Social Media Guide For Lawyers

A recent survey on attorneys using social media, which was conducted by Attorneyatwork.com, found that among its respondents, 90 percent use social media, and 70 percent include social media in their marketing plans. The American Bar Association (ABA) released the ABA 2016 Legal Technology Survey Report (TechReport 2016), which showed that among lawyers who use social media for professional purposes, 51 percent indicated that they’ve never retained a new client or a referral as a direct result of their social media presence; 25 percent reported that they have; but a shocking 24 percent said they don’t know whether they’ve ever retained a new client or a referral because of their social media presence.

  • Make Social Media Work For You. Whether your efforts are fruitful or not, social media marketing is a time-consuming endeavor. If you’re a solo practitioner or a small firm, your time is your most valuable commodity, and you can’t afford to waste it on ineffective activities. Choose the right social media for your specific area of practice and goals. Each social medium you want to use in your marketing efforts has a time cost attached. Social media which are geared toward consumption by the general public, like Facebook, offer a great opportunity to build brand recognition and a reputation as a valuable source of information. They also require a greater time commitment from you, because in order to maintain an engaged audience among the general public, you need to respond to their comments and questions much sooner than would be expected on a social medium like LinkedIn, where the users are primarily businesses and professionals. Whatever social media you choose, start with a set of goals, a plan to achieve them, and a rigid but realistic “time budget” to keep you from accidentally changing careers from lawyer to social media marketer.
  • Go Easy On Curated Content. Writing fresh content to post on social media is also time-consuming. Some lawyers enjoy the writing and look forward to that part of the day. Others dread it and try to get out of writing by posting curated content. Think of curated content like a guest blogger; it can bring additional ideas and points of view to your audience, and it can introduce the followers of that content to your website and content, but in the final accounting, it’s showing off someone else’s knowledge and content instead of yours. If you don’t have the time, skill, or patience to write the content you need, consider hiring a professional to write all or part of it for you. 
  • Research Potential Ethical Issues Carefully. Don’t skimp on researching the legal and ethical issues that may pertain to lawyers using social media. You’ll probably spot many of them yourself, such as increased risk for contact from a represented party or the ease with which one might accidentally break confidentiality or make prohibited solicitations by simply using the “add contacts” feature on some social media. Some other serious issues may be less obvious, like the fact that many jurisdictions consider social media profiles for lawyers to be the same as legal advertising and bound by the same restrictions.

Use Social Media To Your Best Advantage

By setting clear goals, carefully sticking to a time budget, and monitoring the results of your efforts, you can turn social media into a lucrative marketing opportunity. Protect your reputation and your business with a thorough understanding of the legal and ethical issues involved and by creating authoritative and reliable content for your social media audience.