Marketing and media strategist, Kneale Mann, rightly points out social media is a business, not something law firms or other business can dabble in and expect results.

Mann describes what I see in many a lawyer or other law firm professional.

So you’ve been dabbling in social media. You have a Facebook profile with a few hundred friends and perhaps you’re now on Twitter. You aren’t interested in blogging or webinars; YouTube is fun to watch but you don’t want your own channel and now you wonder if it’s time to introduce the company you work for or own to this space.

For law firms already involved in social media and for those considering sticking their toe in the water, here’s Mann’s advice (with a little editing by me).

  • Your social media commitment must be completely in line with your strategic objectives. You wouldn’t treat any other part of your company with a haphazard approach.
  • Companies can get caught up in their own ‘too busy’ mentality and let things slide. Social media is not something to do ‘when you have some time’ – make time for it or you won’t see the benefits.
  • You’ll need human involvement with real business leaders involved. Social media is not something you hand off to the PR, marketing, and advertising team.
  • Resist the temptation to use the social web as a giant advertising medium. Social media is not a campaign and your company will not gain millions in revenue after a handful of tweets. If you aren’t willing to pay attention to how people interact with your company online, this may be a struggle for you.
  • Metrics are helpful but they are not the same as the ‘sleep at night’ estimates you may receive from other mediums. Just because you put up a billboard at the corner of East and South Streets doesn’t mean anyone saw your message. That is the same with social media, it takes time and commitment.
  • You need a corporate champion. If someone in your organization is committed to online social networking, you can begin to be a part of the conversation where your customers and potential customers may be as well.
  • Focus the funnel. There are many social networking spaces but it’s difficult to keep profiles and contact on each because of the law of diminishing results. Pick the channels you want and do them well. Skip the rest.

Social media is an art learned over time through personal involvement. The ROI from social media, done right, can exceed any other forms of law firm client development. But you’ve got to treat social media like a business.