And if so, can you get more like them by using social media? Many social media consultants would have you believe the answer to both questions is an emphatic yes. I’m not so sure.

Facebook, for example boasts more users than reside in the United States. So yeah, your clients are probably on Facebook. Can you use that to generate business? It depends on whether you are trying to get business from people you already know. Facebook is not a particularly good place to reach people you don’t already know. It is built of closed groups of friends—or at least people who are acquainted.

If you are marketing to institutional clients, you probably already have them as your Facebook friends, and that additional social interaction can enhance your ability to get business from them. But if you need to reach people you do not already know, Facebook has its limits.

The opposite is true of Twitter. Twitter is a great place to meet people you don’t already know. The problem is that only some of your potential clients are probably using it. It is growing in popularity, but it does not have the same penetration as Facebook. If you are doing criminal defense work, Twitter is probably not particularly useful. If you are representing tech companies, though, it may be a great way to meet your future clients.

Before you listen to anyone who tells you that social media is The Answer, first decide whether (1) your potential clients are using social media; and (2) whether you can reach them that way. Social media is not always The Answer.

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