By Request: What Will It Take to Get Howard onto Facebook?

As part of blawgiversary week at DennisKennedy.Blog, I’ve invited readers to send me their questions and I’ll try to answer each of them with a “By Request” post.

Not surprisingly, real life has intruded on my plan, so I’m running behind. However, keep sending your questions in and I’ll see how many I can answer this weekend.
Here’s the next question:
“What Will It Take to Get Howard onto Facebook?”
OK. One of the risks in doing “By Request” is that people will ask questions that are too “insider” or don’t have application to my general audience. That said, I’ll still take a stab at this one.
Although on the surface, this might seem to be a question about one of my high school classmates, there are really two different, and increasingly important, questions hidden within this question, and I’ll answer those.
The two questions are: 1. How do you convince an adult, professional person (let’s say a lawyer) that it actually makes any sense at all to sign up for Facebook? And 2. Has it become obligatory for all of us to have an active Facebook account as part of our Internet presence?
Let’s take the second question first.
I’ve been on Facebook for a while. I did so as an experiment at the time bloggers and others first looked to Facebook as a possible platform for business networking. It’s still an experiment for me, and I have mixed conclusions about it. In fact, Tom Mighell and I did a podcast about a year-and-a-half ago about the ways lawyers might use Facebook. I’m not sure that my opinions in that podcast have changed in many meaningful ways since then.
My biggest difficulty with Facebook is that it is an additional silo for me – one more destination that isn’t among the first tier of Internet places I frequent. So, I’m not actually “on Facebook” that much, especially since I have an RSS feed for friends updates on Facebook.
That said, I’m gradually reaching the conclusion that having a Facebook page has become almost like having an email address. It’s one of the basic building blocks of an Internet presence, and it’s striking how often now I hear adults talking about having a Facebook page. The “killer app,” if you will, is using Facebook to reconnect with high schools, college and childhood friends.
The key word to keep in mind with a Facebook account is judgment, judgment and judgment, especially if you expect to have colleagues, clients or potential clients with any kind of access to your Facebook presence. Equally important is trying to make sure that your Facebook friends are friends who exercise good judgment as well, especially about you. In simplest terms, there are privacy settings on Facebook and you need to know what they are and how to use them.
Let me say it again: use good judgment.
Question #2. How do you convince someone who is reluctant or dubious that they need to be on Facebook?
I personally think that you can’t, but you can point to the path that will help someone make their own decisions.
In many ways, Facebook reminds me of the earliest days of Internet email in law firms. As I’ve said in several of my presentations, it wasn’t clients that led lawyers to use email; it was the children of law firm partners in college who wanted to communicate with them that moved lawyers to use Internet email. I see a similar pattern with parents today.
I probably cannot convince anyone of overwhelming benefits or “need” to get on Facebook, but I can point them to the ability to connect or reconnect with family, friends, high school classmates, fellow bloogers, legal technology experts, and the like. If there is a sufficient “hook,” people will try Facebook.
There are a lot of issues lawyers who use Facebook need to think through carefully (and I’m planning to write about that in the near future), but, in general, it will be the ability to connect personally with an important group of people that will motivate people to try Facebook.
Finally, what about the Howard question? What will it take?
I thought we were going to get him quite a while ago. When Mike got on Facebook, I thought we had him. When both Eric and Elaine were on, I thought we had him. When Howard IMed me that he was actually working on setting up an account, I almost believed him. I recently thought that Roger would be the tipping point. I doubt that this blog post will get him over the hump, but I’m an optimist. And I know that one day soon, we’ll see him and maybe even you on Facebook.
But remember the word “judgment” if you go there.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog; Follow me – @denniskennedy
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools

Technorati tags: