A couple weeks ago, I’m in Philly for a speaking engagement (and a Jimmy’s cheese steak). I had a chance to meet with some of my clients. A managing partner at one firm and a marketing pro from another asked me my thoughts on social media policies.
I shared some high level thoughts and promised to follow up with some policy pointers later.
So, I’m now in my office back in Seattle sitting with my Director of Marketing, Cara McDonald and I ask her:
Cara, what is LexBlog’s social media policy?
Could you elaborate?
Okay, many firms put social media into the marketing bucket and thus social media policies often fall to the marketing director or team to craft. Rather than looking at this as a dreaded task, realize it’s actually a gift. This is your chance to educate and engage your staff in social media in a way that truly enhances your brand. We at LexBlog love and embrace social media, so yeah–getting social is not just a policy but one of our core values.
That makes sense but I press her:
What would your top 10 policy points be?
“Give me until the end of the day.”
End of the Day
You’ll all have your own spin, but here’s what Cara delivered:
Think of your social media policy as more than just a legal document. Social media is the way many people are communicating today, and your employees are ambassadors, spreading your firm’s name and goodwill wherever they go. Rather than looking at social media as something to police, use it to strengthen your brand. And, like anything that grows your brand, you need to create a strategy for it.
And, here are Cara’s Top 10 Pointers:
- Remind your employees that social engagement is the same as any other engagement—they should be respectful and appropriate at all times.
- Provide training—continuing education on the value of social media and how to use it to enhance the firm and support your brand.
- Claim the law firm—encourage your staff to use your firm name in their social bios.
- Highlight an employee who is using social in a positive way that drives business development and the firm brand.
- Use disclaimers when possible to confirm the opinions expressed in individual’s blogs or social sites are his or her own and not reflective of the firm or to be considered legal advice.
- Encourage your employees to share and re-tweet updates from your brand.
- Check privacy settings—if employees want to express views that are not in the best interest of the firm on social sites, like Facebook, ensure the site is private to the public.
- Ensure credit is given when citing others in social and blog posts as well as for any photos used.
- Keep the firm in mind in all things—never disclose confidential client or firm information.
- Last but not least, a good policy can boil down to this simple advice as penned by Shel Israel and Robert Scoble in their book, Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers:
Be smart. Don’t be stupid.
That reminded me of this:
“Many law firms struggle with creating policy for the use of social media. The generally cautious and conservative nature of law firm management means that in many cases the decision makers often see only the real (or alleged) dangers, often without an understanding of the tools or an appreciation for their potential.”
Now that the use of social media is becoming so widespread, disengagement is not the answer. The issues are not insurmountable, and being a wallflower lets others gain a competitive advantage. All firms should develop a social media policy that encourages the use of these new and emerging tools in innovative ways…
That’s according to the American Bar Association in How To Create A Law Firm Social Media Policy.
I’ll leave you with Zappos’s social media policy couple as a benchmark from the corporate world:
Be real and use your best judgment.
And, this final thought:
Social media is more than marketing or business development. Social changes the way law firms communicate and engage with amplifiers, influencers and thought leaders. Social changes the way law firms are hired. So, if you network for business (and all lawyers do) then you need to network online. Consider:
— Dionne Lew (@DionneLew) October 24, 2013
— Kevin McKeown (@kevinmckeown) October 24, 2013