If you are like many people, you look at the youth of today typing incessantly on their smartphone keyboards and wonder, “what do they have to say that is so important and to whom?!” Then, with a Scrooge-like “harrumph”, you discount the entirety of social media and with a wave of your hand, brush off instantaneous global connectivity and the entire digital world of the 21st Century. Nice going… you just put your business or law practice behind others.
OK, so you don’t have to jump into social media and begin posting what you are doing at every minute to the world, but you should at least understand what it is all about so you can use it, if you want to, or know how it is applied in litigation.
As something of an aside, this article is naturally not intended to provide legal advice or to form an attorney-client relationship with the reader; it is only meant to provide general information on the important topic of social media and its impact on the modern business and legal practice.
What Is Social Media, Really?
By the summer of 2012, Americans spent something like 120 billion minutes a month on social media, up from 88 billion a year earlier. That accounts for upwards of 30% of all time spent on-line. Over 600 million people now use Facebook, and more than half of all Americans have some form of social media account.
Also, mobile usage is up tremendously with the reduced cost and proliferation of smartphones. The fact is the usage is up and you see it all around you and hear about it regularly. Thus, for better or for worse, it is here to stay.
OK, so you realize you can’t ignore this anymore, but you’re still Linkr Creator Store not convinced that you need or want to use it and wonder what it really is. To break this information down succinctly, it can be lumped into two general groups, (1) websites that host user-created content, like photos, videos, and text postings, and (2) sites that replicate that content and provide enhanced internet visibility.
In the first category, there are some more commonly used or “older” sites, which means more than five years old, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter, to name a few, and some arguably less well-known or “newer” sites like Pinterest, Ezine, Delicious, Squidoo, Slideshare, and About.me. Likewise, in the second category, there are older sites, like Twitter (yes, it also replicates content), Hootsuite, and Tweetdeck and newer ones such as Sharehaulic, Reddit, and StumbleUpon.
What Does Social Media Do, I Mean What Are Its Benefits And Uses?
Alright, now you understand what social media is so you’re likely wondering how it can benefit you. A very interesting phenomenon of social media is that credibility and visibility seem to have merged. When thousands of people accept what an actor or actress, for example, says on social media or they act in a certain manner because of that, it demonstrates that those who are visible through social media have instant credibility with the masses that they attract. It is a strange world where a store’s profits can increase simply as a result of a reality TV show star’s social media postings raving about the store, but it is the world in which we now live and the world that you must understand because it impacts your business and that of your clients.
Other benefits are networking, instantaneous communication, and the sharing of information, knowledge, and documents. Not long ago, I met a pipe smoker in Japan on Facebook. We corresponded and I sent him a corncob pipe and some tobacco. He has since become the President of the Pipe Club of Japan. How amazing is that?! OK, I cheated a bit because I lived in Japan as a Rotary Exchange Student and I speak Japanese, but without social media we would not have been able to connect and build a friendship that easily across the planet.
When I was in the Army and stationed in South Korea, I practically needed an act of Congress to get a phone line to call back to the States. Now, I am able to Skype with my old Army buddy who was the Military Judge there and have a real-time video and voice conversation with him. This technology is available to us all so why not use it. With the permission of my opposition, I Skyped my client into a mediation not long ago, which saved my client a tremendous amount of money on airfare and hotel charges. That is just one way to use social media to reduce costs in lawsuits and benefit clients.