Almost daily, we see examples in the press of companies that have gotten themselves into trouble through their use of social media. Whether it is a controversial Twitter post, a Facebook contest that ended with unsatisfied patrons, or a blog post with incorrect information, companies are finding out that social media can be a great tool when used wisely, and a dangerous one when used improperly.
Legal firms must be especially judicious in their use of social media. Here are the top rules to help legal firms use social media safely:
- Avoid controversial topics. By nature, legal representation is adversarial, but you can avoid alienating large groups of your potential client base by simply avoiding certain topics. Political statements, statements about religion, and a sweeping generalization about groups of people should be avoided. If you are blogging about a case, be careful to use a neutral tone to avoid the appearance of partisanship. While you are entitled to your opinion on various topics, sharing them in the context of your law firm’s blogs or social media posts is often a recipe for disaster.
- Ensure your information is accurate. There is nothing worse than being called out on giving bad legal advice through your social media posts. It makes you look unprofessional and creates a measure of distrust in your client base. Be sure to accurately research and review all of your posts before they go online. If the law changes, add an addendum to your post to note the change. One way to do this is to end your social media posts with “as of (date).” You can then update and give the new date when things change. This not only ensures that your website is clean and accurate but that you are considering future revisions right from the start.
- Be careful about giving consideration for participation. While social media contests and coupons are wildly popular with retail businesses, they have less place in a legal context. Lawyers must be scrupulous about the appearance of offering consideration to those who consult them, as it would be unethical to pay someone to become your client. Therefore, if you are going to sponsor any contests or coupons, be sure they are for your favorite charity or group. It is usually acceptable to sponsor a charity and offer a prize to participate in a contest, as long as the prize is not related to your legal services. However, you must be careful to avoid the appearance that you as a law firm are offering the prize directly to possible clients. For example, you could probably safely offer a new set of golf clubs to the silent auction that will take place to raise money for a homeless shelter, then blog about it on your website. There would be no idea of “consideration” in that scenario. However, it would be a bit trickier to allow future clients to bid on the golf clubs on your website, as this might appear that you were soliciting business.
At Caldiatech, we work with legal firms to ensure that they have a strong and safe social media presence. There is no doubt that the right use of social media boosts client contacts and builds stronger relationships. Give us a call today to learn how we can help you use social media, website design, and SEO to your advantage.