Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with social media entrepreneur and best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuk. If you haven’t read his book, The Thank You Economy, go read it. It’s fantastic. Gary—who has nearly 1 million followers on Twitter—is working on his next book, Jab Jab Jab Jab Jab Jab Jab—Right Hook, and he’s giving 365 interviews—”one a day”—this year.
I was ecstatic to get the chance to pick his brain about how lawyers are using social media. Please note, Gary’s responses in the following are paraphrases of my conversation with him. (I can only type so fast!)
What should law firms be using social media for?
Every business should have three goals for their social media:
- Create relationships with their consumers.
- Act bigger than who they are.
- Tell the story of who they are.
On social media, you should engage with everyone who talks to you and about your subject matter. If someone is talking about something related to your practice area, you should be jumping into that conversation.
When a law firm acts bigger than who they are, it means they are not just a law firm—they are a useful resource and information hub for your audience.
You can’t underestimate the benefit of telling your story. We remember stories more than we remember facts. Telling your story will help drive your desired results.
Tells us about your next book, Jab Jab Jab Jab Jab Jab Jab—Right Hook.
The best way to think about this idea is “give give give give give—ask.” You don’t want to treat your social media like a billboard or as a way to always hit your audience for the business. Instead, you want to give them five light pieces of helpful content (“did you know …” type information), and then follow that up with an ask, like, “If you need help with this type of situation, this is who we are.”
What are some of the most common mistakes you see made by businesses that have social media accounts?
Most people don’t know how to convert their social media presence into business. Up to 97 percent of businesses out there are off base when it comes to their social media strategy. Most companies don’t give first. One thing to remember, though, is social media is very new. Businesses have never been asked to be human before, and that’s what’s expected when they engage with people online.
When it comes to law firms, they can use their social media accounts to teach people about the law, and even make them laugh, before tactfully asking for the business.
Some law firms suck at social media. All they do is post articles that they wrote about themselves and they never interact. What would you say to them?
Bragging is the most unattractive trait. When you post about yourself or retweet the nice things that others are saying about you, you’re bragging. Twitter is about communication, not distribution.
How should a law firm manage its social media presence compared to a solo practitioner?
The execution is different with a firm, though it’s still the same game—tell your story and make it about your customer. Law firms have “more cooks in the kitchen,” so they need a process for handling their social media accounts.
What about lawyers who work at a firm? Should they have a professional social media presence that’s separate from their firm?
Yes. You are not your firm and it’s better to be yourself. If you work at a firm, you have to make decisions about what you put out there very carefully.
What’s the one thing about social media that you wish everyone would get through their head?
You can’t measure the ROI of a relationship. When we live in a world where it’s about who you know, not what you know, it’s about building relationships.
What’s the next big thing in social media?
In the near future, it will be everyone realizing that mobile is the first screen, not the second, and they need to plan accordingly. In the next five to seven years, we’re going to have smart everything—like Google glasses and refrigerators that tell us when we’re out of eggs.
And here’s a final thought from Gary, which I find a gem of a lesson for using social media:
“If you come from a good place, you win. If you come from a bad place, you lose.”
Instead of coming from a selfish place, if you are thinking about using social media to engage with potential clients about the issues that are important to them, you are going to be on the right track—even if your execution isn’t perfect.
Ruth Carter is a lawyer, writer and speaker. Her virtual practice, The Carter Law Firm, focuses on intellectual property, social media, First Amendment and flash mob law. Named an ABA Journal 2012 Legal Rebel, Ruth is a 2011 graduate of Arizona State University College of Law and co-founder of Improv Arizona. In her Attorney at Work column “Nothing But the Ruth,” she writes about the lessons she’s learning while building her new virtual practice. She also blogs weekly at UndeniableRuth.com and recently authored The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to Get Sued, Fired, Arrested or Killed.
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