Social networking… Yea or nay?

I was excited today to open the latest issue of Law Practice Management magazine, which features social networking.  (Thanks to Stephanie West Allen for leeting me know when the link was posted!)  Blogs and podcasts are old news to many people now.  But there’s so much more!  I get requests for connections via LinkedIn and Plaxo fairly frequently, and I keep hearing about lawyers having terrific results from using Facebook and MySpace and Twitter.

The highlight of LPM this month is a “conversation” about social networking between Ernest Svenson and Denise Howell, both early adopters in the legal blogosphere.  Even though law firms have begun using Facebook, I’d frankly given it very little thought… But after reading Denise and Ernie bandy about all the advantages (and mysteries) of Facebook, it may be time to take a serious look.   Here’s a snippet from Denise:

I’m one of the people who abandoned LinkedIn for Facebook. . . As things now stand, I think Facebook is the winner in the interactivity battle.

Facebook makes it possible to funnel certain information only to certain parties.  These fine-grained access controls help Facebook move beyond a resume-type experience and encourage and ongoing and evolving exchange between you and everyone in your network. . .  Also, because Facebook makes it easier and more comfortable for people to share more of themselves and their interests, the information on the site is more genuine and less filtered.  Facebook emulates social interactions in the real world in an impressive way.

Thinking maybe it’s time to investigate some of the newer technology?  Ernie has this to say:

So experience leads me to conclude that social networking tools like blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and so forth are most powerful when you are willing to experiment with them early on — while the pond is still small enough, so to speak. . . If you understand the tools and have a plan, then odds are you’ll reach your goal more quickly.

Seems to me that there are several issues here.  Time is one, certainly.  And I’m seeing a cross-pollination between branding (as in, establishing your brand as a lawyer, your firm’s brand, what sets you apart) and authenticity (as in, being more or less the same person at home as at work, because personal consistency and authenticity is a key attribute of a leader).  Those who balance these issues according to a marketing plan may see some stellar results.  My guess is that the fun is just beginning.

1 reply
  1. Sheryl Sisk Schelin
    Sheryl Sisk Schelin says:

    I agree – I really enjoyed this issue. I’m glad the ABA’s giving more current coverage to Web 2.0 marketing than it did to blogging. I also agree with Ernie’s “early adopter” philosophy. But I also think any lawyer (especially solos and small firm lawyers) will benefit from a good approach to blogging – and it still forever amazes me how many lawyers in my state are still struggling with concepts such as email. Blogging? It might as well be a trip to the moon for these folks. I’m seeing, in my blog coaching practice, something of a crest of a wave — if we were the early adopters, and the next wave was the rest of the blawgosphere, this must indeed be the third wave. And they’re going through everything we did in the early days, but this time they also have to sort out blog widgets and Twitter and Facebook and the like. I’m not sure how they’re going to sort it out without a guide. (Exception: of course, the youngsters who’ve grown up on the Web and went straight to law school from college and thence out on their own.)

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