Social Media – Fast Changes, but Slow Adoption

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss (I Can Read with My Eyes Shut)

Early adopters they are not, but lawyers I have found are keen to learn. But as a group, it’s the drive to action that’s the biggest challenge, particularly if it cuts into billable time or doesn’t have an immediate or positive impact that’s within sight.

I’ve been talking a lot about social media to client firms and larger audiences for a while now and the results bring varying degrees of adoption. Anytime we try to coax a freighter towards a new course, it takes time and a healthy dose of patience. I recently recalled something my mentor told me a long time ago. Our law firms – or, in my case, my clients — require us to discuss, promote, and write about issues, people or topics of interest ad nauseam. Then, we’ll do it all over again until we get the desired results.

And then, when we think we’ve even reached those in caves, someone will always ask, “Huh, what was that? Social what?” So, we start at the beginning again, shattering any illusions our lawyers will jump on the social media bandwagon in droves.

With most things shiny and new, many lawyers will stand back and view it sceptically, examining it from this angle and that. Oh they’ll listen, synthesize, ponder, consider and generally torture themselves over-thinking and analyzing all the ways they could possibly compromise their status among colleagues. OK, not all of them, but 99.9% of them. 

If you ask me, I’m okay with that, especially if they continue to read, learn and ask questions. Baby steps still results in advancement, right?

As I patiently wait, advise and coax those that only see risk, I realize that from a bird’s eye view, the marketing landscape has shifted significantly over recent years. Marketing 2.0 is the new black and we may never go back. Here are just some of the things that have crept into our paradigm:

  1. Our writing is more strategic. Smart marketing strategies and the lawyers for which they are designed, no longer luxuriate in waxing poetic on the subject du jour. Now we consider key words, reader reaction, whether it will be “liked” or not and so on
  2. Our online writing is amplified … significantly … and not only by our own steam, but by others whose own endorsements can push our content towards new audiences. But once it’s online, you can’t get it back. Ever.
  3. Everyone’s a publisher and timelines are measured in minutes, not hours. Print news media have a love/hate relationship with the online world. Conventional media will never win at scooping a story, but they will pick up resources, photos and quotes online. They will monitor comments on blogs to gauge reactions and news value of a story. And bloggers will take in news from multiple sources. They’ll churn, season and present it for their own audience. It’s a strange but sweet symbiotic relationship.
  4. Google rankings and the degree of social media influence a person has will trump mind share. Mind share, or share of mind, is valuable space where consumers’ purchasing decisions are – or were — largely made. Competition is fierce among marketers who strategize to capture this “top of mind” position among target audiences. Those days are passing as Google rankings and a person’s online influence is rapidly replacing our personal beliefs and experiences.

How a professional is profiled online, how they rank in their field in keyword search results, how they articulate their knowledge and value, what others say about them is the new share of mind. 

My, how things have changed. 


  1. Susan, you are so right with attorneys being slow to adoption. As the pioneer of video for litigation from way back in 1975, it took almost 5 years for attorneys to wrap their arms around how videotaped depositions enhance courtroom testimony. Nowadays, its 2, 3 camera depositions, streaming depos over the web, settlement videos and online videos for attorneys to reach out, form relationships and enhance their search results.
    Don’t give up. Keep on forging ahead and telling your stories. As with every technological advancement in the past, attorneys will finally embrace social media.

    Chris Ballard