The Digital Revolution Can Revolutionise Your Business (yes, even law firms)
2014 finally saw the legal profession fully embrace social media to ensure it forms a fundamental part of its growth strategy, not because it is the “cool” thing to do (if law firms ever worry about that), but because it is required for its survival. On the back of a blog I wrote for LexisNexis about the importance of social media, I received a large number of emails and messages stating that the legal industry absolutely had to incorporate social media into its communications strategy not only on a corporate level, but also on an individual level. This acknowledgement is a huge step forward.
As more law firms and lawyers engage with social media, it has not only been an effective and efficient way to stay in contact with clients, prospective clients and contacts in and outside the industry, but also to better understand how the market is evolving and who the main players are. Law firms still use newsletters and mass mail outs, but blogs via different social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter are taking over. Blogs are a really effective way to get information and your message out to a mass audience. More to the point, people no longer read as many newsletters with content emerging in so many different formats. I haven’t read a law firm’s newsletter or any newsletter in over a year, but I read over 15-20 blogs a day. In my mind, blogs are about thought leadership (on any topic), but they are also easy to read, to access (on Twitter or LinkedIn) plus they are easy to comment on, to engage the author in further debate, or to share on further with your networks.
And lawyers, if you still think social media is not for your industry, recent statistics show that from a survey of in-house counsel aged 30-39, 53 % cited social media websites amongst their leading sources of information and 63 % agree that they envision a future in which a law firm’s prominence through a high-profile blog will play an important role in influencing clients to hire that law firm. Social media and blogs are a popular way to connect with in-house teams and this popularity only looks set to increase in the near future.
For the most part, we in the legal industry have focused on maintaining contact with people or companies we know, people we have met or have been introduced to. The newsletter mailing list and maintaining contact with existing connections is of course essential, but we can be shy about connecting to people we have not actually met. However, we are in the next era of social media. Recently Sean Rad, Founder of Tinder, discussed how the next era of social media will be about how to expand your network outside of your known contact base, how you can use social media to enter a room and meet the right person for the opportunities you are seeking. Is this Tinder for business? It is what social media companies are looking to develop and expand; how they can reduce the barriers to “social discovery”.
This is what we, lawyers and law firms, should be focusing on now: how can we expand our contact base via social media? My view: by engaging with the market and one of the best ways we can do this is by blogging and sharing content. I started blogging and tweeting about 6 months ago and I have been surprised by the results and the speed of the impact. Since my “digital launch” I have been asked to guest blog for a number of blogging sites and publications and most recently I have been invited to speak at a Red Magazine Event on ‘Building Your Digital Confidence’ proving it is completely possible to expand your horizons via social media – even as a lawyer.
So, what are the tips? What I have learnt (and this of course is still a work in progress) is that there is an “art of conversation” on social media and an art to blogging which will differ per sector and industry. Once you find your voice and start understanding the art, it is an exceptionally effective way to communicate with your audience and to make new connections. Essentially you get your company’s message out to a mass audience, to an international audience, to your target audience at the same time, without even leaving your desk, and the return in making connections and contacts can be as instant as people commenting or following you.
Although social media technology is changing rapidly and the next era of social media is “social discovery”, we already have the ability to expand our base, so get busy blogging and sharing, you never know who you might “meet”. And if the task seems daunting, just start with the “250 words a day challenge”. If it’s good – blog it and if not, wait for another day. Either way, just start and do not worry about your stats (i.e. how many followers/readers you have) – it is quality, not quantity that matters.