Thanksgiving has come and gone, and not a peep from us? Well, we’ve been hard at work in the back ground – sort of like Santa’s little legal elves – building our post on social media and law practice management. Why, social media? Well, it’s because we are still seeing lawyers struggle with what to do about it. In fact, you’ve probably been wondering if you’ll ever stop hearing about social media. Well, it’s still a pretty hot topic, and we don’t think it will be going away any time soon, and it really can be a tricky thing for practitioners.
So, what must you know about it for your law office? Well for starters, you should not bury your head in the sand about the topic; and at best, you need to ascertain whether or not learning as much as you can will be of benefit to you and your clients. Here’s a hint, and our first tip – you’ll need to know as much as you can about the general topic of social media.
So, where do you start to learn about social media channels? Well, apart from any nearby teenager, you can start by reviewing information about the more popular services – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+; and even arguably making a comeback, MySpace. These channels allow users to create profiles and connect, link, and share or post information online. This “newer” medium of sharing comes with its own very keen set of benefits and risks. To be “up” on this, you need to know what these benefits and risks are. We’ll briefly discuss the benefits here , and get to more of the risks in a follow-up ethics-focused post later.
So for starters, the benefit of being able to reach large audiences with little to no cost for marketing can be achieved via social media. It can begin with a business page that showcases your practice or professional career, use a channel’s built-in ability to “interact” with potential clients, and allow you to create portals to manage intake and do work on client matters. This benefit of constant contact and convenient access for marketing purposes makes social media seem like a no-brainer. Who doesn’t want to create business at little or at a low cost?
Whoa! Wait a minute before you plaster your face and name on every social media channel you can think of. What about how you present the firm and your information? Is it accurate? What do the Bar rules say about your having so many “Likes” or “endorsements” or “Comments” that tell in great detail, sometimes even too-telling of ways, how your service to a particular client was. There are still some unanswered questions, but the short of it is that one of the key risks is that you might run afoul of Bar ethics rules if you don’t treat your social media campaigns as you do other marketing and advertising campaigns. You need to be vigilant about keeping your involvement not only truthful as is required, but professional, too. Remember, we’ll talk more about this in a follow-up post.
If you need help when you are setting up your social media campaign, don’t forget the State Bar’s Law Practice Management Program has resources to assist you. In fact, the popular office startup kit, Starting Your Georgia Law Practice, has a new entry by guest author, Deborah Gonzalez, of Law2SM, that deals with the basics of social media as you begin a practice.
Ultimately, you definitely want to have an online presence, but just as with your website, you need to ensure that you’ve made a plan, and have weighed the risks and the benefits of “being out there!” So with that, Go, Share, Link, and Post, but do so responsibly!
Happy Holidays from Natalie and Tina!