Category Archives: An End To Silo Thinking

Posts drawing upon other professions to see how they use social media and technology

Client Centered Practice? Try Social Media.

Social media enables us as lawyers to make it easier for clients to understand us and work with us.

I was at an excellent meeting last night with 9 other motivated and energetic collaborative lawyers.

Our purpose was to consider what client centered practice, within collaborative law and family law generally would look like.  This was a discussion that Woody Mosten, a leading collaborative practitioner began back in February.

Various aspects were discussed – better aligning the first interview process, broader consideration of the changing legal market place and ABS and the like.

I was advocating social media as a means of client centering.

I had suggested that we look to communications and adult learning theory.  Part of this suggests that we need to have “warmed up” the listener, let’s say our client, so that they are ready to hear the advice that we might have for them before we first meet with them.  We give them a context, or as De Bono might say, an array, in which they can easily place us and what we have to say to them.

How do we reach clients before we meet them?  Website, yes, Yellow Pages (increasingly few I would hope) but what about our blogs, our LinkedIn accounts, our personable and professional Twitter account?

When we use social media in this way, we throw out indicators as to what we are about, what and how we practice.  The result is that clients, to a modest degree, already have some idea of who they are working with.

An example.

The other day I was meeting with an excellent training company.  I wanted to know a bit about the chief exec who I was due to meet with, and so I went to my social media circles.

I was pointed towards a book that this man had written.  What was more, the first 60 pages or so were on Google books.

I read what this man had been able to get out there and was really excited. The connections between us were obvious.

As a result I was very relaxed about the meeting.  I was able to ask him questions about his book and about stories that he had written within it.

We were able to progress to a level of mutual interest and shared connections very quickly indeed, probably within two minutes.

There will be some who tut tut and want to stay behind the impermeable membrane of the conventional company website.  And that’s fine.

But to be truly client centered, give the client a chance to know who they are meeting and working with.

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Filed under An End To Silo Thinking, Law, Lawyers and Social Media, The Changing Legal Market

This Blogpost Has Nothing To Do With The World Cup… At All

The World Cup has sent PR, marketing agents and bloggers into a frenzy.

BBC’s Radio 5 has become unlistenable.  It was already saturated with football coverage and this latest deluge has resulted in a horrific flood.

The tabloids are obsessed and the broad(er) sheets are becoming increasingly indulgent.

Every news story, article and (already) too many blog posts, are geared to some World Cup angle.

The World Cup increases TV sales, barbecue equipment, Pringles sales, cold beers, fridges to put your cold beers into and cold beer holders to take your cold beer out of your World Cup Sponsor liveried “Personal” cold beer fridge.

We will be led to believe that the World Cup increases divorce enquiries but decreases new house sales, drives business but threatens productivity and challenges employment law, incurs copyright and IP infringments and so on and so on and, incessantly, so on.

The reality is very different.  People who were doing jobs and selling products and services are still doing so.  The World Cup has little to do with divorce enquiries, enquiries of estate agents, therapists or professional dog walkers, other than self serving press copy by one company, body, pressure group or other.

Keep your eyes open, therefore, for attention seeking, irrelevant blog articles ostensibly about the World Cup but which in reality have nothing to do with it.

I’ll kick off our search with this one.

Rant over.

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Just Look at Where Your Social Media Got You!

If you were to look back at my very first naive entry on this blog, you will see this aspiration;

“One day I would love to be presenting on this stuff.”

In September, I will be presenting on this stuff at not one, but two events.

The first is the international Mediation Business Summit. I will be joining a stunning line up of speakers to explore how my colleagues within the alternative dispute resolution (ADR), mediation and collaborative law industry can develop our businesses.

If you are interested in finding out more, registering your interest for one of the strictly limited 250 tickets or seeing my mugshot, then go and have a look here.

I will be speaking as part of a panel to close the event on Saturday 18th September.

In the following week I am presenting a workshop for Resolution, being the leading family law association in UK, at their national ADR Conference to be held in Oxford.  The topic? Again, growing your business.

In both cases I will be speaking very clearly about the way that I have used social media to define, communicate and build trust, and new business, with referrers of some excellent work, and direct with new clients.

I will also be showing how social media enables us to demonstrate expertise and also break out of our silos and bring in practices and attitudes from other industries – often with startling results.

The last 15 months have been awesome.  A key part of that progress and business development has been, without a doubt, the social media I have engaged with.

I hope that, in September, I can encourage others to get started and stick with it.

I still remember the sage advice my good friend and mentor @dmje told me;

“Sign up for Twitter and give it a fortnight.”

I did and haven’t looked back since.

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Filed under An End To Silo Thinking, General Technology, Law, Lawyers and Social Media

Is Social Media Engagement a Myth?

To what extent is social media’s promise of engagement a myth?

Earlier today I read this comment on Twitter from the recognised and highly regarded, including by myself, Twitter expert, @markshaw.

Mark believes strongly in the power of Twitter.  I join him in that.  But his apparent belief that he should expect a response from @nickclegg is misplaced and I think inappropriate.

Social Media Etiquette

Mark’s cajoling, even challenge, to Nick Clegg to communicate with him, to reply, is inappropriate.  If Nick and Mark (forgive the familiarity of first names) were present in the same room, at a networking event, then such a demand for a response would be wildly out of place.

You would wait your turn, probably wait for an opportunity to feed into an existing conversation or wait for a quiet discrete moment.

The Force Response – Is an answer required?

I replied to Mark that the “force response”, to me, is the domain of the email.  People expect responses to email, and quickly too.

One of the joys of Twiter, to me, is that I choose to go to my twitter stream and dip in and out of the conversation as I choose.  Sometimes I broadcast, sometimes I respond, sometimes I engage in a conversation.

I opt in, or out.  Twitter puts me in control.

The only time I feel I am expected to respond is if addresed by direct or an @ message.

The Illusion of Engagement

But, for the individual reading any given tweet, the perception that they are engaged in a conversation or relationship is nothing but a powerful illusion.

This has bearings for us as all as we continue to use this medium personally and commercially.

Expectation

I myself became frustrated last year when I tweeted about some truly awful customer service from Tescos.  I live tweeted about the service and expected some response from Tescos. Nothing and I had to go through email and telephone instead.

Is it right that we expect to be heard and acknowledged within social media?

Perhaps we should expect organisations to be responsive.  Would I expect the Lib/Dem machine to get in touch with Mark?  I think I would.

Should it be a personalised answer from Nick Clegg.  No, surely not.  If he gets it then that’s very nice.  It will give Mark a great anecdote to share in his excellent Twitter training sessions and might boost Nick’s credibility within Mark’s contact spheres, but it is not necessary.

Aggression Detering Engagement

Finally I cannot resist pulling on my conflict communications hat.  There is something quite aggressive about Mark’s challenge to Nick. (I really wish I hadn’t gone with first names).  I’m sure Mark didn’t mean it to.

I think the problem is in the opening “If…”

It almost reads as if to say, “Oh yeah Nick? If you are so prepared to listen and engage, come on out here…” 

So again, note to self, be aware of how we might be coming across…

What Do You Think?

What are your thoughts?

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How Microsoft Used Community to Manage Reputation and Drive New Business

Live tweeted from Hit Me Social Media Event re Mel Carson from Microsoft Advertising Live at Hit Me Social Media Event

So Microsoft invest in social media and advertising… are we surprised?

What surprises me and many is how far Microsoft have come in turning around their previous incarnation.  They are increasingly acceptable and, crucially, responsive.

Mel Carson works for the Microsoft Advertising Community.  He enabled the TV program “The Monastery” to recruit their potential monks by positioning the program within search enquiries.

Try Bing ing Social Media White paper for a bit more on their approach which he calls “Learn and earn”.  He seems to suggest that Microsoft have an interdependent relationship with their advertising and search clients – we learn from them as we work with them

A brave question from Mel – “What is the first thing that comes into your head when someone mentions Microsoft?”, alluding to my opening point I suspect.  But the point he is making is that Microsoft Advertising is a specific part of Microsoft.  It evolved out of a negative reaction to earlier advertising efforts on the part of Microsoft.

That reaction was to establish a community and forum – a responsive approach which steps into, faces up to that conflict and criticism. That was back in 2006, and the feedback they invited (and received) was then distributed to other departments.  This feedback has enabled Microsoft to identify changes and possible improvements.

Now, of course, that means more response, more profit for Microsoft and, says Mel, for their advertising clients.

But, the community saves cost as well.  On the forum, Microsoft can rely on contributing experts, not paid by Microsoft, to help other users.

People get recognition if they answer questions and contribute and so they raise their own social capital or profile.

So, an interesting example of an organisation using community to turn its profile around and respond to users.

Is there a role for forums on law firm websites?  We’ll fret about regulation and negligence but I suspect that is not insurmountable.

The biggest worry might be the demonstration that we, as the lawyers, are not the exclusive domain of knowledge any longer, but it really is time that we came to terms with that…

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I remember my very first Hashtag…

What is a hashtag?

It was back in the winter of 2009.  I was a relative rookie on Twitter, weren’t we all, and snow was falling across the UK.

My twitter page suddenly filled up with people adding what looked like a code onto their messages.  It read;

#uksnow

The “#” prefix is called the hash (mark) and in Twitter messages it is immediately followed, without a space, by topic or issue you are looking to tag, or to flag up.  Together, you have a code called a “Hashtag”

When you hashtag something you make it easy for Twitter users and other search engines to pick out relevent content.

Earlier this year, the #uksnow hashtag became part of the newspapers’ and traditional media’s new fixation with this Twittering cult.  It became possible to search for all tweets from anyone who had used the code, or hashtag, to flag up their UK snow stories.  The press loved it and it thrust a very useful Twitter function into the awareness of many casual Twitter users.

People use hashtags for various reasons.  In my post on Twitterwall and Backchannels it is only possible to run these facilities because of the hashtag.  Everyone who wanted to contribute to the backchannel would insert the code #dellb2b into their relevant comments (which stood for Dell, who were hosting the event, and B2B, referred to the Business to Business title of the event)

The reason that I am writing this post today is to help new followers learn about this thing called the hashtag.  Why today?  Because snow has returned to the UK.  As I write I can track the progress of snow from London, heading West to me in Bath.  When I last checked, it had reached Reading…

For many new users this will be the first time they have noticed the hashtag.  I hope you will find it helpful.

Click on this link to see for yourself what people are saying about #uksnow

http://twitter.com/search?q=%23uksnow#search?q=%23uksnow

Click here to see a UK map showing where snow is being reported using the hashtag.

http://uksnow.benmarsh.co.uk/

You can set up your own hashtag searches.  Other famous ones include #trafigura , #janmoir was a particularly memorable outcry.  I’m guessing, but really cannot be bothered to look that #tigerwoods is also fairly busy still. You can go to your Twitter home page, insert the relevant hastag into a search engine and see what comes up…

Happy hashtagging.

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Google SideWiki – My, that is helpful. Or is it?

“What if you could easily contribute to any webpage and help others” opens the well intentioned trailer from Google for their new Sidewiki project.

Thanks to Jay Fleischman who brought this to my attention via his blog, Legal Practice Pro

Essentially Sidewiki enables other users to attach wiki stickers to your website, or your company’s website.  Invisible wiki stickers that is.  You will not know if you have been stickered unless you install a pair of special glasses, aka the Sidewiki toolbar app, into your browser.

Even then, you have to remember to put on your wiki sticker spectacles to see what has been said.

Is this going to be a problem?  What happens with malicious wiki stickerers?  What remedies are available to wiki sticker victims?

What safeguards will any firm have against a competitor running a diversionary tactic against any other given firm, in any given sector?

For the first time in a long time I find myself feeling a little bit reactionary here.  Perhaps it comes on the back of the criticism I read about Google Wave being a productivity sink – see Robert Scoble’s critique here .  Is this another example of Google introducing stuff that could impact on productivity, `just because it can’?

To what end does Google innovate and introduce, or in the case of Sidewiki, impose these functions?

Will the cavalcade of Social Media Experts be looking at how to leverage your Sidewiki stickers and devising campaigns to do so?

Following Friday’s article on the ability of legal processes to offer protection against defamation, or passing off and fraud, how will Google Sidewiki protect against malicious one off comments?  In what circumstances could persisitant commenting amount to harassment?

Furthermore, as I understand it, Google is saying that it will determine what gets through and what doesn’t by way of adopting an algorithm.  On that basis, does it take on the role of controlling what gets published and could that bring liability back upon their doorstep?

Is it right that an organisation spends a large budget (insert your figure here) in crafting a carefully designed and presented message, only to have it defaced, with special invisible paint, by all and sundry?

So far, if an organisation wanted to embrace web 2.0 sentiments and capability then they had the option to do so by including blogs, their own wiki’s, comments, facebook fan pages and the like.  Many – well, a few –  will have carefully constructed policies determing how they will be monitored and managed.

Many more organisations will have decided they would rather not have that dialogue on the web and that, to date, has been their call, even if we as tech evangelists might disagree with their decision.

What Sidewiki seems to do is to force those companies into the middle of the dancefloor even though they might have preferred to simply hang out in the kitchen of the web 2.0 house party.  Is that appropriate?

And just when did Lawyer1point9 become so conservative?  Normal service will resume shortly.

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