Big Law, Social Media, and the Library


Big law’s relationship with social media is changing. Above the Law and Good2BSocial have collaborated, once again, on a review of how effectively big law firms use social media. They found AmLaw Top 50 firms have “substantially improved social media performance across the board.”


Leading to this overall jump, the firms that were the best at incorporating social media in Above the Law and Good2BSocial’s 2013 study didn’t necessarily get that much better; rather, the average score increased because the firms that fared poorly in 2013 made large jumps in 2014. The previously poor performing firms are catching up.

The macro takeaway of this information is: big law takes social media seriously. But, how is big law social media effectively deployed? And, to take a grander view, law is a service-based industry, yet the preponderance of business/corporate social media success stories focus on goods-based businesses. How does being a service-based industry affect the methods of social media deployment?

It’s easy to assume your individual method of consuming and producing social media is more universal than it really is—at least, in a moment where I can admit my own solipsism, that was my perspective. I am not an active consumer of social media produced by big law—and really, when I even notice corporate social media it’s coming from goods-based rather than service-based companies. Outlets that report top corporate social media success stories bare this distinction out, as do sites oriented towards improving corporate social media presences. So, who is consuming social media created by big law?

One answer: big law social media gets followed by news media. Lindsay Griffiths on Zen & The Art of Legal Networking  reported how Nixon Peabody’s Twitter feed’s followers include a heavy percentage of media; journalists are always trying to find stories to break, and big firms generate stories. Twitter is really the perfect vehicle for news story dissemination: a close, or even friendly, relationship does not have to exist between content creator and consumer, and topical news blurbs are perfect, succinct-yet-noteworthy content for Twitter distribution. Twitter serves as social media newswire, providing a constant stream of potential stories to media.

LinkedIn and blogs are the other big winners for big law social media, according to Rhonda Hurwitz of HMR Marketing Solutions. Hurwitz reports on a 2013 study by Greentarget entitled In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey that found “blogs and linkedin as the two most influential platforms for lawyers to use in order to build influence and business relationships”. Unlike the institutional-level orientation of Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs really broadcast the expertise and skills of individuals who comprise a firm. The audience is not the news media, but typically other lawyers and potential business partners; accordingly, this audience has different goals in consuming social media. Hurwitz reports lawyer-authored blogs are trusted by other lawyers, and LinkedIn is tops in professional usage and credibility. Rather than search for content for a news story, the audience of lawyer LinkedIn and blog media is seeking expertise and credibility from particular, individual content creators that they may collaborate in the future with.

Facebook does not really work for law firms because it is not really business-driven. According to Michael Denmead of kscopemarketing, Facebook has “been slow to get traction [at law firms]. It seems to be the general interest posts that people want to see – for example, we do a Charity Run at Christmas and posted some photos. We got a lot of likes and comments on that!”. Social events trump business in Facebook, and accordingly, Facebook is the more social of social media.

Just like law, law librarianship is a service-based industry. The “libraries-as-a-service” philosophical perspective has really emphasized individual librarians and their skills over the idea of a library space. Therefore, it stands to reason librarians can learn and incorporate big law social media methodologies into their own social media deployments. By correlation, libraries should be distinguished by the expertise of their librarians. Just as lawyers can broadcast granular examinations of very specific areas of law, librarians can broadcast granular examinations of very specific areas of research. The emphases should be to blog and then cross-market using other social media. Institutional-level social media is more striated for law librarianship; for private libraries, I struggle to see the efficacy of producing news-oriented exploits via twitter–more internalized broadcasting avenues would be better, as, by default, all potential patrons are already internal. As for governmental and academic law libraries, digitally publicizing newsworthy items is more logical as the patron-bases are broader, and can include even the public. However, the difficult question to answer is: what is news? Luckily, one of the real beauties of social media is implementation costs are practically nil, so tweet away and study what content gets likes and replies.

Searching Social Media | Part 1: Googling Facebook


Have you experienced an increase in social media search requests? As attorneys become more likely to turn to social media during their informal discovery processes, I have found an uptick in questions like: “could you please do a social media background check on this person?” This is a growing information need I believe law librarians are excellently suited to fill, and really the next generation of public records search requests. Through conducting these searches and by leaning on the expertise of others I have put together my own toolkit on tricks to use. Below I list methods incorporating Google advanced search terms to conduct searches on Facebook quickly and with high relevancy (Part 2 of this series, where I discuss using advanced searches in Twitter, is available here). Continue reading “Searching Social Media | Part 1: Googling Facebook”

The Science of Social Media

The world is addicted to social media. It’s safe to assume that if you’re reading this, you probably use Facebook orTwitter—you might be obsessed with social media and post pictures of your to-be-devoured food and your workout schedule on a daily basis or maybe you dabble in it to keep tabs on your loved ones. No matter the level of your involvement, you are familiar with how the services work, but are you doing everything you can do to make your tweets and posts as impactful as possible? Continue reading “The Science of Social Media”

Facebook & Scribd: Share your feeds and your reads!

An interesting post on Facebook‘s official blog this morning touted  “A New Chapter in Reading with Friends“.  Being librarians and avid readers, our interest was immediately piqued.  The news that followed, was interesting to say the least.  The Facebook has expanded its instant personalization offerings in a new partnership with Scribd.  And so, the world’s largest social network meets the world’s largest social publisher.  For readers and publishers, this could be a marriage made in heaven.

Before we talk about Scribd, which the iBraryGuy team loves, let’s talk about what is happening with Facebook.  Starting today, if you visit Scribd while logged into Facebook, you will get personalized reading recommendations based on what your friends are sharing and your own Facebook likes.   Should you come across something that grabs you, you will be able to click the Like button and share it with your friends. This interaction between Facebook and Scribd is designed to personalize your reading experience.  Pretty cool!

But some of you may not be familiar with Scribd.  You really should be.  Scribd is hot!  As we mentioned above, it is the world’s largest social publishing and reading site. Their vision is “to liberate the written word, to connect people and organizations with the information and ideas that matter most to them.”  Using Scribd, you can turn virtually any file (PDF, Word, PPT) into a web document and share it through such connected sites such as Facebook , Twitter and even Google.   From books to presentations, Scribd users are sharing almost 60,000 items daily!  There’s a lot to read and, thanks to this partnership with Facebook, it just got easier to find!

Facebook’s instant personalization initiative has been embraced by some and villified by others.  Whether it is just an example of how the Web can bring you more of what truly interests you or a more insidious strike against our individual and collective privacy remains to be seen.  What we can say is that as a program, Facebook is pressing ahead with it.  This particular area of instant personalization is one that interests us as librarians and Scribd users.  Frankly, we are excited by the possibilities!  The motto behind the initiative is that “the web is better with friends”.  We are hoping it is better with friends who like to read and write as mucha s we do!

Take a swing. This Pinyadda is FULL of Goodies!

Do you love reading the news online but are sick of the crazy and often irrelevant commentary that so often follows it today?  Anyone who is wondering what is wrong with the world today just has to look at the lack of civility when it comes to how people comment on news sites.  There is more of the angry, the misinformed, and the off-base than there is of comments from people who care enough about the news to have an open and civil discussion.  Well, don’t give up on the online news yet.  Just change how to get it and share it.  Take a swing at Pinyadda and unlock the delights it has in store for true news hounds!

Pinyadda is not your run of the mill news aggregator.  No sir!  This fantastic site let’s you have your news and share it too.  When we say “share it”, we mean thoughtfully, respectfully, and openly with a community of news readers who care about comment and conversation just as much as you do. 

Pinyadda is a news aggregator with an interesting social twist.  Yes, you can follow and add news feeds from all kinds of sites.  Pinyadda will bring your feeds to you organized by site and topic.  But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the site does.    Using their unique “Pin It” feature, you can share stories with other Pinyadda members and add your own commentary, thoughts, or reaction.  They can respond and a real, meaningful conversation starts.  You can follow users with interests similar to your own and they can follow you as well.  This lets like-minded users see what each is pinning.  You can even use Pinyadda to “pin” news stories to your Twitter and Facebook feeds!  You are in the driver’s seat when it comes to what you do with the news that matters most to you.

As with all emerging social network systems, Pinyadda is also developing its own incentives system.  By pinning stories, you earn points and unlock badges.  There are also badges based on the number of pins you make.  Pin stories from the same sites repeatedly and you become an ambassador to that site.  Pin stories repeatedly from the same topic and you become an expert . . . or “maven” in Yadda-speak.  You have to defend these titles, however, by continuing to pin stories, lest they be taken away.  This keeps the interaction flowing and meaningful.

Pinyadda is a bold, new concept for news lovers – one which the iBraryGuy team has come to really appreciate.  You see, we love news and need our fix.  However, we can do without “the crazy” that is online news comentary these days.  Pinyadda is our new home for meaningful interaction when it comes to the stories that matter most to us.  Won’t you join us?

Facebook, Placebook! Social networking giant enters location wars.

In a much anticipated announcement yesterday,  social networking powerhouse Facebook fired another shot hear around the world.  Make that the online world of “checking in”.  With the unveiling of Facebook Places, the company enters the hot and volatile war for geo-location supremecy.

Facebook Places is designed to let users include their location in their status updates, using the GPS on the user’s smartphone.  Whether you are going to work, the movies, or lounging at home, you can let your Facebook friends know where you are.  Apps like FourSquare (the current king), Gowalla, and Brightkite already do the same and are wildly popular.  What makes Facebook Places such a threat to the market however is the sites already eye-popping number of users.  Facebook comes out of the starting gate playing to an almost captive audience of a half-billion users!

Facebook Places also has some tempting features for those who like geo-location.  First and foremost is that your location is added directly to your Facebook status.  we all know how important those status updates have become.  Second is a unique tagging feature that lets you tag other Facebook friends who may be at that location with you.  It’s like an instant party invite to other friends who may be in the area.  Finally, Facebook Places has privacy in mind in that only your approved friends can see where you are.  The Facebook team were ready with the great features on day one.

Facebook Places is immediately available in the USA and will soon be coming to other countries.  It will be interesting to not only see where this goes, but how the competitors will respond.  With the explosion of the geo-location craze, the world just keeps getting smaller.

Facebook Changes Put More “Social” in Social Web!

During its third annual f8 Conference for developers and entrepreneurs, Facebook announced a new platform full of features designed to up the ante in the race to dominate the social web.  As if the social web itself could get any more “social”, the folks at Facebook are revamping their own offerings and partnering with other sites on methods of personalization designed to put the user at “the center of the web”.  They call these new tools “social plugins” and they promise to transform the way we interact on the web.

A few of these new “social plugins” are ready to roll in the days ahead and are featured on the official Facebook blog.  It is beyond apropos that the developers should call them “social” as they require Facebook itself interact with other sites on the web.  Currently,  only three sites have been chosen to pilot the new platform (Yelp, Microsoft Docs, and Pandora), but over 70 others have signed on to be added soon.  As we wait eagerly to take them for a spin, the iBraryGuy team thought we’d summarize two of our favorites:  the soon to be ubiquitous “Like” button and the interactive “Activity Feed”.

Like –  One of the most popular features on Facebook is the little thumbs-up icon that lets users designate the things they really like.  Imagine being able to go to other sites and using that same functionality.  Facebook’s new partnerships will let you “like” everything from news stories to items for sale on commercial sites.  The items that you “like” on these sites will show up in your Facebook feed where you can share them and others can actually comment.  Additionally, sites that you “like” can even send you updates as they change or add new content.

Activity Feed –  This is an interesting feature to say the least.  The idea here is that users logged into Facebook and visiting one of the partner sites will actually be able to see how their friends are interacting with that site.  You will be able to see articles or items that they recommend or on which they have commented.  Other sites and tools have permitted social web browsing in the past, with varying degrees of success.  The fact that Faceboook is building this functionality into its already uber-popular and robust social networking platform gives it an instant leg up in this arena.

Whether you love Facebook or hate it, over 400 million users and a media omnipresence make it impossible to ignore.  There is no doubt that it has altered the way people interact online and its popularity continues to surge.  The changes coming with the new Facebook platform promise to innovate the social web even further.  From new community pages to increased partnerships with other popular web destinations, Facebook’s developers have a lot in store for us all.  What can we say?  These are exciting times indeed!