Lack of time is one of the primary reasons attorneys avoid social media marketing. Nearly every time I survey an audience during a presentation on social media and the law, an attorney will declare that they are “too busy” to spend time on social networking sites. To that I say: it’s a legitimate concern.
Attorneys struggle with time management all the time. We are constantly buried under a myriad of deadlines, emails, and research assignments concerning the applicability of the rule against perpetuities. How can an attorney add twitter to their to-do list when they are already bogged down their billable hour requirement, preparing for motion calendar, and if they are lucky, squeeze some time in for the family?
According to Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, the answer is that social media does not require much time once you have made the initial investment in setting up a profile. First time users of social media may need to set aside a couple hours to familiarize themselves with the big three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to determine which sites are best suited best for them. After determining which site(s) best fit their needs, a newcomer to social media may only need an hour or two to create their own online profile. More experienced Internet users can set up a profile within minutes. This is because social media sites are designed to be user friendly and accessible to anyone.
After this initial investment, the amount of time one devotes to social media is entirely up to the individual attorney. There is no one size fits all approach. The amount of time an attorney should devote to social media is entirely dependent upon the individual attorney’s goals and ability to manage their time effectively. Regardless of your specific goals, the following tips can provide you with an effective and efficient use of your time on social media sites:
1. Limit Your Engagement to One or Two Sites: Each social media site offers something different: Facebook connects you with your friends, family, colleagues, and peers in an informal interactive environment; Twitter allows you to micro-blog in short messages called tweets to update your friends and potential clients on what’s new in your practice or specialized area of law; and LinkedIn is less social, more networking, and is commonly seen as a trusted networking site for business professionals. I recommend LinkedIn if you are new to online networking because it eliminates certain risks associated with social media (such as the ability for third parties to post content on your profile), but provides a valuable benefit because it is highly populated with business leaders in almost every field. By selecting one site to start with, you can limit your time investment in social media to a level that makes you comfortable.
2. Calendar Blocks of Time: Just like setting aside time on your calendar for legal research or a conference call with a client, you can set aside time on your calendar to address social media at a time that is convenient for you. It can be as often as a few minutes a day, twenty minutes a week, or an hour a month. Create an email folder that automatically collects notifications from social media sites (such as friend requests and invitations to connect), and use that time you set aside to determine which invitations to accept, what information you want to share about your personal or professional life, and with which people you chose to interact. By setting aside time on your calendar, you have control over your social media use and are networking on your schedule.
3. Network in the Palm of Your Hand: Recent advancements in mobile technology allow you to access any social media site in the palm of your hand. Any phone or hand held device with access to the Internet enables you to access user friendly social media sites and applications free of charge. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn applications for your smart phones connect you with peers on the go. No time to log onto Facebook at the office? No problem. Connect with your law school classmates on LinkedIn while in line at the grocery store. Tweet about a great result you achieved in court while waiting for the train. The possibilities are limitless. But whatever you do, just don’t tweet and drive.
Your time is important, and I hope that these tips will help you manage social media on your schedule. Because once you manage to squeeze social media into your busy schedule, you will soon realize the benefits you can experience from just a few minutes of interaction each day. And for those of you who say they are “too busy” to find a few minutes of time each day, let me help you by telling you exactly what you will hear during tomorrow morning’s newscast: someone one is being bailed out by the government, someone else is very upset about it, and politicians will disagree about who is the party at fault. There, I just saved you thirty minutes each morning. Now there is no reason not to start tweeting!