social-media-word-cloudA headline for a blog post yesterday made me pause:

“Is Online Social Networking Worth My Time?”

Gulp. If The Lawyerist takes up the topic, and declares social media a waste of said time, won’t that provide conceptual cover to many lawyers who are seeking—desperately—permission to stop thinking about the topic? Instead, I suppose, those lawyers would like to return to practicing law the way it’s been done for a generation (whatever that means).

But then Lawyerist founder Sam Glover answered the question posed in a reasonable way:

“Sure, in the same way that email is worth your time. Online social networks are, like offline social networks, a way to stay in touch with family, friends, and acquaintances. If you use social networks — online or offline — for that purpose, they will be worth your time in the same way watching the Super Bowl with your college friends or having lunch with your rich aunt are worth your time.”

I’m beginning work on a social media presentation that I’ll deliver in Dallas in February. And as I ponder what to tell bar executives about the topic, it helps to keep in mind that social media is just another tool. And, as Sam says, it’s not a tool that does just one thing all the time. It can be used to sell—occasionally—but it also can inform, amuse and infuriate. Just like any relationship we have.

In print and online, we always must remember that our readers have many parts in their brains. The best social media—the best content provider—will help exercise multiple parts of those brains. And that is where a valued relationship is best developed.

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