and cons of enterprise micro-blogging here and here.

One problem I have with Twitter in the enterprise is focus.  It may sound like blasphemy to some faithful Tweeters, but Twitter is distracting.  There, I said it.  I love Twitter, but I use it when I have a few minutes to kill.  I don’t go there to find information that I need.  For me, it’s background.  It’s the Musak of the Web.  As Susan Cartier Liebel said “Tweeting is backslapping and chatting on the street.”  (Other Tweeters have chimed in about their take on Twitter here).  Yes, I know that in the enterprise, presumably, people won’t tweet about what they had for breakfast or their new shoes, but are we inviting a new form of media overload into the firm?  Aren’t email overload and RSS overload enough?  I’m probably not alone when I say that I need to concentrate on my work to do a good job.  Micro-blog posts from my colleagues every few minutes will not help me concentrate on the task at hand.

Another problem is that the signal to noise ratio on Twitter is low.  People are willing to tweet just about anything; but too much of it is just noise.  If people need to have the right information at the right time, how does Twitter in the law firm help with that?  In my experience, probably a fraction of 1% of the tweets that I skim are actually worth reading.  Does micro-blogging have a place in law firms?  Maybe.  It goes back to the question of: what’s the right tool for the job?  If I have a really important question, I probably won’t blast it out on a micro-blog and sit back waiting for responses.

Here is a brief video introduction to Present.ly (listen closely – it’s quick)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPIk3LF5_b4&hl=en&fs=1]

Here’s a list of enterprise micro-blogging tools.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Social Networking for Lawyers: What Works? What Doesn't?

What good is social networking if you can’t use it to get a recommendation from your contacts?

A friend recently asked me for a recommendation for an immigration lawyer in New York City. Although I’m a lawyer, I don’t personally know any immigration lawyers; but I thought that some of my social network friends might be able to point me in the right direction.

Twitter

My first thought was Twitter. About 125 people “follow” me (as LawyerKM) on Twitter [you can too!]. There are about 80 people who “follow” me on Twitter under my personal Twitter account [you can too! – email me at lawyerkm at gmail.com for details]. There is some duplication among followers, so, there’s not really over 200 prospective followers. My tweet was: “need an immigration lawyer in New York City – please @lawyerkm … with recommendations.

Then I thought about Facebook. I’ve got 90 contacts on Facebook. I personally know many (but not all) of my Facebook contacts. As a little background, I started using Facebook as a strictly professional networking platform; my profile was “all business.” As I became more comfortable with it, I loosened up and started adding more non-work related information, and personal friends; not just KM stuff. (On a KM-related note, I also started a Facebook group called Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals, which you may join.) I reached out to my Facebook contacts by way of a status update, which said “looking for an immigration lawyer recommendation. Anyone?”

What I thought would happen and what really happened were two very different things. Both Twitter and Facebook are very popular these days, and everyone is talking about them. My Twitter contacts are very active, and many of them are lawyers or in the legal industry. My Facebook contacts are pretty active, as well, but Twitter seems to have Facebook beat on the activity scale (this is a purely subjective observation).

Based on my Twitter contact types (law-related), I expected to instantly get dozens of recommendations from my Twitter contacts. I didn’t expect much from Facebook, however, because my contacts there are more diverse.

Surprise! In reality, I received no Twitter responses and a relative flood (no fewer than five) of Facebook responses – some within minutes, others within a few hours. Even more surprising was the quality of the responses. They were from real-life contacts (i.e. people I know) who actually used the lawyers that they recommended.

I passed the referrals along and my friend was pleased.

So, why did I get such good results on Facebook and bad results on Twitter? This, of course, is speculation, but these factors may have something to do with it.

Twitter's posting interface

The platforms – Twitter vs. Facebook Twitter is simple, but not so feature-rich. It basically allows you to post short (140 characters) messages for the world (or your followers) to see. Direct messaging to other Twitter members is another option. You can include links to web pages, but that’s about it. Your posts (or tweets) are listed in reverse chronological order. Since Twitter can only display so many tweets, the messages of the people you follow will be displaced by newer messages. So, with the really high rate of tweets out there (at least among the Tweeters I follow), you’re bound to miss a lot of posts – unless you keep a consistent eye on your Twitter account (or if you have those tweets fed to you via RSS for later consumption in an RSS reader). If your followers haven’t checked their Twitter accounts recently, they probably will have missed your latest posts.

Facebook tab menu

Facebook is a much more complex platform. There is more to it. People can share a lot more information about themselves. Work, school, hometown, religious, political, photos, etc. And this is key: there are non-linear, non-chronological connections on Facebook. Click on your home page and see your “news feed” – i.e., information about your Facebook friends. Check out their status updates, and their photos, too. It sucks you in. You’ll find yourself clicking around to see what’s going on with your friends. What groups have they joined? [My favorite, other than my own, is the group “I Secretly Want To Punch Slow Walking People In The Back Of The Head,” which has close to one million members.] You can also send Twitter-like updates to your Facebook friends, too (that’s how I got the word out). Bottom line: there’s a lot more information about your friends and a lot more ways to get to it. The interactions on Facebook, I think, are more meaningful. That level of connectedness, which is lacking on Twitter, makes all the difference. It makes people want to interact.

What about LinkedIn?

Ironically, when I set out to find a lawyer recommendation, I didn’t even think of LinkedIn – the business networking website. It wasn’t until the next day that I thought of it. But then I thought: how would I even go about using LinkedIn to get a recommendation? I didn’t want to spend a lot of time searching by keywords only to bring up second and third degree contacts, which require me to request introductions from my first degree contacts. Too much work. I finally decided to update my LinkedIn status with “looking for an immigration lawyer recommendation…” The result: nothing. There just isn’t a good way (at least as far as I know) to reach all of your LinkedIn contacts like you can do on Facebook.

Your thoughts / experiences?

So, have you had similar experiences? Have you successfully used social networking sites to make business connections? What’s worked? What hasn’t?

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Micro-blogging in your Law Firm? | Knowledge Management

Will law firms will use Twitter? So far, not many are. The main reason that most firms will not likely use it as a way to communicate among their attorneys is that it is a public platform. Twitter can be set so that messages are private and viewable only to trusted users, but I can’t imagine that any law firm will be willing to post messages (other than for marketing purposes, e.g., law firm web sites and substantive blogs) on the web.

But will law firms use an internal Twitter-like micro-blogging application that is not open to the public? Socialcast announced Socialcast 3.0, which gives them the opportunity to do so.

Socialcast operates as a Twitter for the enterprise, enabling SMBs to capture the tacit knowledge of workers and leverage mindshare to bridge the gap between generations of co-workers, said Tim Young, CEO of Socialcast. See the press release. You can try an online demo of Socialcast here.

I have my doubts that law firms will adopt this type of application anytime soon. From a KM perspective, I am not sure that 140 characters (the Twitter / micro-blogging limit) is enough to make a meaningful contribution to the enterprise knowledge base. Don’t get me wrong, I like Twitter. I think that it has potential as a knowledge base and expertise resource. And yes, micro-blogging would, in theory, enable people to capture tacit knowledge. However, I question how much value lawyers can derive from such snippets – unless those snippets are “attached to” other pieces of intellectual capital, like models, samples, forms, and other lawyer work product. In this way, micro-blog posts could become what I like to call “little KM.”

Little KM. More on this later, but in a nutshell, “little KM” is about “how” and “big KM” is about “what.” Little KM helps people find the big KM. Little KM consists of tags, comments, “diggs” or votes. Little KM points lawyers to the substantive stuff (the big KM) that they need: the model agreements, the sample pleadings, etc. Tags, comments, votes, and the like can help lawyers decide which of the firm’s documents (the big KM) to use for the task at hand.

With some adjustments, perhaps, a micro-blog post (or “tweet” if you’re using Twitter) can be a kind of little KM. A lawyer could post: “Here’s a great seller-friendly purchase agreement <insert link to the agreement>.” If your enterprise search engine indexes the micro-blog, then others may be able to find that agreement (via the micro-blog) when they search for seller-friendly purchase agreements. To me, that seems a bit clunky. Why not just encourage lawyers to add their little KM right within their existing work flow? Give them the tools to add tags, comments, and votes (little KM) right to the document; for example, in the document management system, in Microsoft Word, or in SharePoint after they locate a valuable document.

Twitter is cool. But is it right for the enterprise? Time will tell. There are many who, at first, said “why in the world would I want to use that?” Some of them are now the biggest users (and promoters) of Twitter.

So, do you expect to see a micro-blog in your firm? Discuss…

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

The Right Tool for the Job | Knowledge Management

I’ve always been really impressed with what craftsmen can make when they have the right tools.  My close friend, Mick, of Relyea Custom Cabinetry is one of those people.  As a custom cabinet maker, a big part of what he does all day is cut wood.  He has dozens of saws.  They all cut wood, but they’re not interchangeable: Mick wouldn’t use a band saw when the job calls for a table saw.

Similarly, we “knowledge workers” have lots of communication tools, like email, telephones, blogs, SMS, Twitter, instant messaging, etc.  But for some reason, we often don’t always use the right tool for the job.

Email has its place. Probably the most overused knowledge-worker tool is email.  To some, it’s like a Swiss Army Knife.  Yes, there is a saw folded up in there (it’s right next to the tiny scissors and little wrench), and it may work in a pinch, but it’s not always the best tool for the job.

Email is great.  But let’s not forget its roots: mail.  Email is faster than the USPS, but it’s not faster than a phone call, or SMS.  And more importantly, even though some people check their email every time their BlackBerries buzz, it’s not all that common: most people check their email rather than having it check them.

Time sensitivity is a factor when deciding which of your knowledge-worker tools to use.  If you need an immediate response or reaction, you’d better reach for something other than email.  An actual phone call (remember that tool?) is best because it is a synchchronous interaction: you confirm receipt and understanding of the message (can you hear me now?).  If there is a last-minute time change for an important meeting, email is not going to cut it.  You need to know that the participants got the message.

Email is the default, but not at fault. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which tool to use.  Email is so popular that it has become the default.  This is because people are self-centered (present company not excluded).  Many people think that their emails are read as soon as they click “send,” irrespective of the time of day or night or other circumstances.  In fairness to the self-centered senders, however, we’ve brought this expectation upon ourselves by immediately responding to email at all hours.  (Do you keep your BlackBerry on your nightstand?)

So, how do we tame the tech?  Well, technology is not the problem.  We are the problem.  Email is not evil, but in the wrong hands it can cause havoc.  It is a very effective tool for certain tasks; but it’s just one tool.  And like all tools, we need to learn to use email effectively.  Tim Sanders has a blog that tries to educate people about email usage and etiquette.  Please read it.  Tim Ferriss advocates checking email only a couple of times a day.  That may be impractical for some people, but the alternative–responding to email as if it were a real, live conversation–will send people the wrong message.

After choosing the appropriate tool, Mick would say “measure twice, cut once.”  That’s good advice.  But, many of us are not as good at tool selection as Mick is.  We knowledge workers should back up a step and think twice before even selecting our tool.

Before you send your next email, ask yourself: is it the right tool for the job?  Will it achieve the desired results?  Should you call or wiki instead?  Maybe just walk down the hall and have a good, old-fashioned, face-to-face chat.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms