As technology is playing a bigger role in our lives, social media is also consuming more time in our lives.
As a recent report states, “the typical user now spends 2 hours and 25 minutes on social media each day, equating to roughly one full waking day of their life each week.” I consider myself an active user of social media as I enjoy using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
Since in-house lawyers – and especially General Counsels/Chief Legal Officers – are influential ambassadors for their respective organizations, they need to understand how best to leverage social media and to use it as a tool for learning, branding and relationship building purposes.
Here’s my “Top 10” Do’s and Don’ts of social media usage (in no particular order) for in-house counsels:
SOCIAL MEDIA DO’S:
1. Always Add Value: Think of your connections and followers on social media as your customers. Nurture and build your relationships with them by posting and sharing content that is valuable, interesting and meaningful.
2. Have Solid Connections: Be thoughtful with who you connect with and follow on social media. Don’t think that you need to connect with everyone who sends you a LinkedIn invite. For instance, before I accept a LinkedIn connection, I will carefully check out that person’s profile to see if it makes sense for me to connect with that person. Increasingly, I am not connecting with people who have Sales/Business Development in their job titles who I am unfamiliar with as I have often found many of them immediately try to sell something to me as soon as I connect with them. In addition, as they like to say in the UK, “Think Before You Link.”
3. Add Visuals to Your Posts: It is often the case that if you post/share content with visual(s) – a picture, a GIF, a video, etc…attached to it – more people will read it. Adding a visual is a differentiator as it can also make your content more appealing and interesting to your followers. Also, think about opportunities to record and post short and crisp videos on key topics.
4. Thoughtful Frequency: Be thoughtful about the appropriate cadence for you to post content – which can also depend upon your social media platform. While Twitter is the type of medium where users are expected to post information frequently, be more judicious when posting content on LinkedIn. Try not to “over post” on LinkedIn as you can run the risk of people tuning you out and not following you any longer. Instead, post enough content on a consistent basis over time (no more than once or twice a week IMO) – and it’s OK to have a much greater frequency to “like” or provide “comments” on the posts of others.
5. Be Authentic: When you share content on social media, be real and be yourself – even on a “professional” social media platform like LinkedIn. People are exposed to enough corporate “robots” in the workplace that it is refreshing to see others who post content that demonstrates their true and authentic self.
6. Serve as an Advocate: As an an-house attorney you are a “de-facto” ambassador for your company. Look for meaningful opportunities to serve as a proactive evangelist for your employer and its solutions.
7. Be Cybersecure: Social media has become a target-rich area for increasingly sophisticated cybercriminals. Always be proactive in guarding your social media accounts by using multi-factor authentication, using unique passwords and configuring your social media privacy/security profiles to properly protect yourself.
8. Follow Social Media Policies & Legal Ethics: As social media has become increasingly pervasive, there’s a strong likelihood that your organization has its own social media policies/practices for its employees – and if it does not, perhaps you can help craft one. Be sure to understand those policies/practices and follow them. Also, lawyers need to be mindful and comply with the legal ethics requirements for social media usage that are applicable to their specific states/geographies.
9. Consistently Use It or Lose It: Like any technology, social media needs to be consistently used by you in order to gain maximum value from it.
10. Have Fun: Most importantly, try to have some fun when using social media as it’s an excellent way to learn and build relationships with each other – especially in our growing hybrid workplaces.
SOCIAL MEDIA DONT’S:
1. Don’t Post Inappropriate Content: Be smart in what you share on social media as your posts can wind up on the front page of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or be seen by your Chief Legal Officer. Many years ago a mentor of mine provided me with great advice about emails when he told me that some of the best emails he sent where the ones he never sent out – the same philosophy holds true for your posts on social media.
2. Avoid Politics: I personally avoid any political discourse in my social media content as I don’t think there is much to be gained in terms of enhancing your professional brand by talking about politics online – especially in our current highly divisive political climate.
3. Avoid Negativity and The Trolls: Always try to remain upbeat and positive in your social media posts as being negative may harm your social media brand. On occasion, there will be people on social media who may bait you in having challenging and sometimes “ugly” dialogues in the forms of posts. I ignore those “trolls” as I don’t think it’s productive to engage in a back and forth online conversation with them.
4. Don’t Just Be a Parrot: While it’s great to re-post important content that is shared by employer, don’t just stop there by simply repeating that post. Instead, go ahead and also offer your own thoughtful commentary as to why that post from your employer is relevant.
5. Don’t Be Creepy: We all need to be highly respectful to each other when using social media. Also, please avoid using social media sites as dating sites.
6. Don’t Post Dated Content: Avoid posting content that is not current as your post may be viewed as being “stale” and out of touch.
7. Don’t Be Consumed by Stats: While we may be interested in how many people view, like or comment on our posts, don’t be fixated with that data. Instead, remain focused on sharing valuable content and serving your connections/followers.
8. Don’t Overtag: Many forms of social media enables you to “tag” or add people’s specific social media profiles to a post. While this can be an effective tool to provide recognition to people, please avoid tagging too many people on a specific post who may not be expected to be tagged as some people may find that practice to be annoying.
9. Don’t Be Tone Deaf: Before you post content, please consider what day it is or what is happening in our world. For example, if it’s Mother’s Day, you may want to considering posting some Mother’s Day-centric content versus something else.
10. Don’t Fear Social Media: Social media is a very powerful tool. However, don’t be afraid in using social media and looking for opportunities to put it to work for you and your company.