Shaunna Mireau on Canadian Legal Research

Tips on Canadian legal research from the Library at Field LLP.
Postings are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the firm.

October 01, 2009

Redefining viruses and the value of social networking

No this isn't a post about H1N1, though Field has a great seminar on pandemic planning. This is another post about Twitter.

Thanks to a CBA webinar delivered by Doug Jasinski on Social Media for Law Firms that I attended on September 30, I now have a really good measuring strategy to show social media use from a value perspective. Let me explain...

Last Thursday I posted to about an Alberta Masters order that allowed for substitutional service via Facebook. This is new territory for litigation and the post generated quite a bit of interest. There were 5 comments though one was me clarifying the unreported citation. Slaw has a significant following as it is an important and popular place to read about Canadian Law and Technology. I feel very privileged to be a contributor.

My contact information is available on the Slaw Contributors page so when I offered to email copies of this 3 page order, there were several people who requested a copy - a quick review of my sent items shows that I emailed it to 10 people outside my of which was Doug who mentioned the decision in his presentation and referenced Field Law as the source. Thanks Doug!

Another person who showed some interest in the decision was Ellen Henry, Counsel with the Law Society of Manitoba. The Law Society sent an eLaw - Litigation Update to their members about the decision and it was forwarded to me by Karen Sawatzky, librarian at Pitblado LLP.

As of today there were 14 Retweets about the Slaw post. Retweets are links to a blog post from a twitter account or copying a tweet from someone you follow that references the item to alert your network of something you read. One of the tweets was me of course, since one of the ways I use Twitter is to share my work. My tweets also update my Facebook status (I hope this became useful cocktail party conversation for my school friends).

As Doug displayed in his seminar, you can quantify Twitter. I counted up the number of followers for everyone who mentioned my post using twitter. I was astonished to see that 10,491 people (give or take a few duplicates) received a short note about the Masters order I shared through Slaw.

If even 10% of the people who were notified were interested enough to read my post, that is over 1000 individuals who might recognize my name. They may connect me with Field LLP and if so, my firm just got some great, positive, attention. If one percent of those people remember my firm name when they have a legal issue in Alberta, that could lead to 10 new clients.

While working out these numbers, I could not help but think of the word virus. I might define virus like these molecular virology folks:

The concept of a virus as an organism challenges the way we define life:
  • viruses do not respire,
  • nor do they display irritability;
  • they do not move
  • and nor do they grow,
  • however, they do most certainly reproduce, and may adapt to new hosts.
There is no doubt that reproduction has occurred. New hosts include Gary Wise and Pamela Pengelley to name just a couple of bloggers covering the story themselves.

I think there is new meaning of virus that is certainly not negative. I rather like being part of this little pandemic.

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