I have a firm view on this – some would say, perhaps, a fixed view – which is that whether you like it or not, Social Media is growing in importance, and it is only a matter of time before it becomes an essential element in the delivery of legal services. And, perhaps, more importantly, a key component of differentiation in the market.
Now there will be a steadfast few, and this will not be rooted in one generation or another, who refuse to acknowledge, let alone accept that Social Media, New Media or new channels of communication have a place in Legal/Professional Practice. It is not just unlearning what they know but it is the loss of control that comes with letting people have a voice on Twitter, express a personal view on LinkedIn or heaven forbid might try to set up a commercially focused page on Facebook.
I would love to be proved wrong but I would hazard a bet that in 10 years time there will still be a large number of law practices who have missed out completely on social media and will spend the next 10 years trying to catch up or more likely they will see their markets dwindle to the point of near extinction.
The classic response will be:
“Why on earth do we need to know about Social Media when our clients aren’t on the internet”.
Duh, what about mobile phones? More and more of the services available will undoubtedly be driven through mobile devices and will not be limited to the capability of the older client base to familiarise themselves with Twitter or such like.
Worse still, if the market moves in the direction of offering more services on line because it is cheaper, more convenient, removes the nervousness of attending at a solicitors office and all your friends and relatives are doing it, then it is highly likely that absent social media integration this form of delivery will not work.
The thing about social media, which everyone seems to forget, is that it is a People to People paradigm and has nothing to do with this platform or that platform.
If you have not yet thought about how social media can influence, develop or build a professional practice then just consider the genre as another means of communication (not as a means to spam the market) with your clients – and a very immediate one at that. Wouldn’t it be great to able to offer as many means of communication as possible? Why not? Surely that is the point of your capture page on the website. You know to capture a new enquiry or passing bird. Why not set up a firm Twitter page for those people who are comfortable contacting you on line. Or try something like a blog which has to be one of the best means of generating interest in your firm – particularly if the content is fresh, innovative and is not laden with the usual marketing speak.
If I was starting up my own legal practice, I would look at a model that put social media at the heart of the business so that it was inward as well as outward facing. Yes technology would be important but it is that People to People thing that trumps all.