Questioning the Value of Social Media in Marketing for Lawyers

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If you only had one hour each day to spend on marketing, how would you spend it?

Would you be better off reaching out to clients, past clients and referral sources and scheduling lunch with them or would you be better off interacting with them on Facebook and Twitter?

During the past two years I have been active on Facebook.  About a year ago I relegated my Twitter activity to posting updates on my other media properties after regularly interacting with people on my follower list for 10 months.  My experience with these two social media platforms has been enlightening (to say the least).

I have developed several true (real life) friendships as a result of these two forms of social media.  I have re-developed relationships with people I had lost touch with.  And I have had more than a few good laughs in browsing though the status updates and posts in my news feed.

I was frustrated when my profiles on both Facebook and Twitter were shut down as a result of an advertising mistake.  I was shocked when I my posts angered some of my relatives.  I received hate mail and nasty comments from people when I posted things about my favorite sports teams.  I have also been thoroughly aggravated, on numerous occasions, by some of the ridiculously ignorant political statements I have seen from people who I consider friends.

When I started using Facebook and Twitter I knew there was likely no immediate payoff in new business.  I viewed these sites as an opportunity to develop and deepen relationships.  The theory being that deep relationships would result in new business.  After two years I can honestly say that deep relationships result in just that, deep relationships.  Facebook and Twitter have not helped develop better referral sources.  They have helped introduce me to lawyers who did not know me, which is good.  But, to date, this has not resulted in any significant business.

There are arguments in favor of using these social media sites and there are arguments against using them.  But the question remains:  Are they a good use of my time?  Actually, a better question is: Are they the best possible use of my marketing time?

I know lawyers who spend hours each week on Facebook and Twitter but claim they have no time for marketing.  I estimate that I have spent about 700 hours on Facebook and Twitter during the past two years.  That’s almost seven hours each week.  Would my time have been better spent if I:

  • Had lunch with one more lawyer each week? – 2 hours
  • Written an article for a trade magazine? – 2 hours
  • Pitched that article to several magazines? – 1 hour
  • Written several thank you notes to people I met and made follow-up phone calls to people on my mailing list? – 2 hours

I can tell you from past experience that the activities I listed above will bring me new clients. Investing in these tactics would be an additional investment in proven marketing activities.

Facebook and Twitter help deepen relationships but there are other marketing vehicles that are far more effective at relationship development.  I will continue to use Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with friends and colleagues but I am going to dramatically reduce the amount of time I spend on them.  Right now, the return on the time invested is not significant enough to warrant spending additional time on it.

How much time do you invest in social media?  Is it paying off?  Is social media the best possible use of your time?