The Square n00b Answer

Ever wonder how all the old-time lawyers jump online and screw it all up overnight?  It could be those bar association CLEs teaching how to be a blogger in 30 seconds or less, taught by lawyers who have never been closer to a computer than when they stop at the secretary’s desk to ask for a coffee refill.  Or maybe it’s reading something like this Corporate Counsel post at by Doug Wood from Reed Smith.

Yes, that Doug Wood, the man who launched a thousand twits and blogs with his thorough, yet persuasive, explication of why corp counsel need to “Get With It … or Get Burned.”  He offers such gems as

Everyone is familiar with the plethora of Internet offerings—Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, Digg, Yammer, and LinkedIn—to name just a few. There are more than one hundred active social media sites with millions participating in conversations every minute of the day, all over the world. Multinational companies and their CEOs are blogging, populating their walls on Facebook, and tweeting. It’s an epidemic.

Epidemic, of course, generally refers to the unchecked spread of disease, and that would make Doug Wood something of an internet Typhoid Mary.  This leads Wood to urge appropriate personal hygiene.

On the one hand, companies want to capture the attention of potential customers roaming the social media space. On the other hand, conversations in the blogosphere are largely uncontrollable, and raise a myriad of risks—labor and employment, privacy and data security, defamation, intellectual property, attorney-client privilege, securities, trade secrets, advertising, marketing and promotion, regulated industries, product liability, and more.

All these conversations are breeding regulation and litigation. Social media can cause serious losses if not handled correctly.

This leads, inexorably, to the Big Question: How does your basic corp counsel handle social media correctly?

Empower Your Social Media Guru. Social media present the rare opportunity to appoint someone just a few years out of law school as the point person on the issue. Today’s law school graduates have lived in the social media space throughout college and law school. They understand it and know how to maneuver though it. Then monitor them!
There’s the ticket.  For all you old guys (like me) who find all these funky words and charmingly colorful names confusing and annoying, relax.  Find the youngest kid in the building with too little to do, and make him or her your social media guru.  If you’re uncertain that you’ve tagged the right person, check his top desk drawer for a GameBoy.  If it’s there, he’s your man.  As all of us squares know, every kid is a social media maven and knows everything there is to know about using social media.  It’s in their DNA, so no need to worry.  Kids just know this stuff.

Once you’ve identified your guru, turn over the keys to the kingdom, because “[t]hey understand it and know how to maneuver though it.”  They just do, because, hey, all kids just do. No need to do anything foolish like determine whether their posting naked drunken photos of themselves with farm animals on their MySpace page might be the wrong image for your corporation.  Us old guys wouldn’t know cool if it jumped up and bit us in the butt.  But as every old timer knows, we can trust a kid to exercise exemplary judgment and discretion on our behalf, at least when it comes to social media.  They are all just that savvy.

But Doug Wood is hardly an imprudent man.  As he specifically notes, “monitor them.”  Because if you don’t have a clue from the outset what all this internet stuff is about, you will certainly be in a great position to know exactly what your empowered social media guru should be doing after you’ve turned your livelihood over to them. 

With all the nonsense, lies, manipulation and snake oil going ’round the internet, isn’t it great that you can learn exactly how to get your corporation right into the middle of things, on the cutting edge, by reading such useful posts at Corporate Counsel.  And you n00bs thought it was hard to become an overnight success on the internet. Now jump right in and have fun!

H/T Venkat Balasubramani

2 thoughts on “The Square n00b Answer

  1. Catherine Mulcahey

    Thanks for the laugh. You made my morning.Even though I’m eligible for AARP, as a solo I’m still the most recent law school grad in my firm. I can’t decide whether to run out and buy a GameBoy or jump right in and have start having fun with social media.

  2. Venkat

    It was funny that the key buzzwords (to some, but alarm bells to others) phrase was at the end of the article.

    It’s a sad commentary on the legal profession to see so little critical thinking on stuff like social media (places like this aside).

    The funny thing is the same criticism that SMGs use to get lawyers to dip their toes into the social media waters can now be leveled at many law firms who are trying to participate in social media: “break from the pack!”. We lawyers don’t like to do things alone, and we like to run with the pack, even if it means running in folly.

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