Last week, a marketing manager posted a question to the Legal Marketing Association’s internal listserv – she wanted to know if there was a way to upload her attorneys’ bios to LinkedIn without them having to do it themselves. I was both surprised and disappointed to see someone in legal marketing ask this, because she’s missing the point of social media and as a result, not able to help the lawyers at her firm understand and use it for their benefit.
My response to her was the following:
“Unfortunately, I’m not going to give you the answer you’re probably looking for. Because LinkedIn is not just a directory of attorneys, I don’t think posting all of the members of your firm is a great idea. The key to social networking is engagement, whether you’re using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Martindale-Hubbell Connected. For LinkedIn to be effective for your firm, the attorneys need to be involved directly – posting their own information on their profiles, and then staying actively engaged by linking up with colleagues, former classmates, clients and friends and then sharing information with them like articles/blog posts they’re writing, seeing what those people are up to and commenting on it, joining relevant groups and participating in them by answering questions, posting articles they think are useful, etc.
“It can do more harm than good to have a simple bio of the attorney up on LinkedIn that is clearly not updated regularly or effectively used – they appear in search results and can make a client wonder whether that person is really tech/social networking-savvy if the bio doesn’t have any recent status updates and/or the person is not connected with anyone outside of a very small circle of people.
“So I’d suggest working with your attorneys one-on-one, starting with those who seem to be enthusiastic about social networking, to get them to post their own information and start engaging.”
As I’ve said before, social networking is not for everyone, and won’t be appropriate for all attorneys. When I had dinner with an attorney a couple of weeks ago, he told me that he just doesn’t have time to learn about how to use social networking tools.
I agreed with him – he’s right.
Attorneys are very busy people and often, their time is better spent on the business of law than it is on figuring out how to engage on Twitter. I believe that’s the job of the marketing departments (when a firm has one) – learn the tools, understand how they can help your attorneys, and then teach them how to use them and how they can be effective in a shorter amount of time than it takes for them to play around with them on their own. Empower them, as Heather Milligan describes so perfectly in her post about cutting the apron strings.
This marketer did email me after my response to say that it is what she was trying to do that here: setting up the attorneys’ profiles and then getting them started with engagement. But my advice to her is the same – start with a smaller group of attorneys who are already interested in social networking, help them learn about it, and then use their successes to encourage the other attorneys at the firm to give it a try. Social networking isn’t a one-way conversation, so the attorneys have to be directly involved and engaged.