Facebook Etiquette for Lawyers: How to Engage Online Without Damaging Your Reputation
Tips on joining the conversation—carefully.
Everybody seems to use Facebook. Even those who hate to admit it still find themselves scrolling through the status updates, watching the cute dog videos, and catching up with long-lost friends. But as an attorney, it’s important to maintain a certain amount of professionalism, even on your personal social media pages—if not, there could be repercussions that affect your career and your firm. With that in mind, take a look at this guide to engaging on Facebook:
Keep your cool
Your job as an attorney often includes debate, so it’s probably difficult to keep your mouth shut when someone posts an opposing point of view on Facebook. But in order to maintain your good standing and protect your reputation, it’s best to refrain from venting your disagreement with others (even during this wacky election) or attacking them personally. Instead, use your skills to state your point of view diplomatically, or simply refrain from online debate.
Proof before you post
There’s no reason to misspell words or use improper grammar, especially if you’re a lawyer! Those who do look careless and you don’t want it to reflect on your professional skills. Always check over your posts before clicking that button. Facebook offers spellcheck, so be sure and use it.
Use your lawyering skills for good
Before posting your argument on anything, make sure it’s reasonable and to the point. Just like in the courtroom, constructing an argument logically that makes sense is key on social media. Using caps and tons of explanation points doesn’t usually win people over to your point of view, and on Facebook, it can just look like shouting, which is the last thing you want.
Stay away from posting case or client information
This one’s a no-brainer for anyone in the legal profession. Millions of people engage on Facebook every day and no matter how well you may think you’ve masked who your client is or any identifying information about the case, it’s likely someone, somewhere will recognize who or what you’re talking about. So even if you are dying to share something that you may think is interesting or relevant to others, resist the temptation to do it on Facebook. The consequences of someone figuring it out could be detrimental to your reputation.
Always verify before you post
There’s no doubt that there is a lot of information floating around that is outdated, erroneous, or just plain wrong. We’ve all seen those posts with crazy stats or news stories that turn out to be rumors or pranks. So it’s always a good idea to take the extra few minutes to make sure that the information you’re going to share is accurate. Remember that it’s your goal to be a trusted and reliable source, not the attorney who jumps to any conclusions.
Express your thoughts—thoughtfully
As an attorney with years of experience, it’s tempting to just spout off your thoughts regarding certain cases, crimes, or trending legal happenings. It’s perfectly fine for you to get involved and give your perspective—just make sure that you impart your wisdom in a professional way. Joining the conversation is a great way to show your expertise as long as you do it with the proper etiquette.
Social media is one of the most powerful ways to communicate today, but it can also be deadly to your reputation if you’re not careful. Remember to follow these rules, use common sense, and keep your online conversations professional.
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