Does anybody remember playing the ORIGINAL Atari? Sure, they were video games- but they were VERY simple video games. The controllers looked a little bit like this:
Pretty simple, right? One button, and the controller. Pretty hard to get confused, there you only had 2 options. Push the button, or direct the joystick.
Then came along a video game system called the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This included a new controller, one with three more buttons.
It was still a pretty simple controller, but it was a little bit too complicated for my parents. Back in the early 80’s my parents would play Pacman on the Atari, but they never made the leap to playing on the more complicated NES controller.
Then came along the Nintendo 64 with an entirely new controller.
For big time games this was progress, yet for many of the older generation (my generation included)- it was just too much for them. It wasn’t worth the time and effort to make the leap from 5 buttons – to over a dozen.
The technology had improved, yet it was failing it’s customer base because it alienated so many of the original users. It had become too complicated. Then Nintendo in a flash of brilliance, came up with a solution that was revolutionary because of its’ simplicity. Nintendo completed the technology cycle. They used enhanced technology to allow for increased simplicity.
The Nintendo Wii has seen phenomenal success because it has bridged the gap, completed the technology cycle, and the designers at Nintendo have used what they learned to make a product that is better because it is easier to use.
Social Media has followed a similar path and life cycle. It started out with discussion boards like Compuserve and then AOL. These were very basic- it was really just CONVERSATIONS. Then things evolved and websites and email became the way everybody wanted to do business. Unfortunately, websites were not easy to build. Anybody COULD do it, but few took the time to learn the programming necessary to put together their own website.
Those who paid others to build their sites, didn’t even know enough fundamentals to make minor adjustments to their websites. These websites became static, and soon irrelevant dinosaurs.
With the explosion of Web 2.0 over the last year, we have seen the re-invention of internet communications, just like Nintendo reinvented gaming with the Wii. It is so easy to start a blog, upload a YouTube video, and bust out micro-blog posts on Twitter. So if it is so easy, why are Lawyers and other professionals so slow to adopt it?
I am going to suggest a few reasons why, and hopefully through the discussions on Connected this month we can gain the perspective of the legal community in general on why Lawyers are hesitant to adopt social media.
First, Lawyers are busy. Most lawyers don’t have enough time to spend with their family- the last thing they want is another time sync.
Second, Lawyers are risk averse. Don’t blame us, we are paid to be risk averse. The ethics and solicitation requirements with regards to social media are not yet well understood, and unfortunately this has a chilling effect on social media use within law firms. Firms fear what they don’t understand, and so they are taking a very cautious approach.
Third, Lawyers aren’t sure that social media works. There is a clear division among the law bloggers, or “blawgers” whichever you prefer. Some think that blogging is a nice way to keep connected, learn from other attorneys, but isn’t a business development tool. Others swear by it, claiming to bring in clients on a regular basis through their blog and social media contacts. Since social media hasn’t been around for an incredibly long period of time, we don’t have a ton of case studies. Empirically, it is too early to tell the magnitude of the effect social media will have on the bottom line. That being said, the success stories are mounting, and since these technologies are in their infancy- we expect to see an explosion in the next year, and better data to help lawyers realize the advantages to social media.
Fourth, lawyers are worried they won’t be very good at the new technology. They remember the 12 button Nintendo 64 controller, and they think these tools are better left to a younger generation. This is the worse error they could possibly make. Young people may know what buttons to push, but they have nowhere near the experience level or depth of knowledge of older attorneys. Anybody can learn this technology. Having something valuable to say- that is a much bigger challenge.
What other barriers are there keeping attorneys from using social media?
How has your firm dealt with these issues?
What will the next year bring for social media and the law?
Adrian Dayton is a lawyer, author and social media consultant to large law firms. His is the author of the book Social Media for Lawyers: Twitter Edition. Â If you would like to join in on the free conference calls, click HERE