I consider myself to be a fairly savvy social media user, though as I often like to tell people, "we’re all still learning." And with a medium that changes SO quickly, there’s certainly always something new to learn. That was reinforced for me yesterday when I sat in on Samantha Collier’s webinar for the Legal Marketing Association’s Social Media Special Interest Group on Facebook for Law Firms. Sam offers a post inspired by her webinar here

Sam’s webinar covered personal Facebook profiles for lawyers, Facebook pages for law firms, some case studies, and resources. As you may or may not know, Facebook is the most prominent social network out there, with 845 million monthly active users. 

Facebook Profiles for Lawyers

Sam began by saying that many lawyers are concerned about using Facebook for professional use, with so much personal information on there. However, there are ways that you can adjust your profile settings to keep certain things private. Users have control over: 

  • How they connect
  • Timeline & tagging
  • Ads, apps and websites
  • Blocked people and applications
  • Limiting audiences for past posts

You can also create lists (which is easier to do when you’re first getting started and don’t have a lot of connections yet), and this will allow you to segregate people. You can also put the same person in multiple lists if you would like. 

Sam shared some important "Do’s" for Facebook profiles, including: 

  • Share relevant content: do this 1-3 times a week to avoid inundating people. Add photos to increase engagement – Nancy Myrland added that having a photo with a status also forces the "share" button into the post, which allows people to share your content. 
     
  • Be yourself: don’t be a drone, unless that’s your real personality. To show who you are, create albums and share photos (if you’re not comfortable sharing pictures of your family, include conference shots and other professional-type photos), update your status, comment on other people’s posts, and add connections. 

Just as important as the Do’s are the Don’ts: 

  • Don’t post private information – a client’s or your own. 
  • Don’t post controversial things unless you want to be seen that way, or instigate something. 
  • Ladies, no duck lips (please!).
  • Gents, no shirtless photos. 
  • Don’t post relationship problems. 

Facebook Business Pages

A new feature of Facebook business pages allows you to choose different levels of roles for administrators – this helps to cut down on having a firm administrator who leaves and takes the passwords with them.  The different roles include: 

  • Manager
  • Content creator
  • Moderator
  • Advertiser
  • Insight Analyzer

Sam outlined some important things to do when putting together your business page on Facebook: 

  • Have an interesting cover photo: use a unique image that represents your firm, bearing in mind that it should be 851 x 315 pixels and less than 800kb.  She cautioned that the image can’t say "like me," have a call to action or price information. 
     
  • Profile picture: 180 x 180 pixels, the profile picture is good for a logo. It is displayed next to each post in the page’s timeline, and in users’ news feeds. 
     
  • Applications: These are shown at the top of your page, below the cover photo. You can have 12 maximum, and you’re able to edit the image that is used for the application if you desire. Sam’s favorites include JD Supra, Twitter, and a newsletter signup. 
     
  • Highlighting posts: You can highlight individual posts on a page, which makes it take over both columns of the timeline. This can be especially useful for awards. To do this, hover over the star icon with each post. 
     
  • Enable messages: This enables users to contact the administrator of the page – to do this, go to edit the page, manage permissions, and then click "show messages," and save the changes. 
     
  • Tell your firm’s story: Using the timeline, you can tell your firm’s story. Create a "founded" page – create a story of how the firm was founded and by whom. Add in mergers, new partners, name changes, major events and awards. 
     
  • Check analytics: Check which posts have engaged people, how many stories were created, and look at the demographics of the people who "like" the page. 
     
  • Add the Facebook button/box in other places: Include it on your website, newsletters and other virtual and print materials. 
     
  • Get your vanity URL: It used to be that you needed 25 likes to get your vanity URL, but it seems that you may be able to get it when you start the page now. 

There are, of course, some don’ts to consider when putting together your business page: 

  • Don’t worry about not having likes at first.
  • Don’t clog up people’s news feeds. 
  • Don’t forget to moderate the page. 
  • Don’t forget to interact with commenters. 
  • Don’t over promote. 

Case Studies

Sam shared three excellent case studies for Facebook which illustrated her points above. 

  1. Rich Vetstein: He is an attorney, who has done a lot with his Facebook profile. Sam asked him whether he had gotten new business through Facebook, and he said he’s gotten a lot of new business: 
    1. 5 new real estate deals in the last six months. 
    2. Referrals to his other partners. 
    3. Success depends on who you’re connected to. 
       
  2. Goodwin Procter: They have done a great job of customizing their applications. Sam noted that you can change the order these appear in, following the "photos" application, which always appears first. 
     
  3. DLA Piper: Sam used DLA Piper to illustrate how they effectively use highlighted posts, show events, like other business pages, and share holiday greetings. 

Resources

Sam finished up by sharing some resources that we could use to learn more about Facebook for law firms, and social media in general: 

Not surprisingly, there were then a number of questions and comments for Sam!

Q&A

  • If an administrator of a Facebook page has left, is there a way to gain access? 
  • The best way to avoid this is by preventing it, either by having a couple of managers or a manager and a number of lesser roles. An audience member also added that you could set the administrative rights to link to a general firm email address. Also carefully select those who are going to be managers and in other roles. If it’s already happened, you may have to create a new page, and say that the old page is infringing on the new page. Facebook isn’t very good about responding to contact, so it’s unlikely they will be of assistance otherwise. 
     
  • There are non-official pages on Facebook, which are populated by Wikipedia. How can you get rid of them? 
  • Most companies have these, which are called community pages, and are populated by both Wikipedia and others talking about the company. Nancy said that historically, it’s been a nightmare to try to claim these or get rid of them, and someone later commented that Facebook does not allow companies to claim these, so there is no way to get rid of them. Sam noted that it illustrates that whether you want your firm to be on Facebook or not, it will be there. 
     
  • Someone commented that it’s a good idea to include your firm’s web or blog address in the "about" section of your Facebook page. 
     
  • How are firms handling existing Facebook places for checking in? 
  • There is a bad side to this, and the only way to handle it is to either try to merge places, which is not always successful, or to ask people not to check in, which is also not always successful. 
     
  • What Facebook provisions should be included in a firm’s social media policy?
  • Nancy and Sam agreed that this could be an entire webinar’s topic, but said that a few key items to consider include whether employees can friend clients on Facebook, whether they can link to the firm page from their work sections, whether they can mention a firm in comments on their personal pages, etc. Nancy suggested that we stay up to date on what the NLRB is ruling in terms of social media – they’re generally upholding employee rights over firms. To do this, she recommended setting up a Google alert for "NLRB" and "social media policies." Sam said that firms should train early and train often, and not assume that people know how to use Facebook. 

Thanks to Sam for an excellent webinar!