This article will cover the most popular social media network—Facebook—and how professionals can and should be using it. Facebook is a powerful tool for connecting to your network and can also be used to interact with professional contacts.
A Word of Warning
Keep in mind that social media remains a wild and wooly area. Judges have, in the past, been sanctioned due to “likes” on Facebook or recused because of a Facebook connection to attorneys who have appeared before them. When it comes to judges, I recommend using Facebook only minimally, or checking with your local ethics body to ensure appropriate use.
Of course, you should always be careful about what you post online—whether you’re a judge, a lawyer, or not. Social media is just like real life except searchable, more permanent, and more public. Don’t say something you wouldn’t want yourself quoted as saying and don’t post something you’d rather people not see. If it’s inappropriate to say, it’s inappropriate to post.
Friends and Family
Facebook is commonly used by people to keep in touch with and share tidbits with friends and family members. It is an easy way to share links of interest, photos, and daily musings. It can also be a great way of keeping up with classmates from every level of school—and eventually coworkers.
Connections on Facebook are referred to as “friends” but Facebook allows control over how much certain types of friends can see, called “lists”. Anyone who you have friended on Facebook automatically has access to your posts and photos. Facebook includes a few automatic friend lists, including “acquaintances” and friends grouped by employer and school. When posting something, it is very easy to limit the audience to “Friends except Acquaintances”, just “Acquaintances” or friends from a particular company or school. You can also create your own lists. “Lawyers” or “insurance industry” might be some custom friend lists you might create. Your friends won’t know they’ve been added to a list but now you can share a link with “lawyers” and the “University Law School” list, ensuring that your Squash-Playing friends don’t see content that they don’t care about.
It is always a good idea to make sure everything you post to Facebook is what I like to refer to as “mom-safe” (stuff I wouldn’t mind my mother seeing), creating lists allows you to share Labor Day pickup kickball photos with your family but not your co-workers.
Facebook groups are a great way to keep in touch with people who share a common interest. (This is where I plug the WLALA Facebook group—Join today!) Joining Facebook groups can introduce you to similarly-minded professionals (or amateurs, depending on what group you join!) and are a fast, easy way to share information directly relating to that interest.
The WLALA group shares information about upcoming events in a way that Facebook members can quickly add to their Facebook dashboard or download to their personal calendars. The LACBA Domestic Violence Project shares upcoming events, photos from past events, and articles of interest to people interested in domestic violence nationwide. This keeps the group in their respective members’ Facebook “feeds” and encourages interaction.
If you have a private practice, you may want to create a “fan page” to share information with people about your practice. This might include events you’ll be attending, hosting, or supporting; articles of interest to your area of law (perhaps even articles you’ve written!), or tips and tricks related to your area of law.
One friend I have shares a holiday-appropriate image a day or a few days before local holidays with a reminder not to drink and drive as well as tips on what to do if you’ve been pulled over. This is a great way of not providing legal advice while at the same time reminding her friends and fans of what it is that she does in the event that they or someone they know run into an issue she can help with.
Facebook has started limiting what people can see so that someone who is a “fan” or a member of a group may not see all the updates unless the owner of the fan/group pays for “boosting” readership. Whether or not you think this is worth the cost is up to you, but I tend to recommend against it. Making sure your fans and members “follow” (instead of just “liking”) your page will help, but interaction will breed interaction—which is to say that, the more people who interact with a post, the more “important” Facebook will think it is, so the more people it will show the post to. Encouraging fans/members to interact with your posts will increase views. This can include having a few friends like, comment, or share a post as well as encouraging key employees and volunteers to do the same. (Have I mentioned that you should like and follow the WLALA Facebook group? Yes? Have you done so yet?)
If there are groups that you’re a member of or pages you’re a fan of that you think could use a signal boost, like, comment, and share their posts. Facebook will automatically share your likes and comments with friends-who-are-also-group-members (or friends-who-are-also-fans) to encourage interaction among your friends as well as with the page. If you choose to share a post, it will include a link back to the group or page it originated on (helping your friends who aren’t yet members or fans to become so) and you can target the audience—just as you would with any post—to, for example, just acquaintances.