When I was a kid I lived down the street from John Denniger. He was an expert on monsters.
“How do you kill a werewolf?” He quizzed me.
“Silver bullet.” That was an easy one.
“What about Dracula?”
“Wooden stake to the heart.” These weren’t even a challenge.
“How do you make The Blob (a large monster in the shape of you guessed it- a blob)?” This time John had me stumped, I had no idea.
“How,” I asked.
“All you need to do, is put a whole tube of toothpaste on the sidewalk, then add water with a garden hose.” He explained. I didn’t think to ask, but why didn’t bathroom water create The Blob in the sink, or why weren’t their thousands of Blob monsters in the sewers now? I just trusted him, and a full tube of toothpase later, I realized that I couldn’t create The Blob. John Denniger’s credibility took a serious hit.
Has social media failed to live up to the hype for you in the same way John’s advice on monsters failed me? Is social media for lawyers the new snake oil? Can it really help bring in business? Or is social media just a waste of time?
Online personalities love to talk in superlatives. Social media sucks, or social media will make your business explode. So which is it?
Scott Greenfield warns that social media is not the silver bullet, and that listening to legal marketers on the subject will do little more for you than lighten your wallet. Scott obviously believes social media is worth your time as evidence by his multiple blog posts each week. He also has reaped the rewards of the increased exposure from his blog, having been asked to speak on numerous panels and even landing a “big” client through social media (a fact that he loves to minimize.) It isn’t a major source of business for him though, at least not directly- but it has certainly opened doors for him.
Lawyers from Scott Greenfield’s camp are protecting other lawyers from social media help, because they didn’t need it. They pulled themselves up by their boot straps to learn social media and blogging, so why shouldn’t you? It’s so easy a caveman could do it. You get the idea.
This argument resonates with their online community, because the vast majority of them have learned social media by simply doing it.
If you are passionate about learning how to use social media, jump in. Read the blog posts, follow the Twitter feeds of people you respect and learn by doing. This is a great way to learn anything. But if you are reading this post, you have most likely already figured that out- you understand the power of sharing knowledge and the impressive resources that are at your fingertips through social media. You get it. If you are like me, there was a moment in time when a switch was flipped in your mind and you went from being a skeptic to a believer.
What does it mean to be a believer in social media?
To believe in social media is to comprehend the awesome power these tools have to connect total strangers in a meaningful way. Separated by geography, ethnicity and even socio-economic status- social media creates communities of like-minded individuals.
Will social media make you a rainmaker? Sadly, no. It takes a certain skill set to bring in business- and proficiency in more than just tweeting. You have to be able to set goals, take conversations offline, follow up and have the experience to close the deal. Social media however can be a powerful tool to facilitate business development. It is all about access, and social media will open doors to access people that before would have been protected by far too many gate keepers.
When I unexpectedly lost my job as an attorney almost 15 months ago, as I explain in my book, two weeks later I had a signed job offer- but I turned it down. The opportunity to be a part of such a massive shift in the way people communicate was just too compelling. The era where social media was considered a novelty is coming to a close – over the next 24 months law firms will become big believers in social media and unleash the true power of these tools by allowing all of their attorneys to participate.
We aren’t there yet, not even close. That is what makes this so exciting, to see it coming. To really take advantage of social media, large firms need to take advantage of their strength in numbers. The AmLaw 200 was recently praised for having more than 297 blogs. Over 100,000 of the best and brightest attorneys and they have come up with a measly 297 blogs? Imagine when a single large firm, like perhaps Baker & McKenzie (3949 attorneys) sees the real vision of social media and has 10% of their attorneys blogging? They would have more blogs than all of the rest of Biglaw combined. We aren’t there yet, not even close, but the day is coming.
Would blogs and social media make all of those attorneys into rainmakers? Certainly not, but would it give Baker & McKenzie substantially more exposure? Absolutely. It would be monumental. They would be part of online discussions in every major practice group, top the Google searches for novel practice areas and they would be seen as the leading innovators when it came to technology use by a large firm. We haven’t seen large law firms successful integrate social media at anywhere near that scale, but it is coming.
Social media isn’t the silver bullet that will save your practice, and toothpaste won’t help you create The Blob, but don’t deny the power of social media. The growth of social media has only just begun, and it will remain long after the monster myths of John Denniger are forgotten. Do you believe in social media? What does that mean to you?
This Friday Hubbard One Marketer of the Year Andrea Stimmel from the mid-sized firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & MosleÂ will be joining us to discuss how their firm has made social media pay. Â Join the discussion at 12pm EST this Friday. Click here to sign up for the call.