“And then there was … Social Media.
It came from nowhere, and took everyone by surprise.
If only we had made time for it.”
I am of the view that social media and all its component parts will make a measurable difference to the way the profession finds, keeps and wins new clients. If you want a direct correlation then you only have to look at the retail sector which is increasingly, for some parts of the profession, where we are headed.
Social media has the power to influence the engagement process – to make it more real – even if some, no make that most firms, still don’t get Twitter.
Let’s be honest. Even if you enjoy Twitter, are you really going to be persuaded to buy from Blob Brand rather than a person? People buy from people (unless of course you are Amazon).
At some stage the penny will drop: Firms will realise that they have to earn attention. The “look at me” broadcast mentality will, as likely, still be played out but not to the same extent.
If you are contemplating social media as a way of attracting new clients then, unlike marketing, it won’t work if you adopt a Them and Us approach; namely marketing and the rest of the world. It has to include everyone. Think of a honeycomb structure.
Everyone will need to be enabled or know how the technology works if they are going to assist in feeding the various platforms with quality led content.
How will firms cope with this?
You know – losing control and watching time go up in smoke to this cohort of fee earners who might be doing something more useful.
Ask yourself can you honestly see firms allowing every single person to Tweet or to sit on Facebook?
What about blogging? You have spent months extolling the virtues of a blog, and now comes the time where everyone or at least every department wants one. They have said that they will commit to one blog post a day but that will mean someone spending upwards of 2 hours per day crafting something.
The picture that I paint is, I’m afraid, hopelessly romantic. For most firms they will not want to let go. They will be too afraid. They will resort to the tried and tested approach of wanting to control you.
The process will slow to a snail’s pace. Everyone will get fed up and think it too much hassle.
And then someone will mention the dreaded policy. Oops it’s that One mistake mentality again: just because one person messed up doesn’t mean to say that everyone else will.
Don’t get me wrong. I perfectly understand the need for (some) control but my perspective is one where there is cross-functional Excellence. Where everyone works together for the benefit of the entire firm.
If you must put a fence around people then make sure it is easily moved and doesn’t need committee after committee for things to happen.
The power of social media is immense. Done right you will wonder why you spent all that time and money on brochures, advertising and business cards. If you must control your people and the process then make the ties as weak as you can so that people feel empowered and not afraid. Unlearn some of your management philosophy. Let go. Allow those people who have a heart for social media to fly. Accept that it’s not for everyone and don’t expect everyone to get it.
~ Julian Summerhayes ~