PM Forum - London
Is social media necessary in professional services?
Social media is the elephant in the room for a number of professional services firms ... or at least that's the impression I get as a new joiner to the area. While other industry sectors have embraced the medium, most professional services firms are only now starting to become interested. Having seen positive and tangible benefits social media can deliver to businesses in other sectors, I was interested in attending the Forum's recent
Social Media for Professional Services seminar, which I hoped would help me demonstrate how it can successfully be applied to the legal sector.
Andrew Seel, managing director of social media agency Qube Media, was on hand delivering insight on the below questions:
- Are other firms utilising social media?
- Why is it so important?
- What does social media do for a company?
- What can we learn from other sectors?
According to Andrew, the larger the firm the slower they are to adapt, but while the legal services firms may be slow off the mark, those in legal publications are already Tweeting, blogging and generally engaging with the online social community. This raises a number of questions, for example: are firms missing out on a valuable networking and reputational management tool? How do they monitor who's blogging, tweeting or writing a good/bad review about them? How do they reach decision makers or influencers whose medium of choice is social media?
Like any business development (BD) activity, it's important to justify the resource, and discovering how social media can add to the bottom line was a key reason that I attended. Andrew highlighted the added value of platforms like LinkedIn, where it's possible to develop relationships with key clients, influencers and future employees. He also showed that platforms like Facebook and Twitter, help put a face to an organisation and allow customers to interact with individuals across a firm. They also provide a valuable internal communications tool for connecting to staff.
Within the legal sector, I see rapid change coming down the line. The legal services act comes into play in 2011, law firms continue to change their offer to compete, and younger more tech savvy partners are starting to work their way up the ranks. This may create the window of opportunity social media needs to prove its worth.
Detractors cite the huge time resource that goes into engagement, social media's unpredictability, and other obstacles such as a lack of awareness and understanding at senior level. However, the impression I came away with is that like any BD activity there are pros and cons, but social media is moving forward rapidly and firms need to step up or risk being left far behind.
Berwin Leighton Paisner