Tag Archives: etiquette

Making Stupid Comments Online

I was kindly referred to as a lawyer “doing great things with social media” in a blog post today.  Just to prove that flattery gets you everywhere, I’ll gladly link through to Bryony Thomas’  Clear Thought consultancy blog about managing negative feedback.  Click the image below.

Click image to go to blog

I was greatly disheartened yesterday by a stupid comment made on a discussion I was having in a LinkedIn group.

I was happy to leave the comment online rather than fan his flames.  It was only his reputation that was going up in smoke after all.

I figured that a fellow lawyer who had got as far as finding his way into LinkedIn groups might just  “get it” regarding social media.

What might he have got?

  • That you don’t post about masturbation and ejaculation on a professional message board talking about professional conduct and best practice- where your own frikking colleagues are going to read it
  • That if you missed that first point, your comment remains in perpetuity for all to see and makes you look a bit of a dick
  • That social media, as Jonny Ball might have once said “Can be man’s best friend, but it can also be his worst enemy.”

Unfortunately, my companion in that discussion was saved from eternal embarrassment by the LinkedIn group moderator removing the comment.

So, Mr I-Do-Not-Get-It, if you are reading this, I would like to thank you.  I have got several training sessions coming up exploring how we lawyers can use social media effectively and responsibly, in a way which is in keeping with our professional ethics and responsibilities – your bizarre outburst will provide an excellent case study.

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Hey Look! That’s Me! – A Test For Client Confidentiality and Social Media

I spotted a twitter exchange yesterday that caused me some concern.

A case was being discussed on Twitter that referred to identifying features. No names were mentioned and in that sense, at least, the clients were anonymous.  However, the details being discussed, such as appointments, some figures and issues would have been enough for the clients concerned to identify themselves in a flash.

I cannot recall where I learnt this “Hey look, that’s me!” test for confidentiality.  I do not know if it is enshrined in protocol or case law – perhaps a reader might care to tell us – but it makes perfect sense.

If a client can recognise themselves then that is perhaps the lowest cognitive bar we can set.

That is no reason to disregard that low bar, or dismiss it with an argument that “No-one else would know who it was.”  After all, if the client complains to us or relevant supervising bodies, then that will be more than enough to land us in hot water.

This incident also highlighted another issue.  We need to be diligent ourselves in testing confidentiality, but also in pointing out possible problems to one another.

By doing so we can self police effectively.  The alternative is likely to be a blanket ban or some other hysterical over-reaction.

I hope that if I have such a lapse in future that someone would quickly send me a direct message discretely to point out a possible problem.

I also hope that I would receive it with the same good grace and politeness that my Twitter friend did.

In the words of High School Musical “We’re all in this together…”

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When Law Firm Social Media Goes Bad.

I was reading through my LinkedIn updates a few moments ago and read the following;

  • Craig Holt
    Craig Holt Unexpected events such as the shootings in Cumbria can leave loved ones in unexpected legal and financial… http://fb.me/By6ukJw9 via Twitter
  • My poor taste alarm bells were ringing in a flash.

    The link did go through to a Facebook page which looked like this;

    Now, I do not know what is going on here.  I have tweeted what appears to be the Quality Solicitors twitter account to ask whether they are being attacked by mischievous sorts and will let you know if I receive a response.

    But given that there appears to be a concerted effort to spread this rather surprising selling message across LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, I would be surprised if that were the case.  It’s on their website as well, so I have to presume this is sanctioned.

    At the moment it looks as though Quality Solicitors are genuinely putting out this message.  I hope they prove me wrong.

    What lessons are there to be learnt from this?

    Think very carefully about putting edgy stuff “Out there”.

    Is it going to offend anyone?  If it is, that in itself is not automatically a reason not to do it, but how is that potential offence going to impact your law firm?

    Secondly, think about who you are teaming up with.

    The Quality Solicitors brand is a national service that has high street firms sign up to benefit from the collective name, brand and profile that Quality Solicitors can offer.  Bearing that in mind, how many of those firms will approve of this message and how does it reflect back on the component firms?

    I suspect this story has some way to go, but let me have your thoughts below, especially if you are one of the subscribing firms.

    As Johnny Ball from “Think of a Number” might have said, social media can be a lawyer’s best friend.  It could also be their worst enemy.

    UPDATE

    Having just revisited the Quality Solicitors website I see that the comments seem to have been deleted from the Twitter feed.  Hopefully this might indicate that this was not a sincere attempt to sell but was a malicious event.

    I am aware that I had previously blogged favourably on Quality Solicitors’ initiative.  I want to see them succeed for the sake of the profession and all their subscriber firms. Here’s hoping they haven’t dropped the baton.

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    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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    Filed under An End To Silo Thinking, General Technology