I’ve been an Indy 500 fan since I was a little kid. Growing up in the Midwest we were sports fans by nature. The 500 wasn’t on TV then, so we listened on the radio. Dad almost killed me when I blurted out who won when he was watching the ABC sports replay. (It was a big step up when we got TV coverage delayed by 9 hours.)
When my parents moved to Indianapolis while I was in college, say no more. Jill and I went before kids, and then made the drive with the kids from La Crosse to Indianapolis each Memorial Day weekend. Last year I flew back from Seattle with the three boys.
We didn’t make it this year, but I really enjoyed the social media aspects of the race.
Following drivers’ Tweets before and after the race (Tomas Sheckter and Alex Lloyd, just two of many) you got the sense they really wanted to communicate with their fans. Racing teams, from Newman Hass to Penske, tweeted updates from their pits. Racing teams like Fazzt Racing had Facebook pages with photos from race day. And when they were able to get mobile coverage fans in attendance and racing teams shared photos via TwitPic.
Following my Indy 500 list and the hashtag #Indy500 on Twitter on my iPhone I had a hell of a lot of fun sitting with my boys watching the race while we followed the comments of others and commented in return via Twitter. It’s what we do as race fans.
What could lawyers learn from this sports fan’s use of social media? How to connect with regular folks.
Clients, prospective clients, and others who are non-lawyers feel a real disconnect with lawyers and other legal professionals. We don’t have a good reputation, we’re not trusted, and, by and large, we’ve not done a good job as a profession making ourselves truly accessible to people.
I’m not naive enough to think that fans will line up to follow us like they may race driver Tony Kannan on Twitter. Or that ‘lawyer fans’ will hit the ‘thumbs up’ button on Facebook pages of law firm action pictures like they may of photos on a race team’s Facebook page.
But I’ve always viewed the Internet as a place where lawyers could connect with others – to get out there – and be one of ‘everyday people.’ By getting out where people were on the net, lawyers would find that people in their town or, for that matter, around the country, could establish an intimate connection with the lawyer before ever calling the lawyer or coming into the lawyers’ office to meet on a matter of pressing concern.
Getting out there today means more than a law firm website. It means more than viewing social media as just another way to push your legal content and law firm updates on people who don’t them.
Getting out there and connecting with people for a lawyer means using social media as a means of connecting with people in a real and genuine way. Give of yourself sharing news, info, and insight written by someone other than you or your firm. Share news of successes of people and business associates in your town. Maybe a law firm Facebook page with pages of employee’s kids at sporting events, lawyers coaching soccer or little league, or whatever else makes you ‘real.’
There are so many ways for you as a lawyer to connect with people and show that you care. Twitter, Blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, and what have you. Take advantage of what lawyers have never had at their disposal before. It’s fun and it’s genuine.