Relevancy Of The 16 Rules Of Social Media Optimization For Web Presence

If you are like many people, you زيادة متابعين تيك توك look at the youth of today typing incessantly on their smartphone keyboards and wonder, “what do they have to say that is so important and to whom?!” Then, with a Scrooge-like “harrumph”, you discount the entirety of social media and with a wave of your hand, brush off instantaneous global connectivity and the entire digital world of the 21st Century. Nice going… you just put your business or law practice behind others.

OK, so you don’t have to jump into social media and begin posting what you are doing at every minute to the world, but you should at least understand what it is all about so you can use it, if you want to, or know how it is applied in litigation.

As something of an aside, this article is naturally not intended to provide legal advice or to form an attorney-client relationship with the reader; it is only meant to provide general information on the important topic of social media and its impact on the modern business and legal practice.

What Is Social Media, Really?

By the summer of 2012, Americans spent something like 120 billion minutes a month on social media, up from 88 billion a year earlier. That accounts for upwards of 30% of all time spent on-line. Over 600 million people now use Facebook, and more than half of all Americans have some form of social media account.

Also, mobile usage is up tremendously with the reduced cost and proliferation of smartphones. The fact is the usage is up and you see it all around you and hear about it regularly. Thus, for better or for worse, it is here to stay.

OK, so you realize you can’t ignore this anymore, but you’re still not convinced that you need or want to use it and wonder what it really is. To break this information down succinctly, it can be lumped into two general groups, (1) websites that host user-created content, like photos, videos, and text postings, and (2) sites that replicate that content and provide enhanced internet visibility.

In the first category, there are some more commonly used or “older” sites, which means more than five years old, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter, to name a few, and some arguably less well-known or “newer” sites like Pinterest, Ezine, Delicious, Squidoo, Slideshare, and About.me. Likewise, in the second category, there are older sites, like Twitter (yes, it also replicates content), Hootsuite, and Tweetdeck and newer ones such as Sharehaulic, Reddit, and StumbleUpon.

What Does Social Media Do, I Mean What Are Its Benefits And Uses?

Alright, now you understand what social media is so you’re likely wondering how it can benefit you. A very interesting phenomenon of social media is that credibility and visibility seem to have merged. When thousands of people accept what an actor or actress, for example, says on social media or they act in a certain manner because of that, it demonstrates that those who are visible through social media have instant credibility with the masses that they attract. It is a strange world where a store’s profits can increase simply as a result of a reality TV show star’s social media postings raving about the store, but it is the world in which we now live and the world that you must understand because it impacts your business and that of your clients.

Other benefits are networking, instantaneous communication, and the sharing of information, knowledge, and documents. Not long ago, I met a pipe smoker in Japan on Facebook. We corresponded and I sent him a corncob pipe and some tobacco. He has since become the President of the Pipe Club of Japan. How amazing is that?! OK, I cheated a bit because I lived in Japan as a Rotary Exchange Student and I speak Japanese, but without social media we would not have been able to connect and build a friendship that easily across the planet.

When I was in the Army and stationed in South Korea, I practically needed an act of Congress to get a phone line to call back to the States. Now, I am able to Skype with my old Army buddy who was the Military Judge there and have a real-time video and voice conversation with him. This technology is available to us all so why not use it. With the permission of my opposition, I Skyped my client into a mediation not long ago, which saved my client a tremendous amount of money on airfare and hotel charges. That is just one way to use social media to reduce costs in lawsuits and benefit clients.

So Why Should You Care – Social Media In Litigation

Now, getting to the heart of the matter, you understand social media, you use or are at least willing to try it, so how do you integrate it into litigation or how does it factor in? First, you may already know that the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure added e-discovery components on September 1, 2012. This means electronic data, including e-mails, are now discoverable in civil lawsuits in Florida.

While at present there is more Federal case law on the topic, a recent Virginia State Court decision sanctioned an attorney for over $500,000 for allowing his client to remove posts and photos from social media sites that were relevant to the case. The worst part is that the direction to do so came not from the attorney, but a paralegal, however, the Court found that the attorney learned of it and allowed it. While that may be an extreme case, the day is not far off when we may have Florida decisions along those lines.

Let me pose a hypothetical to illustrate the impact of social media in litigation and e-discovery’s place in it. Let’s take a client who advances a personal injury claim and asserts that he or she can no longer lift, bend, or whatever. Then, during the course of the litigation, that person or even a friend of that person posts photos of them skiing and having a great time in the hot tub near the slopes. If you are defending the case, those photos will make your client very happy. If you are prosecuting the case, they probably won’t. As you can see, understanding social media and how to ethically obtain those posts are now a relevant and important part of the practice of law in Florida.

In addition to obtaining electronic data, including these posts, in a lawsuit, parties and their counsel now have an obligation to act in advance to preserve this data through such mechanisms as Litigation Hold Notices. Florida attorneys must also be aware of and advise their clients of the liabilities for failure to preserve ESI, whether it is requested or, in some cases, not. For further information on this, you are welcome to view the two featured videos on e-discovery on the homepage of my site.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Florida attorneys and business people can now ill afford to ignore social media. While you may not desire to tell the world what you think of a movie you just saw through such posts, you at least must understand the basics of social media and how it can impact a lawsuit in which you are involved or may later be involved.

As businesses, in particular, gravitate to storing all their data electronically and individuals increasingly live in the digital world of social media, you can no longer ignore social media. It is not as difficult as you likely thought and once you try it, you will develop more comfort with it and may even come to embrace it.

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