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 2: Twitter

This series focuses on methods of improving the relevancy of your results of social media searches, while not being logged into the services themselves. Again, social media searching is clearly trending upward in the law librarianship profession, as attorneys are increasingly making these requests while conducting informal discovery. In Part 1 of “Searching Social Media” we examined how to use Google’s advanced search features to retrieve relevant Facebook results. In Part 2, we will examine methods of conducting higher-relevance Twitter searches. Continue reading “Searching Social Media | Part 2: Twitter”

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”

Death knell for Posterous?

Posterous has been an iBraryguy favorite in the “microblogging” wars that have seen Tumblr rise to a place of prominence.  Though we certainly like Tumblr for its amazing ease of use, there is just something more elegant  . . . more professional . . . to the workings and look of Posterous.

Earlier this week, Twitter announced that it had acquired Posterous.  The initial question was what this meant for Posterous, moreso than Twitter.  Would the site survive?

According to the message sent to Posterous users, the site is staying available for now.  There was no mention of suture support and development however.  Not a good sign.  News outlets such as CNN are reporting the Posterous engineers have already been assigned to other projects within Twitter.  Also not a good sign.  Perhaps the most telling news is that Posterous has advised its users that any disruption in service will be preceded by a warning and that they are already preparing instructions to assist users who wish to migrate their blogs to other sites.

Though we would hate to see Posterous go, it appears that the handwriting is already on the wall … er, web ….  It will be interesting to see what happens next for both Posterous and Twitter.  Twitter has certainly picked up some new talent.  Sadly, it could mean the end of one of the web’s cooler blogging platforms.

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?

Google Follow Finder help you find the right tweeps!

There are many ways to find folks worth following on Twitter.  You can use any of the Twitter search engines to find people using specific hashtags or words, such as “#libraries” or librarianship.  You can follow specific Twitter lists, such as our own “Librariana” (  There are even sites such as that are dedicated to classifying and ranking Twitter users.  Perhaps one of the easiest means of finding tweeters worth following, however, is to simply look at who is following the tweeps you already know and trust.  Google’s new Follow Finder aims to make that method of finding folks to follow even easier.

Using Follow Finder is as easy as entering the name of anyone Twitter.  For instance, you could search for “iBraryGuy” (no “@” required).  Click the search button and you will get results in two columns.  The first column, labeled “Tweeps You Might Like”, is a list of recommended Twitterers based on the tweeps whom the person you searched follows.  The second column, “Tweeps with Similar Followers”, actually looks at the relationships between the person searched and folks with similar lists of followers.  Sound confusing?  Follow along . . .

How Google arrives at that first list is interesting. Follow Finder compares the list of people the person for whom you searched follows, finds others with similar lists, and then identifies accounts you might also want to follow based on that comparison.  These are the “Tweeps You Might Want to Follow”.  In other words, if iBraryGuy follows Resource Shelf and other folks who also follow Resource Shelf additionally follow Read Write Web, Follow Finder will recommend Read Write Web to you.

The second list, “Tweeps with Similar Followers”, involves a similar comparison.  Only here Google is looking at the users who are following the person you searched.  So if you search iBraryGuy, Follow Finder looks at who is following us and then compares their lists of followers and makes recommendations to you based on recurring names.  Think of it as the flip side of the social coin.  When you enter a name into Follow Finder, it looks at both the folks whom that user follows and the folks that are following that user.

Google’s Follow Finder is a quick  and easy way to run a two-dimensional search for new Twitter users  worth following.  When we say quick, we literally mean that it takes split seconds to get your results.  And when we say easy, we might as well point out that Follow Finder even provides you with links under each name that allow you to simply click and follow.  It doesn’t get much easier!

Still in Google Labs, we look forward to seeing where this new search tool ends up in the long run!

Are your tweets influential? Check your Klout!

Do you ever wonder who is reading those tweets you are sending?  How about whether those tweets have any real impact on the folks who are following you?  After all, a person’s influence cannot be measured by the number of followers alone.  Nope, you need to get a more robust sense of who is actually listening to you or acting upon your messages.  That is where Klout comes in!

Klout assigns scores to Twitter users by actually measuring the spheres of influence.  The higher the score, the more influential the person.  Klout also categorizes users into one of four categories, based on their scores.  Casual Users, for instance, may be new or have a small social circle online.  Climbers are on their way up, of course. Connectors are conduits of information to other users.  Finally, Personas  are folks that have really managed to build a brand around themselves in the Twitterverse.  Pretty cool, right?  If it sounds like a tricky and dificult process, it is.  And that is why it is so great to have Klout out there doing it for you.

So how does the Klout Score work?  Well, they actually use an interesting formula that takes into account 25 different variables! Stated most simply, Klout looks at the number of folks with whom you actually interact (True Reach), the likelihood that your tweets will cause interaction (Amplification Ability), and how influential the people with whom you interact are (Network Score).    They then normalize, analyze, and weight this data to derive your Score.  Talk about intense!

According to its website, “The final Klout Score is a representation of how successful a person is at engaging their audience and how big of an impact their messages have on people. ”  The iBraryGuy team tested it out and, though not thrilled with our score, we really learned a great deal about how we interact with others on Twitter.  If you are serious about building your social brand, as we are, then it might be time that you checked your Klout as well!

Want to follow the most popular Twitter users? Don’t just search, Twiangulate them!

With so many people using Twitter these days, how do you find those who are really posting the best information?  Don’t you wish you could follow the most popular and prolific?  Or maybe you want to know which experts your experts are following?  Searching the Twitterverse for the best, brightest, and most followed tweeters is by no means a small task.  Well, thanks to a cool new service, you can stop searching blindly and TWIANGULATE them instead!

Thanks to Twiangulate, finding valuable new Twitter streams to follow is as simple as entering the Twitter names of your favorite tweeters.  Yes, it really is that easy!  Twiangulate lets you enter the IDs of up to three Twitter users and then shows you which tweeters they are following in common.  It also gives you the basic stats on each of the users you entered: how many people they follow, how many follow them, etc.  You do not have to register with the site to use this cool search.  However, signing up is free and provides access to even more neat features, such as: hiding the names you follow, watched searches, search recommendations and more.

Twiangulate is so straight forward and easy to use that there is not much more we can say.  Give it a try.  You may just discover a treasure trove of tweeters to follow!