Recent developments around social media highlight the need for Wolters Kluwer to incorporate social media into its research products targeted at end users. Why? Social media are behaving more and more like primary and secondary sources of law. Consider the following developments:
1. The US Department of Treasury announced via blog post the delay in implementation of the Obamacare employer mandate;
2. A report by the US Securities and Exchange Commission permits companies to announce key information via social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter;
3. Federal courts in the United States increasingly have frequently cited Wikipedia;
5. The Federal Register has a Twitter feed; and
6. “Real Lawyers Have Blogs” (a title of a blog by Kevin O’Keefe that discusses the value proposition of lawyers’ use of social media to promote thought leadership – thought leadership that might be integrated into professional research products).
Here are my thoughts for meaningful integration:
Publishers should integrate social media into research products in a contextually relevant way. Not every announcement by the IRS or SEC on YouTube or Twitter is relevant to a tax, legal or regulatory professional. This invokes the need for contextual inquiry to understanding and mapping professionals’ workflows, topical classification of social media, and leveraging speech-to-text capabilities for videos on YouTube and other sites.
Social media can be a channel for exposing customers to behind-the-firewall content. Professionals do research social media via public search engines. Metadata, titles, abstracts, author names and dynamic extracts of behind-the-firewall content at Wolters Kluwer could be indexed by public search engines through publication via social media. In essence, this is “reverse integration” in the sense that a lawyer or accountant might link from social media accessed through a public search engine to a research product from Wolters Kluwer.
There certainly are counterarguments. Contextual inquiry might reveal that professional end users prefer to access social media content separately from professional content. It is possible that they prefer to access tweets via Twitter, YouTube videos via YouTube, etc., or through a public search engine. Probably the preferences differ by end-user types and their clients’ needs: a lawyer preparing for litigation versus a lawyer drafting a contract versus an accountant preparing a tax return versus an accountant preparing to represent a client in an audit by the Internal Revenue Service.
What are your thoughts?