How are you preparing to take your
law firm into the "Social Business" era? Perhaps this is the first time
you've heard the term used? Here's a
Social Businesses combine fully
integrated sets of tools, channels, and processes with people that embrace and
cultivate a spirit of collaboration and community throughout the
organization-both internally and externally. It's not B2C or B2B, it's P2P -
that's People-to-People or Peer to Peer.
Wouldn't it be great if you could
fluently and seamlessly communicate and collaborate with people both inside and
outside the law firm on your most important matters? Wouldn't it be great to
deliver such value to clients and in turn build even stronger internal
relationships between every department, from HR to marketing, to time and
billing and information technology? Then become a social business!
While you may already be accessing
some of the more popular social media channels to reach out to the
marketplace-maybe you're using Facebook for employee and attorney recruiting,
or you're proactively managing your LinkedIn Company Page, have a "push" presence
on Twitter and posted some educational videos on You Tube-there's more involved
in becoming a "social business." You're not a Social Business until all the
moving parts integrate people, communications and work product to deliver a
meaningful outcome. This is the one thing that truly distinguishes a social
business model from a traditional business model-social integration for
Now, before you say "our law firm
will never be a social business," or start worrying that you're already behind
the curve, take a deep breath, relax, open your mind, and learn how you can
become a social business.
Take the Lead.
As is usually the case, law firms
aren't going to be first. Corporations have already taken the lead in becoming
social businesses-many have been in the social media space long before law
firms even knew social media existed. They are integrating their social
channels and moving human capital into place, getting closer to the mark.
Granted, it's a work in progress, or so it seems, as I've heard no report of
anyone having perfected a formula yet, but they are getting close. And, I
predict that it will be sooner rather than later that savvy clients will look
for their service providers to join the revolution and become social
businesses. Here are some case studies of social
businesses from the IBM website.
of a Social Business
What are the
attributes of a social business? An early adopter, IBM, weighs in about
this topic on their website:
- A Social Business is engaged-deeply connecting people, including customers,
employees, and partners, to be involved in productive, efficient ways.
- A Social Business is transparent-removing boundaries to information, experts and
assets, helping people align every action to drive business results.
- A Social Business is nimble-speeding up business with information and insight to
anticipate and address evolving opportunities.
I see glimpses of start-up law firms
becoming social businesses. But wow! Can an established law firm become a
social business? Maybe a better question is: What happens if they don't? What
happens when their best clients become social businesses and they are focused
to Social Business
Brito, Vice President of Social Media at Edelman Digital, believes that
"...organizations cannot have effective, external conversations with consumers,
unless they can have effective internal conversations first." He prescribes
"the three pillars of social business as the process and foundation with which
businesses will transition into social businesses: People, Governance and
Organizations begin humanizing
Organizational models are formed to
include social media.
Organizational silos are torn down
between internal teams.
Governance models and social media
policies are created.
Social becomes an essential
attribute of organizational cultural."
More ideas from Michael's forthcoming
book, The Evolution of Social Business, can be found here. I especially like his diagram on slide #2.
Business Tool Box
Everything a social business does is
focused on helping team members; business partners, colleagues and customers,
solve business problems and be most effective. To do this, social businesses
need tools that allow people to easily find and collaborate with colleagues,
customers and partners, essentially increasing efficiency and efficacy. Those
tools need to store, manage and deliver in real time all resources, people,
information and channels so that work product can be easily accessed and shared
from anywhere. [Hello cloud!]
To save you time, I did a little
digging around to identify a few items a social [law firm] business might
consider in setting up their social business toolbox. Here are my top
- Social CRM
- White label, private social network (collaboration
software or cloud computing)
- Listening tool(s)
- Web channels for distribution and brand exposure
Traditional CRMs (Customer
Relationship Management software) typically manage client details such as
contact and marketing information. For example, they track what
newsletters and invitations go to whom, who knows who, and so forth. Much of
what a social business does has a marketing play too-building the right human
resources, gaining exposure for offerings, anticipating client needs, attending
to important client details. But, a traditional CRM is not enough for a social business-they
need social CRM. Social CRM moves beyond the straightforward, strategic tactics
used to organize, automate and synchronize. A social CRM provides
innovative ways to interact with their customers and prospects by taking into
account the new ways people communicate and interact via cloud, social media
and social networking sites. Google+ is one new tool that is aiming
for this market in a big way. Salesforce.com bought the
social media monitoring service Radian6 last spring and is leaping ahead in
social CRM strategy. Of course there are others. Read more here.
A white label network is essentially
an enterprise collaboration solution enabling personal and organizational
effectiveness. One component of enterprise collaboration invokes social
networking technology. This technology gives fast access to everyone in an
individual's professional network, including colleagues, clients and partners,
enabling them to access and interact with the people, information and project
materials they need to get their work done. These private networks facilitate
communications among teams helping them work together and build stronger
relationships across organizations. I've long been a proponent of private
social networking technology for the law firm environment and do not believe
enough firms are taking advantage of it.
No matter the size of your budget or
size of the network you wish to create, there is something for everyone. If
you're looking for a software solution you might consider Microsoft Sharepoint
or IBM Sametime. For a more economical, web-based solution, one of my
favorites right now is BloomFire. Follow this link to a description of nine
other white label social networking solutions tested by
TechCrunch. Or, for small firm or individual needs, check out Google's Cloud Apps. It may be just the right fit when
it comes to cloud
collaboration. You might even opt to create a small, private discussion
group on Facebook, which would meet the needs of certain lawyers who already
have a presence and network on the site.
There is no substitution for a face-to-face client
interview and I'm not even suggesting that social comes close to that kind
of listening, however, social listening can provide insight into customer
needs, competitive intelligence, and identification of prospective clients who
have problems you can solve. Social listening will help you find and engage
with customers. It will help you anticipate and meet their needs in ways that
should differentiate you from the competition. At the very least, a simple
social listening tool like Google Alerts can be used to track primary client
names, companies, and issues. If you have a lot of listening to do and are
willing to pay for this information, you could deploy a solution like Manzama. Manzama was created specifically for the
listening needs of law firms. There are of course many others. Here is a
wiki of 201 social media monitoring
A social business needs a social
public face. Luckily, we are in an era where content marketing is valued. There
is no end to the types content law firms can create. But writing and
distributing educational content to gain exposure is just one part of the
equation. Social businesses go beyond pushing out press releases, white papers,
and articles-they engage in the public dialogue. Dialogue in the social
marketplace can build presence and alignment with valuable constituencies,
including clients, prospects, referral sources, the media, politicians, and
others-worldwide. Engagement in the social marketplace typically leads to
greater business development opportunities and stronger relationships.
Therefore, a social business will have a thoughtful and professional presence
on websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It will post useful content
on blogs, SlideShare, and You Tube. And, I repeat, it will engage in the
marketplace dialogue. This of course is the most time consuming and perhaps
difficult piece of the social business model to integrate, but also the most
necessary for proper exposure and positioning.
There is no magic to setting up a
social business system. There is, however, some magic involved in successfully
removing organizational silos between internal teams and creating permission
based governance models and policies that everyone can agree upon and live
with. Ultimately, shifting the organizational culture to a distinctly social
culture requires not only a bit of magic, but also leadership, consistency and
an unwavering desire to use technology to create a stronger law firm.
Your turn; what do you
think? Are we ready? How soon do you think we'll see the first truly "social
law firm"? Who will be first? Is
anyone even talking about social business in your firm? Is it too soon? Are any
of your clients asking for a more social work model? If so, what are you going
to do to make it happen?
Read more on Virtual Marketing
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