The Pluses & Minuses of Using Social Media

Clear & Convincing Feature Article

Need an Online Presence? SBM Has You Covered

The lawyer sitting next to you at the conference is busy writing a tweet for Twitter. Another is taking a selfie to post on Facebook. It seems everyone is busy using social media to market their practice. Should you jump into the social media pond?

Maybe, maybe not.

Social media has its good and bad points. To understand what is best for you, first analyze your practice. Understand the legal services you offer to know your target market—their age, demographic, and economic position. Knowing your practice will help sort out the pluses and minuses of using social media and help decide which platform is right for you.

What is social media?

Social media is defined by Merriam Webster as "forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content"

Think Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and so forth. Each attracts a particular audience. If that audience includes your target market, consider joining the group.

The advantages of using social media:

  • Social media marketing is free. You can sign up, create a profile, and post information without paying.
  • You can reach consumers who never come to your speaking events, read your newsletter, or visit your blog. Your tweets find new readers who will comment or retweet to their followers, leading to an even larger audience.
  • You gain name and brand recognition.
  • People come to know you by your choice of words, style of writing, and the topics you discuss. Use an easy-to-read style and offer real information to show them you are approachable. They will be loyal and frequent readers.
  • Social media builds relationships.
  • Use visitor analytics and readers' comments to learn more about your audience. Knowing their interests will help you find topics for them.

The disadvantages of social media marketing:

  • Time—time spent on social media is not billable, which means if you start using social media, be sure you know what time must be set aside to continue the postings.
  • Content must be written, edited, revised, and published—another time issue.
  • Social media places demands on your talent. Posts must be relevant to your practice and interesting to a variety of readers. Fortunately, as a lawyer, you have access to many topics through the weekly SBM e-Journal and Newslinks posted daily.
  • You lose control of your content. Everything you publish is available to be commented upon positively or negatively by those who read it.
  • Social media has no quick return on your investment. It builds relationships and firm loyalty over time, so you need to commit to the long haul.

Social media can bring many benefits and increased profits to your practice, but it comes with limitations. With good planning, you'll succeed. If you start a social media account, you could be taking selfies and posting news items to your readers at the next conference. You'll be in good company.

Roberta GubbinsRoberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.

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