December 16, 2008

Straight Talk About Social Media

It's been fascinating to watch the reaction of law firms to social media. Some firms have jumped right in and experimented enthusiastically with the new tools. Others have tiptoed around the edges, exploring their options, but not really diving in. And then there are the firms that aren't going to "do it" until all their peer firms "do it," or who believe that social media doesn't offer them anything they don't already have the old-fashioned way.

For the firm that is skeptical about the usefulness of social media, here is some straight talk (not snake oil) from Kevin O'Keefe, who has been equipping law firms all over the country to participate effectively in the Web 2.0 world. When asked which three social media tools deliver the most bang for the buck, his answer is very clear: blogs, Twitter and LinkedIn.

In his typically direct fashion, here's how he describes the value of these tools:

Blogs? Got to have one. How else can you develop a central place where clients, prospective clients, and the influencers (bloggers, media, and social media hounds) pick up on your passion, philosophy, reasoning, and skill? How do you get seen when people search for info? You think I'm picking a pig in the poke by reading a lawyer profile on a website or Martindale? That's nuts.

Twitter? Single biggest learning, brand building, network expanding, and reputation enhancing tool for me this year.
...
LinkedIn? LinkedIn has won the professional social networking/directory space. The race is over. I get invites from professionals inviting me to join their network elsewhere. Other than LinkedIn and Facebook I ignore them.
So there you have it, straight talk from a man who has been at the forefront of law firm social media deployments. Now, let's hear your questions and concerns. What's holding your firm back from engaging fully with social media?

6 comments:

Hypnosis said...

How do you go abou selecting which networks are the right one(s)?

Mary Abraham said...

Hypnosis -

The right network depends on what you want to achieve and whom you want to meet. Kevin provides the name of a couple of good places to start. However, it's worth doing a little digging to find out where your target audience is and go there.

- Mary

Doug Cornelius said...

Mary -

Should the focus of the social media deployment be on the firm or the individual lawyers?

I think most law firms do not have an explicit policy on social media, but existing policies cover most of the landscape. (client confidentiality, atty/client, HR policies).

The interesting side of the social internet are not the brands, but the individuals. I would not follow a D_____ blog or twitter. I would (okay, I do) follow you. I would follow Bruce Yannett. (That's the new compliance side of me!)

The firm just needs to get out of the way of the lawyers. Even better, give them some more explicit guidelines. Even better, encourage them to engage in the social internet. Even better, get leaders in the firm to engage.

Who have you encouraged?

Mary Abraham said...

Doug -

You raise a good point that I want to come back to -- perhaps in another post. However, let me say for now that I suspect that the answer is that the social media strategy has got to address both the firm generally and individual lawyers, depending on the goals the firm wishes to achieve in particular circumstances.

- Mary

Brent said...

My secretary gave me one of those "It's all about me" bumper stickers. Not sure what my secretary was trying to tell me, but I think the popular phrase sums up the class of social media being promoted by O'Keefe. Doug touches on this in his comment, but I wonder how we'll ever reconcile the "all about me" element of these tools with the opposite imperative that compels law firms to globalize, brand themselves, leverage and centralize resources, etc. What if telling firms to "get out of the way" of social media ends up just meaning "it's all out me"?

Personally, I think this type of social media is heading toward a Napster-like confrontation. I don't know how it will turn out, but I do know what happened to Napster...

Mary Abraham said...

Brent -

You've got to introduce me to your secretary!

I'm not sure we need to cast this in terms of a tension between lawyer and law firm. As a great law firm marketing director we both know has said on more than one occasion, business often comes through relationships. Most relationships are between lawyers and individuals who work for the client organization, not firm and client. If social media help to cement those individual relationships, then the lawyer, client and firm all benefit.

So the person to person dynamic in social media is clear. What's tougher is the firm to person or firm to client organization dynamic. It's interesting to think about how an organization like a firm can participate in social media in its own right. In some ways, this is exactly what consumer brands are tackling now. Perhaps law firms should pay attention...

- Mary