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With an endless stream of social media culture, rules, and mishaps, some professionals are giving up. Despite the many potential pitfalls of social media, the benefits of your firm using social media are abundant. However, social media policies aren’t just about building your online presence or getting more clients, but about protecting your firm. Some states are stricter with ethics rules than others, and can hold social media posts to the same standards as advertising.
Employees should be rewarded when they follow policy and improve the firm’s social media presence.
This presentation gives the legal and business framework for corporations looking to build trust online with their customers.
Robert Scoble built Channel 9 for Microsoft in 2005 to change their image from the Borg to a human company. 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.
Social media is an easy way to expand your client reach, and learn about potential clients.
Don’t jump the gun - before you start posting on Facebook or Tweeting, your firm needs a social media policy. Play it safe, like CNN did when journalist Octavia Nasar tweeted her respect for Shiite cleric and Hezbollah leader Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein. Design a series of comprehensive trainings that reviews the purpose, goals, and logistical details of your policy. Through partnering with a law firm to craft a custom social media policy, deploy it to staff, and maintain continuous monitoring and litigation support, businesses can more effectively enter the social media space with confidence. Now that the use of social media is becoming so widespread, disengagement is not the answer.
Using social media can improve your market intelligence, increase website traffic, raise brand awareness, and boost search engine rankings. A social media policy provides clear guidelines as to what staff can and cannot do when posting and engaging with social media platforms.
Staff should leave understanding their responsibilities and how their digital actions can affect the firm’s reputation.
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. A social media savvy firm and employees can create sincere and meaningful relationships with their clients.

The best policies should help your firm achieve its social media and marketing goals and empower staff to successfully use social media to connect with the community, build your brand visibility and garner clients. Start out with a series of trainings for you new policy, and do refreshers and updates throughout the year.
Get input from all stakeholders and participants by establishing a committee of your rainmaking lawyers, senior managers, IT experts, marketers, and members of Gen Y to devise your specific firm strategy.The involvement of young minds is essential to the process. Flag posts that are inappropriate and why, note which posts are excellent uses of your social media reach.
Lawyers unfamiliar with the tools should enlist new associates fresh out of law school to provide practical tutorials—they’ve always swum in this sea, and naturally have a different mindset.Your new associates have also weathered the job market in the social media age.
Aim for a clear, concise policy - staff should be able to read your policy and clearly understand how to act on social media. If appropriate action isn’t taken, your firm could be sued under state and federal laws.
Perhaps maintaining separate profiles is too onerous for some, with Facebook “smart lists” or Google+ “circles” providing a better solution.Law firm policies range from listing overarching principles that govern the use of Web-based technologies, to listing rigid and prescriptive rules for the who, what, where, when (and when not) to engage in social media. You may be tempted to make your policy restrictive on the basis that it can become more permissive as lawyers gain experience.
This will depend on your firm culture, but we don’t think curbing enthusiasm at the get-go is warranted by the business or ethical risks, unless you practice in a jurisdiction that has tougher ethical rules. You should take a permissive stance on the subject matter of Twitter feeds, say, and a more restrictive stance whenever client communications are involved.Your law firm brand is important. Marketing staff members can offer significant value by training lawyers about effective communication skills, including how to avoid jargon and how to frame issues from client perspectives. Doing so will create a bottleneck when the thrust of social media is about speed and spontaneity.Instead, think about how to balance security with the efficiency of the tools.
If your policy defines the scope of the content to be published on each site, have faith in your writers to follow it and do not interfere. These are the same lawyers on whose professional judgment you and your clients rely every day.Seasoned bloggers should be trusted to click and submit. Any more filters than that and your firm’s communications may lag.You should set up Google Alerts or RSS feeds to summarize your firm’s activities on social media sites. Occasionally, it might happen that clients become concerned about what’s being said, and in that case you should be prepared when the call comes in.Develop a regular schedule for each type of media you’re using.
For example, group blog schedules are enforced more strictly than personal efforts, given the need for constant publication. A team of 10 lawyers might publish an 800-1200 word commentary every weekday morning, such that each contributor is responsible for something biweekly.

Or the same team might prefer to publish snapshot summaries, each contributor being responsible for something every week.
You should assign your lawyers soft deadlines to have written or solicited a post, and allow them to swap dates if they find themselves overloaded. Have pieces in the can so that you have content to post in emergencies.Brainstorm creative ways to generate a readership for your blog.
Try publishing a weekly blog-roll of content you’ve read elsewhere on the net—other editors appreciate it and will remember by cross-linking back.No matter what the medium, firms should offer real incentives to lawyers who help with these new initiatives.
Within your firm, regard the social media committee the same as other work in management, or count non-billable hours docketed as if it were billable time.
Appreciation for the lawyers’ effort should be reflected in their reward.And remember that your social media policy will need to be tweaked as the firm gathers experience and as the tools and opportunities evolve. In six months, your firm might develop in areas well-suited to social media—privacy, marketing and advertising, copyright, entertainment, and communications, to name a few—and a practice group Twitter account might seem like the easy and obvious fit. All of us that actively use the Internet have likely made a social media misstep somewhere along the line. The business uses of social media are more readily ascertainable for younger users, and they seem to have an innate sense of how to use these platforms to make a soft sell. Older users often misunderstand the nature of personal profiles versus business pages.The simplest explanation for these departure points, and others, is that the younger group grew up immersed in social media and the older group did not. So it is that younger users understand the flow of digital social conversations; and they realize the essential permanence of online information—even though they sometimes willfully ignore this fact. There is an ease of interaction manifest in their social networking that is nowhere present in the online machinations of older users.Sense and Sensibility We need to understand that different generations are fundamentally different when it comes to sharing information online. Many attorneys feel hamstrung respecting their use of social media, given the myriad of ethical rules they are required to follow. The main reasons for this is a cultural lag with the authorities that are charged with creating the rules we are all to follow.
Many of the individuals responsible for directing or creating these rules do not have the technology background or experience to understand and keep up with the nuances of dealing with social media.

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