I’m amused when someone thinks they’re too old to learn to use a computer, social media, or whatever. One is never too old to learn if willing. The reality is that they don’t care to learn. Ok, I get it. We all have varying interests. But there are some skills that should be required. And in fact a lawyer is required to keep abreast of the proper usage of technology in the practice of law, both in service of clients, as well as in the efficient management of their practice.
My 89 y.o. mother was forced to stop working a few years ago when her health took a dip. She is doing well now, but her retirement remained permanent. However, her mind is sharp as a tack, and she continues to love to learn. Her computer skills are decent, and she cruises the internet daily in search of knowledge, and the occasional game of bridge. She wanted to know about social media, or, as she worded it, “whatever’s taking up so much of your time on that darn computer and phone!”
This past Saturday was lesson one. We went to her favorite deli for early-bird dinner. As soon as we sat down I pulled my iPad out of my pocketbook. (Yes, my pocketbook is that large and heavy!) I took a lovely smiling picture of her perusing the menu. I showed her the picture so that she could be satisfied she looked young and vibrant. A few pictures later and I was ready to post.
After we ordered dinner, I opened Facebook. I have a personal page, and a business page for Freedman Consulting. I took her to my personal page. There she got to read what some of my friends and our family are up to. She found it fascinating. Then I created a short post which said “Saturday nite early-bird special at Ben & Irv’s fabulous Jewish deli makes my 89 y.o. Mom very happy.” I added the picture of her smiling face to the post. I allowed the locator to capture the location. And I hit POST. Mom was astounded by how easy what I did was, and how fast I did it. At this point our soup arrived.
Before soup was done, we had 2 LIKES and 3 comments. All of which I shared with Mom. Two of the comments were from people who worked for me decades ago at the law firm I managed. Mom worked there in accounts payable. Another was from someone I went to junior high and high school with, who was just happy to hear I was lucky enough to still have my mother in my life. (AGREED!)
The instantaneous nature of the communications astounded her. “Wow, this is way better than email. I don’t have to think about who to say anything to. If they’re my friends and relatives, and we’re connected, I can just say what’s going on, and they’ll respond if they want.” Yes, exactly. She got it.
Then we want onto my business page. I wrote, simply “Words of wisdom from my 89 y.o. mother: at this age buying green bananas is a risk!” It’s one of her favorite old-people jokes, and she says it every chance she gets. She was greatly amused.
Within just seconds of hitting POST we picked up the first LIKE. Again, mom was amazed. Her quote is getting a fair bit of attention, which I share with her. She is delighted with each additional LIKE. So for her sake, I hope it goes viral. (For her, viral would equate to about 12 people!)
This isn’t really very scary stuff, folks. Setting up your social media presence takes some skill, mostly in the writing area. It’s not and shouldn’t be legalese. There are tons of people out there who you can hire to assist. Some are expensive, some are not, and price is not necessarily an indicator of quality or skill. So check references and check their work product.
It takes time for sure, because ultimately it’s all about content. Just having connections means nothing unless you have something to say, which is of value elsewhere. (In this case I’m only speaking in a business context. Personal pages serve an entirely different purpose.) But with the right tools (smartphone and tablet) you can keep the time under control. I have increasingly translated down-time into productive social media time by using my Smartphone and tablet, and downloading the mobile components of each social media app. That means that less and less time is taken away from work production. Yet I am creating a larger presence. And that’s a very good thing from both earning and marketing perspectives.
Bottom line? No matter what your age, these are tools you should understand. And they’re not that difficult. Really. You might consider them a burden, a distraction, a continual noise droning on in the background. And you would not be incorrect. At least while you’re getting used to them. But they are also incredibly important methods of communications, and sources of information which may be relevant to your clients’ matters. Ignore them at your own risk.