I was meeting with a large law firm last week which wanted to pick my brain on the use of social media. Listening to the questions, it became clear that though the law firm was using various forms of social media, they weren’t having a whole lot of success.

The law firm was using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogs, and other social media solutions. But I don’t think they were using any of them particularly well. There didn’t seem to be a clearly defined strategy, their lawyers didn’t seem to understand that social media was no different than traditional networking by lawyers, and the firm’s management, though going along with the social media campaign, couldn’t be seeing any big successes.

Before just using every form of social media as a law firm, why not just master the basics? Rather than use a whole lot stuff badly and embarrass yourself unknowingly in the process, why not use something well?

Blogging is as basic as it gets in social media. And there’s not a better way for a lawyer to demonstrate their expertise, establish themselves as thought leader, and get work the old fashioned tasteful way – by word of mouth.

To start a few blogs, do them poorly, and have lawyers struggling to continue to publish to the blogs while starting off on Twitter and Facebook is the height of folly. You’ve identified the most effective tool offering the highest ROI, a blog. Rather than learning how to use the tool wisely, you do a crummy job, leave the lawyers hanging, experience no success (other than saying we have blogs), and move on to the next great thing. Lunacy.

Don’t get me wrong, Twitter and Facebook have their place. But telling me you are getting a bunch of your lawyers, who don’t have a clue what social media really is, Twittering sounds silly. Sillier yet is telling me you started a law firm fan page at Facebook and you can’t figure out why clients and the business community aren’t lining up to follow you. Get real.

Education comes first. What is social media and social networking as it relates to law firm client development? It’s not identifying tools. Second comes learning how to use well one of the most basic tools, a blog.

Don’t do these two and you’re going to set social media in your law firm back a couple years. The reason being that you’ll have little success, little lawyer buy in, and ultimately have your law firm management conclude social media doesn’t work.