Social Media Policy for Lexcel V5.0
Lexcel 5.0 and Social Media
The new Lexcel standard, launched at the end of October 2011 had one surprise inclusion, regarding Social Media;
"4.5 Practices will have a social media policy, which must include:
a: a procedure for participating in social media on behalf of the practice
b: the scope of permitted and prohibited content
c: the person responsible for the policy
d: a procedure for an annual review of the policy, to verify it is in effective operation across the practice."
This provision was not included in the draft standard earlier this year, and reflects recognition by the Law Society for the importance of Social Media in marketing and branding.
However there are still many solicitors who don't know what Social Media is.
Wikipedia defines Social Media as;
"The term Social Media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue."
It further distinguishes Social Media from industrial media;
"People obtain information, education, news and other data from electronic media and print media. Social media are distinct from industrial or traditional media, such as newspapers, television, and film. They are relatively inexpensive and accessible to enable anyone (even private individuals) to publish or access information, compared to industrial media, which generally require significant resources to publish information."
The key to the growth of Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is contained in this - "relatively inexpensive and accessible to anyone."
To look at the power of Social Media just consider its impact on the riots in Britain earlier this year, or the troubles that still continue in the Middle East now. These were reported live as they were happening through Social Media, and in the cases of the riots was allegedly used to "incite to riot."
But they also have massive potential to promote brands and organisations, and this is the most likely reason for the inclusion in the Lexcel Standard. The Law Society even has its own Facebook Page, just go on Facebook and search for the Law Society of England and Wales.
They also have a Twitter Account @TheLawSociety
Even the Solicitors Regulation Authority are in on the act on Twitter @sra_solicitors
You'll also find key figures in the Law Society on LinkedIn.
Pretty soon, much like websites, if a practice doesn't participate they will lose out on a significant way of promoting and marketing their brand.
But there are dangers in using Social Media within a firm, and there are important questions to ask before entering the Social Media arena.
- Which platforms will the practice participate in?
- Who would be allowed to participate in Social Media platforms for the practice?
- What would be the allowable content that the practice posts on Social Media?
Without careful consideration, it would be easy for a practice to fall quickly into disrepute through an inappropriate posting or badly worded article.
It's also important to note that the use of platforms such as Facebook etc should be part of an integrated marketing strategy to reach as many potential new clients as possible. And on that note there is also a very important point; Social Media is used for provision of information, not direct marketing. Businesses that do well on promoting their brand inform subscribers about their projects, who they are sponsoring, or post informed opinions on topical subjects connected with their industry or profession.
Having said that there are opportunities to market on some Social Media platforms such as Facebook through the use of advertisements aimed at specific target audiences such as, for example 18 to 24 year olds in Cardiff.
For Lexcel version 5.0 if a practice does not utilise Social Media then it doesn't need to have a policy.
But how many practices can afford not to?
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