Businesses need to show respect for each social media platform writes social media consultant and author, Jay Izso (@internetdoctor), in Entrepreneur Magazine this morning.

It’s all about culture. McDonalds’ menu doesn’t work in India, says Izso, where for many the cow is sacred, so it’s the Chicken Maharaja Mac.

The same is true for businesses entering the new cultures of social media. Businesses need to show respect for each platform.

But does your law firm understand the cultures of the various social media? How about your lawyers?

Look at blogging. Most law blogs are articles, alerts, and newsletters on blog software while blog culture is all about real and authentic conversation.

Listen to what other bloggers and reporters are writing. Share what they’re saying on your blog offering your own take, commentary and insight. Connecting with thought leaders and raising one’s word of mouth reputation around the discussion of ideas.

Imagine how it feels to veteran bloggers and reporters when you are “shouting” at them with heavily branded content marketing. 

And Facebook. “I don’t want to mix personal and business. I want our law firm to have a Facebook Page where legal and business items can be shared.”

The problem is that personal relationships are sacred on Facebook. 

Nothing says I don’t get how Facebook works for building and nurturing relationships more than sending out requests to “Like” our law firm’s Facebook Page. A page which is a one way broadcast of legal info or news about the law firm.

Stay relational on Facebook, per Izso. If your law firm has a Facebook page, have the managing partner post on the firm’s behalf or at least share into their personal Facebook Newsfeed items posted by the firm.

Mix business and personal. Your firm’s lawyers should be friending the same people they’d befriend and nurture relationships with in the offline world. 

By sharing personal and business news from their personal Facebook accounts lawyers get known as “real people.” By developing real relationships on Facebook law firms and lawyers retain clients and receive referrals.

Twitter offers another example. If your law firm has achieved rockstar status, go ahead and tout goings on at the firm, news of the firm’s success and just your blog posts.

Otherwise abide by the “river of news culture.” As a lawyer, share the news, information, and commentary you have read. Serve as an intelligence agent on a niche to grow a trusting audience.

Mix in some personal items — maybe pictures — so your followers get to know you. Retweet and reply to what others are sharing so as to build and nurture relationships. 

LinkedIn is safe turf for law firms. Professional attire. Business and legal news in status updates.

At the same time, LinkedIn is a “social” network. Don’t just indiscriminately share and run posts through social sharing tools and services. You need to be present to “socialize” when people like, comment on, and share your items. Otherwise you’re a crass purveyor of handbills.

What does all this mean? 

Social-media platforms are cultures. Know the unique language, unwritten rules, norms and expectations that will get you blocked from the culture instead of embraced. Think culture, think people and you won’t end up trying to sell a Big Mac in India. 

Does your law firm understand the cultures?

  • On the Facebook issue, I do have to say that I believe in keeping the personal page separate from a business one for work-life balance purposes. That being said, I agree that lawyers completely don’t understand the nature of Facebook and connecting to people. Most law firm Facebook pages are treated as little more than a place for the firm to drop links to their latest blog posts. When they get no engagement or traffic these attorneys then often justify it to themselves by stating that “Facebook doesn’t work for attorneys.” The key to running a good FB business page is to post what people want to see rather than what the attorney wants them to see. It’s also a good place to show a “personal side of the firm” through things such as office photos, the firm out at a group lunch, etc.