The New Online Interaction: Sharing Value before Publishing Content

Further to our post yesterday about making meaningful connections via your written work, see Mack Collier’s piece last week at Search Engine Guide ("Why is Social Media So Hard for Businesses"). Collier uses the following language to get a handle on what "social media" might mean, exactly:

… a group of tools and sites that let you easily create and share content online.

"Blogs, social networks, and podcasts are the common forms of social media that most of us are at least somewhat familiar with," Collier continues. (JD Supra fits the model, too: here, legal professionals are provided an opportunity to share content that they’ve already created.)

Collier’s piece is about the importance of that single verb: to share.

He argues that businesses have trouble understanding the true value of these new online tools and platforms (and consequently how to effectively use them) because they still approach the online landscape in terms of one-way communication, not sharing. His point:

sharing implies interaction. Publishing and distributing implies one-way channels.

What does this mean on a repository of legal information freely shared by the people who are generating the information?

You understand the sharing part, that’s done by JD Supra contributors in the form of newsletters, articles, alerts, and numerous court filings, decisions, briefs, legal documents, and so forth.

What about the interaction part? Luckily, depending on the user, that can take many forms, including:

  • Peers and colleagues (other lawyers): using your filings to see the application of law to a set of specific facts;
  • Business leaders and in-house counsel: using your articles, alerts, and newsletters to keep abreast of the latest industry-specific legislation and legal news;
  • Peers and colleagues (other lawyers): using your profile and body of work to assess expertise and experience;
  • Members of the media: using your newsworthy Hot Docs as a source for fresh stories (and connecting via profiles with legal experts for substantive and authoritative analysis);
  • Legal consumers: using your documents as a basis for learning more about their legal issues, for determining your relevant expertise, for making the determination whether you are the lawyer or law firm that they need.

That’s the start of it; the list continues, as you can imagine.

We’ve raised the idea before in posts about our favorite catch-all phrase: content marketing. The days of Yellow Pages are over; this is a model of outreach (to new clients, colleagues, the press, anyone from whom you want attention) that begins with a seemingly counter-intuitive notion. As Collier puts it:  "use these tools and sites to create more value than you receive. "

That’s another way of saying: when you participate online today, start by offering something truly useful and you’ll vastly increase your chances of being noticed and rewarded for it. Borrowing Steve Matthews’ comment on yesterday’s post, sharing useful information is one of the most effective ways to frame the portrait of your practice.

From Collier again:

The more value you can create for others with social media, the more value you will receive back as a result.

What do you include in your definition of social media? Please share it below, in the comments.