Social Media Success in 15 Minutes

As originally published in the National Law Journal August 29, 2011

My father once told me that to achieve anything really meaningful in life requires sacrifice. This isn’t quite the same message I’m hearing from the media. Instead, they promise us, “Get rock solid abs by just spending 15 minutes a day!” When I see such claims, an alarm goes off in my head: “Warning! Something isn’t quite right about this.”

At the same time, the reason we see so many of these messages is because, even though we doubt the dubious claims, a part of us really wants to believe they are true. Everybody is looking for their own fountain of youth or magic beans. Many expect the same from social media: some trick, some series of tweets or LinkedIn participation that will guarantee a steady flow of new clients. I have a hard reality to break to you: Real success through social media requires real work.

Lawyers often share with me their goals for social media: “I would like to double the size of my book of business.” “I’m looking for an anchor client.” “I’d just like to bring in one more client.” Ironically, these same lawyers complain that they can’t spare the time to write a blog, ¬participate in conversations on LinkedIn or learn to use Twitter effectively. You can achieve your goals, but you have to pay the price.

So, how much work will it require? A good rule of thumb is to spend 10% of your time and resources on marketing and business development. I’m not suggesting you spend eight hours per week blogging or using Twitter, but instead that you schedule time throughout your week to communicate with clients and potential clients through in-person meetings, phone calls, e-mail and social media.

The lawyers I have seen experience real success through social media have a set routine. At least once per week, they dedicate time to write a blog post or article. This may take an hour or two, but it is a regular part of their week. Outside of that, they are active users of social media and check in at least once a day and see what is being discussed on Twitter or LinkedIn and add new connections.

The biggest barrier to lawyers making social media work isn’t the technology — that is easy to pick up. The biggest barrier is in changing their routine. Just as it’s hard to stop smoking, adding a new activity requires commitment. The first step is getting started. Just remember what my dad taught me: To achieve anything meaningful in life requires sacrifice.

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