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.

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.