While a variety of industries have seamlessly incorporated social media to increase business, the legal professionals are late adopters to social media and have not fully utilized the many benefits of social media. Attorneys who venture into the social media landscape can reach new heights in visibility and networking. For instance, former federal prosecutor David Lat, @DavidLat, founded the popular law firm insider blog “Above the Law”, using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to further grow his blog and brand. Still, other attorneys have been reluctant to venture into the social media landscape. In assessing the value of social media to the legal profession, this blog post lists in importance several social media platforms and offers suggestions on their utility.
1. LinkedIn: The Professional Platform
LinkedIn serves the legal profession as the best source of building networks. A typical Google search for an attorney will find an attorney’s LinkedIn profile (assuming they have one) within the first couple of results. This is a valuable opportunity for attorneys to publish a favorable profile describing who they are and what they do, which can lead to prospective clients. To enhance your LinkedIn profile, attorneys should collaborate with colleagues, obtain referrals, and join LinkedIn groups to cast a greater network. By editing your profile to highlight your work experiences, an attorney can gain great credibility. Simply put, LinkedIn is the professional version of Facebook. IT IS A NECESSITY!
2. Facebook: Popular Yet Personal Social Media
Of the legal firms that maintain a presence in the social network, 92% maintain a presence in LinkedIn while only 58% are involved with Facebook. The key distinction in using Facebook properly is creating a professional business page that is separate from your personal page. Personal pages generally pose the most problems and must be attended to with detail and caution. An attorney should constantly review the privacy settings of their personal page, be selective in accepting the appropriate friends, and create strategic friend lists to conceal certain parts of your profile. As a backup, assume anyone can access your personal page. The most an attorney can get out of Facebook is through participation in relevant groups and using updates to send news and relevant links of value to your network. With Facebook having over one-billon users, there is no denying its relevance, however, attorneys should maintain a professional focus.
3. Twitter: Teetering in Active or Passive Use
Twitter teeters as a business networking site and a personal networking site. Twitter can be used actively and passively. Actively, the 140 characters in a tweet can consist of links to case law, links to other attorneys and links to other social networks. Thus, Twitter can facilitate traffic to other Internet destinations, specifically an attorney’s blog. Passively, even if an attorney chooses not to tweet, Twitter is an valuable to follow relevant publications in an area of law, follow professional organizations and conferences, and follow government agencies and courts. If an attorney chooses to tweet personal information, he or she should be selective and cautious or just use a separate Twitter account. The main disclaimer is think before you tweet.
4. Foursquare: Is there a Future?
Foursquare allow attorneys to “check in” at any location with their phones GPS and is used manly in big tech-savy cities. It can be used as a marketing tool that leaves tips about navigating courtrooms. Additionally, it can be used to see other attorney’s in your vicinity to see potential networking opportunities. Ultimately though, other forms of social media should be prioritized before taking up Foursquare due to it’s limited networking capabilities and usage in the legal community. The use of Foursquare is location specific.