There is a small number of people who, when they talk about social media, you must listen. One is Chris Brogan, and here’s what he said in a recent post called “Social Media Isn’t Dead; It’s Boring“:
It’s boring to talk simply about the tools because the tools are just a way to reach people. We can argue the details endlessly (I don’t believe much in Klout, for instance), and we can announce the premature death of Tumblr/Twitter/Facebook and whoever. But it doesn’t matter. When we talk about restaurants (the tools), we mostly talk about the food (the content). When we talk about bands (tools), we talk about whether the music resonates (the content). When we talk about a good book (the content), we never ask what type of computer it was written on (the tools).
This is something I wish every law firm and legal marketer would understand, because it’s absolutely correct. Social media are tools. They’re instruments. They are means to an end — increasingly routine and unremarkable means, at that. The medium, with apologies to Mr. McLuhan, is not nearly so important as the message.
If you’re thinking about social media in your law firm, what you’re really thinking about (or ought to be thinking about) is content marketing. Create good, legitimate, practical, reader-oriented content. When you’ve done that, go back and create more. Then more again. Don’t even think about designing a blog, opening a Twitter account, starting up a Facebook page, whatever, until you’ve figured out very clearly what content you’re creating, why you’re creating it, and who you want to reach with it.
Many lawyers don’t seem to care about content, and if that’s the case within your firm, that’s a problem. No law firm anywhere can succeed at social media without (a) a content strategy and (b) its enthusiastic adoption by a critical mass of lawyers. Any social media effort that launches without both these features will fail.
So if you want to start a social media initiative within your firm, stop. Retrace your steps. And then set out instead to become an evangelist for content. Create a content strategy, then motivate lawyers to create strategic content by any means necessary. Get them excited about it. Reward them for it. Flatter them for creating it. Remind them that “content” does not equal yet another case commentary. “Content” = stuff that people, especially clients, like to read and want to circulate.
First why, then what, then how. Strategy first. Content second. Everything else third.