Social media has grown exponentially in the last decade. Before the dawn of Facebook, there was Compuserve, followed closely by Friendster, Friends Reunited and Myspace; all stepping-stones in a movement that has revolutionised the way we communicate. The popularity of social networks continues to grow, with the recent introduction of Pinterest, Instagram and Vine amongst others.
Many industries have been slow to jump on the social bandwagon, not fully understanding the benefits and instead, concentrating solely on the risks. Legal services in particular are haunted by the possibility of defamation, damage to reputation, client confidentiality and data breaches amongst other immobilising fears.
Image: 3D Social Networking © 2012 Chris Potter
- Commercial benefits - using social media as a marketing and advertising tool
- Engaging with clients and other professionals, receiving direct and immediate feedback
- Greater access to information and resources
- Breaking down geographical barriers
- Sharing of opinions and debating amongst social media users
However, these benefits cannot be explored without proper education in the current laws and standards of social media. Parliament’s 2014 article on current legislation can be found here.
It is imperative to prepare for possible social media faux pas through the introduction of preventative methods, such as a social media policy, strategy and guide.
In 2013, Milbank, an international law firm introduced a now infamous policy to protect themselves from social media snafus. The policy is overflowing with paranoid restrictions such as the following:
“Social Media Sites may create opportunities for personal and professional embarrassment, breaches of confidentiality, real or perceived violations of privacy and identity theft.”
While avoidance may be the easy way out, your competitors will be educating their employees and reaping the benefits of the social space. If the Ministry of Defence can have a surprisingly encouraging social media policy, so can any business.
Looking for more advice? We offer bespoke social media services, including training, audits and strategies on how to master the art of communicating online safely.
Header image: Instagram and other social media apps © 2012 Jason Howie http://bit.ly/1vanMMh