We have just closed election week 2008 and have a young(ish — 47) African American President-elect and by all reports, a mandate for change. Interestingly, in the weeks leading up to the election, there were numerous glimpses of partisan activism on college campuses, with the students overwhelmingly supporting Barack Obama.
Blogger Jeremiah Owyang composed a social network snapshot of the Presidential candidate social networking stats. Jeremiah is a senior analyst at Forrester Research: Social Computing. On Facebook, Obama had nearly 2.4 million supporters to John McCain’s 620k — or 380% more than McCain. The YouTube, MySpace and Twitter numbers also favored McCain by huge margins.
Yet, in a news report (for the life of me I can’t find it to link to it here), the increase in late teen and twenty-something voters wasn’t appreciably higher than it was in 2004. Maybe a percent.
The Dallas Morning News tech blog reported that “One of every 50 people on earth now belongs to Facebook.” Facebook says it has 120 million members. I wondered how many of the 120 million were lawyers — and I really meant practicing lawyers, as opposed to those who have law degrees, maybe practiced and now are doing other things. So, I went to Facebook and searched “lawyers.”
The first return was a group of 13,000+ members called, “We’re lawyers, we’re always right.” The next result was a group of nearly 5,000 called, “Lawyers who bring sexy back.” The description of that one is, “Because not all lawyers are boring, tragically ugly and born without personalities…” Nearly 3,000 members are in the “Future Lawyers of America,” which is actually listed as a “pre-professional” group, and the fourth search result is comprised of 1,725 members and called, “Female Lawyers are HOTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!” (The emphasis isn’t me editorializing, it’s the name of the group.)
Then, there are a few others, such as the Dallas Young Lawyers (www.dayl.com) California Intellectual Property Lawyers, Des Moines lawyers, some PI lawyers and Greek lawyers, a few from Alabama, and others that don’t make much of an impression. There were 500 search results for my search of “lawyers.”
Many law firm marketers are high on Web 2.0 social networking for their lawyers (including LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter and others). I am among them, but Lister beware: proceed with caution and understand the company you’ll be keeping. We know that in a land of one million lawyers or more, developing a personal reputation and name recognition takes thought, focus and time. A strong presence on the Internet can certainly help (showing up first or second, or at least on the first page of ten in a Google search for your name or practice specialty), if not short-cut it. Social networking sites are an easy way to get started on the path to reputation building.
At the September 2008 College of Law Practice Management annual meeting in Chicago, I told an industry colleague that I didn’t think Web 2.0 and social networking would take hold in law firms. I did suggest that whatever Web 3.0 becomes, that it probably would.
Web 2.0 gives us the tools to use. Perhaps Web 3.0 will give us the sensibilities.