Law Firms: Should You be On Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn?

More than once I have been asked, "Where should law firms be in the social media landscape? Facebook or LinkedIn?" And, by coincidence, a colleague circulated a blog posting from Entrepreneur.com, "Thoughts on Twitter Versus Facebook for Business." Which made me thing, "heck, I should write a post!" (Plus I ran into fellow Geeksters @gnawledge and @glambert; they hassled me about not posting anything lately.) So here are my thoughts: Facebook Every business that I have seen on Facebook is either for consumer goods that have masses of people from the general public going through their doors (i.e. restaurants, car dealerships and services, banks, food, gas stations, clothing stores) or seriously need to manage their brand (oil companies, government). The few professional services that I have seen on Facebook use it for either alumni or recruiting purposes--a capability that is easily duplicated on LinkedIn. Facebook has some interesting functionality: their new groups feature is nice. I was able to quickly create a private group where my friends and I can swap updates, photos and links. Very user-friendly. LinkedIn I see all kinds of businesses on LinkedIn: mom & pop companies, art galleries, professional services, manufacturers. With the new functionality that LinkedIn is beta-testing with companies, I think we can look forward to some very robust features in the near future. I have had the privilege of talking to a few of their reps a couple of times and I continue to keep an eye on their new offerings. Plus, you just can't beat LinkedIn for offering a professional environment for posting your profile. No incongruous, dicey-looking ads run adjacent to my face offering to give me a "web analytics certificate". At least LinkedIn's ads are playing with the big boys, like Microsoft. Plus, they keep growing their profile features. I really like the new "Skills", "Patents" and "Publications" sections. It's a great place to showcase deeper skill sets. And LinkedIn's Groups have been around for some time, while Facebook has just recently added this capability. LinkedIn's group functionality is pretty robust. Facebook's isn't bad either. It's just that LinkedIn's is going to give you better access to the types of professionals that law firms are going to want to make contact with. Plus it has a daily or weekly digest e-mail--a feature that Facebook doesn't have. Twitter Now Twitter is my drug of choice. I do the other two because, well, its my job. But Twitter? Twitter is amazing. I can find out the most obscure things I never would have found otherwise. I learn things faster. I see more. I meet more. And its just weird because, technically, it's the least flexible. And, the other thing about Twitter is that nobody uses Twitter. We are all using one of the third-party apps like TweetDeck, Hootesuite and UberTwitter to access our accounts. I particularly like TweetDeck because I can set up customized columns to follow certain interests like News, Law or Ashton Kutcher (sorry, he has to be mentioned in some form on my posts). I was (and continue to be) really pleased that I was one of the first to bring our business into this particular sandbox. And we are still going strong. And I continue to be amazed as to who is interested in what we have to say. Twitter is viral marketing at warped speed. If your 140-character message is potent enough, it can go around the world in minutes--it can even cause a whale to fail. Law firms should look at Twitter as a branding tool. After measuring, posting and reading Twitter for over 3 years, what I have come to realize is that Twitter gets me out there into the collective conscience and in front of people that I normally would have never met. I have been recognized solely by my Twitter profile. Bottom Line Why not? Why not go ahead and post on all three? Sure, you got to be smart about it. Follow the rules, have a disclaimer, don't misrepresent yourself or your firm. Just try it. Lawyers tell me all the time that they just don't get it. And I have a hard time explaining it. Believe me, I was just as skeptical--I am a lawyer, after all. But after just a few weeks in every single one of these environments, I have been amazed at what I have received and learned. People are generous. People are kind. People want to connect. Sure, there are smarmy folks out there. Believe me, I see them every day. But I see smarmy folks all the time, every where, not just online. We have all learned to filter in real life. Now we just have to learn how to filter online. Come on; get out on the dance floor and dance. Don't be one of those guys who stands against the wall, trying to look like they are too smart/cool/rich to dance. Because if you don't dance, you will never get to meet that special someone. And they just might be that golden goose you've been looking for all this time ...

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Andrea Cannavina said...

I'd like to follow Lisa but there's lots of people with her name on twitter. I'm legaltypist if you want to find me. :)

Oz Benamram said...

Several years ago the head of my former firm Risk Management Committee asked me 'what is LinkedIn?' since lawyers started asking him if they may join. Instead of answering, I set him with his own account to try for himself.

His report was sharply insightful: "LinkedIn is like an electronic country club, where lawyers try to make business contacts while pretending to be having fun. Like the club, it's harmless unless the individual has too much to drink and shows bad judgment..." Same goes to the rest of social media clubs.

Elizabeth said...

This is a wonderfully written and conceived, and admirably succinct, post. I agree with most of what you say, although I honestly think Facebook is a waste of time, and an inappropriate platform, for law firms and lawyers. LinkedIN is essential, but underused so far by lawyers (for silly, stodgy reasons)---all the clients are joining, including the private equity players (not just the jobless ones) I represented in my prior career as a BigLaw partner.

But my favorite thing about your post is the segment on Twitter -- a perfect, and perfectly written, send up of the ineffable, inchoate feeling I would describe (dating myself) as Twitter-rush. The moment when one fully appreciates the possibilities -professional, personal, intellectual- of the medium.

But do you think Twitter would be as special as we think it is if it was more popular? I think I like the village thing.

So now I'm a fan. I've followed all three of you on Twitter and am looking forward to reading past and future blog posts. (Almost as good as Battlestar Galactica. Which brings us to the Cylons...)

Betsy Munnell


Mark at Defero said...

nice blog. There is another way, though. Defero Law (www.deferolaw.com) is a network for lawyers, in-house counsel, law firms, marketeers and agencies. Each member can brand their page as they see fit and can use it as a blogging platform. All content automatically updates your Facebook and Twitter page once you have allowed a connection. The site is in beta at present and i have not marketed it other than via Twitter, but it's already got users. Check it out and see what you think.

Ayelette said...

Indeed, a wonderful and succinct post. And I agree that practitioners just need to try these tools. Even if you tried to explain Google before it came out, few people would have actually gotten it and thought they needed it, but of course once you use it you can't stay away. I think the same goes for social media tools as professional resources -- it's hard to convey the power of the tools, but using them makes it abundantly clear.

Lisa Salazar said...

Thanks, everyone! I appreciate you stopping to read this post and taking the time to comment. I think of myself as a SM disciple. And, no, Greg, not that kind. There's no ampersand in between that S or M!

Molly said...

We were backed into a corner somewhat by Facebook when they launched their "Community pages." Facebook generated a page with our firm name and we had no control over the content. So if someone posted a status that referenced our firm, it would show up on the community page for our firm - not a good situation when the reference is unflattering. Until this, we were ambivalent about Facebook, but felt we needed to establish and official presence to direct people away from community pages.


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