Social Media Platforms: Are they really for Lawyers or just People who are Lawyers?

This post was authored by Brian Nash and posted to The Eye Opener on October 26th, 2010.

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Lawyers and social networking platforms really don’t seem to fit together very well – do they? Many lawyers stumble into social networking simply because they attended some seminar or read some article or blog that told them they are behind the eight ball if their firm is not engaging in social network marketing. “Print media advertising is a thing of the past – get on board with the new marketing of the 21st Century – the internet and social media channels!”

It’s exactly this concept of using social media channels only as a marketing tool that leads to what we see today in places like Twitter and Facebook. Just type in #lawyer, #legal or #attorney in your Twitter search bar and see what you get. Here are some really socially-driven and engaging tweets:

  • If you need a lawyer to handle your messy divorce situation, connect with … then the link to the firm’s website’s contact page.
  • Looking for the right lawyer?
  • Have you been in an accident and need a lawyer?
  • Need a bankruptcy lawyer who has over 20 years of experience….?
  • Have you been arrested for drunk driving? We’re here to help!

You get the idea. Is there anything wrong with this? No…but is it really using the concept of social networking properly or just using social network platforms for advertising or marketing? Me thinks the latter.

Why would anyone want to “connect” with a lawyer?

When I was mulling over this topic with my wife, she astutely likened lawyers to undertakers on social networks. Do you really want to have a “conversation” with an undertaker? Sure – if you need one I guess. Maybe that’s where the internet has replaced Yellow Pages or Yellow Book. But would you really go to Facebook or Twitter to find such a “service provider” or would you probably use a search engine like Google, Bing, Yahoo or whatever.

As lawyers, especially in our firm’s fields of medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury, what do we offer our “communities” by way of product, entertainment, conversation – or just plain fun? Not a whole lot! Let’s face it, we deal with injury, death – catastrophe – plain and simple. We don’t sell a product like a car, cool T-shirts, a new song or any other “fun commodity.” We are a service industry that is laced with ethical restrictions on what we can say and do on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. We really aren’t a fun group in general or at least our professional lives don’t evoke warm and fuzzy feelings with the public.

Lessons learned and a long time for the awakening:

At my age (just check out the profile picture and take a guess – no, I’m not in my 40′s or 50′s), I was not into this whole social networking gig about a year ago. I was one of those who heard that if you were going to compete in the marketplace, you better have a Twitter account and a Facebook page. So in I ventured, not having a clue what I was doing. I used a logo, did my blog, posted it through Twitter and Facebook, and it pretty much ended there. I couldn’t figure out why all this great content was not spurring constant, passionate conversations with my Fans and Followers. I watched what was happening on others pages and tweets. Why weren’t my peeps engaging me on Twitter nor my fans filling my Facebook page with zesty comments?

It took a long, long time – but the light finally went on. People have enough bad news in their everyday lives. They want to have fun, engage, meet and communicate with other people, who may have something to bring to the¬†table. They don’t need lawyers in their everyday lives – or at least hopefully they don’t.

When and how did this epiphany occur? I was sitting at my computer on father’s day and just had the urge to write a blog in honor of my father, who died over 18 years ago. It had zero to do with the law, but it had everything to do with just wanting people to know something about him and my relationship with him. I wrestled with the concept of putting this on the firm’s blog. Was this a place to post such a piece? Well – since I didn’t have any other forum, it just hit the “publish” button on my WordPress screen. Away it went – and the comments came pouring in. Wow – there really were people out there reading what I wrote!

Don’t get me wrong, our blog is not devoted to personal pieces. What this experience taught me, however, is that if I was ever going to have any communication with my fans and tweeps, I should try being a person who’s a lawyer, not a lawyer trying to engage or market my friends and followers.

So what have I learned and where do I go from here?

There’s no doubt that if I just want to meet new people (network) and engage in conversations with many people I would never in this lifetime have met were it not for communities such as Facebook and Twitter, I could use my personal profile page and a Twitter name other than NashLawFirm. Do I have personal connections and engagements on my personal Facebook page? I sure do. A lot of what takes place there is not meant for my Fan Page (interesting choice of words, Mark Zuckerberg).

So the question remains – why should our firm be on Facebook or Twitter? As they say, “the jury’s still out” for the full answer to that one. Does anyone really understand how this phenomenon called social media developed, exploded or where it’s going? I don’t think so. Businesses simply know they better be there, or they’ll be left in the dust in this competitive world. So – here we are – Facebook-posting and tweeting with the best of them.

But what’s different now? What has time and experience taught me? Answer: I’m still learning and figuring it out. That being said, since we are lawyers with a niche practice, since being on social media platforms really is a method for marketing who we are and what we do, since it is a method to publish content to the world, since it is a way to share some knowledge and information with our followers and friends, and since consistently adding new content to our website is apparently good for search engine optimization, here we are!

All that being said, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (yes, I hyperlinked them in case you want to become part of our family- a word I purposely chose), I have really learned that there’s a world of fascinating, friendly, engaging people out there whom I never would have met were it not for such social media platforms. So many people have knowledge, information and advice that they are willing to freely share, it’s simply amazing. So many people just like to connect, banter and chat- it’s been eye-opening and – quite frankly – fun!

Do we have fun with our Facebook and Twitter communities of fans and friends? We do now, and I love it. Do we share information about the law, medicine, product safety, important trends in law and medicine, and the like? We sure do – that’s what we offer our communities on Facebook and Twitter. Do I engage in some personal fun and banter with my more “vocal“¬†friends and fans? You bet I do – and those, quite frankly, are some of the more fun-filled times I spend on Facebook and Twitter.

So – here’s to my new friends and tweeps – thanks! You’ve made my life richer. I will try to figure out how to best give back to you what you give to me and the other folks in our firm. Sorry it took so long to figure it out…but I believe we’re on the right path now. Let’s continue to have fun, learn some things from each other and just have an interesting place to meet. Yes, meet! That’s what social networking really provides – an interesting and fun place to meet new friends, share some thoughts and sometimes laughs and get to know each other a little better.

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4 Responses to “Social Media Platforms: Are they really for Lawyers or just People who are Lawyers?”

  1. Hi Brian: I like this post. You aren’t late to the game. This game is really still in its infancy compared to what it will become. Your timing is probably perfect as you are involved, engaged, conversational and poised to learn what’s coming around the bend. We’re all still new, and have so much to learn, even those of us who study and teach this for a living. I enjoy connecting with you in Social Media. Thanks for this post!

  2. Brian NashNo Gravatar says:

    Nancy, great to hear from you on our blog page. Coming from someone like you, very much appreciated. In fact, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that a lot of my “new” style is from people like you. You are engaging, informative and really have this down to a “science” and an art form. I also much enjoy connecting with you in Twitter (and hopefully in FB at some time). It’s not only new, it’s truly fascinating and exciting. I will continue to learn from people like you, Keep up the great work. I’ll be saying “hi” back on your “good morning” tweets – when we’re in timing sync. Again, thanks for stopping by. See you soon on the net.

  3. Lisa DiMonteNo Gravatar says:

    Hey Brian, I always look forward to reading your posts. They’re funny, yet informative, and everyone reading them gets a sense of your fabulous sense of humor. You’re setting the stage for your colleagues to feel comfortable getting out of the spectator’s box and onto the playing field of social media. It’s not perfect, it can be a challenge navigating through some of the ethical issues, but it’s a great way to meet new people, engage in interesting conversations and create business opportunities. It all starts online. Congrats to you for jumping onto the playing field. I hope you bring lots of your colleagues down from the stands and onto the field. All the best.

  4. Brian NashNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks, Lisa. If people want to see what can be done in the field of social networking. they should visit http://MyLegal.com and become part of your community. I sit in awe many days seeing how you have taken social networking to a new level. If it were not for places like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, I may never have re-connected with you; that would be have been my loss. Only question I have is where in the world do you find the energy to do all you do! I look forward to staying on the “field” with you and learning from coaches like you. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Cheers!

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