Pragmatic Social Media Webcast – Your Questions Answered

Our recent webcast on social media marketing was wildly popular and generated more questions than we could answer during the session. Below are some of the most frequently submitted audience questions. If you missed the original broadcast, you can view a recording here.

Q. When you talk about a Facebook page, would you do a “public figure” page or an actual “business” page?

For the purposes of your firm, I’d stick with a Business page. Even if you’re a solo attorney or you don’t think of yourself as a “business” your prospects probably will. In addition, your Facebook page exists to promote the service your firm provides. Public figures, on the other hand, exist to deliver a performance or personality. Leave those pages to the artists, celebrity chefs and musicians.

There is one caveat for the new user to consider: If you have no background with social media and you’re uncertain where to begin, starting with an individual/personal page can help introduce you to the environment and the social dynamics. This probably won’t be your long-term business platform, but it can help you get comfortable. Also, particularly if you’re a solo practice, it’s important to realize you may not be able to completely divest your personal and professional profiles.

Q. I’m a believer. But what specific tips do you have for what to post on social media?

It’s a bit tough to recommend any one specific message to send or post to write. But like I mentioned in the webcast (and in the white paper), the thing to remember is that you already know how to connect with people. So think about breaking the ice in any other social setting and pivot from there. You can’t ask the internet “What have you been up to?” and expect a response. But you can lead the discussion by sharing your own recent experiences.

It doesn’t have to be big. A lot of people get worked up because they can’t think of something relevant or deserving enough for social media. But, in reality, it can be something as simple as a picture from an office outing, a small recap of a CLE event (even focusing more on who you interacted with over the substance), sharing an article that is relevant to your practice or even just something you care about and want to support — as long as it lines up with your business’s brand as well. You’re not necessarily trying to draw an audience. You’re trying to introduce a small element into the tapestry of social posts to help people understand who you are, what you stand for, and most importantly whether they can trust you enough to hire you or recommend you to someone else.

And if you’re still at a loss, check out these old posts for a few specific tips:

Q. Is there a wrong or right way to promote a criminal attorney without running the risk of negative backlash due to the sensitivity of many cases? Would you agree that many people do not want to publicly Like a criminal lawyer FB page?

That’s a tough nut to crack, but there are a few ideas to address here. First, remember that this is not a game of Likes. You don’t have to get a person who visits your page to Like your posts, you have to get them to like you. Someone looking to criticize defense attorneys isn’t looking to hire you anyway. But on the off chance they leave negative feedback, you can use that as an opportunity to make your case and show your value.

Second, remember that everything you post doesn’t have to be about criminal law. Posts that show the human element, the experiential element, of your firm are much easier to Like. So think beyond your practice area. Attending charity fundraisers for inner city youth or participating in Big Brothers/Big Sisters? Post about it. Content like this adds depth and nuance to the image of being a criminal defense lawyer and people are far less likely to have qualms about Liking that kind of content.

Don’t be afraid of the negative. Knee-jerk reactions to defense attorneys aren’t going to matter much to someone visiting your Facebook page due to a recent arrest. When that person sees you respond to critics by saying how important it is that people have the right to their say in the legal system, it’s going to create a lot more trust in your firm. You’re really playing to the bigger audience here. A group that says little but reads a lot. Give them something to read that positions you as the voice of reason when confronted by naysayers.

Q. If an attorney receives a negative review, how do you suggest an attorney respond?

In short, be succinct, polite and constructive. A measured, professional response shows other prospective clients that you do indeed care about your clients. By responding – not reacting – to a negative comment or review, you’re actually doing something good for your firm’s reputation. (By the way, we have a whole white paper about this very topic.)

Q. What other sites should attorneys be on besides Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn?

Honestly? None. At FindLaw we support thousands of law firms across the country and keep tabs on what’s working and what isn’t. As of right now, social tools like Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, and the rest just aren’t providing enough measurable value for law firms to be worth your time.

Now, there is one thing you missed: Google+. If you never set up an account there, head over to Google My Business (I know, the names are confusing) and set up your firm immediately. An accurate and thorough listing on Google My Business is crucial to your firm’s visibility online.

Q. Any comments on Twitter?

There’s no denying that Twitter is huge. But as we prepared this webcast and the white paper that inspired it, we had a chance to confirm that Twitter just doesn’t compare to Facebook for attorneys. If you’re comfortable on Twitter, there’s no reason not to use it in conjunction with your other social efforts. For example, say you just posted a couple of paragraphs on your take on a recent Supreme Court ruling on Facebook or LinkedIn. Twitter is great for saying, “The recent ruling on X is interesting. You can find some of my thoughts on it here.

Q. Are there any rules needed for social media giveaways/drawings for Likes and Shares?

This is tough to answer because there are so many variables to consider here. Federal and State laws may apply to your promotion, and your state bar may have its own set of rules to consider. Even then, the platform itself (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) may have guidelines that you will have to obey in order to get your promotion off the ground.

Honestly, I see this as high-risk, low-reward. You’re probably not building your business around Likes and Shares. There are situations where you might benefit from a big increase in these, but those scenarios are pretty specific and less common in the legal setting. My advice? Don’t go there unless you can articulate what direct impact those Likes and Shares will have on your business. And if it’s sheer interaction you want, make a fun poll or survey instead.

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