If you’re not promoting yourself or your firm’s ‘brand’ in 140 characters or fewer on a daily basis (and you’re not sure what I’m talking about), chances are you have not fully embraced social media as the effective communication and marketing tool it can be for your firm.

This special report by Nathan Smith, managing director of Manchester-based social PR agency Smith & Smith PR, focuses on educating the reader about the importance of social media and provides guidance on making the best use of it across your entire business.

Love/scared to blog? The book explains why blogging is important and offers helpful advice on how to write a good one. Chapters on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook read like step-by-step guides which are handy if you need advice on how to set up an individual or company profile or page.

But even if you’re familiar with them, these chapters can be a useful check to ensure you are using those sites to their full potential (for instance, the author explains why, in Facebook, a status update or an image you upload might rank lower than other items in news feeds). There are also chapters explaining YouTube, Google+, Flickr, video-sharing app Vine, and guidance on email newsletters.

The book concludes with interesting case studies from firms that are successfully using social media channels, followed by the Law Society’s practice note on social media. The latter draws attention to important issues such as ethical obligations (for instance, what you need to be aware of before you decide to post a comment online), the benefits and risks of using social media, and setting up a social media policy.

Solicitors, says Smith in his introduction, cannot afford to dismiss social media as ‘just the latest marketing hoo-ha’. In his search for case studies, he was astonished at how many firms ‘have side-stepped the social media spectacle’. He cites a number of reasons for this: the inherent conservatism of the industry; lack of technical skills and abilities; fear of change; and making legally costly or embarrassing mistakes.

Whatever your personal thoughts on social media, with its global audience of millions, firms need to embrace it as an essential part of their business development. Consisting of only 92 A4-sized pages, this book may seem a tad expensive, but the content is invaluable.

Monidipa Fouzder is a Gazette sub-editor

Author: Nathan Smith

£125, Law Society Publishing