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December 08, 2008

Social Media - The Good, The Bad, and the Time-Sucking (Part II)

This post is a follow up to my previous post: 'Do You Have A Social Media Strategy? The Good, The Bad, and the Time Sucking".

http://www.amamasrant.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/01/10/j0403204.jpgI'm a relative newbie in digital media (what most call social media).  I won't pretend I can give you the macro and micro education on all of this, either.  I, too, can only journey with you through this galaxy of new ways to 'converse' with others and share information.  Because that is what social media is - media that allows you to interact and converse with others.  Online relationships formed then have the ability to convert into offline personal and business relationships.

The art of marketing, connecting and converting those connections into opportunities and business for your law firm through the effective use of social media is a whole other discussion.  But one thing I can assure you - you must start feeling your way through it now.  It is that important to your business.

There is no way to know it all because it is all too new.  I've seen others self-proclaim themselves as experts and even a novice can see the claims must fall flat. No one fully has their head wrapped around the power of social media or the endless ways to utilize it.  What I'm going to discuss here are some ground rules you should follow when getting started because it can be overwhelming and addicting. Or as some refer to it - a 'time-suck.'  Why?  Because like any addiction it will suck away your time and impact your personal and professional life.

First, regardless of whether or not you plan to use any social media platform, register and protect your personal name and your business name on all sites you can think of:  LinkedIn, Facebook, Pulse, Plaxo, Tagged, Friendfeed, Plurk, Twitter.... and the list goes on and on and on.

Second, ask for recommendations for the social media sites where the 'cool kids' hang out.  Why?  Because the cool kids may be on to something even if you haven't quite figured it out.  Lurk if you must. But lurk and learn.

Third, do not spread yourself too thin.  Any online group or social media site where you benefit based upon the level of your participation translates into a required minimum time spent in that group or on that site. Participation means you have to commit valuable time in order to do it right.  If you don't have the time to do it right...don't do it.

Example:  I've been invited to join multiple groups and social media sites, some established; some just starting out.  But I don't join.  It's nothing personal. I just don't have the time and certain sites just don't interest me.  However, if I agree to participate and then don't or do it thoughtlessly this can actually work against my reputation and business building efforts. 

Imagine it this way.  You are invited to three different events on a Friday night, a barbecue, a political rubber chicken dinner and a concert. Each costs you $100.00 You can't do all three (unless you spend an hour at each and at a total cost of $300.00) so you pick the one that feels right for you and politely decline the other two. You've spent $100.00 for an evening you enjoy and are fully engaged in the experience. You really can't be fully engaged in three places in the real world. And it's costly to try.  You end up offending the others if you only show up for a few minutes and you don't get to fully engage in and enjoy the event. It's no different in the virtual world.

Fourth, only participate in the social media site(s) you truly enjoy.  If you don't enjoy it, like anything else, you won't do it well and this will work against you. Yes, one can argue until you fully engage how can you know if you like it or will benefit from it?  See 'Second.'

I still haven't figured out the value of LinkedIn other than acting like a directory of people.  There are some who use it to establish enormous groups.  But, again, the jury is still out for me. Yet with LinkedIn's powerful ranking, a listing on LinkedIn can help you be found by potential clients and referrers of clients except profiles may not be seen by those who aren't 'linked' to you.

Facebook is a little better but 'marketing' seems intrusive to me on Facebook.  It seems much more intimate in nature with family photos, etc. so I'm less comfortable discussing business there although I will still feed my posts from BSP and Solo Practice University because it is another outlet for my friends unrelated to my business to know what I am up to.  Where I feel most comfortable is Twitter because it is speed-marketing in a very social way and everyone knows everyone else is marketing but they are having a lot of fun doing it in a fast-paced sharing of information.  And friendships are definitely created for both business and pleasure. But then that's my personal preference.

Fifth, no matter what sites you choose to actively participate in, allot a certain amount of time per day or week and that's it. You don't need to be on social media sites night and day, though some are very tempting and it is easy to get sucked into the computer screen like the little girl in Poltergeist who got sucked into the TV.  So, allocate your time judiciously and remember why you are using social media sites (at least from the perspective of a solo practitioner) - primarily to build relationships to enhance your business.  It is still just one more marketing tool even though it is quite powerful when used correctly.

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

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Comments

Matthew

You certainly said that well.

I find social media and all the sites and communities out there daunting. I don't know which to go to first or the ones to avoid. But more importantly, I only have so many in a day.

I totally agree social media must be used but it is like a wall coming at me and so I just back away.

Based on this post I gather you like Twitter :-)

Thanks for your insights. They are usually right on.

Omar Ha-Redeye

Here are some more time saving tips: http://socialmediamafia.com/2008/08/social-media-when-time-money/

Laurie/HaloSecretarial

Great tips - and like you I find Twitter to be of the most use to me right now, as I easily find 3-4 small chunks of time in a day for Twitter!

do have accounts at most of the other major social networking sites as well and thanks as you just gave me a couple more to register placeholder accounts at!

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