3 Styles of Law Firm Facebook Page

[The following is a continuation of yesterday’s Law Firm Facebook Pages: 5 Examples of Doing It Right. That post features 5 law firm pages, each a good example of professional visibility on Facebook. It helps to read it first.]

If most advice about connecting and communicating on Facebook focuses on consumers and it probably doesn’t make sense for an austere law firm to run a social campaign with videos starring a bald, handsome guy with an eye patch and his sidekick dog that counts beers by tapping his paw, the question becomes:

how do you build professional visibility on the world’s largest communications platform?

One answer might be to look at three styles (or types) of law firm Facebook pages.

Think of it this way: so far, you know you need “transportation.” Now you need to decide: bicycle? moped? car? skateboard? hummer? helicopter? tank? The answer depends on where you are going and who is coming with you, among other considerations:

1. The Company Intranet

Consider what you’d do and say on Facebook if your law firm’s page was a modern-day corporate Intranet. Obviously, there are certain things that appear on your Intranet that would never appear on Facebook, but then plenty of other items would. Example: pics of the ice cream social for summer associates.

Screen shot 2011-08-17 at 11.05.02 AM.png Or, a terrific press mention. Or a shout-out to employees for reaching an amazing philanthropic milestone. (All real-world examples from one of my favorite go-to law page examples, Fenwick & West.)

Who reads a company Intranet? Obviously, employees. But when you start thinking about programming your Facebook page in the same style, feel-good HR content becomes feel-good PR content.

Transparency.

A corporate Intranet is hidden from public view; on Facebook, a page-as-Intranet is not. And that’s what matters.

On Facebook you can count on others (friends, advocates, past and future employees, prospective clients, old clients, media, others) looking over your shoulder, seeing how you: treat your employees; celebrate firm, attorney, and client successes; reach corporate milestones; invest in community service, and all of the rest. It is branding, PR, a mix of the two.

The topic deserves a post all of its own – I hope you get the point. If you think about your page this way, you begin to understand your first audience: current employees. And, given the “viral” nature of Facebook, as your employees “engage” with the page, the audience grows. Good.

2. Corporate Outpost

Consider what you’d do and say if your Facebook page was another important corporate outpost, one part of your firm’s whole digital presence – akin to that section of your website where you show people who are interested 1) what you do, and 2) why you are good at it.

Again, another example from yesterday’s post, Miller Starr Regalia’s landing page:

Screen shot 2011-08-17 at 11.36.33 AM.png

I don’t need to spend too much time telling you what to include on a Facebook page focused on your corporate messaging (think: “We are Loeb & LoebBryan CaveDavis Wright Tremaine … your firm name … and this is what we do well”), but it makes perfect sense to me that each of these firms above, and others, include an archive of firm publications (updates, alerts, commentary, etc.) directly on their page. Content works overtime on social media to showcase firm expertise and authority in fields of practice.

Why build a corporate outpost on Facebook? First answer: because people will Google your firm name. And, given it is Facebook, with time, your law firm page will start showing up on the first page of Google. So: at a minimum, you build a corporate outpost on social to control your firm’s corporate message in search. As important as that is, it hardly ends there.

3. The Subject Page

What is your firm’s chief focus? Or, the chief focus of key practice groups? Which professions and industries do you serve? Consider what you would do and say on Facebook if your firm’s page was constructed with an editorial focus chiefly in answer to those questions.

Thinking like an editor.

Screen shot 2011-08-17 at 12.58.35 PM.png

As you’ve heard time and again, ours is the Age of Information. And yet, we’re burdened by noise. There are an awful lot of people who are great at writing titles, but not so hot at writing what follows after you click the link (the article, the post, the news, the thought piece). We’re also burdened by a lack of filtering, and so enter “curation” that catch-all buzzword that means becoming an authoritative, trusted source of information that matters to me.

I have long said that lawyers and law firms stand to benefit by participating in this “online landscape” – call it what you will. It requires authenticity and professionalism, but the fact is, at a time when it has never been easier to distribute information:
– lawyers and law firms actually have hard-earned professional expertise; you actually have something to say
– the practice of law is in no small way a daily relationship with language; you are communicators to begin with
– you understand the role of the written word in establishing and maintaining reputation, authority, sense of expertise.

Enough already, translate that to: one terrific approach on Facebook is not to build a corporate page but to build an industry- or subject-specific page that focuses on the informational needs of the people you serve.

Yesterday’s example: Fashion Law by Fox Rothschild attorney Staci Riordan. Almost all of the content shared on the page focuses on the needs and interests of the audience, not the opposite. The page is indeed a promotional platform; it just also happens to be useful and interesting.

Many of you have undoubtedly thought this through with the creation of a practice-specific blog. Now, recreate that hybrid, new-media outlet on Facebook, where an engaged audience grows itself, and can help spread what you share beyond your immediate network of followers.

Professional visibility.

(I’d be remiss not to point to our many subject-based law pages as example. Our goal on Facebook: find and connect to audiences that need to know what lawyers and law firms are writing about, on any given subject that matters to them. Our most recent page, launched two weeks ago: Predatory Lending Watch.)

Fact is, when you choose what style of law firm Facebook page to build, it’s not an either/or proposition. You can incorporate elements from all three (and many others!) and who knows: maybe a dog that counts beers in the fridge is exactly what your page needs. It just depends on two things: 1) your audience, and 2) your ability to prove it.

Happy to talk you about your Facebook plans – drop us a line.


Also see:
Law Firms on Facebook: 5 Examples of Doing It Right
3 Quick Ways to Spruce Up Your Law Firm Facebook Page
Facebook as Major News Source: You Stand to Benefit