We begin with an example
Social media is not for everyone. When the insurance company Esurance released a TV commercial that parodied a well-known social media phenomenon, they transferred a selection of components and behaviors out from our computers/mobile phones, and into a non-digital setting. In the commercial, Beatrice the Offline Over-Sharer, posts her vacation photos on her living room wall for her friends to “like,” and she later tries to “unfriend” the person she is talking too. The ad leaves us with the take-away message, coming from her friend: “That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works!”
There is no question that Beatrice has misunderstood what social media is and how it works, but maybe that isn’t the point? She has clearly grasped the concept of being “social” and is excited about sharing her photos with her friends. The ad is using her lack of awareness to make a case against one of their competitors, but it is also showing us a side of social media they may not have been aware of when they shot it. In the commercial, Beatrice is, in fact, being far more social than many frequent users of social media are in real life.
It’s been established that we prefer to buy services and products from businesses we like and trust. It is therefore becoming increasingly important for attorneys and lawyers to have a social media profile integrated in their practice. In a larger law firm, you may have already hired someone to oversee and manage your social media pages and online profile, but for many small and medium-sized law firms, that is just not realistic. You need to learn how to establish a balance between avoiding and overdoing your social media efforts. This is of particular importance for individuals who may not be comfortable working around computers, or are unaware of what social media can do for them. If you are working at a small or mid-sized law firm, where everyone is expected to chip in, this is something you need to learn.
What is a minimalist approach?
Since the dawn of time, our social networks have always been an important part of life. The connections were few and manageable, usually including only our family, close friends, and neighbors. Today, the very nature of the networks have changed. What many businesses fail to understand about the Internet is that it creates relationships, and as our social networks turned digital, the number of connections have exploded. People are now reacting to the avalanche by embracing the simplicity/minimalism movement and taking a minimalist approach.
According to the Becoming Minimalist website, by implementing the idea of owning less, spending less, and surrounding yourself with a simple, yet appealing environment, you will become happier, less stressed, and more productive. The same idea applied to social media means that you are making a conscious choice to downsize your networks, while focusing on quality relationships over quantity connections.
Minimalism is not equal to being unsocial
What’s required to take a minimalist approach to your law firm social media efforts? First of all, it is not the same as saying that you are unsocial, or that you are ignoring the issue. Remember that your online presence is not the same as your personal presence. Secondly, your social media experience doesn’t have to be a mix of melodrama, cat jokes, and sepia-tinted photos of your breakfast. If you are not comfortable with it, you are not required to be an active participant. You are, however, required to have a presence.
In an article by Forbes, they reveal that many employers consider an absence from Facebook to be a very “suspicious” behavior. In a similar article by CNN, they describe why people are choosing to live a life without Facebook. It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing, but it is always surprising and a bit shocking to look up a law firm and find that they have no website or online presence at all. By taking a minimalist approach, you can build a powerful online presence for your business, create quality connections, and have more meaningful conversations.
Be visible, but with quality > quantity
How do you proceed? Begin by creating or updating your most important social media pages: Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn are all great places to start. Avvo is perhaps the greatest attorney referral resource you can have. By doing this, you will ensure your clients that you are online, up-to-date, and available for a discussion.
Simplicity/minimalism may be the best approach for your law firm to gain an advantage on social media. By choosing to take a minimalist approach, not chasing followers, and stop worrying about it, you can focus on building more quality relationships. Maybe we would all have more fun if we stopped obsessing about always having “more.” You need to exist online, but the experience should be enjoyable for everyone involved, including you.