This article was originally written in October 2009 for Plugged In Lawyer, a blog about social media for lawyers.
Inc. ran a great piece this morning called Don’t Be Afraid Of Social Media. The piece underscores that anxiety comes from not understanding this new media, noting that social media giant Mashable has a how to section that draws thousands of responses to every post.
If it helps take the pressure off, Andy Sernovitz — a highly respected commentator on social media — is quoted in the post saying “companies should think of themselves not as pioneers of a new technology but as ‘fast followers.’” You’re not the inventor. You’re the adopter of something that somebody else already invented. Find yourself a guide and follow along — somebody like PluggedInLawyer who thinks this stuff is fun and can translate jargon to simple, easy-to-follow instructions.
Also consider what your expectations are for your social media campaign. Sernovitz points out that many companies consider social media to be a marketing tool, and are disappointed that direct sales (as in “clients” for lawyers) don’t follow.
Social media is more of a listening tool, not a sales tool. You can listen and respond quickly to client base concerns and — in support of marketing — you can understand your client base better to create more effective marketing strategies. Understand the natural purpose of social media and you won’t be disappointed and joining the camp that argues social media is a waste of time because they don’t understand it.
Social Media Tips From Inc.:
- Don’t try to drag your customers to a new platform. Find them where they are and act as a “fast follower.”
- Even if you don’t join the conversation, be aware of what people are saying about your company on different social media platforms.
- If you do engage, let the customer be the spokesman: make videos, images, and articles easily shareable.
- The profits of social media are clearer and more pronounced if you treat it as a customer service rather than a marketing tool.
PluggedInLawyer recommends that you find the social media platform that is right for your practice — where are your prospective clients hanging out? Where might you connect with relevant referrers? Where will you “meet” reporters and other influencers who cover your space? Where are your potential collaborators? Wherever these people hang out on the social web, you should be there.
Once you find your “peeps,” listen for awhile. Get to understand the culture and the purpose of the platform. Once you have a strong feeling for the mores of the environment, dive in and contribute. One striking aspect of the social web is generosity. People respect givers and they heckle takers (the “me, me, me” people aka “salespeople).”