Properly managed, social media profiles present a tremendous opportunity for lawyers to ethically and effectively network and market themselves. Follow these principles to ensure proper usage:
Choose the Right Platform
Linkedin continues to be the most popular social media site used as an extension of one’s business. LinkedIn provides a setting for networking and professional development, through discussion groups. Upload your resume with all of its links, and you can create a very strong online presence that is curated and targeted to potential partnerships.
Everybody loves Facebook. But is it wise to add your professional self to a site full of light-hearted memes and a barrage of baby pictures? As always, proceed with caution and common sense. Be an active witness and use it as a tool to observe the landscape. Facebook’s privacy settings are the key to unlocking the potential of that site for professional gain.
First, you must decide whether it is prudent to maintain a personal profile on Facebook. Stay abreast of the ever-changing settings for privacy and personalization. Review your firm’s policy on advertising and ethics as well as your state bar association’s latest guidelines. Ultimately, you may decide to use Facebook more as a listening tool, and LinkedIn for outreach, until the parameters are better defined and you feel assured you won’t be crossing any lines.
Branding and Connections
Through social media, we can curate our brands and direct our best marketing materials to the right audiences. Social media allows legal professionals to make connections in the community and stay apprised of what’s happening across many disciplines in a way that is more immediate than journals or old school networking opportunities.
The Same Basic Rules Apply
Social media platforms are a great place to market yourself and reach out to colleagues and the community. Social media platforms are not a great place to publish your personal feelings on political matters or other inflammatory subjects. You never want to compromise a confidence that you would never consider doing in person by acting as if no one is listening. The basic rule of social media is act as if your boss, your grandmother, your clergy and your first-grade teacher are all hanging on your every word. Enlighten and never offend. Never offer legal advice and be mindful of the messaging your firm or practice portrays. Stay reserved, conservative, detached, and on brand, as you would in “real life,” and you can absolutely use this brilliant tool in a practical and ethical fashion.