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Don’t give up on Social Media, yet …

In raising this issue, I am assuming that you have started down the long and meandering road that is social media?

If you haven’t yet got started then you would do well to consider Seth Godin’s prophetic words in his Manifesto Brainwashed:

“Social Media is either a time-wasting, wool gathering, yak-shaving waste of effort or, perhaps, just maybe, it’s a crack in the wall between you and the rest of the world. It’s a choice … up to you.”

I would wager some firms and/or lawyers continue to question their use and adoption of social media.

I would if I was in full-time practice!

Do any of these situations sound familiar?

  • I have extended my hours of availability so that I feel that social media is encroaching into my private life (and what thanks do I get for that!);
  • Yes, I have a number of followers but given that I can’t directly market to them via Twitter or any other social media channel (I keep getting told it is a no, no), I can’t seem to get any business development traction;
  • I am constantly looking to feed the social media Beast, and I am running out of things to say;
  • I just don’t have the time for a blog but I can’t really think what else I can do apart from growing my followers on Twitter or LinkedIn;
  • It is a fudge when someone says “What’s the ROI?” I need an answer – spelling out, ideally, how much money I or the firm have made;
  • My existing clients aren’t interested in social media;
  • Social media is not making me a better lawyer, and if anything it is a Big Fat distraction when I have to manage a team, look after my clients’ every whim and generate £200k worth of fees;
  • I am not enjoying social media; it just doesn’t feel natural when I have to Tweet under the cloak of corporate identity.

What can I tell you?

You are not alone.

I have considered all of these, possibly in a different context, but there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t question my own involvement.

One of the most important mantras that I have followed is that espoused by Tom Hopkins, the legendary US sales trainer.

His 12 magic words:

“I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.”

Sounds easy but I can assure you that once you commit resources to social media, and have the beating heart of the firm at stake – AKA the Time Machine – you will question all that Tweeting, Facebooking and time allowed to lawyers building their (yes their) LinkedIn profile.

It is not just about productivity.

Would your lawyers make more headway in the market if they just spoke with their colleagues, clients and referrers? Let’s not forget that a significant proportion of a firm’s business is generated by internal referrals and word of mouth.

Social media is like all new media – you have to be prepared to commit to it, iterate, fail, experiment and persist, and even then there is no guarantee that the new instructions will flood in the door – a trickle would be nice.

My advice as someone who helps law firms and lawyers make the most of their social media efforts is to understand that despite all the talk about the bubble being repeated, social media is unlikely to disappear into the ether. It is here to stay, not necessarily in its current form, but there will be an increasing need to engage across multiple digital platforms, create valuable content and distinguish your offering from your competitors.

In my humble view, despite the obvious drawbacks – ROI, time, resources and risk – if you are not in the space then you will find that someone else will come along and steal your digital space (you can’t all be the best in the world in your chosen sector) and it will be harder to muscle in later on. It won’t be as easy as getting another website refresh or redesign. No it will about displacing raving fans and sneezers of your competitor.

As my 7-year old says about her trampolening competitions:

“Dad, you have to be in it to win it.”

Maybe she has picked that up from me but in my humble view, never a truer word spoken…

~ JS ~