The Undeniable Ruth Rotating Header Image

Social Media

Enough with the Digital Panty Throwing

Keep your digital panties on people!

I love Twitter. It’s my favorite social media platform. I love that it provides an easy way to start a conversation with someone you wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to talk to other than sending an awkward email. One lesson that’s been drilled into my head by my social media expert friends is that social media is a communications tool. It’s not a digital billboard.

From Improv AZ's 2010 No Pants Light Rail Ride by Devon Christopher Adams

From Improv AZ’s 2010 No Pants Light Rail Ride by Devon Christopher Adams

One thing that annoys me on Twitter is what I call “digital panty throwing.” This is when a person (male or female) asks a celebrity for a retweet because they think the celebrity is hot, or it’s their birthday, or they want the celebrity to help them bring attention to a cause. There’s no real communication going on there. The person is using the celebrity to get attention and too many celebrities are indulging these people. Stop it!

I became aware of his problem during the 2012 Olympic Games. I love gymnastics so I followed the U.S. men’s team. I figured they could share insights and experiences from inside the games without the obnoxiousness teenage girliness that would be all over the women’s profiles, because well, they’re teenage girls. Unfortunately, the men flooded their feeds with retweets of girls telling them how cute they are. I understand they wanted to keep their fans happy and they appreciated the attention, but it added nothing to the online conversation and it was more insufferable than anything else.

I had the pleasure of talking with Gary Vaynerchuk this year. He said retweets like this are simply bragging and quite unattractive. I think the only time it’s ok to retweet what other people say about you is when you’re enhancing the conversation or sharing something that you suspect a significant portion of your followers will want to read. Otherwise, enjoy the attention by yourself. If someone wants to know what other people are saying to and about you, they’ll look it up themselves.

The novelty of Twitter has worn off. It’s just a tool to talk with people – not at them. If there’s a celebrity you want to talk to, engage them in a meaningful way. No one cares if you think they’re hot (we already know that) or you want them to wish your brother a happy birthday.

If you’re someone who has a strong following, please don’t encourage digital panty throwing by conceding to these requests for retweets. I know you’re awesome. Retweeting stupid requests from fans makes you look less awesome.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Reinventing Professional Services – Top 5 Tips For Lawyers

Photo courtesy of Ari Kaplan Advisors

Ari Kaplan’s new book, Reinventing Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace addresses the question of how professionals can integrate new technologies into their businesses to be more influential and effective.  Loaded with resources and stories from professionals in all industries, Ari’s book provides suggestions about how to use social media, blogging, e-newsletters, and video/audio recordings that makes them less daunting.

As I read this book, I reflected on the legal profession, which has the stereotypes of being dignified and particular, and where deviating from the norm is often frowned upon.  Many lawyers and law firms shy away from online resources and tools.  Perhaps this is because of the strict rules in the profession about advertising and soliciting clients, or because members the profession have a low tolerance for making mistakes.

I’ve compiled the top five lessons lawyers can integrate from this book into their professional lives.

1.       Social Media is a Tool, not the Goal.
It seems that a lot of professionals think that having a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, or a blog is enough, but then they never use them.  Doing this is like buying a hammer and never building anything.  These professionals do not understand that these are tools to communicate more effectively with other professionals and clients.  These are merely channels to “cultivate relationships.”  These are fantastic tools for building trust by being genuine and consistent.  Using these tools is not a one-time event; it requires “habitual participation.”

2.       Be a “Visible Enthusiastic Expert.”
This is one of the best lessons I took from this book.  Being a visible enthusiastic expert means being part of the online conversation on topics where you have interest and expertise.  It’s important to contribute “rich content” and to convey your passion.  Conversing with other experts in an online forum is an effective way to become associated with them.  Even the simple act of sharing a link to another’s work shows that you are aware and informed about a topic.  Additionally, being transparent about who you are and what you can do without being a salesperson conveys to others that you care about a particular issue or population.

3.       Pick Your Targets.
Having a solid online presence is a good start, but it’s not the end.  When there are people you want to connect with, you have to reach out to them.  Don’t wait for them to find you.  Websites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ are instant ice-breakers for introducing yourself to new people.  They provide comfortable opportunities to ask a person for advice or for an informational interview.  If your first attempt at interaction fails to produce the desired result, be sure to follow up.

4.       Do Not Be Afraid to Fail.
Law students are instilled with the notion that they must always be perfect – perfect appearance, perfect cover letters, perfect work product, etc.  They graduate thinking the worst thing they could do is misspell a word on an email.  This can make them gun shy to try new things.  Ari’s book demonstrates that most of these new tools are easier to use than you think.  He encourages readers to consider who they want to connect with, where they are interacting, and to join the conversation.  He promises that you will fail some of the time, and that’s ok.  If you try using an e-newsletter and it doesn’t work for you, you can use another tool like blogging or LinkedIn to reach your audience.  Figuring out what works for you and your business is part of the process.

5.       Never Forget the Value of In-Person Contact
Using technology to communicate with someone is less intimidating than picking up the phone; however it is more impersonal.  Nothing will ever replace face-to-face contact, which is more personal and memorable.  It is important to look for opportunities to meet people in person whenever possible and to continue to build relationships with thoughtful follow up.

Using these tips and tools requires willingness and commitment.  The potential benefits of using technology should overpower any fears that come with trying new things.  Always keep in mind that these tools are to facilitate interaction, not for self-promotion.

Ari Kaplan, a Fastcase50 honoree, is the principle of Ari Kaplan Advisors in New York City and the author of The Opportunity Maker, Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career Through Creative Networking and Business Development (Thomson-West, 2011).  I bartered this blog post in exchange for a copy of his new book. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Flash Mobs Are Not Crimes

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.  This blog should not be viewed as legal advice.  It is simply my experiences, opinions, and information I looked up on the internet.

It appears the term “flash mob” is being used inappropriately and its meaning is being overly broadened to include any group activity that is coordinated using social media.  This year, there have been several robberies and assaults perpetrated by a group of people that appear (at least on the surface) to have been orchestrated via social media sites.  The media has called them “flash mob crimes.”  They make it sound like someone created a Facebook event that said, “Meet at Broadway and Main at 10pm.  At exactly 10:03, we’re all going to run into the minimart, grab whatever we want, and run out.”  That’s not a flash mob.  That’s solicitation and possibly conspiracy.  If the event actually occurs, it’s larceny and perhaps inciting a riot.

Improv AZ - Where's Waldo Flash Mob Photo by Jeff Moriarty

A flash mob is defined as “a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment and/or satire.”  Flash mobs have been occurring at least since the 1970’s.  In recent years, they have been orchestrated via email and social media websites; however, that does not mean that every public group activity that is coordinated via social media is a flash mob.

Flash mobs are generally light-hearted innocuous fun.  People who participate in flash mobs ride public transportation without their pants; they welcome back strangers at the airport; they have fake battles between heroes and villains; and they stand frozen in place for short periods of time.  Some protests and promotional events are referred to as “flash mobs,” but technically they’re not.  And any event that has a criminal intent is definitely not a flash mob.

I give the media some leeway when it comes to coining terms; however, I was deeply disturbed when I saw a legal website refer to flash mobs as including criminal behavior.  It suggests the writer did not do their research on this topic.

I love flash mobs.  I have been participating in them and organizing them since 2009.  When Improv AZ organizes a flash mob, we do thorough research on the potential legal implications of our event.  I have attended an event with pages of statutes in my back pocket to ensure that we’re acting within the confines of the law.  We are diligent to inform our participants in advance of their do’s and don’ts.  We may push the envelope, but we never intend to cross the line.  Most of our encounters with police involve them smiling or laughing at us.  At the 2010 No Pants Ride after party, a Tempe police car stopped near us and an officer yelled out, “We had a briefing about you!”  And then he went about his merry way, knowing we were harmless.  A bit odd and rather goofy, but harmless.

Flash mobs are harmless, playful, and unexpected events.  They are not criminal acts by design.  Flash mobs and crimes are two completely different phenomena.  They do not exist on the same continuum.

In other news, the flash mob community needs to send a big “thank you” to Mayor Jackson and the city of Cleveland.   Mayor Jackson recently vetoed a proposed law that would have made it illegal to use social media to coordinate a flash mob.  Thank you for protecting our First Amendment rights!

SALK Day 38 – Social Media AZ

This Friday, February 11th is Social Media AZ 4, the premier business focused event that helps companies learn and understand the latest techniques in digital marketing and social media.  It is the largest interactive marketing event in Arizona, featuring industry experts who will be sharing their experiences on how to do it right and what really works.  Attendees will learn about the latest developments in social media, location-based services, mobile applications and the latest data driven digital marketing techniques.  Fred Von Graf founded Social Media AZ, and is the driving force behind this premier Social Media for Business event.

The event will take place at MADCAP Theaters in Tempe.   Doors open at 8am with a keynote at 9am, and the event will conclude by 4pm.  SMAZ 4 will include the SMAZZIES – the social media awards, with categories for Must Follow, Business That Gets It, Most Social Use of Social Media,  Trailblazer, Up and Coming, Homegrown Can of Awesome, and Innovative Use of Social on Mobile.

SMAZ 4 has an all-star set of presenters including Jay Baer and Pam Slim.  The presenters range from Fortune 200 executives to Social Media authors and SEM architects with years of experience willing to share the challenges and rewards of implementing internal and external social media strategies.

Additionally, every attendee will receive a free copy of “The Now Revolution” by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund.  You can meet the authors and get your book signed!

Tickets for the event are still available.  Use promotional code SMAZ4SALK for 25% off.  A portion of the proceeds from SMAZ will go to support local non-profits.

SMAZ is awesome and has given me 2 free tickets to give away – a $250 value!  Leave a comment telling me why you want to go to SMAZ to be entered into the random drawing.  The drawing will take place at 5pm Arizona time.

You can also follow Social Media AZ on Twitter and Facebook.

Update: Congrats to Kim Hazlewood on winning 2 free tickets to SMAZ!  Have a great time.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Fred Von Graf.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Social Media Policies That Every Company Needs

Kade Dworkin

Last weekend I attended a talk by Kade Dworkin to business students on social media strategies for companies.  Kade seems to have read every book on this topic and knows the heavy hitters in this area.  He suggested that every company have two social media policies.

Social Media Policy for Employees
Is an employee allowed to say who their employer is on their blog?  What about their Twitter profile?  Is there anything wrong with an employee tweeting out, “Grrr…some days I hate my job” or “My clients are making me crazy?”  If there are no rules about what employees can and can’t say online when they’re on their own time, you really can’t get mad at them for what they say, unless there is a blatant violation of client confidentiality or a disclosure of a trade secret.  It’s disturbing that only 29% of employers have social media policies.  Being active on social media sites is part of doing business today, and if you don’t have a social media policy for employees, you’re asking for trouble.

Social Media Crisis Response Policy
I had never heard this before, but it makes perfect sense.  In the past, a company had  more time before a bad review is disseminated via newspapers and word of mouth.  Now, a bad review can be spread across the internet in a matter of minutes.  While a company should hope and work towards providing exceptional goods and services all the time, there will always be individuals who are not happy.  When that happens, it’s critical that the company has a plan in place on how it will respond.  The company should already have action plans for dealing with the worst case scenarios that might occur.  Additionally, Kade suggested that whoever is in charge of social media should have a strong relationship with the company’s legal department to avoid any major missteps.

Recall the fiasco that occurred after Amy’s Baking Company got a bad review on Yelp. The main issue wasn’t that a customer was unhappy, but that the owner did a horrible job responding to the bad review.  It’s hard for an owner to get a bad review about their staff and service, and it’s critical that the response be one that attempts to resolve the problem privately and show that the company is customer-focused.  In this case, the owner’s response caused irreparable harm to their and their restaurant’s reputation.  Many people who read the review and the owner’s response said that they will never patronize that restaurant in the future.  I have never been to Amy’s and now given the choice, I’ll go somewhere else.

Kade also suggested that companies never let an intern be in charge of social media because it’s important that whoever is in charge is someone who can make decisions on the fly to resolve problems.  This should occur within 30 minutes, not in a few days.  A fast and effective response can do as much to bolster a company’s reputation as providing exceptional service.

Enhanced by Zemanta