Are you Wasting your Time on Social Media?

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I’m sure you’ve heard it, because I certainly have.  Many senior lawyers are of the view that social media is a complete waste of time.

As a result, firms block Facebook for their staff, don’t engage in any discussion on twitter, use LinkedIn as a CV storage facility, and don’t know what Google + is (that last one doesn’t make them much different from other people I guess).

Today we’re going to look at the question: is social media just a waste of time?

Is Social Media is a Waste of Time?

Yes.

Oh, wait – No.

OK it’s a bit of both.

Here’s the deal – for many lawyers and law firms, social media is absolutely a total waste of time.  But identification of that is not exactly a sophisticated way to look at the problem – we need to look at the why.

It’s Because They Do Social Media Wrong

If I were to get up tomorrow and try and rewire my house, two things would happen:

  • I’d probably end up without electricity for a few weeks;
  • Getting to that point would take me an extremely long period of time, and probably involve getting hurt along the way.

It’s the same with law firms and social media.

On the one hand – the vast majority have no idea what they are doing.

And then they come out, having gone in clueless and under-invested, and announce that “social media is a waste of time”.

So, you see – it IS a waste of time for them.

But it doesn’t HAVE to be.

What are they Doing Wrong?

What’s happened is that law firms have finally cottoned on to the fact that they “need” to have a social media presence.

So they set up their Facebook page, a Twitter profile, and a LinkedIn company page.

Then what most law firms do with their new found social media presence is link their website to each of those profiles, and push out their articles via these channels.

Then they stop.

This demonstrates any number of issues with the approach, but the big ones are this:

  • They don’t underpin their social media strategy with a fully developed content marketing strategy.  Sure, they write articles – but they aren’t educating their staff about headlines, copywriting, and effective calls to action.
  • There’s no engagement – because the firm is so focused on “brand”, many of them don’t permit personality.  As a result, there are no replies, likes, shares on social media.  In short – they take the “social” out of “social media”
  • There’s no mastery.  Setting up these profiles takes no skill and about 5 minutes a piece.  But how many firms invest their staff’s time in training, education and mastery of the platform?  Answer: nearly none.  Just like I can’t rewire my house tomorrow without significant training, how can a marketing coordinator in a law firm be expected to get a good result out of Twitter if they have no earthly idea what they are doing?

In short – firms are  under investing, and that’s why they are not seeing the returns.

How Lawyers can Develop Their Own Personal Social Media Strategy

So while you can bash your head against the wall by trying to get your firm on board, the better way to start is to develop your own personal social media strategy.

As a lawyer, chance are you have a Facebook personal account, a LinkedIn profile, and possibly a twitter profile.

Taking the points above, let’s try this as a strategy:

  • Focus on just one platform – I’d vote for LinkedIn for lawyers (although that’s because I practice in a commercial area – personal practices might have more luck elsewhere).  Twitter takes more work and has a lot more complexity, and on Facebook you’re going to have issues if you start blending your personal and business lives.
  • Master the platform.  Buy some books, Google some information, and start to study.  Understand how your profile should work, what kind of pictures you should use, how to use the LinkedIn publisher platform and how to gain traction using Groups.
  • Invest the time.  If you’re going to want a social media presence, then you need to engage with people.  The good thing about LinkedIn is that there are lots and lots of people who “surf”, but few people who engage.  So if you start commenting, sharing, liking and connecting – you’ll stand out.

You can start by Connecting with me on LinkedIn if you like.  HOWEVER – your first task is to learn how to send a personalised invitation – shoot me an invite, personalise the invitation to refer to this post, and I’ll accept it.

Happy (Social) Lawyering!

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