Social media and how platforms can be used to grow business, as well as how various online communities that attorneys can use as resources
Social media has taken almost every part of the professional world by storm and the legal profession is no exception. Although traditionally a conservative profession, social media has helped to bridge the divide between old school and new and level an otherwise daunting playing field. No longer are the generations separated between the tech savvy and ignorant. Several platforms have helped make this a possibility.
Community has always been one of the most important aspects of maintaining clients. Online communities such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have helped to connect attorneys practicing around the nation. No longer is it necessary to exchange business cards at every function or find an ever-elusive pen to write down contact information. Now connecting with colleagues is as easy as reaching for that phone everyone knows you are already carrying and “adding” someone instantaneously to your network.
LinkedIn has been the premiere business and employment-oriented service since its launch in 2003. What is appealing about this platform is the opportunity for employees and employers alike to maintain professional profiles and share information. This service has allowed the “gated-access approach” and overall trustworthiness of LinkedIn to flourish, where only professionals with existing relationships or an introduction are able to connect. Available in over 20 languages, LinkedIn encourages business relationships around the globe. While LinkedIn allows for companies to host their own pages, this social media platform is best used for peer connections and networking, with options for finding employment.
Equally widespread is the social media platform Facebook. Facebook was originally intended for college students to connect with their peers, but the business world has been able to modify the platform to its advantage. With more than 2.2 billion monthly active users, Facebook is one of the most easily accessed platforms. Ask any millennial and most will tell you that the first place they go to inquire about a business is the company’s Facebook page. Recent news has spurred some legal particularities with the site, however, as questions of security and privacy grow, company pages are still some of the platform’s most accessed. For this reason, it is imperative that law firms – particularly those looking to encourage community outreach – maintain active and up-to-date Facebook pages. Though it may seem unconventional, Facebook is the most client-friendly social media site and an attorney should always be looking for their next client. Committing to even quick private message replies and a few relevant posts can increase client outreach exponentially. While attorneys should always be concerned with confidentiality and privacy, maintaining a company Facebook page can help get clients through the door – particularly young clients who can bring years of business.
An additional bonus of Facebook is the “Groups” it hosts. For attorneys who use Facebook for personal enjoyment, Facebook Groups allow members to come together and discuss commonalities. Group topics range from fitness fanatics to criminal law practice, but each allows for attorneys to maintain the ever-important aspect of community. While LinkedIn has also begun to group similar members, Facebook remains the most popular platform for such companionship. What is unique about Facebook’s groups is the ability for group administrators to approve or disapprove member requests and the option to require additional information about the member before approval. A range of organizations host groups, including various bar associations and attorney practice areas. These groups are a great resource for networking and answering trivial questions which could otherwise take up a large part of your day.
Twitter is another choice social media platform for attorneys. While this platform is focused less on community groups like the ones Facebook offers, Twitter is also not as professionally driven as LinkedIn. Here, attorneys are free to share, or “retweet” relevant articles or comments from a wide range of sources. This platform is beneficial for growing a client base, as it allows readers to get a better sense of what the attorney stands for and their personality in general. Most accounts on Twitter are for personal use, however some companies do use the platform as well. Law firms can use this to their advantage but tweeting about changes in their field or the daily ongoing of the office. Either of these can get potential clients in touch with a firm or attorney they might best work with. Twitter in particular utilizes key phrases and “hashtags” more than any other social media platform, to help people connect. By using these, an attorney can pull in clients from their area or even search for potential clients. While reaching out to these people through the social media platform is not recommended due to the aforementioned privacy issues, Twitter can be a great way to recognize large social issues or smaller problems arising in a specific area of practice or location.
Along with the more traditional social media platforms, alternative payment options have become more popular for attorneys who do not require the use of an IOLTA for every transaction. Venmo is one of the most widespread instant peer-to-peer (P2P) payment applications on the market today. The company was founded in 2009 but recently introduced the platform as a social network in itself. By allowing users to transfer money within a matter of seconds, attorneys are able to request funds and fulfil their duties without fear of a large amount of time passing between service and payment rendered. On average, Venmo transfers payments of more than $1 billion per month, thanks to the ease of the application and its availability on all major operating systems. While easy to use, Venmo is not suggested for reoccurring clients or for transfers of large sums. Applications like Venmo which are linked directly to customer bank accounts are held to the highest security standards, however breaches have occurred on occasion, so precautions must be taken as needed.
By staying current with social media trends, an attorney can cast a wide net for finding potential new clients and for staying involved with the all-important legal community. Particularly helpful for those attorneys who may be located in a rural or remote area, social media platforms help lawyers of all ages, skill levels, and practice areas to connect and learn from one another.