The Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is edited by Nick Holmes
Articles filed under Social media
Twitter is the social media platform of choice for journalists, free speech campaigners, Russian trolls and American presidents. On the social media spectrum of formality, it sits somewhere in between professional networking colossus LinkedIn and lolcat empire Facebook.
Twitter is essentially a “social” messaging service which enables you to maintain a minimalist profile, broadcast short “tweets” to your followers and view and respond to tweets of those you choose to follow, which are displayed in your “timeline”. It’s deceptively simple but at the same time somewhat of an enigma.
There are important differences that distinguish Twitter from Facebook and LinkedIn and give it its distinctive “personality”.
LinkedIn, acquired by Microsoft in 2016, has over 250 million active monthly users and, according to research from Attorney at Work, it is the most popular social media channel in the US legal sector, used by over 90 per cent of lawyers and forming part of the overall marketing strategy in around 70 per cent of firms. It is likely that these statistics broadly translate to the UK. LinkedIn’s popularity has increased within legal circles over recent years, with Brian Inkster, founder of Inksters citing its better rates of engagement: “I used to think LinkedIn was deadly boring compared to Twitter (which was my social media channel of choice). However, over the past year or two my views have changed. If I post a similar item on LinkedIn and Twitter it invariably gets more interaction and usually much more detailed comments on LinkedIn than on Twitter.”
Our 2017 review continues with AI, social media, machine learning, algorithms and robots taking jobs.
As the line between work and personal life blurs the media has repeatedly made reference to a right to snoop, with headlines such as “Bosses can snoop on workers’ private emails and messages” (The Telegraph), “Britain has a new human right … freedom to spy on employees’ emails” (The Daily Mail) and “Private messages at work can be read by European employers” (BBC News website). These three attention grabbers followed the decision of the ECHR in Bărbulescu v Romania (Application No 61496/08), 12 January 2016. Perhaps predictably, a proper reading of the case reveals that matters are not quite so clear-cut.
Twitter is a minority pursuit. Nevertheless, it is increasingly influential and likely to be used by many Newsletter readers as an important resource for latest news, comment and analysis.
This is not primarily an introduction to Twitter. Nor will I presume to tell you how to use it: there are more than enough self-proclaimed experts who will pretend to do that; in the end it’s entirely up to you. Rather I will try to explain the “mechanics” of Twitter. I’ve been using Twitter since 2008, so by any measure I’m an old hand; yet Twitter features change frequently and I was unsure enough of the exact effect of many of its features that I had to review my own experience quite carefully and consult Twitter’s (very good) Help pages before penning this. Below I will refer mainly to the experience on the desktop Twitter platform; many features are implemented slightly differently on mobile and some are implemented only on (Android) mobile.
Continuing our series by lawyers on how they use social media for professional and personal development.
I have always been intrigued by the possibilities which electronic communications might open up for judges and lawyers. 30 years ago I led for the Bar in discussions with BT about the usefulness of an early email system called Telecom Gold. As a judge I used FELIX, a bulletin board devised by John Mawhood and Sean Overend, and then I was into the world of the internet and the opportunities for getting our judgments online swiftly via BAILII. I moved from analogue to digital, from slow modems to ultra-fast broadband. What more was there to learn and do?
The use of social media in a workplace setting has gained increasing prominence alongside the rise of the internet-enabled office. Social media pervades the working day, and, whilst a number of employers have sought to limit its use during working hours, its mobile nature, accessible via smartphone or tablet, means that seeking to do so is a Sisyphean task.
Social media also gives rise to a significant new medium through which employers can find themselves in difficulties. A disgruntled employee can easily and swiftly cause reputational damage through social media posts; a company can be irreparably damaged by the exposure to ridicule that this causes.
The historic recruitment model to recruit staff has been either to appoint recruitment agents to find suitable staff or to advertise for staff in trade publications.
Recruitment firms generally provide a pro-active service and act as an intermediary between the employer and candidate. In good times the recruitment firm can expect to receive commission in the region of a third of the employee’s first year salary. Such high commission fees have provided a significant barrier and hurdle for early stage companies in recruiting staff and therefore have potentially restricted the growth of many companies.
At the beginning of 2015, I was thrilled to head up the team launching Mootis, the new social networking and microblogging platform for the legal services sector. (You’ll need to sign up to view it.)
We firmly believed (and still believe!) that the novelty of large, all-purpose social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter is wearing thin. This is backed up by statistics, with researchers at Princeton University saying Facebook has hit its peak and could lose the vast majority of its users by 2017 and Wall Street investors recently expressing concern about Twitter’s revenue growth and sending its share price tumbling. For a company that’s embedded itself so thoroughly in the fabric of modern communication, Twitter is clearly having trouble getting more people to use it.
Our aim was therefore to create a bespoke platform and streamline the legal sector’s use of social media.
After launching a beta version of the site, we spent a number of months working with lawyers, web developers and social media experts before going live.
I often wonder how or why busy professionals find the time (or even have the inclination to find the time) to spend endless hours using Facebook and other social media sites to tell the world what they are up to, what they like and what they don’t like. I just don’t get it, but maybe that’s because I would much prefer to talk to my family and friends direct rather that communicate in this very public way. Then again it may be that I am just old fashioned and completely out of date.
When it comes to business, however, and in particular the legal profession, I have long since learned that failing to keep up to date with modern ideas and technology is a mistake of fundamental proportions. In my long career as a lawyer (and as a Managing Partner of a very successful law firm for over 20 years) I have always totally bought in to the idea of keeping up with the Joneses (forgive the pun!) when it comes to technology and the use social media platforms for business purposes.
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