Social media marketing presents an interesting conundrum for lawyers. You know that social platforms are a great way for businesses to build a reputation and grow their audience, but you might be wondering how beneficial they actually are for lawyers. After all, clients want you to serve as their professional, responsible, and legal counsel and representative. Isn’t social media all about laughing at memes and reconnecting with high school classmates? What good can come of that?
Here’s the thing: your presence on social media can be whatever you want it to be. So long as you take control of your social identity, you won’t have to worry about inappropriate memes or bad puns ruining your reputation as a lawyer.
If you’re considering making the leap into social media marketing, let me start by suggesting you look into Facebook. Facebook offers a number of opportunities for lawyers looking to build trust in their business and grow their general online presence (especially in search).
A Lawyer’s Guide to Using Facebook
Like with anything else you do online, it’s important to be cautious. As a lawyer, there are extra considerations you need to be aware of as they relate to ethics, legal, and other professional matters. Don’t let this deter you from joining Facebook though. The following guidelines will show you how to tread carefully while still making good use of this worthwhile platform.
Before You Begin
- Review your state bar’s guidelines for social media to ensure that you remain in compliance.
- Review the American Bar Association’s “tips for avoiding ethical lapses when using social media”.
- Create a company-wide social media policy that outlines expectations and restrictions.
- Create a personal page for yourself and, if you’re the responsible party, create a separate business page for your firm. Those two identities should be kept separate.
- Create a complete profile for your page(s), including your firm’s contact information and location.
- Use a professional headshot and branded cover photo.
- Invite business contacts and friends to connect on Facebook; never any clients, third parties being counseled elsewhere, or unrepresented parties.
- Add a link to your Facebook page in your email signature and on your website.
- Create a call-to-action button for your business page. Something like ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Request a Consultation’ would work well.
- Like and follow other business’s pages. Just be sure they won’t reflect negatively on your business.
- Post at least once or twice a week.
- When available, share new blog content from your website.
- Your main focus should be on sharing interesting content from around the web that will be of interest to your audience. Avoid irrelevant and controversial topics.
- Prioritize posts that include images.
- If you have photos from company events (like philanthropic outings), share those to give people a better sense for the human side of your business.
- Monitor for comments and respond in kind. People will appreciate that you’re paying attention and thoughtfully contributing to the discussion.
- Advertise upcoming events hosted by your law firm (if friends or business partners are able to attend).
- Use your “real” voice on social media. There’s no need to be super buttoned-up or to speak in legalese if it makes relating to you or your business difficult.
What You Should Avoid
- Never post in haste. Take a moment to give some thought to what you want to post or comment on. People will see your Facebook page as a reflection of you, so your posts should reflect that as should your commentary.
- Never shut anyone down. If you don’t like what someone said, you should either disregard the comment or take the conversation offline. Facebook is about connecting, not arguing.
- Never post anything about your work, your clients, or any confidential or privileged information you’ve received.
- Never solicit business on Facebook. Social media marketing is about making genuine connections and establishing thought leadership, not on selling new customers on how incredible your services are.
- Never post anything you don’t know to be 100% true or that comes from an unreliable source. While you may not be discussing professional matters on social media, your audience will still judge you if what you do or say on there is deemed inappropriate.
Establishing a presence for yourself on Facebook right now could be highly beneficial to your business in the long run. Just remember to conduct yourself as professionally as you would outside the walls of social media, and you’ll be off to a good start.