Why lawyers couldn’t care less about Social Media

“Social Media. Eh. What? Don’t you mean Facebook or that stupid thing called Twitter?

Where on earth am I going to find the time for this stuff when you expect me to bill my socks off, network like a demon and keep my team super motivated?”

I apologise in advance if this sounds cliched but the theme, even if the exact words are not apposite, are common place.

Lawyers have a pre-programmed weighting around monetisation of their knowledge – and let’s face they are damn good at it – and trying to get a grip on something as amorphous as social media is out of kilter with their instincts.

Oh sure, everyone has jumped on LinkedIn (or those serious about some good old fashioned networking), but I wonder how many are answering questions everyday (remember you can’t charge for this!), sending status updates, starting at least one new discussion a week and commenting on the comments, reaching our for new business opportunities and loading up some of the applications like Slideshare and the Amazon reading list?

Judging by the number of people who are commenting on some of the more established legal groups on LinkedIn I would guess very few.

Turning lawyers on to social media is going to be tough and don’t be surprised if you meet some resistance. For starters they won’t have a time code for recording activity on LinkedIn or Twitter or even if I am wrong on that score, I doubt if they or anyone in the firm will be able to measure, effectively or otherwise, the Return on Investment or more likely the return on time.

The trick is to find those people within the firm who are not only passionate about their practice area but also don’t need to be constantly reminded about the need to speak with or interact with their clients, beyond the usual reactive stance that lawyers tend to favour.

One of the key messages that has been espoused, particularly in these challenging times, is to think of as many touch points as possible and to engage with the client or prospect on as many different levels as possible.

Social media has the potential to (radically) assist with this but also as an enabler to reach out and connect with key influencers where it may have been difficult in the past.

In terms of moving forward with social media, think not so much of bite size chunks but baby steps. The first stage may be to capture what is already going on off line or face to face and see what news and information is coming forth that might be relevant to take on-line. In other words aim for an internal method of aggregation before you automatically reach for or inform the lawyers about the suite of tools that exist to syndicate content.

In an ideal world, what lawyers need to be presented with is a How To Guide and one that they can manage around their very busy day jobs. With LinkedIn I would consider introducing a non-chargeable code to see how much time everyone is spending on the platform and also make sure that they get credit for it. Give them as much help and information as possible so that not only are they enabled to use this new fangled kit but they can also start to think about it for business development purposes. Look for regular and meaningful feedback and don’t be afraid to change tack if something isn’t working. Confidence is key in this area and all results should be celebrated.

Don’t try to get too techinical about this paradigm shift in client engagement. Remember there needs to be synaptic and emotional connection with the theses that underpins social media: it is a people to people paradigm. If not, you might be better off not bothering.

It reminds me of the cliche you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

If I had one top tip then execute madly around one platform and keep executing around it until you start seeing the (financial) results; and don’t make the mistake of thinking that more is better because it most certainly is not. What is important is go deep and to make sure that you carry everyone along with you.

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For more on developing profitable business, innovating in professional practice and implementing social media, subscribe to the RSS Feed of my Blog. Follow me on Twitter at @0neLife, or @Ju_Summerhayes connect to me on LinkedIn or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your practice, check out my coaching and consulting firm via LinkedIn, email me on juliansummerhayes@gmail.com or call me on 075888 15384.

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