January 2013 Volume 9 Number 5

This month I asked Matthew Fisher, our Young Lawyers Division (YLD)Liaison to the Health Law Section’s Council to describe the Section’s Social Media initiative. Matt and Marc Meyer, a former YLD Liaison to the Council and current Chair of the Section’s new Nursing and Allied Healthcare Issues Task Force are our inaugural Social Media Co-Editors. The Social Media initiative is the product of much creative thinking and hard work by Matt, Marc, Simeon Carson and others. I am confident that the initiative will transform and strengthen the Section’s relationship with its members, the ABA and our profession. With that, I will pass the pen to Matt.

--David L. Douglass, Chair, ABA Health Law Section

Chair's Column: Social Media

By Matthew Fisher, Mirick, O'Connell, DeMallie & Lougee, LLP, Worcester, MA 

AuthorI have enjoyed working to develop the Section’s Social Media effort and I am honored to serve as one of the two inaugural Social Media Co-Editors, along with Marc Meyer. David asked me to address the official launch of the Section’s social media initiative and full-fledged entry into the social media sphere. The Section’s social media efforts include a page on Facebook, a group on LinkedIn, and accounts for the Section itself and each Interest Group and Task Force on Twitter, each of which will be described in more detail below. Through each of these networks, the Section will share information and stories with its members in ways that respond to how our members and potential members are accessing and managing information.

First, a fundamental question should be addressed: what is social media? While there is not one unified definition, at its essence social media is merely another means of communication, though one that can and does occur almost instantaneously. Social media encompasses communication by text, photo sharing, video and many other forms of communication and expression. A good example of the speed with which a message can spread comes from the presidential debates in the fall of 2012. Each of the debates generated buzzwords, including “Big Bird” and “binders of women,” that started conversations and became touchstones on places such as Twitter. The power and potential of social media was also on display in the revolutions and unrest in the Middle East in 2012 by allowing protesters to organize and instantaneously publicize their actions worldwide.

Social media is thoroughly interwoven into our lives. Facebook crossed the one billion user threshold. Twitter keeps growing in popularity with users from celebrities to government agencies and has over 500 million registered users. LinkedIn provides professionals an avenue to network and showcase their skills and expertise with over 187 million members.

Each network has its own primary uses and attracts different types of users. Accordingly, social media can be and is used in a multitude of ways. Facebook while generally a more personal platform, also allows businesses, including the Section, to create pages and reach an extended audience. LinkedIn is primarily used by professionals and allows users to expand their contact networks, promote an expertise or knowledge and look for jobs. Twitter is a micro-blogging network where users can use up to 140 characters to share their thoughts and ideas on any topic or subject.

The Section recognizes the growing importance of social media and is proactively moving to embrace its benefits and potential. The Section is kicking off its social media initiative throughout January, including promoting its Twitter accounts, informing members about opportunities for interaction and involvement, and posting content on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The success of the Section’s initiative will really focus on tapping into each and every Interest Group by encouraging engagement and use by members on the various social media networks, specifically Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The Interest Groups will help generate content and will be looking to their members for help in generating content and excitement.

The Section’s social media initiative will allow us to communicate with our members in a more diverse manner, while responding to the desire for more control over the nature of communications. The Section will also use social media to deliver substantive content and analysis. For example, if someone wants to know when an advisory opinion comes out, follow the Section on Twitter and you will see a tweet not only stating that the opinion is out, but linking to it as well.

The Section has also begun using social media in conjunction with its in-person meetings and conferences. A social media blitz in November of 2012 helped to promote the Washington Health Law Summit by focusing on the actual topics and information that would be presented, which attracted additional registrants. Look for a similar campaign as the Emerging Issues in Healthcare Law Conference in February gets closer. The Section is also encouraging live tweeting and other engagement from attendees while they are at conferences in order to spread the message about presentations and immediately share information.

On behalf of Marc and myself, we are looking forward to an exciting year and helping the Section join so many others in establishing a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I look forward to interacting with many and hopefully all of you on these platforms in the coming year.

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