Hey lawyers, here’s something I bet you’ve never heard before: you’re a lot like doctors. Traditionally, you both get a lot of your referrals via personal recommendations between friends, family members, and other close community ties. However, as more and more consumers become invested in the communities they build online, it’s increasingly important to make sure you have a trustworthy and accessible Internet brand for yourself and your practice. You now have to worry about your Google search results and Facebook page — not just about being Aunt Suzie’s mailman’s Little League coach’s favorite lawyer for a quick-and-easy divorce.
While there are numerous ways to keep in touch with clients, it is always best to take advantage of the free tools at your disposal and find efficient ways to offer information about your practice and personal legal philosophy. As more and more people turn to social media apps instead of actual websites for consumer research (more people log into Facebook everyday than Google!), sites like Twitter and Facebook are an effective, personable way to offer existing and prospective clients a rundown of your business in the following ways:
• Promote your firm and its lawyers with anecdotes about client successes and firm accomplishments.
• Establish your knowledge or skills by writing or sharing blog posts, presentations, and tips relevant to your practice area or locale.
• Build a sense of community: prospective clients want to work with lawyers they feel like they know, like, and trust.
• Showcase your values, since social media becomes an extension of you and your firm’s brand.
Using social media can be a very beneficial relationship-building and business development tool, but with great Tweeting power comes great responsibility. Whether you’re a solo practitioner or part of a firm, you now need to be aware of how your actions and statements affect your reputation in the court room, board room, and online. Like any other form of communication and content publication, social media outlets come with their own set of rules that can vary from platform to platform.
New standards of online etiquette must be taken into account before utilizing these new channels of communication. We recommend developing a social media policy for yourself and your employees before diving headfirst into the social media universe to prevent unwanted disclosure of sensitive client and/or firm information, accidental attorney-client relationships, defamation, alienation of prospective clients, or any other potential damage to your professional image.
Before brainstorming your social media strategies, review the following “Social Media Etiquette Guide For Business” for a concise platform-by-platform walk through of the some of the dos and don’ts of professional social media use from journalist Jennifer Landry. Remember: you’re more likely to have a pleasant experience online if you stay informed on what customers have come to expect from their different online social experiences.