Feeding the Beast that is SOCIAL MEDIA

I can’t quite conjure up the right image that resonates with his heading. I do have a (vague) image of the boilers on board the Titanic from the film of the same name. Whatever it is, it is vast, uncompromising and ever growing in size.

These lines have been uttered on a number of occasions by law firm partners; it’s as if once they fire up the engine, the whole thing will run away with itself and devour the Time Machine that is keeping the firm afloat!

My answer: it is within your gift as to what you make of *it*.

There is no rulebook (or SRA Guidance – yet!) that you have to follow slavishly to make social media work for you.

I remember a mentor of mine who had worked closely with a number of Japanese companies in the 1980s (Memorex, Panasonic and Sony) using the expression “softly, softly catchy monkey.” Now I have no idea who coined the phrase and whether it is an anglicised version of a Japanese saying that was far more profound, but, for me, it is an entirely apposite way to adopt social, new or digital media.

If you decide to launch a blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and beef up your website, then, before you know where you are, the Beast will start consuming copious amounts of time that you can ill afford. And, worse still, if you are not careful you will have no way of telling, apart from considering a rather loose set of numbers, whether the investment of time has been worth the candle.

You need to have a very clear end in mind before you start out on your social media journey. Do not be seduced into believing that like your fee earning efforts, the more time you spend the better the results. There might be some early successes but sooner or later you are going to hit the wall. That is when the Beast will really draw you in.

You need to keep coming back to the prophetic writings of Seth Godin:

“Build a permission base. Connect a tribe. Put on a show, one that’s worth spreading. Create souvenirs worth paying for while you spread ideas promiscously. Repeat.”

(Taken from a blog post on Steve Pressfiled’s site on 29 April 2011 in the context of a discussion with Seth Godin about the Domino Project)

Have a plan.

Set some clear objectives; and yes it would be sensible to have revenue targets measured against time and money investment.

If you are going to bat for social media in the next Business Development meeting, then you need to be able to justify the firm’s further immersion on the basis of the early successes that you have had.

I mentioned in my previous post the idea of having 5 social media platforms. This may not work for all firms but certainly you need to keep your eye on how big the Beast is becoming.

I would start small.

Go for Twitter in the early days and adopt a focused, authentic, valuable stream of Tweets. If you want to see someone who does this better than most then go check out Tom Peters (@Tom_Peters).

Don’t spam or annoy people. Get away from too many Re_Tweets or inane mentions.

Earn the attention of those who chose to follow you, and you will keep the Beast if not under lock and key, in a position where you manage the process and not the contrary position.

~ JS ~

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