Monthly Archives: February 2010

Law Firm Success in Social Media: Streaming Law Content?

One of my favorite destinations on the web, Real Lawyers Have Blogs, by social media master Kevin O’Keefe, posted about law firms streaming law content onto social media sites.  Check out Kevin’s post, where he takes the position that doing so is awkward and goes against social media etiquette.  In my comment to his post, I take the opposite approach, saying that I think it is perfectly acceptable for law firms to stream law content to social media sites, provided what they are streaming adds value to that target audience.  Different content will have different usefulness in different communities.

Here is my comment:

You definitely get social media Kevin!  I’m not sure I agree with you about there being no value in a law firm distributing content on social media sites.  While the party analogy is a good one to describe etiquette on social sites, generally, it under-describes the use of social media as a communication tool.

For law firms looking to build relationships on social sites like Facebook and Linkedin, sharing generously from the content they offer that can solve a need for a potential client on those sites is the essence of social media.  It is when they pepper these sites with any crap they have lying around that it becomes social spam.  To be successful in this space a law firm needs to know who they are reaching in which area and provide content that can solve a problem for that target client.

For example, streaming a pleading or court filing to a consumer facing Facebook group might not resonate as well as an FAQ or basics of practice area article.  More in depth materials might strike a cord with a group frequented by corporate counsel clients, where you are sharing resources such as forms or memorandums.  It all depends on the context and usefulness to your audience.

The tone in which it is shared can say a lot too.  Are you sharing this content so someone can adapt it for their practice or so a client can ask intelligent questions when they come to you for advice (or not need to come to you at all for a simple matter)?  Are you asking for feedback, trying to start a sharing wave (I’ve shown you mine, now you show me yours), or stir up a conversation with something spicy like firm newsletter on a controversial topic?

Social media has no rules.  We are at the beginning of a revolution.  Think of what it would be like to have been around in 1463, just 5-years after Guttenberg invented the printing press as we know it.  At that time, people were just figuring out that printing existed let alone how to use it commercially and socially.  Law firms who jump into the social media game now, define the rules, and lead with useful participation will be in a great position to develop business in the new online world.

As Kevin asked, what do people think of this?  Unique questions to answer here: in what context do you think it best for a law firm to stream content from their site to a place like Facebook?  Should it be on the Law Firm’s group or fan page?  What about to a group about a certain subject matter, such as litigation?


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Filed under Legal, social media

Social Media Success for Small Business

This is a presentation about social media success for small business.  It focuses on three areas (1) brand (2) community, and (3) passion. Focusing on the video Social Media in Plain English by Common Craft, we take the ice cream analogy to the next level and look at the behaviors that work for jumping into the social media game.

The slides are very visual and work best when used with the notes page or my live presentation.  I’m hoping to get audio, at least, up for these in a week or two.   Thanks to everyone who showed up to the presentation today at Nefesh B’Nefesh, and I am so impressed by all of you.  Remember, it is easy to get into social media.  Anyone can do it.  You just need to find your passion, bring that to your business, and get cranking.  Feel free to reach out if you need me.


Filed under social media

Fair Use Online and in Discussion Forums

Patrick O’Keefe who writes a fantastic blog at posted about fair use in forum postings.  This is an interesting topic given the shifting nature of consumer behavior on the web.  We are part of a gimme culture these days, expecting lots for free that folks used to make bundles of money on (news, music, analysis – today we call them “blogs,” etc.).  In Patrick’s article he attempts to provide clear guidelines on fair use, correctly telling members that “fair use is a defense” to claims of infringement by the copyright holder.

I would argue that as much as fair use is a “defense” it has become a culture and guideline.  As I say in my comment to his blog post (reprinted entirely below – it’s my work so fair use doesn’t apply!), even the courts have been fuzzy on fair use.  How much is too much?  We’ve heard standards like don’t take “the heart of the work,” 150 words or less, and no more than 10% of the work.  What my comment speaks to is how we are becoming used to more use as a digital culture and that this might not be fair to traditional copyright ownership.

Okay – comment number 2 for your blog today Patrick and then I have to get back to work (my cousin, Howard Greenstein, recommended your work to me yesterday). You have correctly identified it as a defense to copyright infringement allowing the excerpting of small portions of a work.  Courts have been in the gray area with fair use because the more granular you go the harder it is to carve out.  When you start getting into word counting or fractions of a work it can be a nightmare.

Blogs and social sharing are doing some interesting things to fair use. As tools like “share this,” embedding, and quote posts have become so common place on the web we are seeing a greater flexibility in what may be considered fair use.  For example, on my blog Mintz’s Wordz I do a lot of embedding of YouTube videos (most recently a bunch of Steve Jobs Keynotes).  Now the displaying of these videos on my blog theoretically violates some of the rights of the copyright holder (a copyright or any property right can be compared to “bundle of sticks” – each stick can represent a different right in what we understand to be the bundle called “the copyright”).  But given the embedding features on YouTube, the prevalence with which others embed such videos, and the unlikelihood of anyone following up on such postings – copyright culture is changing.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t enforce fair use policies or that copyright holders should allow everyone to freely take their work (unless that is your thing).  What it means is we need to rethink what it means to permit “fair use” in a viral media landscape.  How much is fair?  Personally, I use a very sophisticated system for determining things like fair use, ethics, etc.  It’s called “the icky factor.”  If it feels icky, you might want to rethink doing it, because in a connected world ickiness gets sniffed out pretty quickly and can frustrate any benefits you may have thought to reap by being icky.

How do you think copyright ownership should change in light of the viral web?  Do we need a more clear standard of fair use or a more flexible one?  How much do you think is fair?

Disclaimer: nothing in here should be construed as legal advice.  Answering my questions in the comments does not create a lawyer/client relationship (hell, I’m not even practicing at the moment!).  Blah, blah, blah ….


Filed under Legal, social media

Repurposing Content (actual Wiki article I wrote at work months ago)

Just what does it mean when we say that content is being “repurposed”?

In a nutshell repurposing means taking existing content and using in different ways to reach a wider and more varied audience.  The focus here is trying to get the most mileage out of the content that companies invest in.  Rather than restricting production and distribution to a single product in either print or PDF online, take the whole work or even pieces of it and create an entirely new product to meet a different demand.  XML (Extensible Mark Up Language) plays a large part in the ability to be flexible when these opportunities present themselves.

For example, in a recent author discussion about a forth coming book, which surveys topics in American Law for first year law students, the following repurposing opportunities were identified:

  • Content Feed to Open Web Projects – Using parts of the book to provide content in practice area primers on the New Attorney Hub, a LexisNexis open-web site that caters to the needs of 3Ls and recent graduates.  While there is no revenue attached to such an effort, excerpts can be used to promote the original book, the authors and their projects outside of the Lexis system.  Here, the author gets exposure for their projects, the book gets exposure, and the New Attorney Hub gets content.
  • Introducing the Content in an Online Menu to the International Market – a book like this, which is not your typical case book, could easily be adapted as part of an International menu on b/c attorneys around the world are always looking for comprehensive and condensed overview material on U.S. Law.
  • Creating Forms for Practitioner Use – original commentary or checklists could be extracted into forms that can repackaged to the practitioner market.
  • Podcasts of the Book – in the Millennial generation (today’s average law student) everyone wants to multitask and learn how they want to learn.  Offering a downloadable podcast of the book which could be created easily by the authors with simple and inexpensive tools.  These can even be automated through a service like Odiogo (see my post about this & subscribe to my audiofeed to the right).
  • Contribute to Rule of Law Knowledge Banks – there are many sites devoted to the Rule of Law around the world.  Often attorneys working to establish or defend this cause do not have the funding to access premium information.  Content can be donated to knowledge banks or open web projects like the LexisNexis Rule of Law Resource Center to promote these worthy causes.

The point is this: traditional publishing involves a receipt of content from the author, a period of editing, production of the content into a PDF file, and the publishing of a single book.  When a new edition is needed rinse, lather, repeat …

With new technologies we have an opportunity to stretch the life of the same content across platforms and audiences.  When it comes to repurpose, we are only constrained by imagination and willingness to be think in different boxes. Opportunities like the ones cited above embody the essence of repurpose.  This is not a call for abandoning the current course blindly for wild and unpredictable trends.  It means positioning content development to use current resources in different ways to maximize value, while keeping relevant, profitable, and innovative.


Filed under Productivity, Technology

Present Like Steve Jobs: A Video History of the Master

I am currently reading The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo.  Apple’s founder is a master showman, and according to Gallo we can all learn from his tricks.  What follows are some video examples that illustrate the points Gallo makes so well in his manual for great presenting.  These videos show us that a business presentation is story telling, a tradition that runs deep in the blood of humanity.  We are all capable of it and yet we all resort to bullet points, graphs, and statistics to sell our corporate vision (I say “we” because I am guilty too).

Here’s a presentation by Gallo about his book – buy your copy today!

Introduce a Bad Guy the Hero Can Beat- this is a core concept at the heart of story telling.  Steve Jobs launched Apple as being the good guy who would vanquish IBM, “Big Blue.”  Like Luke v. Darth Vader, David v. Goliath, and Little Mac v. Mike Tyson, making a clear conflict that puts you in the good guy role will help make a compelling presentation.  See how Jobs does it in this 1983 Apple Keynote.

Create “Twitter-like” headlines and build excitement – Gallo talks about the power of a short, quick, and catchy headlines for presentations.  He cites some of Jobs’s most famous, like this one about the Macbook Air: “the world’s thinnest notebook.”  Lose the verbiage, build up to the moment, and deliver.  This next video showing the 2008 unveiling of the Macbook Air does that on so many levels.

Create Holy Sh*t Moments – the mind thrives on excitement.  It focuses our senses, makes the world real to us, and leaves an impression.  This is the stuff people remember.  Every presentation needs a holy sh*t moment, and jobs is great at giving us these.  The next two videos show two of the best he ever gave us.

A computer that talks …

Three products: a wide-screen ipod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and an Internet communicator …

These are just a few of the tips I am learning and trying to incorporate into my own presentations.  A final take away from Gallo and Jobs that I’ll share in this post is that greatness takes perseverance, dedication, and practice.  Trial and error.  Malcolm Gladwell introduces the 10,000 hour rule in his book Outliers, saying it takes 10,000 hours of practice to perform at the level of a superstar.  The same is true for business presentations and persuasion – to be great we have to put in a lot of time practicing and trying things out.

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How to Be a Blogging Superstar

If you are anything like me you tend to want to do a lot.  As someone with lots of energy and drive I find myself jumping from project to project.  This would be fine if I had an unlimited amount of time and resources, didn’t need sleep, and had no other commitments.  Belonging to the human race this just isn’t so.  There is a need to focus, create, and finish.

At present I write on three blogs: Mintz’s Wordz (this one), Lurkers Anonymous (my blog to book project on motivation and engagement), and The Martindale Blog (my work blog).  I fluctuate between levels of commitment on all three and it can be difficult to prioritize and produce.  Often my “lizard brain” the part of me that fears progress and success, hampers my efforts, and tells me what I’m writing is useless, tells me don’t write on any of them.  These are the things I can find myself thinking:

“No one will read it.”

“Seth Godin has said it better already.”

“Waste of time.”

The key to being a blogging superstar is to write in spite of those thoughts. Even if the fear can say “I told you so,” for example, your latest post only got 2 views (one of which was you), just write.  Keep on posting.  Try to be consistent.  Work on crafting, honing, and delivering your message.  What you will get out of it is a satisfaction that you did something.  Sure there are millions of blog posts going up everyday.  Not all of us can be a Chris Brogan, Perez Hilton, or Gary Vaynerchuk (for anyone not geekly inclined – these are some of the most successful bloggers on the Internet today).  But in creating, sharing, giving of yourself to the collective body of the world you move closer towards connecting.  Closer towards making a difference.  Delivering your masterpiece.

Yesterday I crossed the 100 post threshold with this blog.  At my best I had 400 views in one day.  This blog is not a blockbuster (yet).  What it has done is opened doors.  I have met people through the blog, built valuable connections, and created opportunities.  It has given me an outlet to share ideas, develop projects, and lead to other things.   Most of all it exists as a body of work I have done.  That is a take away from this post: publishing your ideas, shipping the product is creation.  This creation exists as something to point to – a road map of what you have done.  Having it and continuing to add to it makes you a blogging superstar.

Taking your blog to another level is something I am learning reading sites like ProBlogger (how to monetize and increase your efforts).  The tactics there are great for accomplishing certain goals with a blog.  But at it’s essence blogging is about creating and sharing.  Continue to do that, on a consistent basis, for the sake of doing what you love and you are a superstar.

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Filed under Commentary and Critiques

Seth Godin’s Linchpin and Mastering the Art of Social Media Policy

Daniel A. Schwartz, author of the Connecticut Employment Law Blog posted about one of the presentations from Legal Tech last week.  His post, Social Media Policies and Practices Developing as Companies Begin to Embrace It, gave some details from the panel discussion by the following in-house lawyers: Lesley Rosenthal (Lincoln Center), Ted Banks (former in-house at Kraft), and Mark Bisard (American Express).  Check out Daniels post here.
The panelists basically discussed how social media policy is becoming a more recognized form of policy for a company to have.  Ted Banks spoke up as say that employees can become disheartened and resentful of too restrictive a policy.  I left this comment in response:
I am most in agreement with Ted about social media presenting an opportunity to companies to engage their creative employees and let them flourish.  This requires clear guidelines that are flexible enough to allow for employees to be artists in what they do.
Seth Godin describes this really well in his new book Linchpin (if you haven’t checked it out yet, it is a must read).  His general point is that corporate work trains obedience, being just good enough, and waiting for orders.  To thrive in today’s world we need employees who are artists.  They contribute value, connect to customers in ways that are human, and can make a real impact that propels the company.  These people are linchpins.
Rigid guidelines choke the life out of such employees.  Demanding metrics over artistry mechanizes the processes, makes it sub par, and outsourceable.  It’s why companies like Apple and Google, the leaders in business, thrive and are adored.  Other companies say they want to be like Apple or Google, but this just means they want to be loved while producing mediocre results.
Any social media policy should be a guideline.  Your employees are smart enough to know what they should and shouldn’t do (if not – get new employees).  A good legal department balances the need of the company to have a policy in place they can point to if something goes wrong, with the need for employees to be free enough to create without fear of censorship, backlash, or worse.  It is a risky game, but one with great rewards if done right.

A social media policy is not some revolutionary mysterious thing.  It is a policy.  Likely a policy no one will read anyway.  Where companies experience mastery is when they do things that are risky, things that ordinary policy making would cry “NO! Don’t do that!”

Notice I said risky.  Not stupid.  As a member of the  legal department it is your job to protect the company, but realize that your employees are likely smarter than you think they are.  Also, they are more creative than most of us realize.

If your management creates a linchpin culture where employees take risk, reach for greatness, and share their gifts then your policies at best should be guidelines to help amplify that.  If you have an assembly line amassing Twitter followers than perhaps you want something more rigid that will meet the CYA standard.  All I’m saying is that in a world where everybody is on Facebook, the winners are those who can connect with customers in ways that automation cannot.

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Filed under Legal, social media