Monday, November 23, 2009

Lawyer Small Talk on Facebook is Published News

Yesterday's LA Family Court Examiner published a story called "What Lawyers Really Think of Judges, Pro Per Litigants, and Their Jobs" which basically republished Facebook communications made by a number of lawyers as they had idle time in the work day.

Whether one line of text about how the author got the printout of the Facebook communications is actually an article or whether this is an adequate practice of journalism may be interesting issues, but LAWYERS focus on the forest, not the trees (i.e. what you say on Facebook is potentially newsworthy media content for all kinds of publications).

In my seminars for lawyers and on speaking occasions about effective social media for lawyers, I frequently use the mantra ... think publishing ... think publishing ... think publishing ... but the truth is many lawyers either choose to use Facebook for personal rather than professional activities, or they improperly operate their account privacy settings or misjudge what might put them in a bad light.

However, as social media marketing becomes more popular with lawyers and law firms working to establish a robust presence online, the answer is not only as simple that now lawyers need to make their Facebook profiles private.

Used properly, social media can provide a significant marketing and business development benefit for lawyers and law firms. From a marketing perspective, public Facebook profiles or Facebook profiles and pages that maintain communities with large numbers of members are obviously preferred to private accounts that use Facebook like a communication tool such as email, chat or text.

Common sense is still the best advice - figure out which are your personal social media accounts and which are your public social media accounts, and have a plan for each. Of course everything we do online is online, so don't overestimate your online privacy in your personal accounts.

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