Unless you live under a rock, you know that your firm should be utilizing social media as a means to connect with clients, prospective clients and colleagues. Increasingly, attorneys are getting onboard with the major social networks but many still worry that they do not have the time to devote to these “silly sites that their children use.” Enter the social media consultant. For many firms, these individuals seem like the answer to their social media woes. The consultant will check in with the firm and Tweet and update the Facebook page daily for just a few hundred dollars a month (and they have 12,000 followers on Twitter so they really must be good)!
Sure, the Social Media Consultant will cost you less than hiring an in-house social media coordinator but what are the long-term ramifications and does this outsourcing defeat the purpose of social media?
At the core of social media is the ability to interact with infinite people without the hassle of picking up the phone or drafting an email. In the case of the law firm, these platforms allow you to stay engaged with contacts even when you’re not collaborating on a project or handling a client’s case. They also allow you to show a more personal side and share your professional expertise with followers. Now, if an outside social media consultant is brought in to manage these accounts, you have to wonder what this person can share with your contacts. Sure, they can post about an upcoming event that your firm is sponsoring or tweet the link to your new blog post but can they continuously engage with contacts on a personal level? And more importantly, would you want them to?
Regardless of how many calls or meetings you have with this consultant, as an outsider looking in, they will never fully understand your practice. This is a frightening thought being that they will serve as the face of your social media accounts and will be your firm’s voice to your Facebook followers and Tweeps (Twitter friends for those of you not yet in the loop).
Search for law firms on Twitter. You will find hundreds, if not thousands, of accounts that fail to have conversations and deliver value to their followers. The large majority of these accounts take resources away from the firm (usually financial in nature) but fail to provide any return on the investment. In order to ensure that your firm does not become one of these underachieving social media users, be sure to carefully devise an engaging social media campaign. If you don’t have the time to handle the accounts on your own, you might consider hiring someone to assist but make certain that you still share your personal insights on the network and ultimately provide ongoing value. Require that at least one member of your in-house staff post a status update once a day and engage fellow network users several times a week.