September 5, 2008

You Haven't Missed the Train -- Yet

With all the flurry in the blogosphere and blawgosphere about web 2.0 and social media tools, it's easy to believe that you are the last Luddite left standing without a Facebook friend, LinkedIn connection or personal blog. Fear not -- you have lots of company. According to a recent global survey by Synovate, 58% of the population is clueless about social networking. Steve Garton, Synovate's global head of media research reports:
"We spoke with over 13,000 respondents aged 18-65 years in 17 markets around the world to find out who's connected and who's not, as well as attitudes and online behaviours. Some of what we found surprised us... like more than a third of social networkers say they are losing interest in social media. And how many people do not even know what it is."
That said, if they had interviewed only 18-35 year olds, they would have seen a different picture. However, the demographic they covered reflects the demographic in many enterprises and should not be ignored.

Interestingly, there also appear to be geographical differences in awareness of social networking:
"The Dutch were most likely to know the term with 89% answering 'yes', followed by Japan at 71% and Americans with 70% answering in the affirmative. Still, that leaves three in every ten Americans (the home of social networking) outside the world of digital friends and relationships."

...

"Overall, 26% across the markets surveyed are members of social networking sites. This peaked with the Netherlands at 49%, United Arab Emirates (UAE) at 46%, Canada at 44% and the US at 40% (though keep in mind that's 40% of a huge population)."
This suggests that a social networking strategy within a firm may have more success if targeted at workers within specific countries. Clearly one size does not fit all.

In the context of law firm knowledge management, it's time we stopped complaining about how hard it is to convince lawyers to use social media tools. We shouldn't be surprised at how slowly social media tools are being adopted within our firms since the data provided by Synovate appear to indicate that the rate of adoption outside the enterprise is not as broad and high as the hype in the popular press would suggest.

The good news is that you can stop hyperventilating. There is still time to implement a social media program at your firm without falling hopelessly behind your competitors. And, it is worth the effort to do so. These tools are a rich resource for law firms willing to use them creatively. But don't dally unnecessarily. While the social networking train has not left the station yet, it's only a matter of time.

[Thanks to HeadShift for the link to the Synovate survey report.]

2 comments:

Mick Leyden said...

Hi Mary,

I too saw those stats and had felt a quiet wave of relief! I've been in my current role (managing social media projects for accountants) for around 6 months now and have got the impression this is a long term change process.

When we started out I had visions of hundreds if not thousands of accountants signing up for our social network, reading our blogs and contributing to our wikis. It hasn't happened!

That said, we have had a solid start and now need to spend the next year or two talking up the value in participation and demystifying the tech side of the tools.

Another consideration that is often forgotten is that while many people may have a Facebook page they also may have no clue as to the business benefit that can be obtained through such a tool.
m

Mary Abraham said...

Hi Mick:

Thanks for letting me know that accountants are as resistant to change as lawyers!

This Synovate report seems to indicate that we have time to plan and roll out the web 2.0 revolution methodically. Clearly, there's no need to panic -- despite the media hype.

- Mary