How To Use Social Media As A Tool For Building A Network

Social media is a complex system. It’s important to remember that this system is still new. What do all new inventions have in common? The laws governing what they can and cannot do are young and subject to change. That’s something to keep in mind as you use social media to build your own network — especially when that network will include friends and family, prospective and new clients, and even adversaries. Be careful when contacting these individuals, and don’t get yourself sued!

Let’s say you know your clients are looking for a business contracts dispute attorney. That means this specific type of attorney might be an adversary — if the person belongs to another firm. You can use social media to search for individuals who live nearby and have the same job, then use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn to approach. Keep in mind the line between legal and illegal is a fine one. Make sure you don’t cross that line when attempting to lure a new hire or new client away from an adversarial firm to yours.

Search features are only one method of using social media to build your master network. What else might you do? The most obvious answer is “advertise.” Facebook in particular offers great advertising options for users looking to expand business enterprises. These features allow you to target specific demographics that might be interested in the services you offer at your firm. Looking for 20-somethings? You can ensure your advertisements are only seen by those individuals so no money is wasted. Overall, these services tend to be relatively cheap.

At the end of the day, social media is all about interacting. But sometimes it’s difficult to get a clear picture of the person on the other side of the computer screen. That clear picture is what you want more than anything. And that’s why you should always use social media specifically as a jumping off point to build your relationships. It should never represent the culmination of that relationship.

What do we mean when we say that? It’s simple. Always conceive or strengthen new relationships using social media, but never end them there. Always invite your prospective clients into the office to talk further. Ask about their wants and needs. Allow them time to ask questions of their own. More than anything, social media is a great way to make them feel appreciated.

Do you have holiday parties? Social media networking is a great way to find new people to invite. Be strategic when sending out the invitations. Think of specific pairs who might find synergy. You might employ an associate who would get along with a prospective client because of shared interests. You might even invite adversaries who wouldn’t get along with your prospective clients! It’s all about choosing the most strategically tenable options.

What you do with social media is primarily your choice. But the options are endless, and you should certainly be thoughtful about how you make those choices. Never forget to keep building!

How To Use Social Media To Make Conversions

Obviously the goal of any interaction with prospective clients on social media is ensuring they turn into billable hours down the road. What is the one thing you hear from these prospective clients more than anything else? More than likely, “I can’t afford a lawyer.” In order to make the most conversions, you need to make sure these individuals understand the entire process. How they believe it works isn’t how it really does.

First and foremost, invite all prospective clients in for a free consultation and explain that free consultations are the standard, not the exception. Provide as much information as you possibly can, and reassure your future client that litigation isn’t the end of the world.

Are there pro bono options available from your firm or neighboring firms? Even when a prospective client really can’t afford your legal services, they’re still people in need — and helping people in need is the foundation of your job. In addition, making sure these individuals are taken care of will increase the opportunity for referrals.  

Also, you need to make sure the prospective client understands the potential savings of retaining a lawyer in certain situations. For example, a person who was in a car accident might avoid retaining a lawyer if they aren’t immediately sued by another involved party whether at fault or not. It’s important they understand how imperative it is to build a solid defense sooner rather than later if a lawsuit is likely or expected. Building a case soon can mean the difference between victory and defeat in court.

Do you work on contingency? Most people who believe they can’t afford a lawyer don’t realize that some lawyers don’t collect payment unless they actually win. Use this to your benefit when trying to find more business. 

Some people are too anxious to meet in person or talk on the phone, but might be more comfortable exchanging an email. Start small if you suspect someone might have these quirks.

What Platform Do Most Lawyers Use Often?

Social media trends change from year to year — and certainly, the onset of a pandemic upended trends that had already been ongoing. LinkedIn continues to be the most used, and most useful, platform for lawyers looking to expand their network and make connections with like-minded individuals or organizations. According to an ABA 2018 survey, more than a third of law firms find new clients on social media. Even more gain new clients through social media marketing

Do all lawyers use the same platform? No.

Which platform makes the most sense for a particular lawyer depends primarily on the practice area. For example, a creditors’ rights lawyer might not find the same success on Facebook as on LinkedIn, because people without jobs or people who are living in poverty are more likely to be using the ladder platform.

Then again, lawyers everyone might want might use Facebook or Twitter to share content. For example, an estate planning lawyer knows that you’re never too young — or old — to draw up a last will and testament. They might also find success by turning stale content about drawing up a will into “exciting” evergreen content about worst-case scenarios or what happens when you die without going to the trouble. The goal isn’t just finding one new client, after all: the goal is getting that one prospective client to share the post with all of their friends to amplify the effect.

Smart lawyers will find ways to advertise, create groups, or deliver new topics to people who would never go searching for legal information on their own. To use the last example, a 20-year-old might benefit from a will, but it might take a seemingly unrelated blog or podcast to deliver the message successfully. Sex appeal is a tried and true strategy, regardless of the sour taste it might leave in someone’s mouth.

How should you decide which platform is right for you? It’s the same equation as always: put yourself out there as much as possible — and everywhere possible — but go where the required demographics are spending their time. If you serve the older generations, then Facebook should be your go-to. If you deal mostly with other professionals, you’ll find LinkedIn akin to the Golden Goose. Looking for Gen Z? Head over to TikTok and learn what makes them…tick. 

Remember this one piece of advice: going big before you have data points you can rely on is a great way to waste time, money, and emotional stability. Start small. Find out if the demographic is likely to take the bait. When you find the right place to sell your message — and yourself — then you can throw out the bigger bait to land the bigger fish.

Last but not least, create a relatively consistent schedule to release new content. After a few weeks of releasing what you think might work, measure the results of that work. We always talk about conversions, so ask yourself how many you snagged.

Everything To Know About Social Media Defamation

Businesses are commonly the target of defamatory remarks made on social media — and so are law firms. Legal entities are also guilty of making comments that can land them in legal hot water. Here’s everything you need to know about who and how to sue, and how to avoid making defamatory remarks of your own on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These platforms have all taken a stronger stance against online bullying in recent months (something to keep in mind as you read).

What is defamation? Generally, an individual or organization can sue when another individual or organization has made untrue financially damaging statements about them — as long as they can prove those statements are actually false. The burden of proof is always on the plaintiff. If “defamatory” remarks are actually statements of fact, then a lawsuit will not work.

Opinionated remarks are protected by law. Simply positing that a particular person or character seems insidious — in your opinion — is not legal. Keep in mind that weighted opinions might be considered factual by legal entities when the subject matter is controversial or illegal. For example, the statement “in my opinion, Mr. Johnson is a pedophile and keeps child pornography on his personal computer” will not be a protected opinion. Should it be untrue, defamation litigation is possible.

Altering photos or videos to defame a person or individual is illegal and defamatory. For example, when right-wing fringe “news” outlets use videos that have been altered using deep-fake technology to make President Biden seem drunk or like he made false statements, both the creator of the video and the news outlet could be sued for defamation. This is true in reverse, too. Left-wing fringe “news” outlets are guilty of the same thing.

Who can you sue for defamation? You can sue not only the person who defamed you, but also the person or entity that shared the defamatory remarks if they know them to be untrue. You can even sue the social media provider for not reigning in content they know to be untrue.

Can Someone Sue Your Practice For Social Media Posts?

One of the most common pieces of legal advice a client will receive from lawyers during litigation is also the simplest: stay offline. That means don’t text or instant message friends or family. Don’t post to social media for any reason. Don’t post to message boards. Don’t send emails. In general, don’t surf the web for communication purposes unless paying bills. Lawyers will be the first to admit that clients rarely follow this golden rule — and they’re even likely to break it themselves.

It can be difficult for lawyers to remember that they can become defendants almost as easily as they can support plaintiffs. When can someone sue your legal practice based on a social media post? There are a number of reasons — and even law firms have been responsible for breaking these laws.

The first is common, but difficult to prove. Posts that defame the character of an individual or organization are grounds for a lawsuit. Sometimes, lawyers mistakenly post defaming content about rival law firms or the clients of a rival law firm. This can result in additional litigation unless those claims can be proved true. Basically, be careful not to make false statements online!

An anonymous lawyer for Castronovo & McKinney said, “We once sued another firm for posting disparaging commentary about one of our associates. We were baffled. They did it for no reason at all! We believe it was a mistake on their part.”

Posts that invade the privacy of an individual or organization are also subject to lawsuit. Law firms are rarely guilty of this, because lawyers know they can’t post embarrassing photos or infringe on a person’s privacy without consent.

One common reason a law firm might be sued by a person or organization for a social media post is breach of contract. This is often the result of a failure of communication. Let’s say a junior associate is tasked with updating social media with information about an ongoing case to keep the public apprised (because the firm wants the public on its side). But the junior associate accidentally publishes privileged information that should never have been disclosed because it was protected by an NDA. The firm is not subject to litigation — and will probably lose in court.

Law firms are also sometimes sued for harassment because of social media posts. Harassment is an umbrella term under which breach of contract, invasion of privacy, or defamation of character might fall. Basically, a person cannot harass or bully another individual online without breaking the law.

What should law firms remember about social media posts? It’s not difficult. Keep social media content relevant. Don’t share information about clients or rivals. Don’t even discuss clients or rivals online! All information shared online should be about the law. Keep posts informational to attract new clients. Stay online so new or current clients can find and message the firm without tearing out their hair. Online interactions should be fun and easy. If they’re not, your firm is making a mistake.

Should Business Owners Join “Truth Social?”

You’ve probably heard by now that former president Donald Trump is building his own social media platform — perhaps not so aptly named, Truth Social. What is the purpose of this platform? Well, it’s a direct response to losing his access to Twitter and Facebook. He was banned on these platforms for spreading misinformation after the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2020. 

But Truth Social is also a stern rebuke of business as usual, which is how Trump operates.

GETTR CEO Jason Miller said, “This is about taking power away from Silicon Valley oligarchs and decentralizing more, so it’s not just Twitter and Facebook who have all the control.”

According to Miller, Truth Social and GETTR are both about restructuring social media in general by rejecting Big Tech. GETTR’s popularity grew when popular podcaster and conservative commentator Joe Rogan offered the platform to his viewers, who were already out for blood after Trump was left in the cold on more popular platforms. Notably, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard are also on the platform.

Miller also said people were attracted to alternative platforms because of “political discrimination” (against political figures who spread lies and misinformation). It’s all free speech, right?

So should business owners join these platforms? At the end of the day, membership will probably be determined by political beliefs more than demographic targeting. But business owners should think long and hard about which is more important: truth and facts, or lies and deceit. 

Miller described this “political discrimination” as likely to spread far and wide. “They’re not going to just stop with people who identify politically. Look at the way Nicki Minaj was put into digital jail, or the way that they’re trying to cancel Dave Chappelle. So, they’re not going to stop until they completely frame the world in their own viewpoint.”

“This is truly a global issue,” he added. “What we have a focus on here is protecting the free speech but also making sure it’s a safe environment for people to join.”

What To Do About Social Media Fake Reviews

While social media platforms are extraordinarily useful for growing businesses, there are a number of pitfalls almost impossible to avoid. In this age of misinformation — and outright lies — fake ratings and reviews are more common than ever. Many people even accuse big businesses of stymieing the growth of smaller businesses by paying for reviewers to leave bad ratings. This can deter customers and clients. 

Big tech has done very little to counter or investigate such claims, which means a larger battle can be expected in court. Small business owner Bruce Billson said governments should look into these claims too. So far, he hasn’t received much help in Australia.

Billson said, “Our office is particularly concerned by the posting of negative reviews that are not founded in real customer experiences (‘fake reviews’). These reviews damage business reputations and cause distress to staff and business owners. Our office has assisted more than 30 businesses dealing with fake reviews in recent years.”

Jones Gregg Creehan Gerace is the only one law firm acknowledging these issues. One anonymous second-year associate said, “We’ve started to find more and more clients who are interested in solving this problem. Resolving business disputes in and out of court is common for our firm, but targeting fake reviewers? That’s not as easy because there aren’t many regulations or laws governing policy.”

Because social media operators like Facebook sell the platform all over the world, changing the rules in one location makes it far easier to change the rules the same way elsewhere. And that’s what lawyers and business owners are trying to do.

Remember the plot to inflate Gamestop’s share prices last year? Innumerable fake reviews were left on the Robinhood app as a result, and Google removed many of them.

Billson said, “We recommend that digital platforms build out tools that prevent fake reviews as well as create a more accessible and transparent review system. This should include giving small businesses more transparency on the evidence they need to provide a digital platform to have a fake review reviewed and removed.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommended that the Australian government work to prevent and resolve related disputes, and urge tech companies to implement these tools to prevent damage from fake reviews. Authorities agreed. So far, no new programs have been green-lighted. 

Unfortunately, there may be conflicts of interest. Palmer United Party MP Craig Kelly is on the committee that determines such matters — and you might remember the name since he was once of the guys promoting unapproved drugs over mask wearing to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

Another wrinkle? Many fake reviewers aren’t even human. They’re bots, designed to leave bad advice or misinformed opinions to take down competition. And these bots can do more than just write bad reviews. Remember when Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series S were released? Bots purchased the vast majority before actual people could input all the information. And when artificial general intelligence can perform these actions, it hurts business in general.

Should Your Social Media Posts Reflect Customers’ Beliefs — Or The Truth?

Being an attorney means providing clients with a vigorous legal defense even when you know they’re guilty. And that means you can’t always choose clients who support your own beliefs. For some, it means catering to the widest audience possible. Should your social media posts reflect your customers’ beliefs — or the truth? It’s a tricky situation to navigate when you know how many clients might have radical beliefs.

First and foremost, part of being a lawyer is nobility. You might be a shark in the courtroom and in defense of your client, but that doesn’t mean you can resort to lies and deceit outside the courtroom. It could get you disbarred.

That means on social media applications, your best bet is to stick with the truth. You might be a criminal defense lawyer in Washington D.C. — and that might mean defending clients who stormed the U.S. Capitol nearly a year ago — but that doesn’t mean you can post about Biden being an illegitimate president. That’s because it isn’t true. 

Conversely, you might be forced to represent an environmentalist who resorted to civil disobedience to send a message to the government about the need to tackle man-made climate change before it’s too late. You can absolutely post about the latter. But what you can’t do is post about civil disobedience being okay — even if you think it is. 

The most important thing to remember is that you’re a foot soldier for the law. The law is steeped in truth. It means using both sides of the story to arrive at a middle ground, closer to the truth than either the prosecutor or the defendant will admit. Both sides (are supposed to) use only the facts to achieve that middle ground. And what you do outside of court is at least as important as what you do inside.

Personal beliefs shouldn’t get in the way. Keep it real. Tell the truth.

Is Social Media Regulated?

You might think the obvious answer is “yes” when someone asks whether or not social media is regulated. And of course technically it is. But many others would roll their eyes and say “obviously not.” This is the result of many years of media attacks against social media platforms, some justified, some not. While social media creators and the platforms themselves of course have some level of responsibility to the content disseminated across these platforms, they can’t be held responsible for the level of perfection desired by the media and governments. There are billions of posts across many platforms everyday.

According to Tufts University, social media “refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.”

The Federal Communications Commission is one such entity that provides a level of oversight into Facebook and other social media platforms. Lawyers need to be kept apprised of ongoing FCC activities, investigations, and consumer alerts. They can do so through the FCC’s website.

Many proponents of regulation believe we should actually limit how much social media consumers digest each day to reduce the negative effects. The legal issue, of course, is whether or not such regulation would be in line with the First Amendment.

According to Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, some laws aiming to regulate social media are already under fire in the lower court systems and we can expect to see these legal challengers filter up to the higher courts in the next year or two. 

Jaffer said, “These laws impose extensive transparency requirements on major platforms. They give users all kinds of rights with respect to content that’s taken down or accounts that are taken down. The Florida law restricts platforms from deplatforming or shadow banning — which is not very well defined in the law — political candidates or media organizations. The Texas law prohibits viewpoint discrimination.”

Shadow banning means that a user or a user’s posts are blocked from being shown without that user being notified (at all and especially of the why and how). Although this type of ban can reduce dangerous “fake news” or lies (for example, those disseminated by a certain former president of some notoriety), it is the one most likely seen as a direct assault on the First Amendment. 

Technically, social media platforms are businesses — and therefore they are bound by the same laws and regulations as any other business. The problem is that these laws and regulations were not written with any respect toward the novelty of social media platforms. They were written for more common businesses like restaurants or retail establishments. Social media platforms are neither.

One of the biggest issues for clients of a legal firm is that a family member or someone involved in a case will post something they shouldn’t. Most lawyers will advise clients to refrain from using social media at all when litigation is ongoing. Visit website for additional information on this topic.

How To Balance Social Media Marketing With Mental Health

Respect for your clients should be the number one priority, right? That means you need to keep a few things in mind when advertising using social media. First, you do need to advertise and social media is one of the most effective ways of doing it. Second, new research shows that social media use can have a serious impact on mental health. Third, any social media marketing strategy should also mitigate these impacts. Making life worse for your clients isn’t an option.

In a way social media is like porn. It can leave users with unhealthy or unrealistic expectations of how people should look or act. It can result in lower self-esteem or self-image. It can also make some users believe that everyone else is living life while they’re stuck at home (even though they’re only posting pictures of non-routine vacations or events.

So what can you do?

Sadly, there isn’t much. You can definitely limit how periodically you make a post. Use different platforms to get your message across. Don’t publish anywhere more than once every day or two. Let your clients know consistently that while you use social media to connect with them, you would much prefer to communicate in person, over the phone, or even via video chat. Even email is better. These are all much healthier forms of communication.

And it’s also worth keeping in mind that social media — in moderation — can have benefits. Various platforms have been used to keep in contact with friends and family who live afar. They can be used to find new friends or old-school pen pals. It’s especially for those who live in isolated areas of the globe and need a social element in their lives. And lastly, it can be a tool for those who already require emotional support but cannot obtain it in person.

However you choose to advertise, your goal should be to do no harm.