Social Media’s Unexpected New Horizons

July 8, 2009

I’ve really embraced social media the last couple of weeks, reading wonderful books including “Twitter: Tips, Tricks, and Tweets” and “facebook me: A Guide to Having Fun with Your Friends and Promoting Your Projects on Facebook.”

Yesterday I even attended a workshop presented by the respected Pacific Northwest-based law firm Lane Powell. The workshop was entitled, “Social Media–New Horizons Ahead: Expect the Unexpected.” With such a tantalizing title, how could I not go?

Lane Powell Workshop

Keynote speaker was Kevin O’Keefe (second from left), CEO of LexBlog, which help lawyers around the world learn about and leverage blogging and other social media. He was a passionate and engaging speaker who told 100 of Seattle’s corporate leaders–mostly 40- and 50-somethings in fields as diverse as law, food writing, and real estate–not to think of social-networking sites as onerous “technology” but as a chance to build “relationships.”

•Leaders of companies themselves (as opposed to young, tech-savvy new hires who may not have enough business acumen) should be involved in social media.

•You can choose to mingle with the influencers on social media sites (reporters and editors, bloggers, customers active in social media, conference coordinators, publishers) which offers a great business advantage.

•Social media requires engagement, but you must listen first.

•Social networking sites are similar to taking a client to lunch. The sites with the highest Return on Investment (ROI) include LinkedIn, personal blogging (which affords more depth than Twitter), and Twitter (which O’Keefe sees as “the single biggest branding tool since the telephone”).

•Reference other thought leaders, he suggests, and retweet useful information to help build relationships.

D. Michael Reilly, Director of Labor and Employment and Employee Benefits Practice Group at Lane Powell, said you can find success on social-networking sites if you are careful about the context and value you offer to the public. How do you best offer something of value?

Mike Nesteroff, a former journalist with KOMO television and now with Lane Powell’s Sustainability and Climate Change Team, said he tweets the same way he worked in the newsroom: “terse, tight, and telegraphic.”

Craig Bachman, who moderated the workshop and works as a trial lawyer and counsel at Lane Powell, suggested never saying anything on social-networking sites that you wouldn’t say in church.

I think that’s a good motto to carry throughout life, and felt that the workshop was an eye-opening and, in some ways, life-changing two hours for many in the room.