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Current Awareness Services for Law: RSS & Social Media

Using social networking sites for current awareness

Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can be valuable sources of current awareness information -- announcements, events, newsletters, blog posts, and the like from companies, bar associations, other law firms, organizations and individuals. An older technology called RSS can be used to direct news and announcements to your email or a specialized RSS Reader program.

Social Networking Resources

Twitter (http://www.twitter.com) is a free microblogging service that allows users to send out short (140-character) messages, called "Tweets." Subscribers to these messages are known as "followers" in Twitter.

  • Unlike traditional RSS or email updates, where you are only a consumer of the information sent out, Twitter is a two-way service.
  • Once you establish an account you can not only follow other persons or organizations, you can send Tweets and have followers as well.
  • A common practice is to forward (or "retweet") a message you have seen to your own followers, which gives it wider circulation.
  • Following hashtags: In addition to following the Tweets of persons or organizations, you can also follow "hashtags."
    • A hashtag is a brief label, included as part of a Tweet, which begins with the "#" sign.
    • When everyone posting on a topic includes the same hashtag in their Tweet, it is possible to follow a discussion among many people without having to follow each individual separately.
  • Twitter applications: Tweets can be read online at Twitter's website but there are also services that make it easier to read Tweets and  manage feeds.

To subscribe:

  1. Go to www.twitter.com and click sign up.
  2. Enter your real name then select a user name.
  3. Enter a password (Twitter will test it for its strength).
  4. Enter your email address.
  5. Type in the "Captcha" words displayed on the screen, then click Create my account. You will receive a confirming email message. Click on the link in the message to complete your account setup.
  6. To find persons or entities to follow, log in to your Twitter account and click Find People at the top of the screen. Use the search box or Browse Interests to find feeds, then click Follow next to each feed you want to follow.

To unsubscribe from (unfollow) selected feeds:

  1. Click the XX following link on your Twitter home page (where XX is the number of feeds you follow).
  2. Select the feed to unfollow, then click the Settings button (with the gear icon) and select Unfollow.

To cancel your Twitter account:

  • In the upper right hand corner click Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Deactivate my account.

Twitter directories of interest to lawyers

Note: Many Facebook pages, especially for groups or organizations, do not require a Facebook account to view them (as long as the page owner  has set up the page's permissions to allow this).

  • Many ABA sections and their committees have a Facebook presence and regularly send out news and announcements. (Tip: search Google for "aba section site:facebook.com" to bring up a list.)
  • Other groups of lawyers and bar & professional associations also have Facebook pages, as do products and services marketing to lawyers & law firms.
  • Law schools with Facebook pages often announce CLE events and other news of interest.
  • JD Supra provides links to their topic-specific Facebook page updates at http://scoop.jdsupra.com/2010/05/articles/law-firm-marketing/law-news-on-facebook/

RSS is a standardized way to receive updated information from various web-based sources such as blogs, audio & video feeds, and news resources. Users subscribe to feeds of interest. Once subscribed, updates are sent automatically to a feed reader set up by the user.

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