The same percentage visit YouTube at least once a month. Millions more use Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, and other popular platforms.
These stats likely come as no surprise to the countless lawyers who have embraced social media in their personal lives. But, as a whole, lawyers have been on the slower side when it comes to adopting social media as a tool useful to the profession.
Caution about implementing any new technology into the relatively staid culture of law practice is understandable. But, the fact is, social media has become so ingrained as part of global culture that lawyers can no longer ignore it as a powerful platform to grow and benefit their practice. Here are three ways lawyers can harness the power of social media.
Track Emerging Issues Relevant to Clients and Client Generation
Clients love when a lawyer spots an issue before it becomes a costly legal quagmire. Social media feeds represent a real-time barometer of the public sentiment and interest on every imaginable topic. Following relevant social media accounts provides a lawyer with an up-to-the-minute stream of information highlighting issues that matter to clients.
As just one example, consider a solicitor who represents a manufacturer of consumer products. That solicitor may catch wind of a defect in the client's products via social media posts by unhappy customers, giving the client a head-start on taking steps to mitigate legal harms. Conversely, take a solicitor who represents victims of defective products. Social media can alert that solicitor to customer complaints and give them a jump on the competition in identifying potential clients and areas of legal liability. The failure of either lawyer to monitor social media for this information puts them, and their clients, at a disadvantage.
Market Your Expertise
Social media provides a powerful platform to demonstrate expertise. With legal issues constantly in the news, social media-savvy lawyers can weigh-in on topics of public interest. Over time, a strong social media presence will attract followers and grow public trust in their analysis. In other words, social media constitutes a form of direct-to-public marketing. It can generate outreach from potential clients as well as follow-on marketing opportunities (speaking engagements, television appearances, etc.).
Lawyers can also take advantage of the powerful advertising tools social media platforms offer. With 6 in 10 Australians using Facebook actively (and 5 in 10 using it at least once per day), lawyers can promote their services within the social media feeds of specific categories of potential clients, in specific locations, who have specific interests and professions.
Mine for Powerful Evidence
Lawyers have also begun to discover that social media posts constitute a goldmine of evidence in ongoing matters. Social media feeds often catalogue users' daily lives. Sometimes, the information they contain proves extremely valuable. For example, a party to a litigation who claims to have suffered a disabling injury can undermine their case by posting a picture of themself skydiving on social media. Conversely, a lawyer may find a bystander video of an accident in which their client suffered a catastrophic injury posted to social media. In short, in this day and age, a lawyer investigating the facts of a case can look to social media as a valuable tool for collecting potential evidence.