While lawyers can and should use social media to good effect, they must also take extra care when hitting the socials.
Facebook, Insta, Twitter, Snap, Reddit, LinkedIn, Pinterest… the list of social media platforms that are just a tap away on our phones is seemingly endless, and few go a day without using one…or many of them.
And, as we’ve all seen, these platforms can be a force for good…and not-so-good. But when it comes to lawyers and other legal professionals using social media, either personally or professionally, there are some extra considerations that must be taken into account.
Social media for lawyers
Like any profession, lawyers can and should leverage the power of social media. When used ethically and professionally, the exposure and reach socials can offer will exceed that of more standard lawyer digital marketing strategy tools such as a website or emails, although, of course, both of these definitely have their place in a marketing strategy.
Having a presence on social media platforms either as a firm or individual practitioner can provide a range of digital pathways for people to find you because, when used well, socials act as strong calls to action, driving prospective clients to your website and potentially a first IRL point of contact.
More broadly, using socials can also improve engagement, visibility and help build a community around a firm or personal brand, all critical in our hyper-networked world.
Which social media platforms might work best for lawyers?
Given the huge array of social media platforms, it’s neither useful nor feasible to have a presence on all of them, so it’s best to pick a couple to focus on.
Studies out of the US show LinkedIn is the most used platform by lawyers, which stands to reason given its professional and business focus. The key to getting the most out of LinkedIn is by remaining highly professional (leave the lighter stuff for other platforms) and posting relevant, timely content that has a value to offer. It’s also crucial to be patient and, just as when networking IRL, to allow the slow building of real – albeit virtual on LinkedIn – relationships.
Facebook and its massive reach means it should also be considered in a lawyer digital marketing strategy but there is a caveat–Facebook’s algorithms affect visibility and engagement, and, of course, there are issues around dissemination of unverifiable or incorrect information.
Outside of these two social media behemoths, platforms like Twitter can be useful, even if it’s more as a great tool to search for current information and to connect with influential types and get a sense of their views.
Given how many go to the platform looking for information, YouTubealso should not be discounted in a lawyer digital marketing strategy. Having a YouTube channel with regular content focussed on recent legal cases, outcomes, firm news etc can be a great way to showcase the more human face of a firm or individual lawyer and the current work practice.
Other platforms such as Snap, Insta, Pinterest, TikTok etc can be considered but the focus of these is often on lighter, more fun and personal content. Here is an example of a law firm utilising Insta to discuss relevant information.
Having a social media policy
It’s critical to note that individual lawyers who use ANY of the social media platforms for personal use should take care, so it goes without saying that a firm should have a rock-solid social media policy.
The most basic rule to follow when it comes to social media for lawyers is quite simple and goes for just about anyone using socials.
Think before you post!
The immediacy of social media, digital culture and smart devices means it has become all too easy to fire off a post, image or video, and while these can be deleted or withdrawn from most platforms, once they are out there, they will still probably be seen – and screen captured – by some other netizen and end up being still available even if withdrawn by the original poster.
So, in a democracy where we pride ourselves as having freedom of expression, posting personal or professional views comes with responsibility. And given the standing role that lawyers and others in the legal profession have in our community, they will always be held to a higher account for public expressions made, particularly on socials where the reach can be so great.
This doesn’t mean staying away from social media because, as outlined above, when used well it can be rewarding for those who connect with the information or message put out.
But always check, recheck and check again, then take an extra moment before posting: it could save a whole lot of headaches and even professional reputations.
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