Is Social Networking right for me?

trustXSmallI knew it had to happen. Up until this point I wholeheartedly believed that any business could benefit from greater exposure by participating on the social Web, but today I advised a company that the social web is not the right place for them to be investing their time, at least at this time.

As a marketing strategist, I believe it’s my job to counsel holistically.  After carefully listening to my clients talk about what they do for their clients and how they do it, who their clients are and how their clients find them, I arrived at my recommendation: no social, not now.

Why not social networking?

  1. It was not because they weren’t interested; they were very eager to understand the underlying principles and tools.
  2. It was not because they are “un-teachable.”
  3. It was not because they work “in the field” and are not in front of a computer all day.


  1. Because the work they do for their clients is highly sensitive and confidential.
  2. Because their business relationships are built upon an extremely high level of trust. Because they must be very cautious about the footprint they leave on the Internet.
  3. Because they are very successful. Their new business comes from steady personal referrals by clients who have received discreet, confidential service from them.

In my opinion, the kind of trust this company develops among their clients and referrals is not the kind that you can build via status updates, publicly sharing interesting articles, or websites, discussions on trending topics, quizzes, posting family photos, pushing out a blog post, or any of the other “stuff” we do on social networks. In fact, it would be counterproductive to their reputation as confidants if they were to participate even generically. At least until the wild social web settles down a bit and is more predictable. (The larger my Twitter network becomes, the more spam I’m getting! UGH!)

This situation is not all that different for lawyers who counsel highly visible businesses and individuals requiring extreme measures of confidentiality.

I know, first hand, that many marketers are eager to tap into social media and networking as an extension of their firm’s business development tactics; especially now when new clients are a precious discovery. And, I’m a big proponent of bringing lawyers, even reluctant ones, into the social online fold.  But…..

Sometimes it’s just not the right fit and I believe we have to fight the urge to fit everyone into this latest media trend in order to serve our clients well.

How are you working with your lawyers or professionals to help them to decide if social online is right for them?  Are you listening to them? Are you familiar with their clients? Or, do you think its right for everyone?

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