There is still a lot of hand-wringing about social media by law firm partners. A surprising number of firms still don’t have approved policies – they are in permanent “draft” mode, perhaps because they don’t really want to commit to anything they don’t fully understand.
I have given several presentations to partners and marketers recently about social media. Not the typical “how do you craft a catchy LinkedIn profile” commentary (although I’m not dismissing the value of that), but rather, I focus on the real, substantial business that is being done by major corporations and industry groups that has social media at the center.
A group called Social Media Influence (SMI) published an article this morning about 22-year old Molly Katchpole. Have you heard of her? She’s the one who started the viral effort against Bank of America and its $5 per month debit card fee. More than 300,000 activists later, news reports on every major media outlet (television, print and online), the most popular comedians (Leno, Letterman, John Stewart and others), B of A spokespersons said they changed their mind after listening to their customers.
The damage has been done to B of A (and other bank brands) because they didn’t anticipate any type of outcry that could sweep bank customers overnight. This comes at a time when Bank of America didn’t need any more bad news or reputation loss.
Change.org is a social media site where like-minded activists can gather. Here is a link to the post that discusses the B of A petition and the bank’s “change of heart.” You can also see a picture of Molly. http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-bank-of-america-no-5-debit-card-fees
Here are a few more social media topics of which lawyers should be aware:
- VC funding is way up Q1 –Q3 this year – In Q1, 43% of VC funding was for social media companies
- Activists have used social media to compel CEOs to resign (Yahoo’s CEO stepped down)
- Activists are using it to influence M&A (shareholders used a tool called Moxy Vote to consolidate ranks, ultimately forcing Google to increase bid for On2 Technologies by 25%)
- Carl Icahn used Web-based resources in his unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the board of Lionsgate in an acquisition bid – resulted in expensive proxy fight organized in days not months
- Facebook, twitter, plus Seeking Alpha, StockTwits and Wikinvest allow investors to discuss valuation and investment potential
- Such tools and campaigns don’t just organize activist shareholders, they create them on multiple fronts.
Social media is driving business, facilitating it, organizing it, fighting it and influencing it. The conversation shouldn’t be “Should I be on LinkedIn or get a Facebook page,” it should be “How are my clients using social media to transform their businesses, communicate across the world in seconds, connect in new ways, build their brands, save millions of dollars and organize their evangelists?” And then, “How can I be a part of that??!”
That’s the real question. Let’s start talking.