My social media secrets

It has been a while since my last blog entry, but as I noted then, in ‘How often should you blog?‘, it is best if you only blog when you have something genuinely useful to add to the conversation.

I decided that in today’s blog entry I would share some of my favourite social media tools which I use on a day-to-day basis to stay on top of developing stories, legislation, case-law and everything else that may be relevant to knowledge management within the legal environment.

The iPad

Yes, the iPad is the primary tool I use to stay on top of information 24/7. Whether at home, in the office, or on the move my iPad is never more than an arm’s length away from me. You can read more about my love affair with my iPad in my previous blog entry titled The iPad2 six months on …

I know there are competing products available on the market now, but personally I think that the iPad is still the best and most user-friendly tablet device out there. Perhaps down the road there will be truly competitive products, rather than imitations or variations on the theme, but, until then, save yourself the frustration and go with the iPad.

Twitter

For up-to-date news and information you simply can’t overlook Twitter. I am a regular tweeter on my @stephensander Twitter account where I muse about legal, knowledge management, social media and technology developments and news.

I also maintain a separate, personal Twitter account with a focus on my passion for democracy, human rights, equality, free speech and the rule of law worldwide.

Admittedly, having a personal Twitter account dealing with potentially controversial topics of human rights, equality and free speech may seem adventurous and possibly dangerous in this age of social media horror stories, but I am also a firm believer in and an active advocate of being true to yourself online … but I digress.

Going beyond the tweets you post, in my view it is almost equally as, if not more, important who you choose to follow on Twitter. Following the right selection of news and professional Twitter accounts can provide you with great resources and updates and can keep you on the leading edge of news and information.

For example, the Twitter accounts I currently follow through my legal/knowledge management and social media accounts include the following, in no particular order:

  • a range of top-tier Australian and UK law firms;
  • BRR Media;
  • Harvard Business Review;
  • Lawyers Weekly;
  • Thomson Reuters;
  • LexisNexis Australia;
  • The Australian Financial Review;
  • The Financial Times;
  • The Wall Street Journal;
  • The New Lawyer;
  • CCH Australia;
  • TimeBase;
  • Legal Current (Thomson Reuters);
  • Australian Law Reform Commission;
  • Kluwer Arbitration; and
  • Mashable.

HootSuite

HootSuite is a social media aggregator service which allows you to manage all your social media accounts from a central control panel via your desktop on the web or on your mobile devices, for example using the HootSuite App, which works both on the iPad and iPhone.

What this means is that you can manage multiple Twitter streams and other social media accounts (including LinkedIn and Facebook) from a single interface. The service enables you to easily monitor information coming through all social media, including mentions, and also allows you to post across multiple social media platforms simultaneously with a single entry.

Further, HootSuite offers analytics tools and the ability to schedule messages to be published across your various social media platforms. You can even aggregate RSS feeds into HootSuite if you wish.

There is a free version of the HootSuite service allowing you to manage up to five social media accounts or you can choose a monthly subscription service that enables you to manage as many social media accounts as you need.

Using HootSuite has literally halved the time I spend managing my social media accounts.

Google Reader

Another social media tool I use daily is the RSS feed aggregator, Google Reader. I set up my Google Reader to direct RSS feeds into appropriately named folders such as:

  • Arbitration;
  • Business;
  • Class Actions;
  • Contract Law;
  • Courts and Litigation;
  • eLitigation;
  • General Legal Updates;
  • Insolvency;
  • Insurance;
  • Knowledge Management;
  • Legislation;
  • News;
  • Product Liability;
  • Regulatory;
  • Trade Practices; and
  • Workplace and OH&S.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to the topics you wish to follow and it will of course depend entirely on your business and information needs.

Then all I have to do is monitor updates to my Google Reader, as it pushes through all the latest RSS updates from the 80 feeds I set up so far, including:

  • ACCC news releases;
  • Alert24 news feeds from Thomson Reuters for bankruptcy and insolvency, competition and trade practices, contract law, court practice and litigation, insurance, discrimination, financial services regulation, general practice and workplace and employment law;
  • CCH news;
  • Commonwealth Bills Digest;
  • Commonwealth Parliamentary Library updates;
  • Digital Media;
  • Global Arbitration Review News;
  • Google Alerts on arbitration, class actions and social media;
  • Harvard Business Review;
  • Green Chameleon;
  • Lawyer KM;
  • NSW KM Forum;
  • Lawyers Weekly;
  • Queensland Legal Updater;
  • Queensland Judgments;
  • Queensland UCPR Bulletin;
  • The Sydney Morning Herald;
  • The New York Times;
  • The Washington Post;
  • Western Australia Supreme Court Judgments … and more.

All you have to do is look for the RSS feed symbol on pages you visit frequently and add them to your Google Reader.

Google Alerts

You may have noticed a reference to ‘Google Alerts’ above. Google Alerts is a great news delivery service that monitors the web for news and/or other materials according to keywords entered and then delivers an email update or pushes information into your RSS reader, such as Google Reader, as soon as news breaks or information is published on that topic.

Reeder

While Google Reader functions great on a desktop or laptop, its interface is not very user-friendly on mobile devices or tablets. To overcome this issue I use the Reeder App for iPad to keep up to date on my Google Reader RSS feeds (there is also a Reeder App for the iPhone).

This excellent App syncs with Google Reader and provides a mobile/tablet device friendly interface which also enables you to direct articles of interest to Twitter (and even Evernote).

There is no RSS feed option on my favourite web page!

You may come across organisations and web pages that do not offer Twitter or RSS feeds, such as the NSW Supreme Court or the Federal Court’s website. So why not use a free service such as Page2RSS, which will help you monitor changes to websites without feeds by delivering updates to an RSS reader, such as Google Reader.

… and you are now on your way to becoming a social media champion

Between Twitter, Google Reader, RSS feeds, Google Alert and the Page2RSS service you will be the first one to know when any relevant news breaks, information becomes available or web page is updated.

Priceless, especially since all these services are … free.

The HootSuite service will only have a monthly fee if you need to aggregate more than five social media accounts, currently $5.99. However, their combined iPad/iPhone application is free, while the Reeder for iPad costs $5.49.

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