July 2011 Archives

In June, I had the great pleasure of attending the Corporate Social Media Summit in New York City, put on by Useful Social Media.  It was a fantastic event populated by the people in charge of social media for some of the world’s biggest and most influential companies, in industries across the spectrum.  Those who spoke shared insights that they’ve gained from their social media experiences, both positive and negative.  This group of highly sophisticated professionals truly represented the state of the art in corporate social media.

As such, their insights into best practices online carry significant weight.  Although no one speaker or panel focused specifically on the legal issues surrounding social media activity, they dropped several pearls of wisdom that are relevant to those issues.  Since I approach social media from a legal perspective, I drew from the speakers’ comments the following lessons on minimizing legal liability:


  • First and foremost, “it’s insane not to have a social media policy,” as one speaker put it.  “Your employees are going to use social media whether you like it or not,” said another, so define what they can and cannot do online.  Not only will this offer you a potential shield from liability if an employee violates those guidelines, but a social media policy is also an important mechanism for engaging your employees and educating them on your company’s overall social media philosophy.  Best Buy, for example, summarizes its entire policy with the tagline, “Be Smart, Be Respectful, Be Human.”
  • But don’t oversimplify your policy, either.  One speaker quipped that his company’s entire policy was the following: “Don’t do anything stupid.”  But subsequent presenters responded (and the Twitterverse appeared to concur) that this is not the right approach for most employers.  Cisco’s Andrew Warden, for example, observed that “stupid” means something different to a recent college grad than it does to middle-aged professionals.  Rather, as Paul Butcher, Head of Digital for Citi, suggested, pepper your social media policy with real-world examples, so that all employees can grasp what it is that they should and shouldn’t do.
  • Don’t restrict your employee’s online activities too harshly, either.  Setting aside the labor law liability that this can create, and the lost opportunities for enhancing your brand, an overly draconian policy may say more about your hiring practices than it does about social media.  As Gregory Weiss, A.V.P. of Social Media for New York Life Insurance, observed, “If you don’t trust your employees, maybe you’re hiring the wrong employees.”
  • Train employees who use social media the most.  Best Buy trains their online community representatives for an entire week, then monitors what they post for 90 days.  Gregory Weiss suggested that social media issues be raised at every new hire orientation.
  • Have a social media policy that governs how third parties can use your site, too.  This includes your Facebook page.  Coca-Cola has a nice, trim policy on its Facebook fan page that Ashley Brown, Coke’s Director of Digital Communications, encouraged attendees to copy.  But there are very few absolute rules that all companies must follow when crafting these policies.  For example, after a healthy discussion on whether it’s ever appropriate to delete a third party’s post on your corporate Facebook page, the apparent consensus was, “rarely, but sometimes.”  Other speakers suggested locking down your Facebook wall so that third parties can only comment on your posts, but not start posts of their own on your wall.
  • Keep track of what different employees and departments are doing online.  This is especially important in large, geographically dispersed companies.  Both Coca-Cola and Southwest Airlines require individual employees to sign their posts on the corporate Twitter accounts with their initials, making it easier to trace the author of a particular post on an account to which many individuals contribute.  (It also has the effect of humanizing the brand, as one speaker noted.)  Citi has an internal Sharepoint location where all employees must pre-register their intentions to launch a new social media site.  That allows every relevant department, including legal, to review those plans before they’re launched.
  • People will cheat in online games.  Tim McMahan, head of Union Pacific’s web team, learned this in running his company’s innovative  online contest.  Be prepared to handle it.
  • Finally, my favorite piece of advice: “Become close friends with your lawyer!“  Several other speakers echoed this sentiment, including Tom Hoehn, Director of Marketing for Kodak.  Citi’s Paul Butcher added that good legal counsel is essential for identifying the risks–because there will always be some risk–so that you can ultimately weigh those risks against the potential benefit to the business.  Coca-Cola’s Ashley Brown rightly noted that the legal world as a whole hasn’t yet caught up with new media, but also emphasized that part of their success is due to the support and flexibility of their legal team.  Coke has two lawyers entirely dedicated to its social media engagements.

For more insights from these speakers that go well beyond the legal context, check out these summaries of the event from other attendees:

Learning From Leadership at the Corporate Social Media Summit (quoting Yours Truly)

Success Lessons from Corporate Social Media Summit Part 1Part 2

65 Tweetable Moments From the Corporate Social Media Summit

10 Big Brand Lessons From the Corporate Social Media Summit

Or search Twitter for the hashtag #csmny.

Guest post by Brian Wassom.

Brian D. Wassom is a First Amendment lawyer in the broadest sense of the term. He litigates copyright, trademark, publicity rights, entertainment, and related IP issues, all of which involve drawing the boundaries of legally sanctioned monopolies over creative expression and otherwise-free speech. He also assists media companies and journalists in exercising their freedom of the press, by helping them obtain access to information and defending them from claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, eavesdropping, and the like. Brian advises religious organizations as well, whose rights to free exercise and separation from government are likewise enshrined in the First Amendment.

Brian authors the legal blog Wassom.com, which addresses the law of social and emerging media. A regular feature of that blog is "Augmented Legality," the world's first publication dedicated to analyzing the legal principles that will govern the revolutionary technology called "augmented reality."


In the world of advertising, the right advertisement makes a tremendous difference. It’s not enough to display just your logo. Successful ads attract attention, highlight product benefits, and communicate brand attributes.

The same is true for your LinkedIn profile, the perfect vehicle for catching the attention of your chosen audience, communicating your uniqueness, and highlighting why your solutions are the best for solving your readers’ problems.

Given that there are millions of LinkedIn members, how can you compete with those who hold the same job title, work at similar companies, or job search in the same industries? The secret is using the right keywords in the right places. Keywords make it easier for people to find you and connect with you, opening the door to greater opportunities. Your LinkedIn profile is a keyword-searchable gem that can put you in front of key decision makers, without so much as a phone call. Try that with a paper resume!

If you made a half-hearted attempt at creating a great profile, then gave up when you didn’t see immediate results, you’re not alone. This is the #1 complaint we hear.

So let’s look at the steps to creating a killer LinkedIn profile, so you can enjoy the benefits.

Within the profile, you’ll find these important segments:

  • Headline
  • Status Updates
  • Summary
  • Recommendations
  • Experience
  • Specialties
  • Contact Information

When optimizing your LinkedIn profile, no segment is more important than the Headline. I’m going to use a previous headline of my own as an example.

 Some time ago, my headline read “Results-Oriented Copywriter.”

Not terribly exciting, and it did nothing to promote my skills in social media marketing and customer relationship management. But I did what I thought I was supposed to do: describe my job.

This is incorrect thinking. More people will find you through the 'people search' feature on LinkedIn… and connect with you…when your headline uses the right keywords. Unless the searcher knows you by name, your job title is all he or she has to go on. A recruiter might search for all members in her locale with a certain job title. A company may search for an industry expert using common keywords. Just as with Google, keywords often form the basis of an initial search.

There are several recommended formulas for creating an effective headline. The one I like and use the most is:

 Value or Solution | Value or Solution |Trust/Credibility | Who I Am

This format allows you to describe what you do and how you solve problems for others, rather than simply regurgitating your job description.

Following this format, my new headline became:

Corporate Social Strategist | Social Media Help | Social Media Copywriter | CEO Modello Media

To get there, I thought about what I do, the value I offer, and how I wanted to be perceived. The task is to develop creative terms that are at once searchable, accurately descriptive, and not overly competitive.  And by the way, the headline is limited to 120 characters.

Next, I did a keyword check to see how much competition I had for my chosen phrases. You can do it too, like this:

  1. Go the search box on the top right of your LI screen
  2. Make sure the search box is set to “People”
  3. Type your term into the box, put quotes around it, and hit enter.
  4. A list of members will appear. At the top right of this list are the “results” (for example, “7,019 results”). This tells you how many members are using the exact same search term in their profiles…in other words, your potential competition.
  5. Play around with the filters to the left to find only those who are 1st connections, only those in your own town or country, etc.

Your aim is to get on page 1 of these results. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. Don’t forget that LinkedIn claims they are growing by one new member every second, so this process requires diligence.

If you do nothing else to improve your profile but craft a more compelling headline, I guarantee you’ll connect with greater impact.

Victoria Ipri, CEO of Modello Media, Inc.,helps business owners and executives break away from outdated marketing wisdom, social peer pressure, and follow-the-crowd mentalities that can block outrageous success. Programs focus on LinkedIn, Google Places, and superior copywriting. Please contact [email protected]

Search for Articles

Follow Us

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from July 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2011 is the previous archive.

September 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Follow Us