Social media is now so much a part of our lives that it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t have immediate access to the deep (and occasionally trivial) thoughts of people far and wide. With the ubiquity of social media comes the challenge of using it for good. To that end, the International Legal Technology Association hosted a webinar on July 17 for the speakers who will be presenting at ILTA’s upcoming annual conference in August. The focus of the webinar was twofold: (i) to provide an introduction to social media platforms that can help speakers promote their sessions and (ii) to offer some micro case studies that illustrate how social media can be useful in life generally and, in particular, in connection with the conference.
Rachelle Rennagel (conference co-chair) welcomed webinar attendees and then introduced JoAnna Forshee (@InsideLegal), who provided the introduction to social media. Next, Charles Christian (@ChristianUncut), David Hobbie (@KMHobbie) and Mary Abraham (@VMaryAbraham) presented the micro case studies. (For another summary of the webinar, I’d encourage you to check out the tweetstream using the hashtag #ILTA13.) Charles Christian gave webinar attendees a journalist’s perspective on social media and its best uses. He emphasized quite rightly that it’s important to keep the “social” in social media. This means engaging in conversation rather than in self-absorbed one-way broadcasts of opinion. David Hobbie provided a behind-the-scenes view of what he does to carry off the significant challenge of live-blogging conference sessions. He reminded attendees that good blogging helps establish the writer as an effective communicator and can lead to speaking opportunities and career opportunities.
Social Media and Me
During my allotted time, I covered a variety of topics: the social media platforms I use, how they have been helpful, and how I’m intending to use social media in connection with the ILTA conference. I was glad to have this opportunity since social media has changed my professional life. While that may seem like an extravagant claim, it is absolutely accurate. Here are some examples of what I mean:
- Blogging gives me an opportunity to read and write about the key issues relating to my work. In fact, because I’ve had to read widely in order to write, I sometimes joke that this blog has given me the equivalent of a graduate education in my field. Best of all, it didn’t require any student loans.
- Twitter does several things. First, it is my news filter — bringing to me the headlines, articles and blog posts that I need to read to stay well-informed. For example, when Charles Christian has some breaking news about the legal industry, I find out about it through his tweets. Secondly, Twitter allows me to participate in online conversations regarding issues relating to my work. Since it is rare for a US law firm to have an army of people interested in knowledge management, I have used Twitter to connect with an online community of knowledge management experts around the world. They keep me up-to-date in my field and provide crowdsourced answers to my questions. Finally, Twitter is how I have found and recruited many terrific speakers for ILTA conferences and other conferences. It’s a goldmine of talent.
- Google Plus sits somewhere between a blog and Twitter. It allows you to write more than 140 characters at a time, but isn’t as big an obligation as a personal blog. Best of all, it spawns lots of interesting conversations.
- LinkedIn is my rolodex. It’s how I stay in touch with the folks I know and it lets me get in touch with the folks I’d like to know. I recently went through a job transition. LinkedIn has been vital in getting the word out to friends and colleagues around the world.
Social Media and the ILTA Conference
Given that I’m such an advocate of social media, how will I be using social media in connection with the conference? Here’s what I told the webinar’s attendees:
- Since I have a blog, I’ll be using it to promote my sessions. (Now don’t you wish you had a blog too???) Seriously, I’ll likely also promote other sessions that strike my fancy. And how will I discover those other sessions? Primarily through word of mouth from trusted sources. I’ll also use the conference website to see what sessions are most interesting to me.
- Before conference, I expect to be tweeting up a storm. So if you tweet about a conference-related issue and use the #ILTA13 hashtag, I’m liable to retweet your tweet to my network.
- During conference, social media becomes especially important. Over the last few years, I’ve developed the practice of live-blogging keynotes and conference sessions. This often means that I take notes during your session and then post a summary on my blog as soon as the session ends. Sometimes, it means that I’ll translate your pearls of wisdom into 140-character nuggets and tweet a constant stream of your brilliance as you speak during your session. Once this gets going, people around the world jump in and send their props to the speakers via Twitter, as well as their questions and comments. Suddenly, we have a conversation in the conference hall and with the Twittersphere simultaneously. So don’t be surprised if I raise my hand in your session and read a question or comment that has come in via Twitter from some other part of the world.
- While I know this won’t happen to any of you, I have to confess that in dull sessions, sometimes the best (and only) action is in the Twitter back channel. People in the audience start venting there about the session and it can get pretty funny.
- A word of warning: If you’re on a panel, be sure to monitor the tweet stream for your session. It will tell you if your audience is getting fractious or if your virtual audience has questions. These are good things to know.
- Here’s a tip for when you’re attending someone else’s session: During the first 10 minutes of the session, pay attention to the tweet stream from other sessions. If your session proves to be not exactly what you hoped for, you can jump ship and go immediately to the session with the fabulous tweet stream.
- Finally, during conference I also use Twitter and Google Plus to organize last minute meet-ups with other attendees — it really helps make the conference more social.
Social Media after the ILTA Conference
- After conference, check out the blogs and Twitter to see the reaction of your audience to what you had to say during your session. There almost always are round-ups of the sessions that individual bloggers found most interesting.
- One last thing: every year I hear from someone who tells me that they used my blog posts and tweet stream to prepare the report that their firm required in exchange for underwriting their trip to conference. Since this year’s conference is in Vegas, you may want to use social media resources to help you provide an especially detailed report just to prove that you really attended the educational sessions in the conference rooms rather than the ones on the casino floor.
[Photo Credit: Birgerking]