Social media is a common legal marketing strategy. Yet, despite its appeal, it must be carefully navigated by lawyers. As a lawyer engaged in legal marketing (or even if you hire someone to help you in this area), you must walk a fine line between providing useful information that attracts potential clients and ensuring that you follow the governing rules in your jurisdiction. In this post, we’re going to look at some of the most common social media pitfalls and how they can be avoided.
Adding Clients to Your Personal Social Media Accounts
Many lawyers have two Facebook “accounts” and two Twitter accounts. A lawyer may have a personal Facebook account and a law firm fan page (which is why we mentioned two Facebook “accounts;” a page isn’t an account although you can have a page without having a personal Facebook account). For Twitter, some lawyers have a private account where they may or may not reveal their identity along with an account that represents the practice.
It’s certainly a good practice to use your business accounts and connect with your target audience. That’s why those accounts exist. Provided that you follow the rules in your jurisdiction, post, boost, reply, sponsor, and interact to your heart’s delight (target audiences engage better when they get responses of some sort). Share your expertise. Share your practice areas.
For your personal accounts, adding clients or potential clients as friends or allowing them to follow you if you have a private account can be a huge problem. Even if you don’t say or do anything that would violate legal marketing rules or other rules related to legal ethics, it takes away from your sense of privacy. It can also lead to clients assuming that you don’t spend enough time working on their case.
Getting Too Personal
Clients and potential clients do want to get to know you on a personal level. They like knowing the basics. You can share your interests, how many children you have, and your favorite charities. You can talk about music or movies. Yet, getting too personal and talking about politics, religion, and hot button issues can cause your legal marketing efforts to fail.
Like any other business owner, you’re entitled to your opinion. Always keep in mind that your target audience is free to choose not to do business with you. When it comes to your business accounts, avoid getting too personal. Pick and choose what to share. If you plan to write about current events as part of your legal marketing strategy, make sure that you state the facts of the matter and address the associated legal concepts. Try to veer away from emotionally driven opinion.
Sending Friend Requests to Opposing Parties
In some jurisdictions, it’s perfectly fine to send a friend request to an opposing party regardless of whether they’re represented by a lawyer. You may need to tell them why you’re sending them a request. Yet, in other jurisdictions, lawyers aren’t allowed to engage in “trickery” or to add opposing parties to get information.
Before you send a friend request, make sure that you know the rules where you’re admitted. Otherwise, you could set yourself up for an ethics complaint.
Social media is a fantastic tool for legal marketing. Make sure that you know how to use it and how to protect yourself from the potential fall-out. If you’re in California and you’d like to learn more about the bar complaint process, check out State Bar Playbook.