Social Media: From Handcuffs to Handshake?

By Joseph Raczynski

The world of ever evolving social media can be legally and technologically confining for companies.  ALM recently hosted an event Social Media: Risks and Rewards at the Harvard Club in New York City.  The stage was set for the daylong conference by the keynote Joel Reidenberg, Professor of Law and Director at Fordham University School of Law.   He focused on the impact of Social Media from a user and business perspective delving into a web site’s terms of service, privacy policy and technology.

The lively discussion began with a poll of the audience.  Of the nearly one hundred senior level counsels in attendance, two had read the terms of service and five the privacy policy of LinkedIn.  Simply stated, most consumers do not look at the terms of a web site.  Increasingly alarming, as Facebook learned, social media sites tend to be unaware of what their “App” vendors are doing.  Blending this issue with social media name squatting, underutilized technology to aid awareness of policies, and an under educated social media public; attorneys are finding it an arduous task to craft appropriate policies.

Reidenberg makes several technological and policy recommendations:

  • If you are advising clients make sure you tell them to be transparent.  Use technology tools, e.g. popups or interstitial pages to make it clear to users information is being collected.  Ask, “Would a normal person be able to understand the terms and conditions?”
  • Focus on substantive fairness, i.e. the “The Grandmother Test”, as a company, can you describe to your grandmother what you are doing, and do it with a straight face?
  • Technology tools will be very important going forward.  Some of these exist, and some need to be developed.  For example, if you want your information to be deleted from a social media website, how to do this needs to be explicitly stated, but additionally the site needs technology tools to allow this to be automated.  Giving a user the rights to review and make adjustments to personal information will soon have to be the standard in the social media sphere.  Currently there is a disincentive for advertiser based companies to use these technologies because it decreases their revenue.
  • General public education will have to be enhanced.  Companies need to focus on how to raise awareness about helping people, especially children, to understand risks.

Lastly here are some interesting concluding thoughts from Reidenberg:

Privacy Policies:  A Neilsen rating report stated that 78% of the public thought that if a website has a privacy policy; it means they do not share personal information.  This is not the case.  A policy could clearly state all the information a user submits is sellable.

Prediction:  Facebook and similar social media sites could potentially be a prime candidate of a class action suit.  As they continue to collect volumes of information from its users, it is possible to hold them subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  The reason, Facebook is increasingly being used to screen employees.

Ultimately if policies are transparent, technology is utilized, and education is enhanced, companies can fully embrace social media as an effective tool to better their brand.

 

Meaningful Metrics to Quantify ROI for KM and Enterprise 2.0 Deployments

By Joseph Raczynski

Clark R. Cordner – Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Charlotte Herring – The US Judge Advocate General’s Corps

 

Recently some select firms have forgone the necessity to prove return on investment (ROI), for KM, portal and Enterprise 2.0.  However for the vast majority, ROI justification remains a constant.  In this session at ILTA, the panel examined the basics of metrics, how to measure productivity rather than busy-ness, how to measure engagement, and concrete ways to measure portal and Enterprise 2.0 applications.

As a baseline understanding for this discussion, metrics are numbers to gage progress, i.e. a quantifiable means to measure if there is a move from one point to another.  Firms engage in this activity to evaluate success and decide what to fund.  Simply stated they create these objectives to see if they are materially advancing the goals of the organization.

Metrics as a lens, key points to ponder:

  • Focus on the factors that have the most positive correlation for success
  • Ask yourself, “If success is… X, then I need to measure… Y.”
  • What are the business pain points?
  • Knowledge management is not always just technological issue, often it is education
  • What does success look like? Is it the bottom line for a firm?
  • KM tools are a critical component to success, choose wisely

Testing those metrics is a major component to your KM success.  Start with an educated guess based on your project goals and gather some basic data.  Also key to this empirical testing is to consult with focus groups and friendly stakeholders.  This not only verifies that you are working in the right direction; thus validating your work, it also tests your view verses others, establishing a complete balanced vision for the firm.  Lastly based on any feedback from these groups in testing these components, a firm should revise their methodology if necessary, adjust and repeat this process.

Portal metrics:

  • How many hits does the portal get? This will give the firm a glimpse into the level of interest and usefulness of the portal.
  • What kind of frequency do users return to the portal and for how long do they stay? These numbers will also assist in understanding interest, usefulness or possibly… forgetfulness.
  • Your firm should gather data on the identity of users. From these metrics you can figure out patterns of adoption; that is what age group, which practice group and what geographic area is using the portal?
  • Pull data on how current is the content is and to whom it is available. You can gather information on if people are using the information via a “like” button or if they are sharing it.
  • View the impact on other systems or tools. Has traffic to the other applications been reduced?  Do people refer to this tool or others?

Enterprise 2.0, aka Activity Streams or Social Media metrics:

  • Listen to the number of requests for access to this new tool. If you see something like Yammer jump in requests, you will be able to consider that as a major driver for implementation.
  • Once the tool is in place, view the usage over time. Often these new media applications are classified as a “five day wonder”, i.e. is this tool sticky, and will the usage change over time?
  • Another metric to consider is the pace of conversation for the tool. Is the tool a “go to” resource or peripheral to the organization?
  • Other areas to consider viewing metrics on are the numbers of links that people add to their work product, “retweets” and the time of day for usage
  • Lastly it is important to understand the impact on other tools. Is this new application used in preference of other tools, like email?

ROI is an impactful and important aspect of any business plan at law firms.  Examining the factors that have the most positive correlation for success is essential.  Once you have established a set of metrics which have been vetted by all major stakeholders, continue to test and understand that the mythology may need to be adjusted over time.  Those quantitative metrics will help guide the firm to success.

Social Media Policy Development

By Joseph Raczynski

Panelist:

Julia Montgomery, Technology Projects Manager, Arent Fox LLP

Karen M. Sheehan, Head of PLC Law Department at Practical Law Company, Inc.

Mary Abraham, Counsel, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (Moderator)

 

As social media has ballooned in popularity and use, law firms have had to wrestle with the myriad of implications on the organization.  Staff and attorneys who increasingly use of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube can cause serious issues for the firm.  This session at ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) focused around the various aspects of a firm developing a social media policy.

Here are some important points to consider when crafting you social media policy:

  • A firm should gather a wide internal audience for a complete perspective. These individuals should include: a partner, junior associate, the marketing department, and the “grandmotherly secretary”
  • It should involve a cross-disciplinary drafting team: IT, HR, marketing, ethics department, and someone who has used social media in the past
  • A policy should keep the policies broad so as not to get into specific types of social media like Youtube or FourSquare
  • The policy should not be crafted unless you actually play in the field. That is, that policy owner needs to know how each works, e.g. Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn

Some recommendations for a firm to its users:

  • Firms are using social media to look at people for hiring and firings.
  • You may need to educate people about privacy settings and work with IT to adjust sites at the firm
  • You should have a designated individual at the firm whom users could visit to ask if it makes sense to post something
  • The best rule of thumb is to keep in mind if what you are doing or saying is “in public.” In most cases, what you write online is public or can be made public
  • Some firms are blocking all users from social media, some firms merely block staff, and others actually select individuals who have a reputation for abuse

 

Educational Issues:

  • If a policy is not accompanied by education, it will be hard to enforce
  • Be sure the employees of your firm understand the opportunities and the dangers of social media
  • A firm can dictate what you can or cannot write on Facebook, if you are on company time and using company resources. There should be no real expectation of privacy if you are posting on Facebook and are associated with a firm.  However, the firm must have a business justifiable reason to take action.

Ultimately with the rapid adoption of social media, a carefully crafted social media policy is highly recommended.  It must be broad in its scope to include all possibilities and use cases as it is easier than ever to break the client confidentiality rules via social media.  Lastly, users must be aware to be honest about who they are, making it clear their views or their own and understand that even those statements potentially have an effect on the firm.

Social Media and Privacy

By Joseph Raczynski

Editor’s note: Guest blogger Joseph Raczynski, an Applications Integrator for Thomson Reuters, Legal , is also a technology evangelist who specializes in social media and portal technology.  He also has been a consultant in web and wireless development.

Legal Tech May 20, 2010

Legal Tech: Social Media & Privacy

I attended the “Social Media & Privacy” seminar of Virtual Legal Tech.  Jason Romrell General Counsel at InsuranceLeads.com spoke about “How Much Exposure is Too Much?”  In this discussion he offers two examples, and then provides specific awareness consulting about privacy surrounding social media.

First he discussed acts of, in his words, “privacy stupidity”.  In one example an employee of a large firm claimed workmen’s compensation and thus received medical benefits for the inability to walk.  When pictures of her surfing in South Beach appear on Facebook, her benefits were terminated immediately.  In the second example, Microsoft “fired” an employee for publicly posting a picture of the delivery of Apple’s Macbooks to Bill Gates building with Microsoft’s signage clearly in the background.

In both of these cases, Romrell points out that “off the clock” activities posted publically can be used against the individual.  Most companies operate using “at-will” employment, thus any action they do not approve of is grounds for dismissal.

In one very curious aspect he mentioned that the IRS and DOJ are also using social media, e.g. Twitter and Facebook, to investigate individuals with cause.

As Romrell underscores, it is crucial to recognize that any and all information posted online via social media has the potential to be viewed by anyone.  However, read what you see with a skeptical eye.  Be aware users who post as “Angie Smith” may actually be someone attempting to pass themselves off as Angie.

Twitter: Mind the Gap

By Joseph Raczynski

Editor’s note: Guest blogger Joseph Raczynski, an Applications Integrator for Thomson Reuters, Legal , is also a technology evangelist who specializes in social media and portal technology.  He also has been a consultant in web and wireless development.

Twitter: Mind the Gap

In the social media sphere within the legal industry there are several gaps which need attention.  One chief oversight is the under utilization of the broadcasting ability of Twitter.  In its most simplistic nascent form, Twitter is a megaphone.   “Payne & Suffrin, LLP wins medical case!”  “Partner Tom Thompson lands Megasaurus, LLC.”  As is outlined below, some firms are using Twitter in this capacity; however others remain silently “tweetless”.

The second more dynamic and critically important aspect of Twitter is the dialogue opened.  That is, when people are frustrated or elated typically they tweet about it.  Companies and firms alike who have products or clients should be fully cognizant of these musings.  The gesture by a firm in the form of a rapid reply satiates most because their tweet does not fall into the abyss.  The tweet becomes an actual conversation.  It is a perfect opportunity to engage and evolve the conversation into positivity, and in turn profit.  This is easily accomplished via Twitter Search and the myriad of applications that allow access to aggregated tweets about your company or firm.

Who is doing what with Twitter:

  • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is using Twitter to broadcast such announcements as wins, partner opinion on the international climate in the Middle East, and recaps of events on the Hill
  • Howrey LLP transmits alerts regarding symposiums it hosts, awards won, and tasks forces created
  • King & Spalding announces new clients, partner discussions, and blogs

While those firms are tapping into the potential, others seem to be on hold.  Firms such as Hogan Lovells, Holland & Knight, and Proskauer Rose have apparently parked their names and locked down their pages, protecting tweets.

Final thoughts to consider:

  • Are you seeing twitter as an open dialogue?
  • Do you search tweets to see what people are saying so you can respond?
  • What resources do you dedicate to answering tweets?