LinkedIn unveiled its latest product today.  It’s called LinkedIn Today similar to your local paper. It promises to be a game change for how professionals share content on LinkedIn. Check out the video:
LinkedIn Today promises to deliver the top stories you need to know about from your trusted network of connections.  One of the main objectives of LinkedIn is to become the essential source for professional insights and I think this is great for lawyers.
Visit LinkedIn Today by going to www.linkedin.com/today and take the tour. You can browse all topics or narrow it down to law if you’d prefer.  The top stories come from what was shared most from your network. You can see who shared the content as well.  If you’d like to read an article later you can save it and read it on your iPhone later.
Mr. Nishar of LinkedIn explains it best: “When we make truly live changing decisions, we don’t use search, we rely on the people we trust.” Word of mouth advertising and referrals are still number one when it comes to getting new clients and LinkedIn Today Supports that.
The take away from this is Lawyers and law firms should share their content on LinkedIn often.  The more viral your content becomes the more prominently it will be displayed on LinkedIn Today.  You should return the favor on LinkedIn as well. Share the content of your LinkedIn connections and they’ll be more likely to share your content.
Sharing your content is easy.  Just copy and paste the website address of the content (blog, newsletter, etc.) and go to your homepage on LinkedIn. Click “attach a link” and past away. You can summarize the article where it says “share an update” and have the option of keeping or tossing the thumbnail. Watch for comments on your headlines as well.
Check out these new LinkedIn tools as well. They are pretty cool!
LinkedIn Maps: ”Map your professional network to understand the relationships between you and your connections. Your Professional World Visualized.”
Customized StumbleUpon Button:  LinkedIn Today offers a section devoted to StumbleUpon. You’ll see news from the industries you read up on most.
Skills:  ”Discover the skills you need to succeed. Learn what you need to know from the thousands of hot, up-and-coming skills we’re tracking.” Enter your desired skill and you’ll see your skills popularity level, professionals with the same skill, related skills, etc.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to inspire legal professionals to blog.  For me the reasons are so logical that I have a hard time understanding why anyone doesn’t blog. You get to interact with your peers, meet new people, keep current in your practice area and broadcast yourself to a larger network.  You might get asked to speak at an event as an expert in your field… and you might just get a client if you’re lucky.

I read an article tonight by Niki Black on legal blogging and how it’s changing.  It’s one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time and also the inspiration for this post.  She writes:

“And, it’s passion that separates the good blogs from the bad. If you enjoy writing and have a passion for the topic about which you are blogging, your blog, whether it’s a group blog or an individual one, will be a success.”

She captures the essence of blogging perfectly. You must be passionate about what you do to have a successful blog. You also have to enjoy writing as it’s definitely required.  If you don’t have these two key characteristics you might want to dabble in another area of social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook which can be just as effective if done correctly.

The technical aspects of publishing a blog can be learned by researching the web and following other legal bloggers. It takes time to decide which software to use but trust me it’s not rocket science. The hardest part is writing your first article and hitting post. After that it will become easier and easier and you’ll wonder how you didn’t blog before.

Successful law blogs introduce you to the writers as real people. You get to know their styles and personalities. They have opinions and voices that you depend on. They are reliable and on schedule (most of the time) and not always perfect.  They cover a specific niche. These are the things that make a successful law blog. But of all these points, passion is #1 in my books.

I help Nils Montan run the Law & Social Networking group over on LinkedIn. I highly recommend joining the group if you like engaging conversation and keeping up to date on everything social media related. The group has over 1100 members to date and everyone is very helpful. You’ll find all types of opinions and lawyers from all over the world in every type of practice.

I posted a discussion about a month ago asking:

“How Many of You Have Done the Following on Your LinkedIn Profile?

1) Changed your personal url to include your name (Like this – http://ca.linkedin.com/in/samanthatcollier)
2) Included a recent photograph of yourself
3) Included your Twitter handle (if you tweet) in your profile
4) Give Recommendations
5) Connect people together you think would benefit from knowing each other
6) Include apps such as slideshare, tripit, etc.”

Most of the group had done all of the above except for #6 to include apps such as Tripit, Slideshare, JD Supra, etc. on their profile. Nancy Myrland kindly provided instructions on how to find the apps on LinkedIn:

“The Apps are easy to find. On your Home Page, look at the last item at the top called More. Click for the drop down, and you will see Get More Applications. You will be taken to a page of Apps that LinkedIn provides for us to enhance our presence. Good Luck!”

Isn’t she great? I highly recommend using Apps such as JD Supra known as Legal Updates, Events, Blog Link, SlideShare, Portfolio Display (to display video on your profile) and perhaps Lawyer Ratings.

More Great Tips from the Group:

  • Make use of the Answers section on LinkedIn.  Take time to answer one question per week in your practice area. This will help create your expert reputation in your particular practice area.
  • Make sure you include a personal messages when connecting with new contacts on LinkedIn. The standard message is quite “blah” in my books. Include how you know the contact or some other piece of interesting information. You’ll stand out from the rest.
  • Include video on your profile. You can do this by adding the Portfolio Display App. You will definitely be ahead of the game on that one.
  • Some suggest not linking your Twitter account as your tweets can bombard people’s newsfeeds and might even lead to you being blocked or unconnected.  I made this mistake as well and have since unconnected my Twitter account.  Please note you can tweet something to your LinkedIn news feed by including the hashtag #LI.
  • Make use of the three URLs you are allotted on your profile.  I list the firm I work for, my blog and The Online Guys. It’s a good idea to list them as “other” and identify each link for what it is instead of the suggested options while editing your profile:

How about you? Do you have any tips I’ve missed? I’d love to hear from you!

Get ready because Facebook has rolled out yet another change. These guys keep me busy! Now when you like an article online, a full story complete with headline and picture will appear on your wall. And for those of you who like to comment don’t worry you’re also given the opportunity to do so. Prior to this change only a link appeared in your activity section and this usually went unnoticed.
Lawyers who use Facebook both professionally and personally should note their “like” preferences accordingly. What you like will be shared with your entire network and will be prominently displayed on your profile.  
This can definitely work in your favor as you can share articles you think your clients, potential clients, referral sources, etc. would benefit from reading, and add your own spin by commenting.
Lawyers who use the “Share” button on their websites or personal blogs should replace it with the Like button.  Facebook will continue to support the Share button but will not be developing it any further. 
So go ahead and “like” away. Just make sure you don’t mind sharing with your entire Facebook network!
The folks at Google announced yesterday through their blog (you should definitely follow it to keep up to date on all the latest Google news) that they changed their search algorithm yet again.  This change will affect nearly 12% of all search queries and will promote high quality websites. 
This is great news for law blogs because websites that create original content such as in depth reports, research reports, thoughtful analysis, etc. will have a higher ranking online.
Legal bloggers can benefit from this change by publishing original content often, as I’m sure most of you already do!  Websites that duplicate content or syndicate content from other websites will be pushed down in rankings.  
Another plus for Google!

An article I read today called “Reputation is all: Could the Internet kill your company?” from the BBC really got me thinking. Rebecca Posoli-Cilli, who sells multi-million dollar jets (sign me up please), was involved in litigation prior to starting her new company. Of course the case was online and it showed up on the first page of Google when searching her name.
The article quotes on to quote her “All you saw was this docket, that I’d been sued. But it didn’t tell the whole story, it comes up as a black mark, but it didn’t talk about the settlement.”
Prospective clients were not impressed. One client stopped doing business with her. This example is a prime example why law firms and lawyers must be involved in social media. I could write two blogs from the article: #1 how to monitor your online presence and #2 how to handle the situation above. I’m going to focus on #2 for now.
Rebecca employed a company to help bury the bad press online. She hired an outside firm called reputation.com to help her set up her social media profiles and flood the Internet with positive information. These search results showed up instead of the prior case. It’s that simple.  Legal professionals can do this themselves as well. It’s all dependent on how much time they want to spend and what resources are available to them.  
The take away from this article is it’s important to monitor your online presence and respond to negative information. “Negative” can mean a multitude of things. It’s important to respond to negative comments as long as they have some merit. Coming up with a content strategy to downplay negative press is also a good idea.

Facebook launched new upgrades for pages today promising these features will help you manage communication, express yourself and increase engagement. The look and feel of the new page style is very similar to personal profiles.

You can update your page today BUT please note you can’t revert back to the old style once doing so. All pages will upgrade to the new layout March 1, 2011. You should also alert any other page administrators of the change before upgrading. Here’s what changed:

Photos

Photos will be displayed in a banner across the top of your page similar to a personal profile. Pictures posted by your fans will not be displayed here. You can hide a photo by rolling over it and clicking X.

Navigation

Navigation links are on the left again like personal profiles.

Wall Filters

There are two wall filters available now: posts by your page and top posts from everyone. Facebook did this to the most “interesting” stories are displayed first. Page admins will have additional filters available to them.

Admin View

You can now interact with other areas of Facebook as your page and not just your personal profile. (I’m happy with this change). You’ll now get notifications when people interact with your page (+1), see activity from the pages you like in your news feed (-1), like other pages and feature them on your page (+1) and make comments on other pages as your page (+2).

You can check out the new look by viewing the Social Media for Law Firms Facebook Page here: www.facebook.com/socialmediaforlawfirms.

What do you think of these new features?  Do you think they’ll increase fan engagement?  I think displaying popular posts on top might help.

“I auto-unfollow those that auto-respond to me on Twitter”

One of my biggest pet peeves on Twitter is auto responded messages.  These messages usually include non specific information with links to Facebook pages, web pages, etc. Auto responses can come across as efficient but if I really want your web address I’ll grab it on your profile page when I follow you.

Please do not use this feature if you decide to create a Twitter account. Auto responding is annoying and may give off the wrong impression.  People have followed you to get to know you, not a robot.

Most legal twitter accounts don’t amass large followings right away either.  Take the time to write a personal message and include your follower’s name.  It’s also a good idea to ask if there’s anything you can do to help.

The inspiration for this article came from one of my favorite blogs, Social Media Today. The title of the post is “I’d Rather Hear Nothing Than Get Auto-Response“.  (They have great titles by the way)  I agree with their advice.