Public and Permanent

#3 Assume everything that you put online is public and permanent.

This is another one from our 100 online legal marketing tips redux series.

Maybe tattoos aren’t that permanent anymore.

Sitting at your desktop or tapping away on your smartphone can feel like a private activity. But we all know that what we push into the web ether is neither private nor temporary, right?

Seems like a pretty straightforward rule to follow.

Unfortunately, many lawyers forget this simple rule which can sometimes get them into hot water. Others think that they can avoid the general rule with various privacy setting configurations. Let me save you some trouble, you can’t. Or perhaps more accurately, you ought not rely on privacy settings when your reputation, license to practice or your professional obligations to your clients are on the line.

Which brings us back to the basic assumption of public and permanent.

While public and permanent should give you some pause, it really shouldn’t cripple you. We can think of plenty of things lawyers can post online that shouldn’t get them into trouble. Pictures of cats, what they had for breakfast… Okay, so maybe those don’t represent the best examples.

Nonetheless, you might find that the “stuff” with which you are most comfortable publishing publicly and permanently, is also the “stuff” that people want to find about you online.

This might include stuff that shows your personality or provides insight into how your practice “works.”

When we report on the “performance” of relevant social networking metrics, we commonly find that the more social posts are the ones for which audiences provide the most engagement. Put simply, people prefer to engage with lawyers who are interesting, entertaining and yes, in very rare instances, actually funny.

Most lawyers conclude that social networks are about getting their “marketing message” in front of their audiences on a regular basis. They take the Burger King approach. Expose people to 400 tweets, status updates, posts, etc, every single day and these people will think of you when they are in need of your services.

Unfortunately, more often, they end up filtering you (unfollowing, blocking and reporting you for spam). You see, that is not what people want and it is certainly not what they love.