Lawyers, along with many businesses, are pretty incompetent when it comes to social media. They just can’t seem to get their brains around the idea that being social is not about pimping their own blog posts or collecting followers or friends or connections or whatever.
What I wrote about blogging a couple of months ago applies equally to other forms of social media (although I’m not conceding that blogs ought to be considered social media, as a general rule):
Look, blogs are awful direct marketing tools. Expecting people to find your blog and call you is like the Atlantic Monthly writing about current events because it wants to sell consulting services to politicians. It’s like a journalist expecting orders for donuts after publishing an article about the stock price of Dunkin Donuts. Or like people trying to hire the LA Times to handle their murder defense because it covered the OJ Simpson trial. The direct result of publishing a blog is readers — if it doesn’t suck — not clients.
… or, worse, [your blog sucks] because you think of a blog as advertising. You end most posts with a “call to action” like “If you have been arrested for picking up a prostitute, we can help! Call now for a free consultation!” Blog posts are not billboards — or advertisements in any way. I don’t know how anybody could think that will work, but some people obviously do.
Just replace blogs in those paragraphs with social media, and you’ve got a good picture of how 99% of lawyers use social media. I’m not frustrated about this like Kevin O’Keefe is, because I am not convinced that social media is a must-do for lawyers, for marketing or for any other reason.
The lawyers doing social media badly are only making themselves look like idiots. (This is probably a net benefit for consumers, who can apply a simple litmus test when checking out a lawyer on social media (assuming any every do): Is this lawyer tooting his or her own horn? If so, call a different lawyer.)
No, I am not frustrated, just annoyed. Most lawyers on social media are doing the equivalent of barging into a room and announcing “I am Pat Smith, and I won a case today!” before tossing a handful of business cards at the audience and walking out with a flourish. Then, everyone is annoyed at the interruption of their conversations.
Lawyers who use social media badly may be hurting themselves, but mostly they are just annoying the rest of us who want to use social media to, you know, be social.