The next generation

Barbara Koenen-Geerdink

It is hard to keep count of the number of discussions I have had about whether social media is the right thing for professional services businesses. The discussions are usually merely driven by thoughts, feelings and sentiment. Not very lawyer like, which surprised me as well. But the emotions around the discussion are worthwhile sharing with you. Views that have been shared with me range from “I just don’t like it” to “social media is something very personal and nothing to do with our business”. No one ever backed their views up by profound research or finings. This is I believe where I come into play and I have always entertained the discussion asking challenging questions. 
I agree with some of the concerns raised around using social media for professional services but I believe that for any other business the same rule applies; you will always have to be mindful of what you publish. Professional services are generally very much focused on Business to Business (B2B) and the discussions I have had about the use of these platforms for that segment has always been around how businesses reach other businesses through these platforms. My instant response is that businesses are built by people, people are in charge of the business, people operate the social media platforms, people read the posts. We are all people speaking to people. The question is however whether you would be interested to engage with any of the B2B information on a platform like Instagram, if you expect the platform to be about bikini bodies, travel and showing luxury goods. 
I personally do follow companies on my Instagram because I do like to get the updates. For me it is not only a good tool to keep up with our competitors (and the majority of them are in Instagram) but also to follow the news and to follow companies that have interesting insights to share. There is a lot that we can learn from others and I believe that platforms like Instagram are a perfect tool to use to get the highlights of the things that grab our attention. Be it legal updates, some news or insights about specific industry sectors, or thought leadership: I like to see it all. 
I am just one person but imagine your clients will be on Instagram too and they could be interested in the platform for the same reasons, you would want to share your updates too. 
The conversations around LinkedIn are generally a lot easier. Everyone seems to understand why LinkedIn is important because it is seen to be a professional platform and it therefore makes sense for B2B to be very active on the platform. The only challenge I have often encountered is around the question whether LinkedIn is personal or if the company could have control over employees’ LinkedIn profiles for as long as they work with the company. I think the answer is no, but I do get why the question is asked so often. If the company demands its employees to post specific messages on LinkedIn, is that allowed or are we crossing the line here?
That is a conversation for next time, but my final thing to note is, and this blog is actually really about this, hence I named this blog as such, that we should be engaging on social media because of the next generation. The next generation is actively involved on social media, they can hardly do without. They look everything up online and get their questions answered via social media. Those kids will be our clients one day. We will therefore have to speak their language and their language is online and I believe that the sooner we adjust to this, the easier it will get in the long run. 
I personally understand why there still is quite a lot of resistance not for one because the professional services sector, especially law firms, have always been quite secretive about their business, but also because we have never really understood the purpose of it and how it can fit into our marketing mix. Well, it definitely can and I do think we should get ready to use it!