Facebook for Law Firms? Yes, Really.

Facebook for LawyersEveryone, including Mark Zuckerberg, is trying to figure out how to put Facebook to work for their businesses. And lawyers are no exception. But does Facebook really have a role in law firm business development? Or do lawyers just “feel like” they need to be part of the Facebook craze?

I’m a “horse’s mouth” kind of person. So, when I want to learn about using Facebook for a business or law firm, I want to know what the people at Facebook have to say on the subject:

Your business is for your customers. Build relationships with them, reach new people and drive sales using Facebook.

Over 900 million people like and comment an average of 3.2 billion times every day. When you have a strong presence on Facebook, your business is part of these conversations and has access to the most powerful kind of word-of-mouth marketing — recommendations between friends.

No doubt, building relationships is what law firm business development is all about. And Facebook’s reach is undeniable. But before you waste a lot of time building pages, broadcasting marketing messages, blindly sharing and liking, it’s important to understand both the true risks and potential rewards.

Why are so many law firm Facebook pages so lame? As Sam Glover observes:

People aren’t interested in a law firm. At best, they are interested in a particular lawyer, but normal people are about as interested in a law firm as they are interested in a proctology clinic, and for similar reasons.

…Just as a blog that hasn’t been updated in months is worse than no blog at all, a Facebook page with no updates is worse than a waste of space. It shows visitors that you jumped on the latest marketing trend, then forgot about it when you moved on to the next thing. It makes you look like a clueless marketing lemming.

So many law firm Facebook pages are lame because, when it comes to professional services marketing and networking, so many lawyers are lame. It’s not Facebook, it’s you (or your social media consultant).

Can a law firm be interesting to people on Facebook? That primarily depends on the law firm and lawyers.

While normal people aren’t interested in law firms, hopefully at least some people are interested in you. Family? Friends from high school, college, law school? Colleagues from the office? And to be sure, even most of these people aren’t interested in your law firm. But again, hopefully they are interested in you, what you have to say, and the stuff you share. Some of these people will also be interested in “stuff” that might be tangentially related to what you do. So, if you’re a criminal defense attorney, while they might not want to read your auto-fed zillionth version of “5 Things to Know After Being Arrested,” they might be interested in real news, information, and commentary on specific issues related to the criminal justice system. In the very least, “popping up” in these people’s Facebook news feed will help you stay near the top of their mind. So that when they (or another friend) needs you, you’ll enter their mind at that key moment.

Of course there are sensitive issues relating to Facebook use of which you should be conscientious. Is it unlikely that you’re going to get a deluge of new business from people posting, “Hey, arrested for DUI last night, anyone know a good attorney?” Or, “I’m having some serious debt issues and am contemplating filing bankruptcy. Know a good bankruptcy lawyer?” Let’s hope not… But maybe you don’t want those clients anyway.

Even if you’re not convinced that Facebook can play a role in professional networking and business development, there might be other reasons that lawyers should “know” Facebook. Just as there are competence standards for what lawyers say and write, don’t be shocked to see technology competence standards applied to the use of social networking sites.

Pay consultants to set up automated Facebook feeds, like others’ posts, and comment on your behalf? Nah.

Ignore Facebook entirely and dismiss it as a child’s time waster? Be my guest.

Learn how businesses are using Facebook effectively? Be authentic? Be social? Be aware of your ethical obligations in the context of using Facebook? Yep.