It seems that businesses of all varieties are hopping on the social networking train these days. Many companies have found social media to be a viable form of marketing in our Internet age. However, law firms should be very careful when treading into the social networking waters such as Facebook and Twitter.
Many law firms are following certain policies to protect their privacy and to abide by certain rules when marketing their services through useful social media sites. These rules begin once you start whatever social media service your firm decides on. Before your firm signs up for a service, make sure that you check your state bar advertising rules. Each state has different requirements for lawyer advertising; make sure you are in the clear before you introduce your company to the brave world of social media.
When you have opened your social media page, be it Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, make sure that you always identify who you are and what you do at your firm. In fact, whenever you post anything talking about the firm, use first-person writing. When posting content on a weblog, or blog for you savvy types, make sure that there is a disclaimer somewhere on the site. Since we’re on the topic of content, let me remind you that as a lawyer you are a professional — present yourself as one. Any time you write about the law, do so in an informative and honest manner. Also be careful to keep your thoughts about others to yourself; the World Wide Web might be vast, but it’s still a small world after all. Words DO come back to haunt anyone.
As all lawyers know, confidential information should be kept private. Posting it on the Internet is still frowned upon. Also be sure to have permission to reference past clients. One major no-no law firms need to remember: never give legal advice online. If a current or potential client needs legal information, ask him or her to visit or call the law firm’s office.
Social media is a great tool for law firms (or corporations) looking to hop on the Information Highway and connect with colleagues and potential clients. While there are many precautions to take, social media is a great way to increase your firm’s presence – just make sure you have strong, consistent policies in place or else chaos may ensue.