Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Karma Communities

No, I haven't gone all hippy-chick.

I've been reading Twitter Power by Joel Comm lately. In fact, thats incorrect. I'm a 2.0 reader, so I've been listening to the audiobook.

Image is Twitter Power 2.0: How to Dominate your Market One Tweet at a Time by Joel Comm, Gildan Media Corp, presented by

Joel Comm gets to the nubb of social media in the first chapter of his book where he describes traditional media publishers as the few who broadcast their news to the many, as against the new social media phenomenon where the many have the power to communicate the news, views and experiences to each other, resulting in the creation of communities with a common interest.

To me, the community is the most important aspect of social media. And because there are little, if any, barriers to entry into the social media world, its much simpler to become part of your chosen community and influence that community than it is to become part of a community in the offline world, such as, say, falling in with the cool kids at high school, the mums at the school gate or the clique of personnel who might have your CEO's attention. Social media is a great leveller.

But for a community to operate it needs to communicate. Communicating means listening as well as speaking, it means building relationships.  You'll read a lot about social media being all about communication and relationship building, but once you truly understand that it actually is, it is an epiphany moment.

And so I was surprised today to come across a tweeting lawyer who followed zero people. Why would you join a social media community and not be part of the conversation? Even if it your goal is to promote yourself as a lawyer or a firm, how can you achieve that goal effectively without monitoring the conversation around you and understanding the impact which your broadcasting/marketing is having?

As an in-house lawyer, through social media you have the ability to become part of a number of communities which feed into your world: the community of the industry which your employing company operates in, or those of your company's suppliers or clients, the legal community, your specialism within the legal community, other in-house lawyers, legal service providers. Communities are being built, and the members of these communities are being generous with their information and advice. In-house lawyers can benefit from this: pop a question into your Twitter status such as "Does anyone know whether there are unfair dismissal rights in Germany?", and you'll receive several tweets in reply from practising employment lawyers pointing you in the right direction.  The more you give back to the community, the more you'll receive from it too. There's a lot of good karma in circulation on social media sites.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Beware the Digital Trailblazer

On the Inforrm Blog, today's post, Privacy and the Right to Oblivion, was extremely thought-provoking.

I've left a comment against that post, but what I wanted to say here was that I really do like the imagery which Jeffrey Rosen conjures of a digital trail. We live in an era where our trails are recorded digitally and my view of that is that we're fortunate to do so. We have the ability to leave our mark. We are digital trailblazers!

Yes, we have the right to manage those trails carefully, but not necessarily retrospectively.  Online or offline, not all mistakes can be erased. So, choose the trail which you wish to leave carefully, before you make it.

Social media gives us all the opportunity to create, manage and promote our own trail but, as they say, with  power comes yourself. With many things in life, over-regulating tends to hinder not help; common-sense is usually the only rule required.