Social Media Management for Law Firms

So. You are part of a law firm. You need a little organisation for your “social media” presence. Here is a little guide setting out one way to do this based on my experience with my personal accounts.

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There are probably better guides out there. Also this probably applies to non-law firms as much as law firms. However, the perspective of someone who has played around with it may be useful.

In the past I used TweetDeck. However, this is now largely decommissioned, having been assimilated into Twitter. The only real alternative I have found that is reasonably-priced and meets all the basic requirements is Hootsuite. It costs around £90/year for the “Pro” package.

What Do You Mean By “Social Media”?

“Social Media” is the trendy buzzword for a handful of “social” websites and web services. Here “social” generally means “communication between people”; it is a combination of publication and comment.

In my case “social media” refers to at least the following:

  • Twitter;
  • LinkedIn; and
  • Google+.

The unmentioned one is Facebook. This may be a bit too “social” for a law firm (although has possibilities from a recruitment perspective).

How Should I Setup Hootsuite?

After you have signed-up and paid for Hootsuite, log-in. The first step is then to setup your law firm as an “organization”. To do this follow the guide here: https://help.hootsuite.com/entries/21678723-creating-an-organization. For “organization name” I add the name of the law firm. As I am “on brand” I also add a firm logo. Leave the “add social networks” for now: we will do that later.

Once you have added the “organization” you should be able to see it when you click on the top menu button on the left-hand side menu bar. To add other people as managers and social networks click on the “Manage” button within the “organization” pane.

Adding Social Networks

On the right-hand-side of the lower pane there should be an “Add a Social Network” button. Use this to add accounts from the social networks discussed above. This typically requires you authorising yourself with each network so make sure you have your usernames and passwords handy.

After adding each social network select the next icon down in the left-hand side menu bar (“Streams”). Click on the little “+” icon at the top to add a new set of columns/streams (a “tab”).

At the moment I have one tab per social network/network feed. After adding the tab select the required social network from the dropdown box in the first “Add a stream” column that appears.

For Twitter my recommended streams are:

  • Home,
  • Mentions,
  • Retweets,
  • DMs, and
  • Sent Tweets.

If you want you can add all streams but five streams fit well across my monitor (you can use the little slider bar in the top right to reduce the number of columns/streams per tab).

For LinkedIn you are limited to “Company Updates” and “Scheduled Status Updates”.  For Google+, “Home”, “Sent Messages” and “Scheduled Messages” are options.

Now you can see all of your social media feeds in one handy place. You can also now post to any one of the added networks including the use of the “auto-scheduling” feature.

RSS to Update

A clever little feature of Hootsuite is that you can pipe an RSS/Atom feed through to a social network. Hence, if you have a blog you can automatically tweet new entries or post these to LinkedIn.

To set this up go to the cog (“Settings”) within the left-hand side menu. Choose the “RSS/Atom” option. Click on the “+” to add a new feed. Type in the URL of your blog (e.g. of your firm). Select a social media network to post to and set various frequency settings. Save and leave. Hey presto.

Further Lessons

Following these basics, the next stage is build a team and use search and assignment functions to get active. But that is the subject of another day’s post.

Any other tips please feel free to add to the comments.

Google “location-based” advertising patent

Another day, another fluster online about a US patent granted to a well-known company.

This time the company is Google and the patent (7,668,832) is directed towards “controlling serving of an ad using its relevancy to a request” using “geolocation information“.

How NOT to interpret a recently granted patent (as demonstrated by most web-related news sites):

  1. Don’t refer to the claims of the patent in the news article, even though these define the scope of legal protection.
  2. Perhaps instead quote a section from the “Field of Invention” or “Background of Invention” sections (these sections respectively locating the patent subject-matter in a technology field and broadly describing what has been before – neither section gets to the heart of the invention).  Quoting from the “Background of Invention” is particularly favoured as this section is typically drafted broadly and typically is of the least relevance to the claimed invention.
  3. If you do locate the claims of the patent, summarise their subject-matter in a single sentence (even though they may in practice comprise several paragraphs of essential features), e.g. “patent on location-based ads” – wherein the independent claims actually require at least: –
  4. A computer-implemented method for controlling serving of an ad using its relevancy to a request, the method comprising: a) accepting, by a computer system including at least one computer, geolocation information associated with the request; b) comparing, by the computer system, the accepted geolocation information associated with the request with geolocation targeting information associated with the ad to generate a comparison result; c) determining, by the computer system, the relevancy of the ad using at least the comparison result; d) controlling, by the computer system, the serving of the ad, for rendering on a client device, using the determined relevancy of the ad; e) determining, by the computer system, whether the ad has geolocation price information corresponding to the geolocation information accepted; and f) if it is determined that the ad has geolocation price information corresponding to the geolocation information accepted, then determining, by the computer system, a score using at least the geolocation price information, otherwise determining, by the computer system, the score using at least general price information of the ad, wherein the act of controlling the serving of the ad further uses the score of the ad, and wherein the geolocation targeting information associated with the ad corresponds to an area defined by at least one geographic reference point.
  5. (In the present case, the latter features concerning a “score” appear to restrict the scope of the patent. This presents the possibility of a design-around.  However, the claims are sufficiently broad to require careful consideration if working in this area.)
  6. Gain lots of comments from Internet users about how “patents destroy creativity” and allow “big corporations to shut-out hard-working all-[insert country] inventors / start-ups” (even though it is nigh-on impossible to obtain a granted patent with a scope as broad as that insinuated in the article and you can equally argue patents allow “hard-working all-[insert country] inventors / start-ups” to compete on an equal footing with “big corporations ).
  7. Ignore all possibility of licensing; even if company X did obtain a broad patent to Y, if you were a small start-up you could still request a reasonable licence from X. Whether they would be willing to grant such a licence is another issue but several countries allow compulsory licensing where a reasonable licence is unobtainable.