Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lawyers and social media - here comes the inevitable backlash

Here's a story about the backlash from lawyers about the use of social media as a business enhancement tool.  New technology follows a familiar arc - people rush to embrace it without fully understanding it (how could they?  Only time and experience can fully shake it down) and then a backlash follows when it inevitably fails to live up to the hype (which is often driven by consultants and other "experts" with a vested interest in selling you their "expertise").   Social media isn't a panacea for a moribund book of business (anymore than PowerPoint is a cure for a teacher's lack of ideas in the classroom).  Whether an attorney is able to take advantage of social media to grow her client base depends on networking of the old fashion sort.

Is the social media phenomenon overhyped? A growing chorus of voices says yes. Critics argue there are no credible ways to measure return on investment in social media. They also contend there’s no definitive data showing that social media create business, or that the number of followers you have on Twitter or friends on Face book translates into dollars earned.

. . . .

'Too often social media is a bunch of one-way conversations,' [a D.C. lawyer and president of a PR firm] says. 'Facebook pages have effectively become Wikipedia entries. Law firms post and walk away, and it becomes a dust- and spam-collecting feed, which creates the impression of being lazy with your online presence. Twitter profiles offer little more than glorified news feeds.'

. . . .

'A lot of people focus on the technology, thinking that it has some-thing to do with Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook,' O’Keefe says. 'Those are just tools. People haven’t stepped back and asked, ‘How do I grow as a lawyer?’'

'You learn, network, meet mentors and join associations. You go where there are people you could learn from. Social media are very effective for becoming a better lawyer, and it’s a very, very effective way of nurturing relationships with existing clients, which will bring in more work.'

Still, if you’re stuck on analytics, O’Keefe suggests asking yourself these four questions:

• Are you extending your reach—for instance, by having social media content indexed on Google, which pushes your website higher in search rankings?

• Are you engaging people by building personal relationships with them?

• Is your influence increasing in your practice area, perhaps because your content is shared and shared again on LinkedIn and Twitter?

• Are you activating your audience in the form of calls from clients or to speak at events?

'We get way overblown on social media because it’s new,' [Kevin O’Keefe, CEO and publish er of Seattle-based Lexblog] says. 'But it’s not that complicated. Take a deep breath and realize this thing called social media was going on 100 years ago. It’s just building relationships.'

You can read the rest here courtesy of the fab online ABA Journal blog.


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