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Birmingham Bar Associations Bulletin Summer 2015

Social Media The more active you are on LinkedIn, your visibility increases within your network and you demonstrate higher value. Twitter for Lawyers Twitter can be intimidating for many professionals, thanks, in part, to notorious faux pas that happen with celebrities and politicians. Twitter is a microblogging platform that lets users share thoughts, links, pictures and other content in messages containing 140 or less characters. Twitter can be a vehicle to demonstrate your competency by posting commentary and articles relevant to your practice area. To get started, create a username, or “handle.” I recommend using your own name rather than your firm’s name (unless you also intend to create a separate Twitter account for your firm). This gives it a more personal touch, and makes your posts more authentic. Create a Twitter handle that is simple to find if people search for you, and easily recognized as you when other users see it mentioned or in a retweet. Next, “follow” your favorite journalists, legal industry leaders, news programs, politicians, business executives, celebrities and friends. Also, do not forget to search for your clients and prospects. Twitter provides an easy way to stay informed on top of what is important to your followers. Attracting followers is the game of Twitter. The more followers you have, the more your tweets will be seen and the greater impact you can have with your messages. Engage followers by retweeting posts relevant to your practice, ”favorite” others’ tweets and mention them in your own tweets. If your tweets are retweeted, it will often lead to new followers. Remember to balance professionalism with personality. You can weave your sense of humor and certain personal opinions and interests in so that your audience will see you as approachable. For instance, while I largely tweet about legal issues, I also regularly comment on civic events, sports and music. Facebook for Lawyers Facebook can be a trickier site for lawyers, simply because it has become such a personal application for many. I recommend establishing a business Facebook page dedicated to your firm or practice, separate from any personal page. You will find that your friends may not be interested in your legal updates, and you likely do not want your clients knowing all your personal affairs. The key benefit of having a Facebook page for your practice is that Facebook is a major hub for socializing and communicating in all aspects of the lives of over a billion people. Along with Google searches, Facebook is one of the most often used and easiest ways for people to quickly find information about lawyers and law firms. At a minimum, having a Facebook page for your firm is another doorway to introduce your firm to clients. With a Facebook page, a lawyer can quickly disseminate blog posts, events and firm news to users who “like” your page. Leveraging it to the fullest, the more “likes” that your firm’s page gets, the more it is shared with those users’ friends, quickly and easily spreading the firm’s name and message. Blogging for Lawyers For lawyers who enjoy writing about trends and news in their practice areas, developing a blog is another useful way to highlight knowledge and promote experience. Blogs have been widely used by lawyers for almost a decade now, and while they generally require more effort than other forms of social media, the benefits are typically much greater. The useful content created remains embedded on the Internet and is highly searchable. Before you create a blog, strategically develop a plan that will address how often you will update the site, what content you will discuss and how you will promote the blog. One successful effort that our firm employs is the creation of a backlog of content. The best laid plans can go awry when you find yourself in trial or buried in a transaction. Work in advance to create several blog posts that address alwaysrelevant topics that you can use if you get busy or sidetracked. Just like publications lay out editorial calendars every year, do the same for your blog. Come up with at least six months’ worth of topics, which is, undoubtedly, the hardest part of the process, and schedule appointments on your calendar to get the writing completed. Just as fitness experts suggest you create time on your calendar to workout, make room for content creation – and don’t cancel the appointment! Ethical Considerations for Lawyers When using social media, lawyers also must be cognizant of ethical issues and ensure they comply with applicable rules concerning legal services advertising. Although the Alabama State Bar has not issued formal social media guidelines or opinions at this time, lawyers need to adhere to the existing applicable advertising rules. The Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.1 addresses communications concerning a lawyer’s services: “A lawyer shall not make or cause to be made a false 12 Birmingham Bar Association


Birmingham Bar Associations Bulletin Summer 2015
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