There are so many articles and presentations out there on the topic of social media for lawyers. However, most of the content you come across is about how to create a Facebook Business Page. I am going to assume that you can figure this out on your own or have read a tutorial on it already.
What is really important to understand is how Facebook can help your law firm. If used appropriately Facebook can be extremely valuable to attorneys. Facebook is valuable if it increases brand awareness and leads to the acquisition of clients. As a lawyer, any marketing activity you do that doesn’t fall into one of those 2 categories, you should immediately stop doing.
There are 802 million people that go on Facebook every day. 802 million. Let that sink in. No matter what networking group or bar association you are a part of, you will never be able to reach that many people offline.
Given this statistic, 64% of top 50 law firms have a Facebook page. However, very few are using it optimally. (If you think your firm is, I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can add you as a model example to this post.)
Below are tips on how to maximize Facebook’s value
*Value here means brand awareness or client acquisition. All of your marketing activities should have these outcomes in mind and if they fail to deliver these results you should stop wasting time and money on them.
1) Use high quality images
Facebook is a very visual platform. Whenever you are posting blog posts or articles on your company page, you should always make sure to have an aesthetically pleasing and relevant picture (non stock is obviously preferable but understandably more expensive) to accompany the content.
2) Think about recruiting
Facebook is the perfect platform to promote your brand to prospective summer associates or associates. Posting pictures of team outings and Christmas parties is a great way to target future recruits. 27% of Facebook users are ages 27-35 so engaging this demographic should also be taken into consideration if you predict growing your firm in the near future.
3) Humanize your practice
So many law firms use Facebook just to push out law firm news and their attorneys’ articles. Although it is important to show the expertise of your firm and its attorneys, you can also distinguish yourself and your firm by showing that there are real people behind the firm. In consumer facing practice areas, most people aren’t able to judge you based on your legal skills. What they look for is that they connect with you on a personal level, trust you and believe that you will do everything you can to advocate on your behalf. Translate this in person experience online by posting pictures of you and your team doing something other than sitting at your desks. If you like golf or tennis or enjoy coaching your son’s soccer team, post some pictures of that because it shows that you are approachable, a family man and personable.
4) Add Apps
*Some of these are custom (which means you need a developer to build them in HTML) but most are offered by third parties.
Apps are usually located in the tabs section of the page right below the large header image. All of the apps below serve to engage your followers and visitors.
Send a voicemail
Appointment Setter App
5) Mix of content
You want to make sure you have a good mix of content ranging from firm news to practice area industry trends. As mentioned before, try to alternate between posts that show off your legal expertise, posts that keep people updated on the industry trends and more lighthearted posts that have less to do with the law and more to do with the people that make up your law firm. Sometimes even profiling a new attorney that recently joined the firm can a good way to cut through all the more serious content. What about an interview of the CEO of one of your clients regarding the state of his industry and his projections. This makes for interesting content. You can even go a step further and add a discussion prompt like “What do you think about the future of the XYZ industry?”
Many lawyers are scared of Facebook because not only is the legal industry is inherently a regulated industry, it also has strict rules around attorney advertising and solicitation. The fact that there are rules that govern social media does not mean you should avoid social media. It means that you should consult your states’ rules of professional responsibility and any opinions regarding social media in order to become knowledgeable about what is allowed and what isn’t. After all, isn’t this the very bedrock of being a lawyer, knowing what is allowed and what isn’t?
With regards to content, what you need to evaluate is whether the content is a communication under your states’ Model Rules of Professional Responsibility. In California, a communication is something that concerns your availability for professional employment. If so, you must follow the Rule 1-400 and abide by its stipulations, including disclosing that it is an ad, that nothing on the page guarantees similar outcomes, no false or misleading statements. It is best to preemptively put all necessary disclaimers on your Facebook page, something like “Nothing viewed on my Facebook page serves as legal advice. Contacting me does not form an attorney client relationship. To view the full disclaimer please go to my website. Please refrain from putting any confidential information or false statements on my Facebook page.”
6) Engage with your audience
“Only 2 firms have publicly responded to comments on social networks.” (3) This is quite a harsh statistic given that 64% of top law firms are on Facebook. A big advantage of using Facebook is that you are able to have a two way conversation. Don’t misinterpret what I am saying here. I am absolutely not suggesting you engage in a real time conversation over Facebook Messenger with a prospective client regarding his case details nor am I suggesting that you should respond to negative reviews with revenge, as these would be violations of the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility (Please consult your states
rules regarding advertising and solicitation). However there are tactful ways to engage with your audience. For example, let’s say someone leaves you a complimentary and true and accurate review (emphasis on true and accurate here!), it might be nice for you to thank them. Again careful here. In order to avoid any problems, I would refrain from using their name, “Thank you for the kind review.” If you want to use their name and tag them in your response, best to ask the client if it is okay before doing so.
7) Encourage employees to join and make it easy for clients, previous clients and friends of the firm to join
Encourage employees to join by getting them excited about your brand. I understand that liking a law firm company page does not have the same appeal as liking the Coca Cola or Oreos page, but both you and your team should be proud of your firm and should be willing to do what it takes to grow the business. You can encourage employees to join by giving them opportunities to contribute to the Facebook page, either with pictures or content. To spark interest and also to protect your reputation, it is best to create a social media guidelines document to share with the entire firm so that everyone understands what is/isn’t kosher to post.
One way to increase your likes, is to imbed the facebook icon on your website, include a mention of it in your newsletter and best of all put it in your signature block. By doing the later, each time you send an email, clients will see a link to your Facebook and I have seen this to be quite a successful tactic for some attorneys. Don’t ever force clients or prospective clients to join your Facebook and be cautious of providing something of value for liking your page or providing a positive review.
Another tactic to stay clear of, while effective, is buying likes. This is something I look down on and caution against. The best way to build a following is with high quality content and constant engagement, not money. This is also questionably ethical although it hasn’t been addressed yet (to my knowledge). One way you can tell if someone bought likes is to look at their likes tab. If 2 people are talking about them and they have 100,000 likes, it is quite possible (though not 100%) that they purchased the likes given the disconnect. You can also tell by looking at Most engaged insights by city. If that city is in India, it tells you that the attorney or law firm has bought his likes since no one in India would be liking a San Francisco’s Personal Injury Attorney’s page. As an example, I have included J&J’s company page which has a pretty good “people talking about this” to “likes” ratio.
8) Best time to post
You should aim to find out when the best time to post is for your given audience. Best practice is usually said to be between 1-3pm on Thursdays and Fridays.
9) Post consistently
The worst is a stagnant Facebook Company Page. If you commit to start a Facebook Company Page, you also have to commit to posting at least once a week, more if you can.
10) Evolving Platform
I suggest that lawyers get on the Facebook bandwagon and embrace it. It is a phenomenon that will only grow and continue to adapt. As a result, the Model Rules will adapt and begin to embrace social media as a whole. For example, Australia and Canada and other countries now allow court notices to be served on Facebook, some countries as early as 2008. And two courts in the United States also just permitted service via Facebook. My suggestion is to always familiarize yourself with the newest technologies and trends so that you can always stay one step ahead of the competition.
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.