The Great Debate: Social Media for Law Firms
Having a strong, interactive presence on social media sites is important for businesses in every industry, and law firms are no exception. But it can be a delicate balancing act deciding what can be shared, where and by whom. Below is a series of questions that law firms around the world are wrestling with in creating their social media policies.
WHO should be the focus of social media – the firm or the individual lawyers? One of the first questions that arises is whether a law firm should focus on overall branding and establishing a distinct presence for the firm itself, or whether individual attorneys should be spotlighted. The simple answer is both. Rather than choosing the firm or a select group of attorneys, focus on creating a unified message. The firm and its attorneys should utilize social media in a way that benefits attorneys’ specific practice areas as well as the firm’s brand.
WHO should manage the firm’s social media presence – marketing professionals or the attorneys themselves? Another important consideration is whether lawyers should be in charge of their own social media profiles, or whether they should outsource management to the marketing team. The most important aspect of this decision is to ensure that all social media engagement takes place in a distinctly human voice, as well as making sure attorneys can respond in a timely manner to their audience.
WHAT social media tools should the firm employ? There is a growing number of social media platforms at a firm’s disposal: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blogs and more. How many a law firm should engage, and for what reasons, can get complicated. The wisest course of action is to decide on a specific purpose for each social media tool. For instance, Facebook can be used to share firm news and accomplishments, and a regularly updated blog can be used to post legal insight about trending issues.
WHAT should be posted to social media, and how can the firm lessen the risk of public embarrassment from inappropriate posts? It is essential to have a firm-wide social media policy, in addition to regular training sessions, to make sure that everyone in the firm who will be engaging in social media understands the rules. It only takes one inappropriate post to affects a firm’s public image negatively. Privacy and security issues should be addressed as well, in addition to strategies for damage control in an emergency. As always, preparation and clear communication is the best defense.
The true value of social media has been hotly debated, but there is no denying that something posted carelessly to the Internet could haunt your firm for a very long time. In fact, a strong social presence is not a substitute for coverage from traditional and print media; it is a way to increase visibility and gain notice from media outlets that may be otherwise inaccessible. Most importantly, it can help your firm generate interactions with clients and potential clients, establishing you as a trusted and valuable name within the legal community.