Lawyers lead busy lives, which means there isn’t always time to stay on top of the never-ending parade of social media networks cluttering up the Interwebs. Sure, everyone knows about Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but those are all so 2009.
As much as you’d like to ignore it, an awareness of social media trends is essential for attorneys. From client communications to obtaining crucial evidence, your social media game needs to be, as the kids say, on fleek. So here’s a quick rundown of some social media networks you may be hearing about but have no idea what they do.
Currently the fastest growing platform in town, Instagram is primarily a place for users to upload photos visible to anyone who follows their account, although you can also stream live video as well. A text description is optional and only shows up when you click on the specific picture. If you’re trying to figure out what anyone under twenty-five is up to, Instagram is an excellent place to start. (www.instagram.com)
If you know anyone who has planned a wedding in the past few years, you’re probably familiar with Pinterest. Users browse through content submitted by other users on a specific topic; if they like what they see and want to save it, they “pin” the material to a virtual bulletin board. Often a source of recipe ideas, do-it-yourself projects, and other ephemera. But here’s the thing. There’s so much more. Take a moment to download the app, create an account, and look up any topic you may be interested in. There are infographics for days. (www.pinterest.com)
There are aspects to Snapchat which could make it relevant to your legal practice, so this one is worth learning. Snapchat allows you to send photos or videos to either your followers or privately to just one other person, but here’s the catch. Anything you transmit disappears after a few seconds with no way for the recipient to get it back. An important note for discovery purposes is even though Snapchat appears to destroy data, the company keeps everything archived. (www.snapchat.com)
Twitch is where people watch other people play video games online. Yes, it’s a thing. No, you don’t need to know any more about it. (www.twitch.com)
5. WhatsApp and Kik
Although WhatsApp and Kik are separate stand-alone platforms, they pretty much do the same thing, and that “thing” is private messaging. If you think that sounds a lot like text messaging, that’s because it is a lot like text messaging. A few added bells and whistles aside, the main attraction here is privacy. Using your real name is optional, which means unlike a text message, the sender can be pretty much impossible to trace. Another bonus is the immediate ability to see when your message has been read, which could either cause or reduce stress depending on the situation. (www.whatsapp.com, www.kik.com)
Many of these platforms may seem silly or utterly worthless for a lawyer to waste any time learning about, but you can’t afford to keep your head in the sand. These apps are how people communicate and share relevant information, so a failure to understand the basics could impair your ability to do the best job possible for your clients. You don’t need to be an expert; you just need to know the basics. And as G.I. Joe famously taught us, knowing is half the battle.
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