The Social Intelligence of Social Media

There is no denying it these days: social media is popular. The topic is hot, it encourages communication, and provides exposure to anyone and everyone who can tweet and update a Facebook status. There is also no denying that the “social media trend” is not one to be taken lightly: a recent IBM study concluded that the next five years would see 57% of all CEOs using social media [infographic], and that –

“As CEOs ratchet up the level of openness within their organizations, they are developing collaborative environments where employees are encouraged to speak up, exercise personal initiative, connect with fellow collaborators, and innovate.”

Mark Fidelman’s summary of the IBM report in his Forbes column addresses how CEOs are now realizing that using social technologies to engage with customers, suppliers and employees will enable the organization to be more adaptive and agile.” Furthermore, the demand for personal communication is growing within every firm as partners and employees seek to build trust and align around organizational strategy – “if CEOs continue to hide in their Ivory Towers under the guise of some old command and control mentality, the next chapter in their career might be written somewhere else.”

Law firms know they have to evolve and adapt to this new atmosphere in order to be competitive – and taking the first step and creating free social media accounts is not difficult. What distinguishes an intelligent and profitable social media strategy, however, is one that understands what its audience wants to hear and leverages that interest to achieve a higher likelihood of success. At this year’s Ark Group Business Intelligence conference, speakers Hans Haglund of Patton Boggs LLP, Kathryn Trotter of Latham Watkins, and Peter Ozolin of Manzama discussed the details of leveraging trend analysis platforms to create analytics. Measuring frequency of mentions in Twitter, for example, in conjunction with other parameters given to key words and content sources, creates analytics around how often a firm or client is discussed in conjunction with a certain legal issue, practice or regulatory act. Given this sort of intelligence, one can then normalize discussion over a certain timeframe and ascertain momentum across any set of content sources (blogs, news sites, Twitter, etc) – increasing the probability that the team (and firm) are engaging clients and prospects in a manner that matters most to them.

Social media has evolved from a simple extracurricular tool to become a strategic tool in facilitating communication. What the legal world should take care to do is keep in mind the important of social intelligence. The value of social media lies not only in its ease of use and transparency, but also in its ability to be used as an efficient tool of targeted, trustworthy, and informative communication.

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