The more I use social media, the more convinced I am that social media is not about distribution of your content nor garnering traffic to your website or blog. Especially when it comes to a lawyer’s or law firm’s best use of social media.

Social media is much different than marketing, gaining mindshare or branding. Social media operates at a higher level than these things which have been around forever.

Lawyers, law firms and legal marketing professional settle short when it comes to social media. They’re looking for traffic, distribution, branding and attention. They’ll even measure success by attention, circulation and followers. Tools will be used to measure traffic and who’s looking at what.

Isn’t that same thing we’ve had for the last 40 years (since Bates). Ads on televison, ads in legal publications, articles in legal and trade publications, radio ads, yellow page ads, sponsorships, brochures and custom publishing of books and magazines. All of these used by large and/or small law. Success with each measured by attention.

Look how social media is different.

Social media is about relationships (social is in it’s name) and building a good name for yourself. Not randomly but strategically with a target audience.

How so? By identifying the people and organizations you want to meet. Follow what they publish. Follow their names and the subjects which are relevant to them. It’s easy to do with a news aggregator.

Now share the things they’d be interested in. Everyone is interested in things they’re proud of. Maybe it’s something they’ve written – a blog post or a press release. Maybe it’s a story about them. Maybe it’s a story written by someone else that would interest them.

Twitter and Facebook make it a snap to share items. You can share stories to each directly from your news aggregator. With Twitter mention the subject and the blogger/reporter penning the story by including their Twitter handles. In Facebook, once you’ve built out a network, include their names and they’ll see you.

What happens? A lot. When I shared a news story on Facebook about LawToolBox, a legal tech company, on Sunday night, their friends, employees (from as far away as India) and colleagues in the legal tech space liked and commented on my post.

By the next night, the owners, who I consider friends and with whom I share business ideas, both liked that I shared word of a recent success of theirs.

Just by following in my news aggregator news updates from LawToolBox’s website, I’m building a tighter personal and business relationship with people and an organization I want to build a relationship and name.

Another example is Dennis Garcia, Assistant General Counsel for Microsoft. Since Dennis and I met on Twitter less than a year ago, and then face to face, Dennis is regularly retweeting and liking items I share on Twitter — especially thhose that relate to Microsoft.

Dennis is a good guy, and there’s no question our relationship is nurtured through social media. I know his name and reputation is growing as far as I am concerned. I suspect it’s the same for Dennis as to me.

Why does it matter? Because I am now sharing a business idea with Dennis. Imagine that, I’m talking with a guy over a beer, who probably reports to Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, about a business idea.

Imagine if my goal in social media was circulation, traffic and branding. I could drop a million of my articles out of a helicopter over Dennis’ or LawToolBox’s offices. What are the odds they would say this guy is brilliant, I need to reach out to him on social media or give him a call.

Heck, that wouldn’t happen if one of their employees handed them one of my articles every week. But isn’t that what law firms do? Looking at circulation and with technology, who the recipients are and where they’re located.

On social media, love is important. We all want a little love. Hey, what’s wrong with that.

Zig Ziglar, the consummate salesman and sales coach, would have done great on social media. Zig said “you can have everything you want so long as you help enough other people get what they want.”

Social media, if you’re looking to realize its true potential, is all about giving — and then waiting for the relationships that ensue.

Not just with the party you may have gifted, but with those who join the ensuing conversation. They’ll join the conversation via retweets and likes on Twitter, likes and comments on Facebook and comments and likes on LinkedIn. You’ll get to know them and them you.

You’ll meet and get to know the people who want to on the net and then face to face. Incredible people and organizations who you’ll get to do business with because they know you, trust you and like you.

The legal profession is all about relationships and a name. Leave distribution, traffic and brand behind. Use social media effectively to achieve so much more.