Post of the Day — Manpower Employment Blawg

August 26, 2009

Today’s post of the day comes from Mark Toth’s Manpower Employment Blawg.  The post is entitled: “How Employers Use Social Media” and is based on the readily observable notion that “[m]ore and more employers are using social media to gather ‘intelligence’ on employees and potential candidates.”

The article walks you through a bunch of interesting statistics about what social media sites employers are using to evaluate employees and job candidates and utilizes real-world examples of tweets (Twitter) and Facebook status updates that have resulted in current employees getting canned and job hunters getting passed over.

To his credit, Mr. Toth also discusses how job candidates are successfully using social media to increase their chances and the particular information that employers look for when evaluating candidates online.  The bottom line, according to the post:

Your employees are using social networking tools. If you don’t, too, you might be missing a hugely valuable source of information.

So, get connected. But be careful about anything (1) you personally post and/or (2) use to make employment decisions. For the former, use our time-honored “mom” test (don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your mother to read). For the later, the test is simple: job-related, job-related, job-related. If it ain’t, don’t use it.

My $0.02: As a management-side employment law attorney (aka employment defense attorney), I can confidently say that, in addition to having your employers scour your social media activities, your employers’ lawyers are doing the very same thing.  Every time that your employer catches wind of a grievance, administrative charge, EEOC complaint, or a potential employment-related lawsuit, they will likely be all over your social media sites (like white on rice).  At a minimum, you can rest assured that, when I get retained on a case, social media sites are one of the first places I go.  That fact alone should give additional importance to the “mom” test described by Mark Toth.

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Figuring Out Twitter – For Lawyers and Attorneys

May 4, 2009

I recently came across an interesting article that purported to help people figure out how to use Twitter.  There are hundreds upon hundreds of blog posts and lists about how to figure out Twitter and how to maximize its potential, particularly in a business environment.  I link to this article, Figuring Out Twitter, because it is targeted towards lawyers and business owners. And, it provides some good information that any lawyer using social media should consider.

The two most poignant paragraphs of the article are, in my mind:

Of course, most lawyers aren’t publishers, and their interest in Twitter extends only so far as there are tangible benefits to their business (and rightly so). But I think the same principles that guide my Twitter use can apply to lawyers’ hard-nosed business use of Twitter.

Above all, you need to remember that no one reads Twitter because they care about you — they do it because they care about themselves. So talk to them, and talk about them. Give them links to news and knowledge that benefit them, no matter where these links lead (even, I’d go so far as to say, to a competitor’s website). Offer tips, pithy observations, and checklists in serial form (no one uses Twitter this way better than Matt Homann). Ask questions relevant to your practice area, and blog the results (and link to the post from Twitter, of course). Strive to make your Twitter feed an important source of knowledge to your readers.

The statement that no one follows you on Twitter is not because they are about you but because they care about themselves is absolutely correct. The reason people follow you is because you provide timely, irrelevant, and useful information to them. Whether it is business suggestions, links to recently published articles, and a chuckle of laughs throughout the day, your Twitter followers are there because they have found a way to benefit from what you are saying.

This principle must be kept in mind as you are preparing your tweets and thinking about what information really needs to be broadcasted your followers. That said, don’t get too tied down in what you write about. Most of my tweets are related to employment law and IP litigation (and recent developments in those areas of law) but I do mix in personal things here and there. If you really want to build a true relationship with your followers, you should get to know each other on a level that is slightly deeper and more meaningful than a bunch of links to random articles and a description or your breakfast or commute.

The final point on the post over at Law21.ca is dead on:

Finally, don’t concern yourself with how many followers you have — it’s a meaningless statistic, not least because a lot of people are gaming the system to try to build up impressive-looking follower totals, to make themselves look more popular than they deserve or just to stroke their egos. Concentrate on quality over quantity — ten loyal readers, any of whom could bring you business any day, are worth more than a thousand followers who added you out of curiosity, reflex or politeness.

That advice should rarely be disregarded.