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Lawyers can't ignore social media anymore. Facebook can be a way to reach potential clients, for example, while a strong Twitter account could help increase your profile in the legal community.
At the same time, social media is not "one size fits all." Attorneys need to understand the differences between the main social media platforms and adjust their strategies accordingly.
How Facebook and Twitter Differ
If you've used either platform, you know that Facebook and Twitter are worlds apart. Facebook is by far the world's largest social media platform, with nearly 2 billion users logging in every month. Facebook makes it easy to include lengthy posts, images, videos, and the like. Anyone seeking out your Facebook page, or coming to your page after searching for, say, personal injury lawyers in Tucson, can easily scroll back through your profile and past posts.
Twitter is a more ephemeral beast. Messages are sent out in 140-character bursts. If you want to go in depth on an issue, you'll need to include a link or an image of text, or set up a string of connected tweets. But while Twitter might not be the easiest medium through which to explain community vs. personal property in a California divorce, the open and rapid-fire nature of the social media network makes engagement easy. If you're looking to build your profile, Twitter can be an important platform.
Adjusting Your Strategy for Each Platform
These differences should inform your social media strategy. Because Facebook's relative permanence, it requires a less constant stream of content and can be a great platform for framing your brand. One or two posts a day is typically enough for most people. Those posts can be Twitter-like messages (e.g., "Can't wait to host this CLE course tonight,") or more substantive content, a link to a blog post on issues in your practice area, for example, or an image from a recent community event. Facebook too, offers users a chance to review your business, a feature that requires consistent monitoring and tending.
Twitter can be a bit more intense. Consider Twitter a constant conversation based around your Twitter network, as well as trending topics. You can jump in at any time, and the more you do, the more exposure you get. That could mean weighing in on the news of the day, playing along with the #AppellateTwitter hashtag, or sharing lots of interesting content. Such posts are likely to be seen by lots of eyes quickly, then disappear down your followers feeds, so frequent updates will give you more reach.
Of course, whenever you're using social media, you'll want to make sure you're not violating rules on attorney advertising or committing any social media faux pas. But with some commitment to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, and some tweaking of strategy as you develop your approach, social media could become an important part of your firm strategy.
And as for LinkedIn, Tumblr, Snapchat, or Instagram -- well, those are another matter altogether.