Social Media – Possibly the biggest distraction in the World?

Social Media, Social Media…. “Blah, Blah, Blah.”

Paradigm shift here. Leap of faith there.

The chatter is ceaseless. And even superstars like John Mayer fall out of love with the medium (or an aspect of it) and decide to ditch their Twitter profile (where will all those 7 million followers now go?)

At almost every networking event you turn up to there is some self-proclaimed ‘Guru’ or ‘Expert’ preaching that Social Media has revolutionised commerce (I have heard the words “game changer” a few times) and that the legal profession is going to get left behind if it doesn’t climb aboard.

As if there was nothing else to worry about!!!!!

CHARGEABLE HOURS.

BILLS.

DEALING WITH DEMANDING CLIENTS.

WINNING NEW WORK.

FOCUSING ON MY CAREER.

COMPLETING THAT ARTICLE THAT IS NOW 2 WEEKS OVERDUE (WHERE I WILL I EVER FIND THE TIME FOR THAT?).

DEALING WITH ANOTHER 50-PAGE TENDER DOCUMENT….

Now I fully understand the position.

Trust me.

I had 14 years of listening to the beat of the drums.

And it doesn’t get any easier.

Most firms are so preoccupied with hitting the *numbers* that most if not all lawyers have long since forgotten why they went into law.

Billing has assumed such importance that nearly every other aspect of the job seems pointless. It can become quite macho: “How much did you bill this month” was classic phraseology.

No one ever said to me “How many delighted clients did you serve this month” or “How many were WOWED, pure and simple”.

When it comes to the *proper* use of social media, it is incredibly important to consider why this medium is any better than the more traditional broadcast approach or face to face meetings or networking.

If it was so radical then TV, radio and newspaper advertising would, by now, be dust! You can’t tell me that every marketing buff across the board has got it that wrong?

If you are seduced by the new toy then that is perfectly understandable. But I would lend a cautionary note, which is simply this. You need to have a very clear understanding of what you are taking on as, otherwise, it will be like trying to take hold of the proverbial Tiger’s tale. Before you know where you are, you will be tied into an endless stream of Tweets, daily blogging, using all the social bookmarking sites and trying to understand how on earth you are supposed to make LinkedIn pay for itself.

My advice is to work out a clear strategy that will take you through the next 6 months and stick to it.

A few basic questions to ask yourself before you commit:

1. Do I have enough time to not only engage myself but also supervise others?

2. Do I want to have a life with my family outside of working hours? Twitter in particular doesn’t sleep and is not a 9-5 occupation.

3. Do I understand the technology?

4. What happens if the platforms go down for any prolonged period or worse still are pulled because of a lack of funds?

5. What are the risks to my business?

6. Will I need to rewrite any in-house documents?

7. Am I only going to use it for leads?

8. Do I understand how to work out the ROI?

9. Does it fit with the firm’s profile/brand?

10. How will it complement my existing off-line material?

If you can’t answer all these questions then go back and ask yourself the Why question. Why social media?

When all is said and done there are only so many hours in the day and you have to do what works for you. It will definitely pay you to instruct someone to advise on adoption but don’t be afraid to ask some blunt questions like;

1. Is it worth it? Or

2. Will I make money; Or

3. What sort of ROI or Return on Time can I expect?

If you decide to dive in (no toes in the water please) then you will need to come up for air and make sure you constantly analyse the situation. If you feel it isn’t working don’t be afraid to get some honest feedback and readjust your objectives.

For more on developing business, innovating in professional practice and implementing social media, subscribe to the RSS Feed of my Blog. Follow me on Twitter at @0neLife, or @Ju_Summerhayes connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your practice, check out my coaching and consulting firm via LinkedIn, email me on juliansummerhayes@gmail.com or call me on 075888 15384.