Before you take a big fat swing in my direction, or proclaim how you or your firm are exemplars of social media, I would ask you to Google search the local market, and see if any firm:
- Has a Twitter feed which doesn’t just spew forth the firm news that appears on the website;
- Has multiple Twitter feeds for their departments and there is active dialogue with their followers;
- Or, better still, has allowed every person in the firm to have a Twitter feed (and there is demonstrable evidence of its use);
- Has a RSS feed on their site;
- Has multiple RSS feeds;
- Has a blog with a RSS feed;
- Has multiple blogs to perhaps mirror the Twitter feeds (see point 2) and allow comments;
- Has a LinkedIn Company page that doesn’t just replicate the what is said on the news feed or the blog(s);
- Has a YouTube channel;
- Has multiple YouTube channels for the different departments (see point 2);
- Has a Slideshare account for any (or all) presentations that have been given by the firm or its fee earners;
- Has a Scribd account where their news or free downloads have been uploaded;
- Has a Pinterest page (see point 2);
- Has a Audioboo account and has uploaded any or all MP3 or podcasts; and
- Ditto Soundcloud.
- And there is a way of knowing without doing multiple searches exactly what social media accounts they do have.
How many firms have even thought of spending time in developing their website (I long for something more creative than the usual turgid material) so that it does something more than provide a contact number and a place for partners to post up their Uber credentials?
Social media is not just another shiny thing – it is a window on the World (not just your world) that allows you to connect with your buyer personas, earn attention, and, hopefully, turn that new found trust into [insert] – you fill in why you think social media is for your firm (it isn’t just for winning new work, I hope).
I worked for 5 law firms, and each one fretted about differentiation or brand positioning. I would wager that the conversations haven’t changed much; but hold on. If the ‘How’ question is centre-stage, then apart from the obvious – we have it and they don’t – by producing, dare I say, remarkable content, surely that provides all the ammunition you need?
The thing is about business, not just the business of law, we all want to bet on a certain outcome, particularly if it’s your money at stake. But that is just folly. Just imagine how many businesses have been held up as the model for their sector only to die a slow and painful death. I can think of dozens of companies that I acted for in the late 1980s and early 90s that no longer exist (Wang and Digital to name but two). Just imagine how foolish you would feel if you had proclaimed that your business should be just like XYZ Ltd only to discover that their model was just as hopeless as yours.
“Whoops there she goes!”
Now I don’t expect anyone to step forth and own to up that strategy, but how about this one:
“We don’t have the resources.”
To do what?
Spend time on:
- Creating remarkable content;
- Making sure you speak to potential clients; or
- Give us an edge with a slew of free tools.
I know, you just think me a nasty cynic, but the issue isn’t one of resources, it’s more a question of apathy or expecting someone else to deal with social media.
Come on, own up.
I’m obsessed with Brand You, not because I think it makes me sound cool, but, rather, it’s where you can make the biggest difference with your business development. If top down is the traditional model then social media inverts certain but important parts of the business to everyone who has the heart, passion and guts to share what they know, reach out and connect and earn the attention of people who they believe they can help.
If you take a look again at my list above, you will recognise that that modest marketing budget can only be stretched so thin before it breaks. You might be content to say “we can’t cover everything” but instead of going through the usual hand-wringing exercise, why don’t you sit down with your various department heads and ask them what they want to do. I can’t believe everyone will say it’s not for them or their team (I hope that some people have already stolen a march and have embraced a few of the tactics that make social media such a game-changer).
It might sound simplistic but social media doesn’t just have the power to transform the external shape of the firm, it also enables all your staff to be truly empowered and to feel connected to the business. Of course, you will want to put in place a Bells and Whistles social media policy, but before you agonise over that why don’t you check out the UK Government’s Twitter policy. It may just save you a lot of work and unnecessary heartache.
My challenge to all law firms is rather than pontificate, just make a pact with self to do something different to what you did yesterday. Even something as simple as showing an interest in the website would be welcome. From there you might want to know a little about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and how using the appropriate copy and tools can generate more enquiries to the firm.
Perhaps I should leave the last word to Seth Godin (you must have bought at least one of his books by now?):
“New technology is a threat. New competitors and a changed landscape are things to be feared. For now, most of us have chosen to live with this fear. It’s long-lasting, certain and chronic. There’s an alternative, though. The alternative is to reorganize for change, go through the pain and suffering of just one more change, and then be done with it.”
Survival is Not Enough, Shift Happens,