Seven Sins of Social Media Lawyers Shouldn’t Commit

Social media is no longer optional for lawyers. If you’re not using it to create awareness and position yourself as an authority, you might as well be using a typewriter and rotary phone. That’s how big the gap has become between social media users and “anti-social” lawyers — and it’s widening by the day.

Still, caution is advised. The use of social media in the legal profession has been expanding so rapidly that even longtime users may not be up-to-date on the ever-evolving dos and don’ts of proper conduct. A few careless tweets or posts can lose you followers and even damage your firm’s reputation. With that in mind, here are seven social media sins to avoid:

1. Posting without a plan. You wouldn’t enter a courtroom without a well-thought-out strategy. Social media, the court of public opinion, also demands a thoughtful, well-reasoned approach. Randomly firing off unrelated links and tweets is like writing a closing argument before crafting your opening remarks.

2. Being self-serving. Social media is designed for social interaction, not marketing or self-promotion. In other words, if it’s a boast, don’t post; if it’s conceit, don’t tweet. Hard-selling your services (e.g., “Been in a car accident? Call me today!”) will only get you unfriended or unfollowed. Authentically engaging with others is what earns trust, nurtures relationships and attracts business.

3. Embellishing the facts. ABA Model Rule 7.1 states that a lawyer can’t make any false or misleading claims about his or her services. Consider that rule a line in the sand and don’t cross it with even the slightest misstatement or exaggeration.

4. Doing all the talking. Would you monopolize the conversation at a cocktail party and tune out what anyone else has to say? Think of social media as one big virtual cocktail party. That means you must retweet what others say on Twitter and share their posts on Facebook and LinkedIn.

5. Going stale. If you want to stay relevant, stay active. Posting useful, worthwhile content three times a week on each site is ideal, but never go more than a week without posting something.

6. Ignoring your inbox. People are often intimidated by attorneys. Being friendly and relatable gives you a competitive edge. When someone responds to your posts with questions or comments, write back quickly. Social media is a two-way street. If you pay no attention to the people you’re tweeting or posting to, they won’t pay any attention to you.

7. Getting inappropriate. Informality and humor go a long ways in the casual confines of social media but understand the limits. Avoid crass humor, honor attorney-client confidentiality and don’t say anything about a colleague or client that you wouldn’t say to that person’s face.

Social media is an increasingly influential tool for law firms but it must be wielded properly. If you would like to learn more about using it for your law firm, contact us.

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