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To All My Adoring Fans ...

Elvis-Fans1 Truth is, I don't know whether I have any adoring fans -- or even merely lukewarm fans. Why don't I? Well, because I haven't set up one of those Facebook fan pages. If you're on Facebook, you know what I'm talking about, because you no doubt receive the same steady stream of invitations to become a fan of X lawyer or Y law firm. In many cases, I didn't even know these lawyers when I accepted their initial "friend" request and now they want me to declare myself their "fan."

It appears I was so preoccupied with fending off fan requests the other day that I missed a discussion on Twitter of the relative merits of Facebook fan pages for lawyers. Of course, this being Twitter, the comments were cursory, but many seemed to say, in so many words, "What's the point?" Niki Black, the lawyer and blogger who kicked off the discussion, asked, "I don't see the benefit of fan pages. Am I alone?" She is not alone, judging by the comments, although some said they do see benefit in fan pages and Black reported that she heard from one lawyer who said she had recently signed up three clients through her Facebook fan page.

To be clear, the discussion is not about whether a lawyer should set up a personal profile page on Facebook, but about whether a lawyer or law firm should set up a separate business page. An article yesterday in USA Today highlights how these pages can work for other types of businesses. It works just great for Baja Sharkeez, a nightspot in Hermosa Beach, Calif., for example. But what about for a profession often analogized to another form of shark?

One of the lawyers who contributed to the Twitter thread, Martha Sperry, wrote about it afterwards on her blog, Advocate's Studio. "I am sensitive to the debate raised in the Twitter discussion," she writes, "which addresses whether starting a business page and imploring your 'friends' to become 'fans' is overstepping the implied social mores of the FB platform. However, I fail to see a meaningful difference between promoting your work on FB and promoting your work on any other social network, even those targeted at professionals, or even promoting your work in the real world."

I agree with Sperry. In fact, I believe it makes enormous sense for law firms and legal organizations to set up company pages on Facebook. When I give presentations about social networking, I make the point that if you want to catch fish, you go where the fish are. With more than 250 million active users, Facebook is where the fish are. And not only do you go where the fish are, but you use the lures and tackle that match the fishing spot. "Friends" and "fans" and "causes" are the fishing gear of Facebook.

But -- and there is a big but here -- if a law firm is going to create a corporate presence on Facebook, it had better do it well. That means several things, but one is to keep at it with fresh content, just like a blog or Web site. Don't create a Facebook page and then promptly forget about it. Apart from the need to keep it fresh is the need to monitor activity on it. You don't need to log on one day and find that some disgruntled client has become a "fan" for the sole purpose of trashing you on Facebook. Beyond keeping it active, be creative in how you use it. Some firms use Facebook for recruiting, for example.

So, go ahead, send me your fan requests. I may or may not accept them, but at least I will defend the business case for sending them.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 6, 2009 at 10:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

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