Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Word From The Social Media Marketers: Dont Say That!

I had to look at my calendar today to confirm that it was Veterans Day and not April Fools Day. Otherwise, I would have thought LexBlog owner Kevin O'Keefe was completely joking.

His headline:

Lawyers are ill served by those preaching the pitfalls and perils of social media.

(And the social media marketers cheer - "Thanks Kevin, we need the support!")

Thank you Kevin. Thank you for confirming what I've been saying for a long time - the social media marketers can't deal with the naysayers. The marketers all tow the line, they all support each other, and their goal is not only to convince lawyers that social media is "it," but that those that disagree are wrong and hurting their attempts to get dollars from desperate lawyers.

Kevin says the following:

There are forces of lawyers, conferences, publications, and associations who are scaring lawyers from using social media. Perhaps not on purpose, but by emphasizing the risks of a lawyer using social media over the rewards they're having that effect.

He laments the red flashing lights in the form the of risks in using social media.

He considers "scare tactics" to be discussions of:

•Inadvertent Attorney-Client Relationships
•Conflicts of Interest
•Communications and Advertising
•Unauthorized Practice of Law
•Improper Contact and Misconduct
•Duty of Candor

i.e. - Ethics.

While he calls these legitimate questions and concerns, he then says what can only be described as the punch line to the joke:

And no one, especially me, is saying the Internet is an 'ethics free zone' for lawyers.

Excuse me Kevin, but are you fucking kidding me?

Ethics is the enemy of good online marketing. There's unethical behavior all over the internet. We may like to think it's a small minority, but that's just not the case.

Kevin's point about what he's reading on the internet, the "scare tactics," and the warnings, is that for example: If I'm young solo practitioner doing family law, I'm thinking twice about starting a family law blog.

Kevin believes that though lawyers may hear of the sensational, it's the sensational that makes for good news - and that the sensational is the exception not the rule.

No Kevin, it's becoming the norm. As more and more lawyers run to the internet to create a client base, more and more of them are outright lying about their experience and skills.

What I like about Kevin's post is that he is completely honest - he just wants the negative discussion to stop. For social media marketers and sales people, the bottom line is what's important. It's a sales industry, and no one sells when people poo-poo the product, even a little.

He says he's not asking for it to stop though:

As an editor, conference coordinators, author, or speaker, you're highly influential. Please temper your discussion on the risks of social media. Sure talk risks. But the rewards to lawyers using social media are so great. Mention them.

But then he does:

No more 'pitfalls and perils' articles and presentations. Let's talk about what's really going on. Let's recognize the risks while emphasizing the rewards.

Emphasizing the rewards? You mean selling social media to lawyers.

Kevin says if we do that we'll improve the lives of lawyers.

I'm sorry, but I will not stop talking about the pitfalls of social media, regardless of the fact that the marketers have all blocked me, cried to each other in private about "those mean lawyers" on the internet that are spoiling it for everyone, and determined the best way to deal with their own lack of ethics is to hope no one is reading.

Lawyers should be concerned about the pitfalls - isn't that what practicing lawyers do - evaluate the pitfalls of a proposed strategy and determine whether to move forward? I'm sorry, I forgot, most of the marketers haven't practiced law at all, or for a very long time.

So it's just about writing the checks to the marketers. These are sales people trying to make a living off lawyers - think they give a crap about your ethics or your Bar complaint?

I think social media, blogs, Facebook, and all that other crap (sorry for calling it crap, marketers) are great tools if used properly and ethically.

That's not what's happening here, and we all, we all know it.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark


shg said...

So we're clear, I deeply wounded that Kevin gave me no credit, none, for saying that marketers want the internet to be an "ethics free zone." That was mine, which is unceremoniously stole, and since I don't turn a decent phrase too often (though I also gave Turk the six feet under phrase that he used yesterday), I want credit for the few times it happens.

My Law License said...

I thought you said it you only sought validation and credit from me?

I'm shocked, shocked, Kevin didn't credit you. You've never said a negative word about social media marketing. You are the cheerleader on top of the pile, standing with your arms raised and shaking the pom poms.

Anonymous said...

"As more and more lawyers run to the internet to create a client base, more and more of them are outright lying about their experience and skills."

Seeing as you make some pretty blanket, unsupported statements such as the one above, why should we believe anything you're claiming over what the marketers are claiming? Can you support your arguments with specific examples, or are you, like them, making sweeping statements with no real support to back it up?

My Law License said...

Wow, what a shock. A supporter of the lying marketers is too much of a coward to write their name. As to your (accusation) question, go check out Mark Bennett's blog and read about Yodle, then read a few posts here. Then grow up.

Anonymous said...

Brian, Brian. Don't you know the old saying about assuming?

You assume I support the lying marketers. Yet all I asked is for you to support your statement of how 'more and more' lawyers are 'outright lying about their skills' by providing some examples - other than your well documented dislike of Mr. Dayton.

For the record, I do not support the marketers. But if you're going to take them on, I'd like to see you support your argument with something more than a broad-brush statement that I'm supposed to take on faith.

I certainly get solicited by Internet 'gurus' all the time - Vanessa Summers is the latest out here - and I see through that crap pretty easily, thank you very much.

I agree that there are a large number of desperate lawyers who spend what little cash they have on the pipe dreams that these shills sell without regard to reality. But when you rush to judgement and belittle (telling me to 'grow up'? Please - you have a law degree, counsel, can't you do better than a 6th grade retort?) you do a disservice to your arguments and, I posit, turn off those who might have happened across your website more recently after coming across a AMN or Adrian Dayton.

So, I will ask again, nicely - can you support your statements with examples? Besides Adrian Dayton, who else is guilty of overpromotion?

My Law License said...

I apologize Anonymous. I didn't realize who you were at first. Now I know. You're the typical child who posts anonymously, ignores requests to reveal themselves, and claims to be someone of worth who I should engage in a debate with or you may stop reading my blog.

Let me help you.

This is my blog. I write it for me, not you. That you may stop reading will have the same affect on me and my blog as you do on the legal profession - none.

Children whine and cry until they get what they want. They pull on their parents leg to get attention, and ignore requests to stop. That's you. I asked you to reveal yourself, I asked you to read this and Mark Bennett's blog for examples.

So listen up kid, here's how this is going to work:

Here's the example you thought didn't exist, there's many more, probably including you:

And no more of your comments will be published here without your real name and link to your website or blog.

I don't like to engage with cowards parading as lawyers.

Lee King said...

Brian, you are nothing if not entertaining. I can always depend on you to tell it like you see it (a virtue that is severely lacking in this modern world of ours). If I ever get a request for a criminal defense attorney in Miami, you will be No. 1 on my list.

As for the attorneys misrepresenting their services on the internets, they should learn a bit of advice I learned long before I became an attorney:

"Don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal."

Of course, as I tell my clients, if everybody just followed the 10 Commandments, I'd be out of work.

Keep fighting the good fight.