Tag Archives: etiquette

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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Facebook Faux Pas Post

Gilad at the gated entrance of our gorgeous short term rental

Last week I made a Facebook boo boo, or Faux Pas if you will, and I have been hearing about it from friends and family since then.  Don’t let it happen to you!  Here’s the story.

We were on “vacation,” having been forcefully sent out of our apartment so plumbers could fix septic issues (in the interim they ripped up our entire floor, changed all the piping, and got concrete dust on EVERYTHING).  In any case, we went to this fantastic restaurant in Beit Shemesh (I won’t name it here b/c I love that place and it is unfortunate what happened next).  Shana (my daughter)  is highly allergic to dairy.  The waitress, who only spoke Hebrew and thought Shana was adorable, asked if she could give her a piece of chocolate.  We explained in Hebrew, three times, that Shana can’t have ANY dairy b/c she is allergic.  The waitress assured us  that it was semi-sweet chocolate with no dairy.  Shana proceeded to eat the chocolate and seemed very happy (usually she reacts to dairy right away with hives and itching, but none of that happened here).

After a 20-minute drive back to our country cottage, Shana finished the chocolate.  When we got inside she was having trouble breathing.  She began to itch all over and started to swell up in the face with discoloration.  In a panic we all jumped back into the car and I drove like a true Israeli (crazy for those who have never driven here) back to Beit Shemesh to the medical clinic there.  Shana was experiencing toxic shock.  I held her down while she thrashed and screamed so they could stick an IV in her arm.  Then they rushed her to a big hospital in Jerusalem by ambulance.  My wife went with her and I took our 10-month old, Gilad back to the cottage to pack our things.  We were going back to Jerusalem to spend the night with Shana.

Side Bar: that same day my landlady called to inform us the plumbers would need an additional 10-days.  She set us up in a short term rental right down the street from our apartment (gorgeous place – see the photo) and gave us her best for Shana.  Thanks Rachel – you were awesome through this whole mess.  Back to the story …

Gilad and I packed in a frenzy (well, I packed; he fell asleep).  We then went home (to the gorgeous short term apartment), I gave him dinner, and put him to sleep.  Shana would need to stay the night in the hospital b/c on the way to the hospital, the ambulance driver miscalculated the conversion of her weight from pounds to kilos and gave her too much adrenaline and steroids.  At about 12am a friend came over to stay with Gilad, while I went to the hospital to relieve Esther (thanks Alf!).

Shana in hospital at 2am (yes that is a sticker on her forehead)

When I finally got Shana to bed (at 2:30am) for some unknown reason I decided to check Facebook on my iPhone.  We hadn’t had a phone in our cottage and been somewhat incommunicado with family and friends that week.  After reading and replying to a few wall posts by friends, I typed this status update: “Sitting beside Shana’s hospital bed at 2:45am thanking G-d she’ll be alright.  Finally got her to sleep an hour ago.”  This would have been a completely fine update had anyone, including our parents, known what was going on.  Not to mention the time difference in Jerusalem and NY put them at about 7:45pm, prime time for Facebook checking.

My cousin called my aunt asking what had happened to Shana.  My aunt called my mom.  My mom didn’t know, but my in laws had some idea b/c they had called Esther on her Jerusalem phone with a calling card earlier in the day, but hadn’t told my parents, and so on.  The faux pas post generated 16 comments and many phone calls from concerned friends asking what happened.  By the next day we started damage control by posting on Facebook what had happened.  Also we got on the phone to family to tell them too.  By Monday we were still getting calls, and my wife had to apologize many times for my lapse in judgment.  I eventually posted: “Sorry to cause such a stir with this post – guess that’s what 2:45 am in the hospital with only an Israeli iPhone will do to you. Thanks for all your warm wishes. She’s fine now and bein her beautiful self.”

This calls to attention some Facebook etiquette.  Don’t post alarming things without giving family and friends context first (duh!).  It also raises an interesting point about communication: with real-time network updates at our fingertips the reach and effect our posts can have is magnified, especially if your profiles have many connections on them.  While network posts can save time informing many people at once about news, in my case it wasted time as I had to speak to many different people personally to assure them everything was okay.  Even posting the network update that she was okay, people wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth.  I guess the same thing can be true of good news, a wedding, birthday, promotion, etc. that if you post on your network you’ll have a lot of people vying for your attention to congratulate you, but there was something that just stuck with this latest incident.  We all know that you should be careful what you post, but the hospital episode made this rule of network engagement so much clearer for me.

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Death and Facebook

An old friend died last week.  The circumstances of his death are still not clear: he was in good health, lived alone, and was getting ready to celebrate his 35th birthday that same week.  We hadn’t really hung out in a few years, having gone our separate ways in life, but we’d see each other on Facebook, trade a chat every now and then, and keep generally informed of each others’ life milestones.  When my father told me the terrible news I was shocked; wanting to get a sense of what was happening in his life prior to his death I went to his Facebook page.

His November updates all seemed positive.  My friend had been a survivor of childhood cancer and possessed a courage that I always admired him for.  On November 10th he posted the status update: “22 years ago this Nov. was my last chemo-therapy treatment.  I have been Cancer free since then; Life is good ♥.”  Prior to that, in response to someone asking him how things were going he said, “Life is good – Had a great day so far and it’s not over yet- ♥ this life.”  The final update he posted, just 6-days before his birthday on November 14th, went as follows: “Going to be having a Tattoo party soon at my home.  My two friends are going to come here and Ink people if you want to get something let me know asap and we will work something out.  These are the people that have worked on me so to see their work look at my photos :-)”.  That was the last Facebook update he ever made.  Police found him in his apartment on November 21st.  The unofficial report, through the grapevine of concerned friends, said that he had been dead for at least four to five days before being found, they did not know the cause of death, and an investigation would be conducted.

Looking at his Facebook page now is a surreal experience.  On his birthday he was already dead.  No one knew that fact until the next day.  Earlier in the week, on his Wall, there was a string of posts wishing him happy birthday, (I remember getting similar birthday posts from “friends” on Facebook, some of whom I hadn’t seen or spoke to in years, wishing me well – part of Facebook etiquette, I guess).  After about 20 or so birthday wishes, the RIP messages began, many more than the birthday wishes.

People posted quick messages like, “RIP brother, you will be missed,” multimedia messages with links to YouTube videos of Pearl Jam’s “Black” or other appropriate songs he would have liked, and some more personal notes, (I have yet to post my note).  What strikes me about this aspect of the tragedy is how we as people are finding new ways to grieve, digitally.  The Facebook Wall has become the virtual wake, if you will, where those of us not local enough or not close enough to be there in person can express our sadness and love to the departed.

When a user dies on Facebook, that persons profile can become “memorialized” by notifying Facebook about the user’s death.  Here is what Facebook says about a memorialized profile:

When a user passes away, we memorialize their account to protect their privacy. Memorializing an account removes certain sensitive information (e.g., status updates and contact information) and sets privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in search. The Wall remains so that friends and family can leave posts in remembrance. Memorializing an account also prevents all login access to it.

The process for reporting a death to Facebook is as follows:

Please report this information here so that we can memorialize this person’s account. Memorializing the account removes certain more sensitive information like status updates and restricts profile access to confirmed friends only. Please note that in order to protect the privacy of the deceased user, we cannot provide login information for the account to anyone. We do honor requests from close family members to close the account completely.

These mechanisms are in place to preserve the integrity of the person’s profile and provide the emotional outlet for friends and family.  Someone must have worked with Facebook to clean up my friend’s account b/c many of the birthday messages are now gone.  I’m kind of glad.  It was unsettling to see that string of messages knowing they were posted after the fact.  I’m also glad that I can now go leave my parting words for my friend in the hope that perhaps they’ll bring a little comfort, comfort to those looking at his profile, family, friends, whoever.  Also, I hope this blog post serves as a source of information about handling a death on Facebook and a tribute to my friend.  His legacy of courage and love of life will always live on through those who knew him.

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