Monday, June 4, 2012

Should you tweet?

Last week we talked about how to manage your social media policies; about now, everyone is feeling pretty confident that they’ve got this social media thing covered.  There’s only one question left – should I be using social media?  What sort of image does it project?  I’m not a kid, I have real work to do.  Besides, I don’t really get the whole social media thing, I’d probably end up with a meme of “Sh!t the Lawyer says” running through the company.  What could I even talk about anyway?  Most of what I do during the day is privileged or confidential, it’s not like I can tweet the board meeting! 

All of these are valid thoughts – I went through the same doubting when deciding to start this blog.  Social media isn’t for everyone.  It can be very bad for your career if you use it carelessly.  On the other hand it can do a lot to raise your profile, and potentially that of your company.  A study by BRANDfog shows that 82% of respondents were more likely or much more likely to trust a company whose CEO and leadership team engage with social media.  In-house lawyers are also increasingly engaging in social media platforms according to the 2012 In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey.  Ignoring social media could leave you looking out of touch with today’s market.

Obviously I use social media - I have this blog, a Twitter account, LinkedIn profile and Facebook page.  I haven’t yet been trapped by Pintrest, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.  You can’t work for a young technology company and not have at least basic social media skills.  The trick is to make sure that your public facing profiles are presenting the image you want your client and their customers to see.   You must be professional (no twit pics from that concert where you had one glass of wine too many), insightful (you can’t just repost links to decisions relevant to your area, you must at least occasionally have an opinion), human (it doesn’t hurt to throw some love for your favorite book, tv show, musician, etc.), and hopefully a little entertaining or at least passable attempts at entertaining. 

To get the full benefit of social media, focus on general topics that are relevant to your industry.  If you’re in retail, you can generally get away with posting commentary on new advertising regulations or decisions.  If you’re in tech, post on the latest innovation to hit the market.  It doesn’t have to all be legal.  But be careful to stay away from controversial items where your employer has not made a public stance.  Although we all use the disclaimer that the blog/tweet/post/whatever is our opinion only and not that of our employer, if you take a stance on a controversial issue that your boss doesn’t agree with, or his boss or the shareholders, you’ll be looking for a new job.  If it’s very controversial, you may become the lightning rod for customers to rally against your company.  So keep it light. 

Once you’ve got the tone down, remember to keep at it.  Social media isn’t a one and done type thing.  It’s something you have to constantly update.  Make a goal of making one post or tweet every week.  Once you’ve got that down, try a couple times a week.  Unless you’re really entertaining I wouldn’t do much more than that on a regular basis.  Of course if you’re pretty witty or involved in some high profile and public activities, feel free to tweet away.  Just do so with caution.  

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