Social Media is something you Are, Not Do.

Yes, of course you get *it*: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To a greater extent that is social media – the platforms.

But if your firm is truly going to embrace the paradigm shift that comes from abandoning a push message to earning your clients’ attention then it requires a whole lot more than familiarity and use of the platforms.

Internally

Have you:

  1. Put in place a social media policy and separate policies for Twitter etc?
  2. Unlocked the firewall?
  3. Developed your firm-wide social media programme so that everyone understands enough to leverage the tools?
  4. Worked out the model for best/quickest adoption – will you revert to type (yawn…) and go with command and control?

Externally

  1. Is your website fit for (social media) purpose?
  2. Have you considered your clients’ likely engagement with social media?
  3. Have you addressed the Why question?
  4. Are you enabled to consider the Return on Investment (ROI)?

To allow engagement across a range of (newish) platforms there has to be a shared understanding from management of the need to cede control both in the content and the messaging. This means providing a safe way for people to engage, allowing people to harness their natural curiosity and start a dialogue that may open up the possibility of reaching a new audience. It is no different to be invited to a party where you don’t know anyone and being asked to engage. You may go with some pre-determined plan, but by and large you get out of it what you put in. Stand on the sideline and you will think it a waste of time.

Inherent in any form of social media engagement is the need to be thoughtful, respectful and interesting. Over time no one is going to be mesmerised by your lacklustre sales message, your firm news or case updates. The trick: be social and look for engagement.

Summary

Next time someone mentions social media in a meeting make sure that they understand fully the need to be social and not just to broadcast a message. This is, of course, not new but it doesn’t help to mention it from time to time. If all you are doing is constantly looking to use the tools but without any dialogue or engagement then be prepared to go back to basics and start again.

Social media is a people to people paradigm and is very unlikely to work if someone is asked to engage with a cold, practically dead from the neck down brand.

~ Julian Summerhayes ~

22 Responses to “Social Media is something you Are, Not Do.”

  1. Mark Smith says:

    Nice post Julian. The other suggestion I’d add is to unlock mobiles to allow social media apps. I have a lot of my social media engagement “on the hoof” – checking Linkedin on the way to meetings, tweeting while waiting for the train etc.

    Freeing the desktop is stage one, but for me unlocking mobile access also helps lawyers answer the question “when will I have time”.

    Have a great week

    • Thanks Mark. It still amazes me the way social media is spoken of as if it is somehow removed from the business of running a law firm. Mobiles are a key component and you are right to highlight this as another area where firms need to let go. Or better still to unlearn what they have learned.

      Have an awesome week.

      Julian

  2. Mark Smith says:

    Nice post Julian. The other suggestion I’d add is to unlock mobiles to allow social media apps. I have a lot of my social media engagement “on the hoof” – checking Linkedin on the way to meetings, tweeting while waiting for the train etc.

    Freeing the desktop is stage one, but for me unlocking mobile access also helps lawyers answer the question “when will I have time”.

    Have a great week

    • Thanks Mark. It still amazes me the way social media is spoken of as if it is somehow removed from the business of running a law firm. Mobiles are a key component and you are right to highlight this as another area where firms need to let go. Or better still to unlearn what they have learned.

      Have an awesome week.

      Julian

  3. Jon Busby says:

    I don’t understand all this ‘policy’ business. What do you need a policy for? Do you have a policy in law firms when you go to the pub and chat with a client…please tell me you don’t.

    Isn’t the behaviour of how an employee should act enshrined in their employment contract?

    Aren’t two way trust and respect compelling incentives in how to perform? < there is your core problem.

    Isn't the fact that if they screw the firm over they get collateral damage too?

    If they were going to say something dumb then they will probably have done it elsewhere too.

    People make mistakes, that's life.

    But policies = madness. How much time could be poured down the drain by creating and enforcing policies?

    Social is a state of mind, a community not built on instruction manuals. People come to communities when they are ready, not when they are told.

    Jon

    • Jon

      I think it unlikely that a business, especially one so heavily regulated as law, will allow their employees to engage across a slew of ‘open’ platforms without guidance in place.

      I am not sure I understand your pub analogy. If you look at Twitter right now, I don’t see any engagement of the type you describe. Lots of broadcast and sales led messaging. Of course, we don’t know if the reason for that is a policy but I doubt it.

      I think it sensible to have a policy in place. If you scale things up and have thousands of people engaging then you need some guiding principles. This is a link to the US Airforce social media policy http://www.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-090406-036.pdf. You are not suggesting that they should have nothing or IBM or Intel or all the other companies that have invested time and money crafting an appropriate policy?

      I am not sure an employment contract will assist with social media save to the extent that an employer might be able to rely upon some of the implied terms like bringing the company into disrepute etc. In any event why should a company have to rely on one document when they can put something in place that will, at the very least, provide assistance to their staff and to the courts when interpreting the issue in dispute. This is especially so when trying to consider the unintended consequences of engagement.

      Not sure I understand the “… when they are told point” in relation to law firm social media platforms. I agree that very few people will feel compelled to engage with a brand. Maybe that is the problem for law firms – policy or no policy – that unless there is something of value or meaning then very few people will engage.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Julian

  4. Jon Busby says:

    I don’t understand all this ‘policy’ business. What do you need a policy for? Do you have a policy in law firms when you go to the pub and chat with a client…please tell me you don’t.

    Isn’t the behaviour of how an employee should act enshrined in their employment contract?

    Aren’t two way trust and respect compelling incentives in how to perform? < there is your core problem.

    Isn't the fact that if they screw the firm over they get collateral damage too?

    If they were going to say something dumb then they will probably have done it elsewhere too.

    People make mistakes, that's life.

    But policies = madness. How much time could be poured down the drain by creating and enforcing policies?

    Social is a state of mind, a community not built on instruction manuals. People come to communities when they are ready, not when they are told.

    Jon

    • Jon

      I think it unlikely that a business, especially one so heavily regulated as law, will allow their employees to engage across a slew of ‘open’ platforms without guidance in place.

      I am not sure I understand your pub analogy. If you look at Twitter right now, I don’t see any engagement of the type you describe. Lots of broadcast and sales led messaging. Of course, we don’t know if the reason for that is a policy but I doubt it.

      I think it sensible to have a policy in place. If you scale things up and have thousands of people engaging then you need some guiding principles. This is a link to the US Airforce social media policy http://www.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-090406-036.pdf. You are not suggesting that they should have nothing or IBM or Intel or all the other companies that have invested time and money crafting an appropriate policy?

      I am not sure an employment contract will assist with social media save to the extent that an employer might be able to rely upon some of the implied terms like bringing the company into disrepute etc. In any event why should a company have to rely on one document when they can put something in place that will, at the very least, provide assistance to their staff and to the courts when interpreting the issue in dispute. This is especially so when trying to consider the unintended consequences of engagement.

      Not sure I understand the “… when they are told point” in relation to law firm social media platforms. I agree that very few people will feel compelled to engage with a brand. Maybe that is the problem for law firms – policy or no policy – that unless there is something of value or meaning then very few people will engage.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Julian

  5. Jon Busby says:

    Hmmm

    Are we in a parallel universe? Everybody else uses Twitter, (me on a separate timeline) to share, help, have a laugh, find out things in our normal lives aka build good sharing relationships. It is absolutely non-push.

    To me having a policy in place for Twitter is a bit like saying, on a works night out there will be an itinerary and schedule to follow. Dull party.

    I have to say Julian, you are a smashing fella but you just have to read one of your comments/blogs to instantly know that you are a lawyer. You write like a lawyer, speak like a lawyer and use the language of a lawyer. And, with all due respect, I think therein lies the problem of lawyers and social.

    Or am I being cynical in thinking ‘policies’ create work for so called ‘gurus?’

    BTW people do engage. They do it all the time. They ring with a problem to be solved. They have no other reason to engage, nor will they ever have.

    Jon
    ps hope that didn’t test your thick skin too much ;)

  6. Jon Busby says:

    Hmmm

    Are we in a parallel universe? Everybody else uses Twitter, (me on a separate timeline) to share, help, have a laugh, find out things in our normal lives aka build good sharing relationships. It is absolutely non-push.

    To me having a policy in place for Twitter is a bit like saying, on a works night out there will be an itinerary and schedule to follow. Dull party.

    I have to say Julian, you are a smashing fella but you just have to read one of your comments/blogs to instantly know that you are a lawyer. You write like a lawyer, speak like a lawyer and use the language of a lawyer. And, with all due respect, I think therein lies the problem of lawyers and social.

    Or am I being cynical in thinking ‘policies’ create work for so called ‘gurus?’

    BTW people do engage. They do it all the time. They ring with a problem to be solved. They have no other reason to engage, nor will they ever have.

    Jon
    ps hope that didn’t test your thick skin too much ;)

  7. Jon Busby says:

    Cool ;)

    Control has gone Julian. Evidence? Last week, NOTW.

    Now it’s about collaborating and sharing. Command and control from the centre is no longer.

    Jon

  8. Jon Busby says:

    Cool ;)

    Control has gone Julian. Evidence? Last week, NOTW.

    Now it’s about collaborating and sharing. Command and control from the centre is no longer.

    Jon

  9. Miriam Said says:

    Eeek….Some of us are not getting the reason for a policy for business on social media platforms.

    If I were to engage with a company, any company on Twitter, et., al, then I certainly wouldn’t want a company representative tweet or message to contain any swearing, any blame pointing at another person, any retaliation to a negative message or tweet or any user of the firms platforms to be disrespectful of someone who they were conversing with on any platform, or any reference to current and past clients or their cases without their consent and certainly no grouching about the firm or it’s practces.

    Would you want me tweeting about the CEO’s behaviour at the last Christmas party, or who is sleeping with who in the firm…..no, you wouldn’t. Just like a potential client also doesn’t want to know about such things.

    Yes be collaborative. Yes be friendly and generally “chatty”. But do not under any circumstances be negative or disrespectful to anyone, ever.

    When acting on behalf of a company on a social media platform, we should always represent that company in a favourable light.

    If complaints about the company via social media are received by clients, then those complaints must be dealt with swiftly and openly and resolved in the same manner.

    If this isn’t done, then the company will certainly suffer negativley, however, we must also allow employees communicating on behalf of the company, to be able to interact and communicate with others as part of themselves and as part of the company they represent.

    This is why companies need to think about their social media strategy when it comes to staff communication guidelines as well as the other considerations that Julian outlines above.

    • Jon Busby says:

      Miriam, some of us are not ‘getting’ social media full stop but think just being there is enough.

      Are you suggesting I am not getting social media?

      Rudeness et al. That’s not a policy, that’s common sense. That’s called being a decent human ;)

      Jon

  10. Miriam Said says:

    Eeek….Some of us are not getting the reason for a policy for business on social media platforms.

    If I were to engage with a company, any company on Twitter, et., al, then I certainly wouldn’t want a company representative tweet or message to contain any swearing, any blame pointing at another person, any retaliation to a negative message or tweet or any user of the firms platforms to be disrespectful of someone who they were conversing with on any platform, or any reference to current and past clients or their cases without their consent and certainly no grouching about the firm or it’s practces.

    Would you want me tweeting about the CEO’s behaviour at the last Christmas party, or who is sleeping with who in the firm…..no, you wouldn’t. Just like a potential client also doesn’t want to know about such things.

    Yes be collaborative. Yes be friendly and generally “chatty”. But do not under any circumstances be negative or disrespectful to anyone, ever.

    When acting on behalf of a company on a social media platform, we should always represent that company in a favourable light.

    If complaints about the company via social media are received by clients, then those complaints must be dealt with swiftly and openly and resolved in the same manner.

    If this isn’t done, then the company will certainly suffer negativley, however, we must also allow employees communicating on behalf of the company, to be able to interact and communicate with others as part of themselves and as part of the company they represent.

    This is why companies need to think about their social media strategy when it comes to staff communication guidelines as well as the other considerations that Julian outlines above.

    • Jon Busby says:

      Miriam, some of us are not ‘getting’ social media full stop but think just being there is enough.

      Are you suggesting I am not getting social media?

      Rudeness et al. That’s not a policy, that’s common sense. That’s called being a decent human ;)

      Jon

  11. Hiya Julian, Jon, Mark & Miriam

    Loving the comments and banter…

    My 2 pennies worth … bottom line… Social Media is all about being your authentic self. There isn’t a policy in the world you can script for that. We are ALL unique… and that’s the point and purpose and where the sweetspot lies in why and how we use social media…

    D’ya think?

    Hugs to all as always

    Chrissie
    The Entrepreneur Lawyer
    (of the naked kind)
    http://budurl.com/riptoxxx

  12. Hiya Julian, Jon, Mark & Miriam

    Loving the comments and banter…

    My 2 pennies worth … bottom line… Social Media is all about being your authentic self. There isn’t a policy in the world you can script for that. We are ALL unique… and that’s the point and purpose and where the sweetspot lies in why and how we use social media…

    D’ya think?

    Hugs to all as always

    Chrissie
    The Entrepreneur Lawyer
    (of the naked kind)
    http://budurl.com/riptoxxx

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