The Facebook Chronicles, Book Two: The Call to Adventure

by Barb Cashman on April 30, 2012

Yes, in case you’re wondering, I have auspiciously subtitled this post according to the first stage of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey – “the call to adventure.” I will focus on our departure here – departure from the “known universe” of lawyer marketing (networking groups, static websites, e-newsletters, public speaking, etc.) to identify in a bit more detail what the “adventure” into social media marketing looks like.  In case you’re skeptical of this whole “call to adventure” approach, read a recent installment in “The New Normal” series in the ABA journal.

I have put aside my “dummies” book for now; thank goodness I found an antidote for it in Howard Rheingold’s “Net Smart: How to Thrive Online” (2012: MIT Press).  From his introduction, under the question “who needs to read this book and why?” he includes:

  • Adults who are adept at using online tools and networks, but face challenges of time and attention management and seek a balance between their physical and virtual environments
  • Young people who are immersed in the digital “hanging out, messing around, and geeking out” online that is such an important part of youth culture today but are ready to learn deeper, broader ways of using social media productively and collaboratively
  • People who are old enough to remember the world before it was webbed, and are simultaneously puzzled, attracted, and fearful about new media

[Note: I’m leaving out his bullets regarding parents of young children, businesspeople, and educators.]

What this book covers are the steps in the process of developing your own digital mindfulness.  You may have guessed that, like a 12-step program, awareness is the first step.  But thankfully, this book does NOT describe a 12-step program!  Rheingold covers five “literacies” in his book chapters:

  1. Attention control management and challenges of being mindful in an always-on world;
  2. Crap detection 101 – or developing and fine tuning your “internal crap detector” (try Googling that one and some pretty cool stuff comes up)
  3. Literacy of online participation;
  4. Social digital know how – shifting from the personal to interpersonal to (gulp) the cybersocial;
  5. Social network analysis, social capital (yep, I’ll be looking for a reference to “Das Online Kapital”).

As you can see, he doesn’t get to Facebook stuff until chapter 5! So you will just have to bear with me, dear readers. I’m looking forward to getting through this book; he really describes ways that we can learn (and maybe teach others) the skills we need to know if “we are to master the use of our attention amid a myriad of choices designed to attract us.”  Sounds like an M.A. (Master of Attention) to me.

The good news is that it can all start with a small first step, which is simply noticing it (yep, there’s that mindfulness training again).  So you don’t need “the whole Megillah” of attention control/management, you just start out small by noticing where you are using it.  This self-reflective means is a crucial tool in the attention control tool belt, and you start simply by noticing. (Plus, you don’t need to be in the shower to do this self-exam!)

I almost forgot to mention that this book has fabulous cartoonish drawings in it by Anthony Weeks that tell great stories.  See one for Mindfulness/Metacognition here.

So back to the whole call to adventure theme, why is this scary, why an adventure?  I would venture to opine that part of the difficulties we share as attorneys looking to connect – whether on a business-to-business or business-to-consumer level is simple and basic fear.  My first question is simple: what are we afraid of?  As a preface, I might be recalling the January 2010 Scientific American Mind article “Are Social Networks Messing With Your Head?” but it is one of several articles about all of us beings subjects in the Internet as the biggest psychological experiment ever conducted.  We really are talking about all of us adapting to the new “normal” – whether we embrace it or not.  Still wondering about whether law firms are actually doing this kind of thing? Check out the article “Firms, courts adapt to changing social media” in the Chicago Lawyer, which has an overview of some good considerations for a law firm’s social media policy.

Most marketers say social media generates leads and increases website traffic and overall exposure.  See a recent article by Stephen Fairley in the National Law Review.

Please stay tuned for the next installment: “Refusal of the Call” or the risk of refusing to heed the call, due to fear, sense of inadequacy, or all the other things that hold you back . . .

Read more about Barb’s Facebook Chronicles here.

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