Basics of Social Media for Legal Writing

By: Keely Herrick, Parks Wood Law, Atlanta, Georgia

Nothing thrills your clients more than receiving a newsletter from a law firm, right? Admit it, even most lawyers don’t look to social media primarily for legal writing. So, if you want to reach out to your community about topics in your field, how do you use social media effectively to avoid getting immediately zoned out of someone’s news feed?

If It’s Not Interesting to You, It’s Not Interesting to Me

Just like when you’re meeting a new person, the best rule for presenting yourself online is to be yourself. If you’re forcing yourself to discuss a topic because you think that you should, rather than because you are interested in it, it’s much more difficult to start an interesting dialogue. You wouldn’t purposefully start a conversation about something you don’t care about, so don’t do that in your writing, either.

The World Is Your Audience

One caution as you write: you don’t want to take a position that could be adverse to a current or potential client of your firm. Keep this in mind and try to discuss matters objectively.

Linked In

Linked In is a great place to start for business-related conversations. You can join groups in your area of interest, or you can post your own blogs. As a trademark attorney, I know that the vocabulary of intellectual property can be daunting for lay people, just as financial services language is intimidating for me. So, with my blog posts on Linked In, I incorporate photos of my cats to illustrate my subjects. The goal is to find something that will make you come alive as a person in addition to demonstrating your knowledge on legal topics.

When posting on Linked In, don’t stop with your personal page. Also post on your firm page and on any relevant group pages, such as alumni groups or practice area groups. Linked In will track your views and likes over time, so that you can see which posts are more popular. It also never hurts to request comments from your connections, as every time someone comments, your article will appear in that person’s feed as well, exposing your ideas to a new group. Naturally, the more engagement you have from your readers, the more encouraged you will feel to write.

Twitter and Facebook

When posting on Twitter, remember to include hashtags. Simply place the # in front of a word or phrase that would be of interest to your potential audience. For example, hashtags appropriate for my articles would usually be #trademark, #catphoto, and #law. You only get 140 characters per post, so a tag like #intellectualproperty isn’t terribly practical. With Twitter, as with most social media, the time of day can also affect your popularity – posting at lunchtime, when people may be taking a work break, tends to be a good start. With regard to Facebook, while you might think that your friends would find a legal article boring, they may surprise you. The more people understand what it is that you do, the better they are able to forward your information to potential clients.

Offer an Opt Out

When e-mailing your articles to a list of contacts, it’s best to offer them the option of opting out of future mailings. Use your best judgment as to how often you’d like to post – you want to stay on your readers’ minds without being seen as a spammer.

Keely Herrick focuses her intellectual property practice on trademark and copyright law, including domestic and global prosecution, enforcement, trademark infringement, licensing, and domain name matters. She practiced for eight years in New York before returning to her hometown of Atlanta and joining the Parks Wood boutique