Different Strokes for Different Folks

Posted on April 7, 2010. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

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This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Different Strokes for Different Folks”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Different Strokes for Different Folks

During the last week of March, I was privileged to speak at one of my favorite legal conferences, ABA TechShow.

My two presentations focused on educating lawyers about how to create an effective online presence: “Creating Your Online Presence” and “Managing Your Online Presence: The Care and Feeding of the Online You.”

While at TechShow, my new book, “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier” debuted and my co- author, Carolyn Elefant, and I participated in a “meet the authors” session and hosted two “Taste of TechShow” dinners with conference attendees.

An interesting theme became apparent throughout all of the events, both in the form of the audiences’ comments and questions during my presentations, and during conversations over dinner or with attendees who stopped me in the hall to discuss social media. The overarching theme — one that didn’t surprise me — was that different social media plat- forms have had varying levels of effectiveness for different lawyers.

Some find Facebook pages to be extremely effective, while others found them useless. Some claim to have obtained nearly all of their clients via their blogs, while others stopped blogging because they deemed the task a waste of time.
Some say Twitter is a very useful platform, while others long ago abandoned it as a pointless time-suck.

During each of my interactions, I attempted to flesh out the reasons for the varying levels of success with the different forms of social media. It became obvious that success in using social media depends on any number of factors, including the lawyers’ goals, areas of practice and locations.

As I mentioned, the “theme” didn’t surprise me. In fact, it is one of the central premises of our book. As we explain in the introduction: “[L]awyers should use a practical, goal-cen- tric approach to social media, which … enable[s] lawyers to (1) identify social media platforms and tools that fit their practices and (2) implement them easily, efficiently, and ethically.”

In other words, before diving into social media, lawyers first should determine their goals, then make intelligent, informed choices regarding the online platforms that will help them to achieve those goals.

Many goals can be achieved through the use of social media and we devote a chapter to each goal in our book — networking and building relationships; locating information to support areas of practice; gain competitive intelligence and customer feedback; showcase your expertise; brand yourself and your law practice and increase search engine optimization and improve quality of leads.

Once you’ve identified your goals, the next step is to determine what social media platforms are the best fit for your goals, practice areas, location and, most importantly, your personality and comfort level with the platform. If you are uncomfortable with a platform, then your social media efforts likely are doomed to fail from the very start.

Those who find writing a chore most likely will find that blogging is not for them. A video blog, podcast or a completely different type of social media plat- form might be a better choice.

If the informality of Twitter puts you off, then perhaps writing a blog or participating in LinkedIn groups might be a better fit. In some cases, a very basic online presence, including a Web site and online attorney directories, may be the only online platforms you wish to use. There’s nothing wrong with that approach. The bottom line is that there is no right way for a lawyer or law firm to use social media effectively. It’s not a “one size fits all” approach, nor is it possible to throw together quickly a compelling social media presence.

Instead, creating and maintaining an effective online presence is a matter of learning about the platforms available and implementing a tailored, well-thought out social media plan.



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