Moving forward with social media

Attorneys who ignore the social media landscape deprive themselves of significant opportunities and information while operating outside a cybersphere experiencing warp-speed growth, wrote Cynthia Sharp, director of attorney development at The Sharper Lawyer, in a recent article in GPSolo eReport.

Sharp offers suggestions designed to motivate the hesitant to move forward and to assist the more experienced as well.

  1. Begin by articulating specific objectives and building a strategy designed to achieve them. Instead of tweeting, linking and friending randomly, decide what you want to accomplish. The strategy of an attorney with the objective of building a referral network will vary greatly from one who wishes to merely “monitor the buzz.”

  2. Equip yourself with the proper tools. Neophytes may wish to consider hiring a consultant on a short-term basis to assist with the initial setup and orientation with respect to platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Be sure to take advantage of some of the time-saving options available, such as HootSuite, which allows the user to broadcast content over several different platforms.

  3. Establish a law firm social media policy. Attorneys who choose to delegate social media initiatives to another lawyer, staff member or outside vendors must keep in mind their ultimate responsibility for compliance with ethical standards. Case law and ethics opinions throughout the nation make it clear that ethical obligations cannot be delegated. A well-crafted social media policy as to online conduct should be extremely clear with respect to all expectations.

  4. Consider social media as a practice area. Attorneys seeking to expand their practices may wish to become schooled in the far-reaching implications of social media in various legal arenas. Clients need counsel to develop internal social media policies on their behalf, to advise with respect to employee issues and to otherwise oversee compliance with the newest onslaught of statutes and regulations.

  5. Develop a cyber filter. Learning to filter out unimportant or irrelevant information that comes your way is crucial. 

  6. Learn how to handle online criticism. Those who avoid establishing a social media presence out of fear that it exposes the firm to negative online comments are deluding themselves. Adverse remarks can be posted regardless of whether your firm has an online presence.

  7. Measure the effectiveness of your social media initiative. What is your firm’s return on investment, taking into account the time and money being expended? A number of tools are designed to monitor various analytics beyond revenue. This topic is covered in more depth in this article.

GPSolo eReport is the monthly Web publication of the ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division