How Law Firms #fail at Social Med

by Steve Matthews
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It’s no longer new or innovative for law firms to use Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn as elements of their public web presence. Social media tools have become sufficiently standard that we can probably declare 2012 the year firms finally “buy in.”

While early-adopter firms continue to fine-tune their offerings, what I’m really noticing these days is the critical mass of firms now playing catch-up. Lawyers who used to ask, “What’s the firm across the street doing?” are now wondering “Why aren’t we doing that?” Social media buttons are sprouting all over law firm websites, all over the web. The tipping point may finally be here.

I touched on these themes in my 2012 predictions column, leading to some thought-provoking questions from Slaw’s resident tech-scholar John Gregory. John correctly notes the high volume of Twitter entries in law firm accounts, including the additional “noise” of self-congratulatory firm news, events, and other PR spin.

“Why,” he asks, from a potential reader’s view, “would one follow a law firm on social media? Compared to the focused commentary delivered by individual lawyers, what possible additional value can firms deliver?” And looping back to my original column’s predictions of “social media failure,” does this perceived lack of value qualify as a #fail?

Before we can talk about law firms’ social media failures, we weed to know what exactly we mean by “success.” Experience has taught us a few things about successful participation online for both law firms and their lawyers. Success follows law firms that constantly consider and plan their substantive message and focus on bringing that message to an audience where it can resonate.

So what does failure look like? Here are three common examples, plus one that is often miscategorized as a failure, but that I don’t think really qualifies.

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Steve Matthews
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