When considering the issue of Internet security for your law firm, you likely conjure up images of nefarious strangers attempting to hack your website and social media accounts. To protect yourself, you make use of firewalls and security software, configure strong security settings, and dutifully update your passwords on a regular basis. What many don’t consider – and don’t want to consider – is that you may need a little more protection closer to home.
In the past several months, several Academy members have had to deal with some difficult social media dilemmas, caused by members of their own online communities and, in one case, a former employee. These challenges have included:
- Unacceptable comments left on a public firm Page by the friend of a staff member
- Inappropriate content, including an offensive political rant
- Law firm’s social media accounts seized by disgruntled former employee
Before you give up entirely on social media and delete all of your accounts, learn how you can protect yourself and your firm’s Facebook Page, while continuing to engage with your online community.
Safeguard your Law Firm Facebook Page
Configure your Settings
Facebook has some great features that you can enable to ensure that the content that appears on your Page is appropriate for everyone to see.
- Posting Ability – Specify whether others can post comments, photos and videos on your Page. While you may be tempted to prevent everyone from posting, bear in mind that engagement is the ultimate goal of social media. Moderating comments is a better choice.
- Post Visibility – Decide if messages posted by others are publicly visible
- Page Moderation – Block posts or comments containing specific words
- Profanity Filter – Block all profanity from appearing on your Page by setting filter to strong
Manage Page Admin Roles
You can and should designate staff to help out with social media tasks. However, be cautious when deciding what everyone has access to. There are 5 different levels of Facebook Page access, ranging from Administrator with full permissions to Analyst, who can only view data and see who has posted on your Page.
I recommend giving only Editor permissions to your staff. Editors can edit the Page, add apps, create and delete posts as the Page, respond to and delete comments and posts, send messages as the Page, create ads, view insights, and see who has posted. What they can’t do is change your password or seize control of your account. Maintain ownership of your social media accounts by designating yourself as the only Page Administrator.
Distinguish Between Profile and Page
While your Profile is private, with contents only visible to your friends, your law firm Page is public and searchable. That means that anyone who might be considering retaining your firm can – and trust me, will – look at your Facebook Page to get a sense of what your firm is all about. Consider the first impression you want to give. Your business Page is not the appropriate place to share your opinions on politics or other subjects that have the potential to offend.
Use Discretion When Connecting
Some folks treat their private Facebook Profile as a personal account, while others use it as more of a professional, networking tool. Either is fine, as long as you’re conscious of how you’re using it. Don’t accept colleagues, clients or prospects as friends on your Profile if you’re also connecting to your rowdy college buddies who are apt to toss around some profanities after their favorite team tanks in the playoffs.
Texas Academy Member Steve Mendel recently shared his experience with our members, “Today, I unfriended an individual, who was affiliated with a non-Academy law firm, but who lists some Academy individuals as mutual friends. I did so because the individual used the F-word. I have previously unfriended another non-Academy attorney when she blatantly disparaged an entire ethnic group.
The ultimate point is that clients and prospective clients not only review our websites, but they review other web-based content such as FB. I unfriend individuals to reduce the likelihood that clients or prospective clients would associate me with the irresponsible actions of someone else, simply because they were a FB “friend,” and, therefore, choose another law firm for their initial consultation and/or work.”
Monitor Your Page
Assign specific staff to monitor the activity on your Page. The whole point of social media is to engage with your community, so someone in your office should be interacting and responding to comments. Your designated monitor can also moderate, approve, and delete unsuitable comments if needed.
Educate Your Employees
Create, communicate, and enforce social media guidelines for your law firm. The Academy has developed a set of guidelines for our members, which outlines the dos and don’ts of social media and how staff is expected to interact with a firm’s online community.
Responding to Facebook Security Issues
In spite of your proactive approach, at some point you may be faced with a social media setback. Be prepared to respond accordingly.
- If you think an unauthorized party has gained access to your account, immediately change your password and have all staff do likewise
- Revoke admin access for any employees who have left your firm, even under amicable circumstances
- If someone you know inadvertently posts inappropriate content, immediately delete or hide their post and remind them of what’s acceptable on your law firm Page.
- If someone intentionally posts inappropriate content or comments, you can remove or ban that person from your Page. Removing someone from the Page will stop your posts from appearing in their newsfeed. However, Pages are public, so people who have been removed are able to like your Page again. Banning someone from your Page prohibits them from posting or commenting on your Page. Your posts will still appear in their newsfeed and they’re still able to share that content.
To ban someone, simply hover over their comment and click on the “X” and select “Ban (Name).” One note of caution, if you plan to ban someone, do so before you delete their offensive comment. Once the comment is deleted, you lose the ability to ban the troublemaker, unless they’ve also liked your Page.
Remember, your law firm’s Facebook Page represents you and your practice. If the comment or conversation isn’t one you’d want to take place in your office or at a seminar or client event, it’s not one that should appear on your Facebook Page.
What is your firm’s social media policy? Share your tips with me below.
SEO and Social Media Manager
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555
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