I’ve been using social media tools for a very long time now in both my personal and professional lives. While I was an undergraduate, sites like Friendster and later Myspace, were obligatory ways to connect with your peers. When Facebook popped up it was only natural that my friends and I would be amongst some of the earliest adopters (relatively speaking anyways). But even that familiarity doesn’t necessarily equate to proficiency in using these same tools to promote your practice, network with your colleagues, and market your skills as an attorney, any more than being able to read would make you a skilled researcher. For example, I’ve developed my social media skills by learning from others, practicing those skills, and thinking critically about the way others engage with each unique social media outlet.
If you’re a newly independent attorney in solo practice, regardless of your past experience with social media, it’s important to consider the best ways to use social media to promote yourself and your practice. As the readers of this site are aware, there are many options available for attorneys who wish to engage in social media with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube being the most popular tools at the moment. When creating a social media plan for your firm, consider the following tips.
Know Your Social Media Tools
Before you begin actively promoting yourself or your practice on any social media site, be sure you understand how the site is used and who uses it. Each social media outlet is unique and comes with its own etiquette and culture. If you’re thoughtless in the ways you use a social media site you can actual harm your reputation amongst the site’s users. As a result, I suggest beginning by focusing your efforts on those sites you are most familiar with. Simultaneously, you’ll want to start testing the waters in the other sites out there. Create an account on the sites you don’t use and start using the site as passively as possible. Learn about the way the service is used by others before actively engaging with the site.
For example, I can recall when I first created an account on Twitter. I had no followers and only followed a dozen or so people. As a result, my Twitter stream was pretty sparse and I didn’t really understand the value of the site. Nonetheless, I watched how the people I followed used the site and engaged with others. As a I began to understand Twitter’s culture, I began interacting more and more with other users. I slowly worked on following new people and unfollowing old people, all in an effort to determine the best way to get value from the site. The same practices can be applied to engaging with others on LinkedIn Groups, Facebook, Pinterest or any other site.
Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations, testimonials, or endorsements from clients, colleagues and others. Again, this works in different ways on each social media outlet, but can be generally applied to each nonetheless. For example, LinkedIn allows you to specifically request recommendations from colleagues and clients. On Facebook people can “Like” your page. On Twitter, people can retweet your messages and Tweet about your services in their stream. These recommendations can help others decide to work with you and are extremely important.
It’s incredibly important that you monitor these recommendations to make sure that they are not misleading or dishonest. At least one bar association has indicated that an attorney has an obligation to remove misleading testimonials from their social media pages.
Cross Pollinate Your Social Media
Once you are using multiple social media tools, use them to promote one another. For example, don’t hesitate to occasionally ask your Twitter followers to follow you on Facebook. Include links to your Twitter and LinkedIn account on your Facebook page. Include links to your Twitter and Facebook pages on LinkedIn. Include links to each of these services on your website. You can even include some, or all, of these links on your business card.
Keep Your Profiles Complete
Make sure your profile/bio is complete on each social media outlet you use. First and foremost make sure that you use a photo of yourself on each of your social media sites. I highly recommend using a personal picture of yourself too. The only thing worse than seeing a scale or gravel profile pic on Twitter is seeking the default white egg on a colored background. Including short bios on each site will allow friends, colleagues and clients know they’ve found the right person. It’s also a sign that you’ve done more than simply sign up for the account and then forgot about it.