If a law firm wants to succeed in generating readership of their thought leadership pieces, whether blog posts, articles, or whitepapers going forward, the firm best have everyone at the law firm using social media.

Over one half of the users of Twitter and Facebook get their news and information from these social networks, reports the Pew Research Journalism Project. The numbers are only increasing.

Look at newspapers like The New York Times. Great journalism, but the journalism is not reaching readers like it used to. Why? Social media is becoming the primary medium for the distribution of news.

At one time, not long ago, trucks pulled up behind the Times in Manhattan and other publishing centers around the country to pick up the papers for eventual distribution to homes and businesses.

Now the trucks are people’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Social media distributes the news. Social media, mostly on mobile, is also how news is consumed.

What’s this have to do with everyone in the law firm using social media?

The New York Times has found that those news publishers whose reporters and editors personally share news stories on social media generate significantly more traffic to their news stories than publishers relying on the brand and isolated staff using social media to distribute stories (New York Times Innovation 2014 Report).

The Times‘ report suggests that it no longer be optional for its reporters and editors to use social media. They were going to be required to deliver the news personally via their personal social media accounts.

The reason: social media is social—it must be. It involves personal engagement, trust, and relationships. Social media is what moves news and information, whether it be a newspaper or a lawyer’s blog post.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already gone on record that Facebook, in short time, will no longer organically distribute into personal News Feeds the vast majority of content that companies are posting to their Facebook Pages. This, even though the people with the News Feeds have “Liked” the company page.

Facebook cannot distribute content from company Pages because their is little engagement with the content posted via shares, likes and comments. Without social engagement Facebook’s algorithms do not work. Facebook cannot then deliver the news and information people want to see.

As Mary Claire Fischer (@mc_fischer) of the American Journalism Review reportsThe New York Times is not alone. At many newspapers, the use of social media by their staff is no longer optional.

Steve Buttry (@stevebuttry), a visiting scholar at the school of mass communication at LSU, shares that though reporters’ excuses as to why they don’t use social media contain an once of truth—they are just that, excuses. He calls some of the excuses “as absurd as if reporters tried to make excuses for not taking notes.”

Buttry also calls out editors and publishing company leaders not using social media for undermining their own pleas to innovate. How do you call on the troops to innovate when you’re stuck in the mud? Sound like law firm leaders who don’t use social media?

Law firms ought to learn from newspapers and publishing companies. Firms are putting out a boatload of digital content. Much of it is good stuff. How are you going to get it delivered in the days ahead?

At your law firm website? Hardly. The New York Times lost 50% of the traffic to their home page in the last year. People are coming through the side doors to individual content via social media, primarily, and search.

You think your firm is going to reverse the trends of people going away from websites to get news and information when The New York Times and other major publishers cannot do it?

By exclusively distributing content through the law firm’s social media accounts? You are dead on Facebook doing that.

On Twitter, individuals with unique interests who establish trust, person to person, are more effective in the distribution of news and info than companies and law firms. People who get to know a person are more apt to read items the person shares, it’s only natural.

We are moving into a social media world at lightning speed. Most people and organizations do not grasp the speed at which things are moving nor the ramifications of where social media is taking us. Law firms included.

To assure that your law firm’s thought leadership, news and information gets seen in the days ahead, you’ll need to get your lawyers and law firm leaders using social media. Not just the lawyers who are publishing content, but everyone.

From the managing partner to CFO to CMO to partners to associates—everyone needs to be developing their own social network or “community” for the distribution of content. They need not be sharing everything, but if they see something a colleague produced that they find to be particularly noteworthy, it behooves them and everyone in the firm to leverage their network of people who know and trust them for social distribution.

As with newspapers, the law firm’s social media accounts run by marketing professionals will not be enough. Nor will traditional distribution methods, including present digital distribution methods.

News and information is distributed socially today, person to person.

Image courtesy of Flickr by secretsquirrel6