Social Media Confusion LawyersThere is little question that the world of marketing and business development is evolving. The Internet is being leveraged by small and large businesses to engage clients, potential clients, and their influencers.

Businesses are now recognizing that developing and nurturing relationships online involves a two way conversation, not the one way broadcasting of messages that may have worked in the past.

Blogging and other forms of social media are a hot topic at bar association conventions, legal network conferences, and legal marketing programs. I have been asked to speak at many. So have many other folks.

But where is the typical lawyer and law firm in all of this social media stuff?

I was speaking to a group of lawyers a couple weeks who saw websites, SEO, and sponsored Google ads as the only means of Internet business development. Only 1 or 2 of the 100 plus blogged, 1 used an RSS reader, no one had heard of the various apps available to professionals for the consumption and sharing of content, few used Twitter, only 1 or 2 could see the potential of a lawyer using Facebook to nurture relationships for growing business, and a only handful used LinkedIn.

Lawyer and media consultant, Bob Ambrogi, shared on Twitter this weekend that “For the first time in a long time [Friday], I asked an audience of lawyers who had a blog, and not one did.”

It makes little sense to browbeat lawyers and law firms who are not using social media. Telling someone that they need to change their behavior, to use tools and tactics that make little sense when first looked at, and to do something which at first appears to require significant time away from their practice or families is not an easy sell — if we really ought to be ‘selling’ lawyers on anything.

Add to this that effectively using the Internet to accelerate relationships and ones word of mouth reputation via blogging and social media takes time to work and cannot be outsourced to third parties.

No wonder most lawyers are slow to blog and use other forms of social media.

Lawyers and law firms, like other businesses, are beginning to blog and use other social media to network through the Internet. The LexBlog Network, alone, has nearly 8,000 professionals, mostly lawyers, blogging and using other social media.

LexBlog is not producing content for these blogging lawyers nor are we ‘sharing’ their content for the lawyers via other social media channels. These lawyers, like lawyers did long before the Internet, are networking (using the Internet this time) to build relationships and enhance their word of mouth reputations as trusted and reliable authorities.

Sure, there is a only fraction of lawyers using social media effectively to network through the Internet. But expect the numbers to grow significantly in the coming years. Studies and surveys support this. So does common sense and the fact that the law is a noble profession where client development is founded on relationships and word of mouth — the outcomes of lawyers using social media.

The key to continued growth in lawyers using social media (and using it wisely) is continued education of lawyers by those professionals who understand the power of social media, who have experience in the law, and who place the reputation of lawyers and service to the legal professional above other motives.

Rather than ‘sell’ lawyers on social media, let’s focus on education  — how do I as a lawyer, personally, use the Internet more effectively. Let’s help lawyers who are struggling with the concept. Let’s listen to the concerns of lawyers. And lets help lawyers use social media in a way that helps lawyers personally, but also improves the image of our profession.