Many law firms have established or are beginning to establish a social media presence. While this is an essential part of legal marketing in today’s digital age, there are several potential law firm social media pitfalls to be aware of and avoid. We have seen many professional service companies, including law firms, make big mistakes when it comes to social media. Don’t let your firm fall into any of the bad practices described below.
Hashtag Abuse and Misuse
Hashtags originated on Twitter, but have since expanded to other social media platforms. They are a great way to reach a wider audience and join popular conversations online. However, hashtag use can easily backfire if you aren’t careful. Some posters overuse hashtags which can make content look unprofessional and deter readers, as well as lead to spam followers. You should ideally use 2-3 appropriate and relevant hashtags for each post on your firm’s social media page.
Additionally, use caution when choosing your hashtags. A phrase that may seem relevant to the content you are posting could have an alternative meaning in a different context that could cause controversy. For example, baked goods company Entenmann’s tweeted in 2011 they were “#notguilty” for eating all their treats, but many followers viewed the hashtag as a reference to a high-profile trial happening at the time.
Commenting on Current Events
While it sometimes makes sense for your firm to post about new laws and regulations related to its practice areas as they come up in the news, be careful how much of your own opinion you are advertising. You could risk alienating potential new clients with opposing beliefs, or worrying current clients if your opinion does not align with the position of their case. Especially in discussions of controversial political issues, avoid posting about personal beliefs.
Posting About Ongoing Cases
Similar to the point above, posting comments on social media about current cases your firm is handling can be extremely risky. While many lawyers know it is best not to go down this route, some still post comments that land them in hot water. Last June a Kentucky judge was reprimanded for commenting on her Facebook account about a pending murder case, which violated judicial ethical rules. Lawyers are held to similar ethical rules and should be aware of the law when posting on social media.
Many of your law firm’s social media posts likely include images (as they should), but your choice of image can affect the appeal of the post and your overall social media presence. Especially as a lawyer, infringing on copyrighted materials or reposting images without permission can harm your credibility. Additionally, if you are going to the trouble to add visual content to increase the effectiveness of a social media post, make sure the image is of high quality. A blurry image or overexposed photo will not serve its purpose of driving an audience to your post.
Another mistake we have seen firms make is posting photos that have been visibly edited. A New Zealand law firm was called out on many news platforms for a “Photoshop fail” when it shared a photo of lawyers recently admitted to the bar that had been obviously edited to remove champagne glasses. So if you do need to edit images, make sure they are edited professionally to avoid being ridiculed.
Asking for Feedback
We have previously discussed the importance of client testimonials, and posting feedback campaigns on social media may seem like a good way to get reviews of your firm. However, beware of the potential for receiving negative feedback. One notable example of such a disaster is McDonald’s use of the hashtag “#McDStories” in 2012 in the hopes of creating a campaign about positive experiences that instead resulted in retweets of customer horror stories. Soliciting feedback in such a public forum may not be the best idea for your firm unless you are confident in your followers’ opinions of your firm.
Posting from the Wrong Account
If you are an avid social media user and have several personal accounts, you could run into the problem of forgetting to switch between accounts before posting. It would look poorly for you and your firm if personal photos and posts were inadvertently sent on behalf of your business.
Related to this point is the importance of keeping track of who has access to your firm’s social media accounts. Make sure credentials are changed when a member of your firm or staff leaves the company so they can no longer post for your firm – either accidentally or on purpose.
Social media should be a fully-utilized part of your firm’s marketing strategy, the goal being to help establish an online presence and generate leads for your firm. As evidenced by the pitfalls we described, executing a successful social media strategy is not always an easy task. If you want to make sure your firm gets it right when it comes to social media, contact us for a free consultation.