Rainmaking Recommendation #169: Social Media Marketing v. Social Media Networking

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 Alesanko R.

One of the things that I haven’t discussed in a deeper manner is how to use various social media networking sites for Rainmaking Purposes. 

I have touched on the fact that if you use social media you need to take the relationship from online to off in order to allow you to create the relationships that will lead to more referrals, prospective clients and deeper relationships with other. 

Personally, I have gotten a number of clients from being on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but I have never provided you the information about how to use these sites to do so.  For that, I apologize and tell you that I will give you more information about these sites in the future.   But first, I think it is important to discuss the distinction between social media marketing v. social media networking. 

Social Media Marketing v. Social Media Networking:

There is a huge difference between Social Media Marketing and Social Media Networking.  Although these phrases have become interchangeable, if you want to be more effective in using these tools to grow your book of business, you must understand the distinction.

Take out the words “Social” and “Media” and change the above to Marketing v. Networking and it becomes a bit easier to see the variations with the two concepts.


Marketing is traditionally a method used to push your message out to the world.  Marketing allows you to become known.   Prior to the advent of the internet and, subsequently, social media websites, you would have used advertising (print, radio, and television); you would have sent direct mail through (gasp) the post office using stamps.  And there are hundreds of other marketing tactics you could use to get your name or the name of your firm into the world

Marketing is the method you use to teach potential clients why they should choose your legal services over those of the 1,338,678 million other attorneys.  Good marketing distinguishes you from the other attorneys, great marketing positions you as the client’s only choice.

Back in the old days (when I started practicing law), it was much more difficult to get your name known.  And, if you did, it was usually only on a local or state level.   Now, with social media, you can become nationally known (or even world famous) for your knowledge and expertise.  Done correctly and, more importantly for attorneys, ethically, you can get new clients and referral sources from social media.


Networking is the art and, yes, the science of meeting people and creating relationships that will lead to new business, referrals, friendship, etc.  You can network with people to increase your knowledge as well. 

Again, in the old days, networking was more localized. You only went to networking events in your geographic area.  Sometimes you went to national or international conferences and were able to meet people from other states or countries.   But it was almost always in person, and sometimes over the phone. 

Social media has made it possible to network with people all over the globe.  You can create relationships with people with whom you have never met in person because we have other methods to take it from social media like Facetime, Skype and other visual programs that allow you to converse in real time.  And, as I said before, done correctly and, more importantly for attorneys, ethically, you can get new clients and referral sources from social media.

When I first started on Twitter, exactly 11 years ago today on March 6, 2008, I loved it.  I was taught to treat Twitter, and other social media, as if you were at a giant cocktail party: introduce yourself, join in conversations, create relationships and get to know people.  It was true Social Media Networking.  (I miss those days.) 

Social Media Marketing AND Social Media Networking

Nowadays, many social media sites have become used for Social Media Marketing or just pushing your information out on the public.  Attorneys are being taught that this is the way to use the various sites to get new clients.  But, because lawyers are just promoting their services or displaying accolades they have received (because this is what they – erroneously –  were instructed to do), that is – they are only “advertising”, they aren’t getting the attention or clients they would like, thus causing many to say that social media doesn’t work for getting new clients. 

If you are using social media just for marketing and promotion purposes, the likelihood of getting new clients is slim.  There is too much competition for attention and people will tune you out.  However, if you find a way to balance the marketing with networking on a social media site, you can find ways to make yourself well know.   

Social media marketing and social media networking are both important.  Use both wisely (and ethically) and potential referral sources and clients will follow. 

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