20130615-105732.jpg Timothy Whitt (@tbwhitt) writes at Digital Media that when it comes to social media, common sense is not so common.

Whitt’s point is that some people use poor judgment when it comes to sharing stories, pictures, and video on social networks and social media. The result is embarrassment, and worse in the event of people losing jobs or being held criminally liable for breaking the law.

Lawyers, equally, lack common sense when it comes to the use of social media. But it’s not reflected in their use of social media, it’s reflected in the inaction of lawyers. Look at some of the things lawyers say to avoid using social media.

  • Can’t what I say be used against me in court?
  • How can I use social media without disclosing client confidences?
  • I don’t have the time.
  • I am too old.
  • I am too young, I’ll get in trouble with the firm’s partners.
  • Facebook is for personal engagement, you don’t nurture relationships with business associates there.
  • I don’t connect on LinkedIn with people I don’t already know.
  • I don’t connect with clients on LinkedIn because other lawyers will steal them.
  • If I share what I know online, people will have no reason to hire me.
  • If I cite a competitor lawyer’s blog or share their content, people will go and see them, or maybe hire them.
  • You can’t build relationships and trust in exchanges regarding the family, sports, arts, or civic matters.

These assumptions, fears, and rules just don’t stand up in practice. They’re not reality.

Social media is a simple concept. You engage others you’d like to build relationships with in order to build trust and a reputation as a good lawyer. Like networking in person, you listen, think, and share your own insight or commentary. If the discussion is on other than the law or business, it’s still the same – listen and engage.

Sure, there are various arenas for online engagement, just as there are different places to meet and engage people offline. The concepts and ‘rules of engagement’ remain the same.

If you don’t want to use social media as a lawyer, that’s fine. Just don’t make excuses that defy common sense. It’ll make you look naive or lazy for not taking the time to learn or making the time for business development.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Podknox.