The cost of silence in a social world.
by David J Bilinsky
Reach out and touch – Somebody’s hand – Make this world a better place – If you can… – Music and lyrics by N. Ashford & V. Simpson, recorded by Diana Ross.
Gartner Research just issued their top 10 strategic technologies that companies should be considering as they prepare their business plans for the New Year. “Social Computing” has come back to the top 10 list after an absence over the last two years. Gartner stated:
“Social Software and Social Networking. Social software includes a broad range of technologies, such as social networking, social collaboration, social media and social validation. Organizations should consider adding a social dimension to a conventional website or application and should adopt a social platform sooner, rather than later, because the greatest risk lies in failure to engage and thereby, being left mute in a dialogue where your voice must be heard.” (www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=777212)
But wait one minute: how many law firms permit their staff to have access to social media while at their desk? Larger and many smaller law firms have blocked access to such sites as Facebook (www.facebook.com), Twitter (www.twitter.com) and LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) on the belief that doing otherwise would lead to unproductive time and loss of productivity. Or they are fearful that the firm will suffer a loss of confidentiality or have a loss of face arising from an errant post. As a result, they have not taken any steps to add any social networking to their marketing mix.
What does it matter if your law firm is not on Facebook?
According to Facebook:
- Facebook contains more than 300 million active users
- 50 per cent of Facebook active users log on to Facebook in any given day
- The fastest growing demographic is those 35 years old and older
OK – you say your clients are not on Facebook. Think again. With the developed world sitting at one billion people – Facebook is reaching about 30 per cent of the developed world (or at least those with access to a computer and time to use it). What business enterprise can afford to ignore a market of that size?
OK – you say that social media is not an effective way for your firm to communicate your message. Think again. In an article “Social Media – An Effective PR Tool for Law Firms” (http://tinyurl.com/yhanp3t) stated: “According to the recently released, 2009 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report, one in eight firms uses social networks. The report also stated that tools that use the Internet are significantly increasing the productivity of lawyers and decreasing their wasted time.”
The authors then go on to list the “Four ways legal professionals can benefit from social media:”
- Enables the exchange of valuable information.
One of the more effective social media tools is blogging. “Blogging is particularly useful for enhancing one’s legal knowledge. An attorney who commits to maintaining a blog, or frequently participating in conversation on social networks, builds credibility as they develop and refine substantive expertise in their area of practice through their online content. Discussing developments through writing and online interaction requires a very concentrated effort and is an ideal way for a lawyer to share their expertise and establish themselves as a leader in their area.”
- Expands your professional network and opens up opportunities.
How often do we hear about lawyers wanting ways to reach out and meet new clients? According to the authors: “Social media will put you in touch with others who are interested in your subject area, and getting to know these various groups online will provide you with possible collaborators, employees or employers.”
Another benefit is exposure. “Since social networking sites are search engine friendly, don’t be surprised if you get a phone call from a member of the press asking you to provide insight for a story or to publicise a recently won case.”
- Social media has the power to humanize your firm.
We all know that people want to hire lawyers, not law firms. Accordingly, “Potential clients may be less intimidated to pick up the phone and call or email you if they feel like they know you. Sometimes being able to match a name with a face can increase their trust and comfort level, and put you a step above a competing firm that is not as personable.”
- And last but not least, social media can attract potential clients.
The firms that are reluctant to adopt social media in their firms may find that they are on the outside looking in as other firms have soared when they reached out and touched someone.
The views expressed herein are strictly those of the author and may not be shared by the Law Society of B.C. David J. Bilinsky is the Practice Management Advisor for the LSBC. Email: email@example.com; Blog: www.thoughtfullaw.com.
This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of BarTalk and is reproduced here with permission of both the author and the Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia Branch.