Lawyers have been increasingly discovering the value of social media. Nonetheless, there is a growing sense amongst many experts that lawyers are proving to be terrible at actually using social media. This is typically a reflection of their misunderstanding the purpose of social media in the first place. As Sam Glover from The Lawyerist explained:
Most lawyers on social media are doing the equivalent of barging into a room and announcing “I am Pat Smith, and I won a case today!” before tossing a handful of business cards at the audience and walking out with a flourish. Then, everyone is annoyed at the interruption of their conversations.
Thankfully, most of the attorneys I interact with on social media demonstrate much better sense than that. Nonetheless, it’s true that I’ve witnessed a number of attorneys demonstrating remarkably similar behavior. Especially on Twitter and/or when leaving comments on blogs. First, you need to understand that you really don’t want to be that guy. If that’s your idea of social media, you’ll be ignored by the community you’re trying to engage with and find yourself disappointed with your lack of results. For everyone else, here are a few tips for making the most of any social media platform:
1. Listen First
The best piece of advice I can provide for using any social media is to listen first and interact second. If you’re created a new account on Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media service now existing or later invented, I recommend you start by watching how other people are using the service before you start posting comments or engaging with others. Notice what is working for others and what isn’t.
Then, once you have a sense of how other people are using a service, I’d recommend that your initial interactions with others be reactionary in nature. In other words, if you are on Twitter then consider making your first action retweeting or replying to someone else’s comment post; if you are on Instagram then like or comment on someone else’s picture first; and so on, regardless of which service you are using.
2. Be Social
In my experience, the lawyers who misuse social media are often doing so because they don’t understand the way social media works. They read, either here or on another site, that social media is a great way to market your practice, but take away little more. And, yes, social media is a great way to market your legal services, but only if you are using it right. Social media is valuable as a marketing tool for lawyers solely because it provides you a powerful tool for developing relationships.
I’d hope this would be obvious, but social media is intended to be social. In other words, you want to be engaging. And you want to earn the trust and respect of the people you are engaging with. As would be true in an offline networking event, your best bet for accomplishing this is by actually contributing to conversations and being friendly.
3. Be Authentic
I believe that the most successful attorneys on social media are those who’ve developed a unique and authentic voice. People know they are communicating directly with the individual attorney and not some intern. If people don’t feel like they know who you are they’ll be less likely to engage with you and interact with you.
4. Be Patient
In my experience, most good relationships develop over a long period of time. Despite this, some attorneys expect immediate results from social media. If that’s your expectation, you’ll almost certainly be disappointed. The success of your activities on social media shouldn’t be judged by your immediate return on investment. Instead, approach social media with the understanding that the relationships you are developing now, like the relationships you develop offline, may lead to business down the road.
What do you think? Have you witnessed any truly terrible uses of social media? Any brilliant uses? I’d love to hear about both in the comments section!