Facebook quietly rolled out “sponsored stories” this week. It’s somewhat similar to Beacon, Facebook’s advertisement system that was shut down in September of 2009 as a result of a class action lawsuit due to privacy concerns.
What You Need to Know
  • Users won’t be able to opt out of their posts, check-ins, and likes being displayed as “sponsored stories” along with other ads.
  • Facebook says these ads are a way to help advertisers monitor their word of mouth advertising.
  • Ads will include your name and profile photo
  • Facebook explains it like this “the ad will simply recycle your check-in or Like as an ad labeled “Sponsored Story.”
I think Facebook should allow users to opt out of Sponsored Stories if they wish. But because this isn’t the case be aware of where you “check in” and what you “like”.  It may just become an ad!

I recently asked this question in the Law &Social Networking Group on LinkedIn. I’m happy to report that everyone in the group had #1 – 5 in the bag. Most used apps as well but I wanted to share what’s available.

My LinkedIn Tips

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, legal updates, etc.

LinkedIn offers a variety of applications to optimize your profile. My profile currently includes:

• Sections
• Slideshare
• Legal Updates (JD Supra)
• My Travel
• Tweets
• Events

Here’s a complete list of LinkedIn applications available (current to January 27, 2011)

• Reading List by Amazon
• Polls
• Blog Link
• Huddle Workspace
• WordPress
• Tweets
• SAP Community Bio
• Portfolio Display
• Projects and Teamspaces
• FT Press Delivers
• Slideshare
• Box.net Files
• Company Buzz
• Google Presentation
• My Travel
• Legal Updates
• Events
• Real Estate Pro
• Lawyer Ratings (LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell)

If you have a blog I’d definitely recommend picking one blogging applications. I made the mistake of having a couple different ones and then realized my blog appeared twice on my profile, a little self centered on my part!

Which applications do you have on your LinkedIn profile and why? Are there any applications that are just a nuisance?

Put away your cell phones! Sign out of Skype and MSN! You might be able to voice chat over Facebook soon. A few lucky users are testing out the new voice chat feature according to Inside Facebook.
The Chat button would sit along side the Chat, Message, and Poke buttons on your friends profiles.
The article referenced this could be the result of Facebook’s collaboration with Skype but no Skype branding appeared in the test. It could also be an in-house project as Facebook was hiring for a Network Engineer – Voice recently.
It would be neat if the voice chat function could be utilized by Facebook pages and groups. 
I’m on the fence if this new feature could actually benefit legal marketing in any way.  There might be an increase in “cold calls” via the chat but I’m not sure what kind of leads these would be.  An employee would also have to be available to answer the calls.  If the chat was available in groups it could be beneficial to have FB Chats on various practice areas, etc.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think this new feature can help out legal marketing in any way? Or will it just be another useless feature?
 I bet video chat will be next!

My first post was about legal disclaimers on blogs back on July 11, 2010. It was a question we were discussing at work and I felt others might benefit from our thoughts on the matter. It was both scary and exciting to hit “Publish Post” that first time and I’m sure I went back and edited it two or three times afterwards. Writing Social Media for Law Firms is one of my favorite things to do late at night after my kids go to sleep. I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned from this experience.
Differing Opinions
There will be people that have differing opinions than you.  They will most likely voice their opinions as well. Instead of taking offense, be thankful. Start a dialog and look forward to the following conversations. 
Blog Comments
I have chosen not to moderate my comments as I haven’t had the reason too, yet. I don’t disagree with moderation if you get spam, have a cyber stalker or whatever reason you decide but I think allowing comments is a good thing.  Blogging isn’t just about pushing content out into the cyber world. It’s about connecting with your readers and asking their opinions.  I’ve gained a lot of insight from the comments on my blog.
Make sure you engage with your readers as well.  I thank every person that comments as they’ve taken time out of their day to do so.
I’m in love with my latest commenting widget called Intense Debate and I highly recommend it to anyone that blogs. It allows for nested commenting; login by Twitter, OpenID, WordPress, etc.; subscribing to comments and email alerts.
Inspiration
Most of my content inspiration comes from working at a law firm. My colleagues question me about what works, what doesn’t and what’s the point of using social media. Their questions, and the following discussions, have made up the bulk of my posts.
The latest social media news and how it affects legal marketing/lawyers/law firms also inspires me. Legal cases that involve social media are a favorite of mine as well.
Discuss your topic with colleagues and friends. Follow the news and make sure you have an RSS reader.  I follow hundreds of blogs and alerts.  I wouldn’t be able to blog without it.
Keep At It
Sometimes you won’t feel like writing.  Don’t beat yourself up.  There were months I didn’t publish much at all.  It’s hard to come up with content when work is busy or there isn’t any “new” news.  But it’s important to keep at it.  This ties in to inspiration as well.  Follow a routine and write often.  The more you do it the easier it will become.  I’ve gone between wanting to write five times per week to once every two weeks. Find your rhythm.  
My Personal Favorite – Just Do It

If you’re interested in writing a blog my advice would be to just start.  
Research what type of blog you’d like to use (Blogger, WordPress, etc.) and of course you’ll have to get approval (if needed) before you publish your first post.  The more you post the more you’ll learn and soon it will become second nature.
I’m going to stop here as I could go on and on about what I’ve learned.  If you don’t blog yet I hope I’ve inspired you to start.  If you do blog please leave your address below and what you write about.  
Thanks for being here for my 100th post and I hope I see you at 200!

So you’ve joined Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and of course you blog daily. You have your strategy and you’ve followed it to a tee (most days). After a couple months of faithful tweeting you connect with a potential client. You banter back and forth, do the small talk thing, and now you think it’s time to take the online conversation offline. Here’s my advice.
Does this Person Want to Connect With You?
Before you ask your potential client out for lunch make sure that they are indeed interested in potentially working with you. How did you connect? Have you discussed your area of law? Is there a need for your services? Hopefully you’ve engaged in meaningful conversation and you both know each other fairly well and are ready to take the business relationship to the next level.
How to Turn the Online Conversation Offline.
First you should give away something of value. Do you have white papers, articles, etc. that he or she may be interested in? Perhaps you both have mutual interests, is there some sort of advice you can give that may be of some benefit? The trick here is that it needs to be authentic.
Afterwards, after a reasonable amount of time, ask him or her if they’d be available for a telephone call to follow up. Keep the relationship going. Send newsletters (unless they ask you not too), cards, etc. It’s also a good idea to have a presentation on your services available that you can offer to share at their office.
Refer qualified clients to your contact. This goes without saying.
The above steps should help in turning an online conversation offline. The trick is to be authentic, provide valuable information of interest and timing. What about you? Do you have any tips?

I published an article last night for The Online Guys about my favorite social networking tool Cortex. Because I love this google chrome extension so much I’d like to share it with you as well.
Everyone knows I’m a Google Chrome girl. I’m thoroughly impressed with one of their latest extensions, Cortex. It’s used to share content from any web page you wish on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumbr. And it’s lightning fast.
Installing Cortex is simple. Visit the Cortex extension page and click on the blue Install button. Follow the procedure and add the social media accounts you wish to share content on. I use it mainly to share on Twitter. After the extension is installed the fun begins.
After you find a neat article on the web you’d like to share simply hold the left-mouse button down in the middle of the paragraph. A circle will appear (see picture) showing your configured social media accounts. Select the network you’d like to share with and you’re done! The headline is automatically grabbed, the link is shortened and it’s shared. All in one step! To edit the message you’d like to share along with the link hover over the social network you’d like to use and a text field will appear. Enter your message and hit send.
This little tool has saved me a lot of time. I hope you enjoy it as much as me! Let me know your thoughts or if you have any other tools you use to share content quicker.

Quora

January 18, 2011 — Leave a comment

Quora is a collection of questions and answers that is created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. I saw it explained nicely as:

“an online platform that connects the information needs of real people with information solutions provided by real people.”

The defining feature of Quora is that it strives for consensus. Answers can be voted up or down which helps display the useful answers and push down the not so useful.

The first time I checked out Quora I thought it was very similar to Wikipedia but after doing a little research online I realized it’s not:

  • Strives for a general consensus rather than a neutral point-of-view. Will be seen as a database of all content that people want to know where as Wikipedia is strictly an encyclopedia.
  • Encourages contributions from a wider range of users. Questions can be answered by numerous contributors.
  • Quora reduces the barriers for a user to contribute content.
  • People’s names are attached to answers.

Depending on how Quora takes off it could prove to be a very useful tool for lawyers looking to increase their reputation as experts in their respective practice areas.

Creating a profile on Quora is simple. It’s similar to Twitter as you can follow users and they can follow you as well. You can also follow and create topics.

Your personal page displays your avatar, biography, links to Twitter and Facebook if you choose to connect your accounts, as well as your questions, answers, posts and edits.

My favorite feature is the ability to post questions and answers on Facebook and Twitter.  I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the content to date and have shared answers quite often.

Please let me know if you’d like an invite to join. I’ll be happy to send one over.

Quora even offers Programming Data Challenges such as Datacenter Cooling and the Python URI. They are way beyond my scope of intelligence. Let me know if you have better luck than me with them!

Social Media for Law Firms, along with Thoughtful Legal Management and Rants and Raves, were runners- up for the 2010 CLawbies Canadian Law Blog Awards – Practice Management Award.  The award went to the well deserving Dan Pinnington’s Avoid A Claim Blog.  
The CLawBies have been taking place for five years and encourage nominations by tweeting and/or blogging.  One of the main goals of having these awards is to encourage community between nominators and nominees. More information can be found on the awards here
A huge Thank You for those of you that voted for Social Media for Law Firms. I’m extremely honoured to be included with such a talented group of writers and look forward to writing much more in 2011.