Over the last few months, we have seen a number of stories breaking in the news that have proven fantastic for law firms and others, well not so useful.
Social Media can be a hot bed for various discussions, where many opinions can be voiced. People are very passionate over social media, but sometimes that passion can turn into a negative sour taste if something is said out of turn. The social media Big 5’s (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok) all have some form of filter and various policies in place to protect us. However, even they seem to get it wrong from time to time.
But where does the responsibility really stop? With the user, with the platforms, or both?
Over the last few months, we have seen a number of stories of individuals who have seen social media backfire and get them into a lot of trouble.
- More historical abusive tweets found by the ECB – https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/jun/08/we-do-feel-anxious-jimmy-anderson-difficult-time-for-england-players
- Racial tweets from a solicitor who has been suspended from her own law firm (Source – https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/lawyer-racist-lilibet-suspended-joanna-toch-b1861265.html )
- Texas attorney comes under fire over racist comment on Asian Tesla employee’s LinkedIn post (Source – https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9657561/Texas-attorney-fire-racist-comment-Asian-Tesla-employees-LinkedIn-post.html )
- Arlene Foster awarded £125k damages in Dr Christian Jessen libel case after a defamatory tweet (Source. – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-57268308)
When I am coaching law firms and legal providers on best practices within the world of social media. I emphasise these 5 key areas:
- Alcohol + Social Media = Disaster! Don’t get drunk and do social media. So many people do this and think it is great at the time, until you wake up the next morning and you turn a nice shade of green when you see what you’ve posted.
- Don’t Argue – I’m not saying you don’t have a right to an opinion. Everyone does. But when it turns into a dramatic soap opera, things can get out of hand very quickly. Just because you argue online, doesn’t mean you are never going to meet that person face to face. Comments can live on long after the argument has finished.
- Your Job and Your Clients – If you are not happy in your job or you are unhappy with a client, don’t voice this on social media. How do you think that will look to a prospective employer? How do you think this looks to prospective clients? They don’t want the thought that they might be named and shamed. Stay professional at all times.
- Private Conversations – There is no such thing as a private conversation in the world of social media, as soon as you hit enter that conversation is in the public domain. You may think it is private because it is within your Direct Messages, but a screen shot can be obtained in seconds and travels fast. If you don’t want it to be in the public domain, don’t put it on social media.
- Personal Brand – We all have some form of digital footprint, and there is nothing bigger than what you put on social media. We have a natural instinct to be the first to post something, without thinking if it is the right thing to post. It can take 25 years to build your personal brand, but it can be destroyed in 5 minutes with an inappropriate tweet or photo.
Anything you post on social media is documented and stored. I am not saying don’t voice your opinions online or say absolutely nothing. But before you reach for your keyboard and start posting out a tweet or an update, think about what impact this post might have if it is misconstrued or worse makes its way into the press and then it spreads like wildfire? Yes, you may go viral, but it will be for all the wrong reasons.
Social Media is here to stay. It is only going to get bigger and more complex, how you manage it in your professional and personal lives is incredibly important. Enjoy social media, for all the right reasons. Share helpful content that will help keep your audience engaged and continue to promote your personal and commercial brand. Keep it social!