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Where's the social in this social media?

missed the boat on social mediaLoeb & Loeb’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jennifer Manton (@jennifer_manton), and Shawn Amos, Managing Partner at Amos Content Group (@ShawnAmos), led a post LMA Conference workshop on social media last Friday afternoon. Billed as ‘Achieving Measurable Lead Generation, Increased Brand Awareness and Business Development through Social Media,’ the workshop was very well done. The information and reports presented were valuable and the interaction between the audience and the presenters was among the best at the conference. I was struck though by the difference in how Amos and Manton view social media, in at least the way presented, and the way I view social media. For Amos and Manton, social media appeared (welcome being corrected) to be all about creating content and getting the content out on social media and social networking channels to build a brand. When I asked how much of the content was created and personally published by lawyers without going through marketing channels, I was told less than 5%. I questioned during the workshop how such an approach enables lawyers to engage their target audience and how law firms which did not have large teams producing content on a detailed content calendar could do it.  The response I received was that the firm’s lawyers were too busy and this was the way it needed to be done – at least at one law firm. I view social media as ‘personally sharing’ news, insight, and commentary, whether my own or someone else’s, with people who have grown to trust me as a source of media. Being trusted as a source of news and insight is a step or two away from being hired or being referred work.

  • Any content going out in my name is created by me. That way those on the receiving end know they are getting my insight and commentary. When I engage them later via blog comments, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, phone, email, and in person, my followers know they are talking to the ‘same person’ they’ve come to know and trust.
  • When I share other’s content whether on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+, it’s content I’ve picked up via my feeds and content which I have read.
  • When people follow me, whether on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+, I look them up and see if I want to get to know them further – via these social networks and in person. This has led to my meeting corporate executives, law firm managing partners, law firm chief marketing officers, reporters, publishers, and leading bloggers. The result? Tremendous personal relationships and substantial work for my company.
  • By personally using social media, I network through the Internet to build relationships and build my word of mouth reputation. Being that my company, like law firms, gets its best work by word of mouth and relationships, social media is the best business development friend I’ve ever had.

At the end of the workshop I was asked by CMO’s and Marketing Directors, also attending the workshop, what I thought. Again, I said there was good information, but that the message on how to use social media,  in my opinion, was misguided. I shared with them:

  • Social media is about trust.
  • Social media is about transparency.
  • Social media, for lawyers and law firms, is about relationship and reputation building, not brand building.
  • While trust in people is growing online, trust in corporate brands is decreasing.
  • Business development, so as to increase lawyer and law firm revenues, is what law firms should be setting as a goal in their use of  social media, not ‘creating content’.
  • Business development, like it or not, requires lawyers’ time. Lawyers who understand business development and the value of relationships and reputation know this. Such lawyers put in the time and enjoy the relationships they build and nurture. It’s what makes the world go round for them.
  • Fortunately, social media and social networking (blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) are relationship and reputation accelerators.
  • Rather than teaching content, let’s teach the lawyers who already bring in the work through business development, that networking through the Internet to accelerate relationships and one’s reputation will save them time.

During the workshop, I was asked by a CMO with a law firm which advises corporate executives on board governance issues to share the above insight and commentary right then and there. I did not for a few reasons. It was Manton’s and Amos’ microphone, it may have ate into their time, and my comments are sometimes viewed as contentious by LMA members. I share my thoughts here so that we’ll generate some discussion in comments here, in blog posts by Manton and Amos, in blog posts by others, at Google+, in LinkedIn, and via Twitter.