Social Media is Not a Cure ALL for Your Woes
If you have been following my blog, you will notice that the style has changed. This is a temporary measure. In the next few weeks I will be going live with a new Theme. Here is a preview in vanilla form. I will also be going live with my own branding. I felt the previous Theme had run its course and caused me a few problems that I hadn’t anticipated. I trust you will bear with me.
I have dealt with the issue of social media on a number of previous occasions:
As I have previously said, one of the reasons that I left professional practice was because of social media. Having successfully used it in my practice, I saw a wider opportunity to work with professional practice (law being the main sector) in leveraging their intellectual capital. In simple terms competing on level terms with bigger and/or more sophisticated players.
I see huge potential for firms to use social media to engage with their clients, fans and referrers. The bottom line, as far as I am concerned, is for firms to stay close to the action (my obsession with Managing by Wandering About – see In Search of Excellence by Messrs Peters and Waterman Jnr), retain their existing clients, win new clients and maximise the personal branding of each lawyer/person in the firm. A tall order I know but one that I think is achievable.
Some firms have embarked upon a journey which means looking inwardly at their raison detre, something (perhaps) they have not done for a very long time. I feel certain that they will come out the other side the better for it, if only because they are playing smart with their collateral and not spreading it outwardly without any attention on its effectiveness (and probably looking at their website as a sales portal).
I know I must sound like a broken record when making this point, but social media is all about earning attention. If you need to understand this point then please watch David Meerman Scott’s video dealing extensively with the issue. The point is unless you have something of value to share, social media will become a big fat distraction. No one will be remotely interested in you continuing to recite the latest piece of firm news or worse still a mash up of some esoteric piece of case law.
If you need to know what your clients are interested in then go check out Google Adwords Keyword Tool. It is free and will give you the number of searches for key words per month on Google. If you have a niche great but if only a handful of people are interested in that area (or more likely the way you describe it) then guess what: your firm’s efforts will come to nothing.
Social media is not about the number of Twitter followers you have. It is about meaningful engagement. The conversation in colloquial terms. And please don’t Re-Tweet your own firm’s content. Bad, bad, bad.
And as regards LinkedIn, this is an incredibly powerful social media platform and the Legal Network and Law Society groups are well worth following.
As to Facebook, by all means develop one but it will be a while yet before clients start to interact. You would be far better off spending your time on Google+. I have certainly found it very useful. It is too early to say if it will replace any of the other platforms.
Overall, I sense that firms are still trying to understand where social media fits into their practice. The majority view it as an extension of their business development efforts. Very few have taken it to heart and looked to change the culture, particularly with regards the management and sharing of relevant information.
My advice is that first and foremost unlock the channels. The only reason you haven’t done so is because you don’t trust your people. What message does that send out? The risk can be managed. Trust me if the US Navy and Air Force can manage to implement social media then you have no excuse.
Start talking it up at every opportunity. Change your stationery and printed material to make it clear which platforms you have adopted. Make it easy for people to interact from your website.
And perhaps most radical of all consider how you unleash the power of your people to engage directly rather than having some out of date command and control structure.
Social media is not a panacea for your ills. And it certainly doesn’t replace face to face contact. Don’t think of it as lazy marketing. If anything think of it the same way as you would any other networking event. Bring the damn thing to life with some passion.
Will social media change your firm? No.
Will it head off the threat of Tesco law (or whatever term you have adopted)? No.
Will it make your firm profitable? No, not without guts, passion and perseverance.
Will it make you a better lawyer? No, not in a technical sense.
You may ask Why bother?
Simple: what other choice do you have?
As if you hadn’t noticed, more people are going on line to make their buying decision. Previously it didn’t matter about being found. They just rocked up to your front door. But pretty soon unless you have a remarkable web presence, then you sure are making it difficult for your firm and every person therein to be found. It will be like searching for a needle in the proverbial haystack.
Just imagine creating a blog with 5, 10 or 20,000 subscribers. Sounds a tall order but it should be achievable over time. And then what do you have? Not more people you can spam but interested followers who, if sold right, are much more likely to buy your services or make that all important referral.
Nuff said about social media.
Are you in?
I bloody well hope so.
~ Julian Summerhayes ~