In 2019, the question small firm lawyers should be asking isn’t if you should have an online presence, but where you (and your firm) should be interacting online. The days of relying on yellow page advertising are long gone – thanks to the internet. These days, the most effective law firm advertising opportunities can often be found online, and for that reason, that’s where many law firms spend lots of money in order to reach potential clients.
However, if all your firm is doing is paying for online advertising, then you’re missing out. Certainly paid ads and paid search are an important part of a law firm’s online advertising strategy, but so, too, is social media. Interacting on social networks can be a very effective way to develop business, and should be part of any small law firm’s legal marketing plan.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Social media is ever-changing and it’s not always easy for busy lawyers to keep up. If you’re one of those lawyers and you’d like to improve your online presence, but aren’t sure where to start, then you’re in luck! This very topic was covered by two experts in February at the ABA Techshow in Chicago. During this presentation – “Care and Feeding of Social Media: Enhancing Your Presence Online,” – Erin Gerstenzang and Megan Zavieh offered plenty of tips and strategies to help you improve and more easily maintain your online presence.
Below you’ll find the visual notes from that session along with 3 of our favorite tips:
Take off your lawyer hat
Sometimes, lawyers take themselves too seriously. Sure what we do is important, and yes we have ethical obligations to comply with (see point 3 below), but when you interact online, you absolutely have to take off your lawyer hat in order to stand out. There are a lot of lawyers online, and if you’re not careful, you’ll get lost in the crowd. That’s why the presenters recommend that you interact authentically and share a few personal details. By doing so, you’re more relatable and memorable. Don’t be all business, all the time. Take off your lawyer hat occasionally. Share a hobby or two, talk a bit about your family, or share photos of some of your favorite meals. By doing so you’re bound to create a connection with others, and be top of mind the next time someone needs a lawyer.
Think before you tweet
That being said, whenever you interact online, make sure to pause for a second before you click “submit.” Always remember that the internet is forever. As the presenters explain, you can sometimes alienate others without even realizing that you’re doing so. And, in today’s political climate, it’s easy to get pulled into a heated debate online during which you might post something that you later regret. That’s why it’s so important to think before you post. Pause for a brief moment and make sure that whatever you’re about to post – even if it’s in a “private” forum or group – isn’t potentially insulting, hurtful, or could otherwise be interpreted in a way that might reflect poorly on you or your firm. The bottom line: always think – and definitely don’t drink – before you tweet!
Don’t forget your ethics
When you interact online, you don’t leave your ethics at the door. After all, the online is simply an extension of the offline. If you can’t do something offline, you obviously can’t engage in similar behavior online. So make sure that you thoroughly understand all of your jurisdiction’s ethical rules prior to engaging online. Some of the top ethical issues to be aware of that were highlighted by the presenters include preserving confidentiality and avoiding false or misleading statements. Simply put – the key is to think before you post. Avoid posts that trigger attorney advertising rules or other ethical issues, and if you’re unsure whether a particular post might be ethical, then err on the side of caution and avoid posting. Better safe than sorry when it comes to your law license.
For even more advice on interacting ethically online, you can watch a recording of this recent webinar: Ethical and Practical Guidelines for Posting on Social Media. And make sure to download this FREE ebook for all you need to know about marketing your small law firm online: Marketing Your Law Firm on Social Media.