Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Social Media—in Law Firms and in Life

Although this blog focuses on competitive intelligence, some readers have noticed that the subject of social media (social networks, blogs, listservs, wikis, sharing of photos and video, etc.) has already made a frequent appearance here.

Social media, circa 2008, is a boiling hot topic. A few days ago, Jayne Navarre put up an excellent post over at about WilmerHale’s four associate blogs. And earlier today the Legal Marketing Association published a report, Humans Seek Connections: The Case for Online Social Networking for law firm marketing and business development.

If you liked the WilmerHale blogs idea, then run, don’t walk, over to and be inspired by 35+ Examples of Corporate Social Media in Action that are beautifully illustrated by SnapShots. At least half of those examples could be lifted and installed nearly as-is in many law firms to great effect.

For aiding my ongoing education in social media, I thank the team at DuoConsulting, whose links I clicked to discover the 35+ Examples and the following interesting results of the first statistically significant longitudinal study on corporate use of social media conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. The study compares the use of social media by Inc. 500 companies and Fortune 500 companies:

  • 39% of Inc. 500 companies have blogs, compared to 11.6% of Fortune 500 companies

  • In the past year, 20% more Inc. 500 companies started blogging, compared to 3.6% more Fortune 500s

  • 44% of Inc. 500s think social media [are] very important to their business/marketing strategy, compared to 25% last year

  • Inc. 500s are most familiar with social networking, while wikis have seen the most growth in terms of familiarity

  • 77% of Inc. 500 companies report using at least some social media tool

One possible prophecy based on these findings is that because mainline Fortune 500s are slow to adopt social media, corporate law firms that serve them will also be slow on this front. Yet I will wager that even if your grandfather’s law firm hasn’t yet adopted these tools, the law firm of the future (which all Am Law firms will start mimicking in about 45 minutes) is already embracing them. Social media tools, applied intelligently, can help law firms:

  • Create legal knowledge
  • Develop competitive intelligence
  • Assimilate new lawyers
  • Strengthen multi-office legal teams
  • Build who-does-what-where directories
  • Cement client relationships.

Perhaps you wonder why I’m such an evangelist about social media when I’m no expert and still have so much to learn about it. Perhaps it’s because over twelve years ago, while hanging out on an online writers bulletin board, I met the man who is now my husband. For the next two months, while living 700 miles apart, we traded more than 50 personal essays on everything from poetry to gun control to family values. (Today those essays would be called blogs.) Readers who know Del and me know that our decision to marry was one of the best decisions of our lives.

I urge everyone to learn more about social media. Participate in social media. Use your common sense. Teach others. Relax and let what you learn there inform your decisions—whether those decisions are about which friends to spend more time with, whom to do business with, or whom to marry.

No comments: