social media bannersMost law firms could do better with social media. While many attorneys still don’t think this should be an area of focus, the bottom line is that many people who find something through search will then look to social media for “validation” before deciding whether or not to make a purchase. In other words, a strong social media presence can help convert more of your website visitors into consultations. This is why I decided to write a quick article on three common mistakes I see from attorneys when using “social” websites.

Recognize the differences in various social media platforms – This is a really common one. Many attorneys share content and interact on a network such as LinkedIn in the same way that they would interact on Google+ or Facebook. One example of this is I saw recently was when a criminal defense attorney shared his “what to do after arrested” blog post through LinkedIn. Well, sorry to break it to him, but the lawyers he’s connected with through LinkedIn really don’t have a need for that type of article. It’s important to remember that social media is just a reflection of real life. In the physical world one would, hopefully, recognize that the conversation at a professional networking event is not the same as the conversation one has with his or her clients. When you’re using a social media platform, ask yourself (1) why you’re on the platform and who is it you’re trying to reach and (2) what is an appropriate conversation to have with that person.

Recognize that different social media platforms also contain different subdivisions – Again, social media is a reflection of real life. We all live in communities that are further divided into subsections. Social media is no different. Content you share to the public as a whole may not be relevant/useful to a particular subsection of that same public. Here’s an example. On LinkedIn and Google+ it’s common for lawyers to share blog posts meant for the general public on both their public profile and within various lawyer groups/communities. Well that information is likely of interest to the general public but no so much to other attorneys. Lawyers, like any other profession, aren’t going to spend their time reading articles that have nothing to do with their particular practice area and/or provide information that the lawyer already knows. In other words, content geared towards the general public is not necessarily going to be interesting to other attorneys.

Again, think of social media in relation to real life. In your daily practice, you put information out there that is useful to the public. Examples of this may include “what to do after a car accident,” or “whether one should file for bankruptcy.” You wouldn’t, however, go up to an attorney on a networking function and say “let me share my thoughts with you on whether someone should file bankruptcy.” Well when you go into an online community, geared towards attorneys, and blast out your blog posts then you’re doing exactly that. Ask yourself  what kind of interaction might you talk about at an attorney networking function – business practices, what software to use, etc. If you want to build meaningful relationships through social media communities then stirring up topics that people are generally interested in is a must. This is why it’s important to understand that social media platforms exist in subdivisions.

Don’t treat social media like a video game – This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Many attorneys think that interacting on social media means hitting as many “likes,” “+1’s,” “shares,” etc. as possible. It’s not a video game in which you’re racking up points every time you indiscriminately endorse another’s content regardless of whether you’re actually interested in that content. I see this often- someone will get excited and say “so and so just endorsed 100 of my posts!” Here’s a newsflash, they didn’t actually read any of that stuff! They’re hitting the endorsement button for the sake of hitting it and this is providing you with no benefit whatsoever. If people behave in this way towards your content then don’t reciprocate. You’re on social media to build meaningful relationships and to provide people with information they find useful. In other words, you should see it as a networking chance which looks like this:

People at networking function

 

Don’t make the mistake of treating like a video game, you’re not going to grow your practice if you look like this:

lawyers playing video games

 

While the latter looks more fun, the former is what will build your practice.

The three mistakes listed above all boil down to the same thing. Social media is about branding and developing meaningful relationships. Just like in real life, that requires identifying your audience and meaningfully interacting with them over topics that are genuinely interesting.

Why do you think so many attorneys see networking through social media as different from physical world networking? Chime in through the content form below.