Should Lawyers Quit Blogging for Facebook Only?

This week brings the news that Rockville Central News, one of the top five local blogs in Maryland, decided to move its operation entirely to Facebook.

Then CNN weighed in with Will Facebook replace company Web sites?,  suggesting that a day might be coming when the power of Facebook means that major companies no longer bother with their own Web sites. That’s exactly the reason why lawyers, law firms or any entity should want to have their own blog or website.

Facebook offers no special treatment for known entities

Unlike Twitter, where if you know someone who knows someone, you may get that dormant username released, or where they’ve in effect, set up a class system, assigning celebrities and those with name recognition, a special “verified status”. As much as I deplore this devaluing of the average user by Twitter, it does offer a tier of recognition and perhaps a sliver of protection to well known entities.

Account can be shut down with no recourse

We’ve all heard of Facebook shutting down popular Pages. Like the real estate page with over 47,000 fans. The issue was related to a legitimate trademark issue but Facebook refused the owners attempt to modify the vanity URL and simply shut the site down without any notice. The owner of the mark even wrote to Facebook saying that it wasn’t their intention to break up the popular group, just to have the URL reworked.

And now, an attorney is suing Facebook after going months without answers to why his account was deactivated. He’s alleging that his civil rights were violated in connection with the closure of his account without proper notice or due process. He’s not seeking money damages, but wants Facebook to create a review and appeal process when an account is shut down. Good luck with that.

Privacy concerns for account holders and their friends or fans

No one has been spared the betrayal of Facebook’s privacy shifts based on their desire to create additional revenue streams. The latest is their intention to Share Users’ Home Addresses, Phone Numbers With External Sites. Users are becoming increasingly “concerned with what they see as Facebook’s willingness to change the rules of play–first encouraging people to share personal information with a more limited group of friends, then allowing that data to be accessed in new, unexpected ways.”

Use Facebook for what it’s worth – engaging and driving traffic to your site

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t use the platform. It’s useful for driving traffic to our blogs, sometimes cited as being the primary referral source. It’s a fertile forum for engaging, accessing and creating community, and sharing content, or rather, links to content.

Kevin O’Keefe makes a point that “if your focus is community building, engagement, distribution, or collaboration, as is the case with many legal publications (including blogs), publishing on Facebook may have merit.”

But, he adds, “There’s also the obvious shortcoming of going it alone on Facebook, that is without an independent site. You’re publishing is controlled by the whims of a third-party which could change its publishing rules on a moments notice.”

So, develop a Facebook Page, engage, create community, spread the news, but only as a compliment to your primary source. Own your content.  Keep blogging.



  1. Avatar BL1Y says:

    Generating a lot of traffic through Facebook doesn’t necessarily require that you even have a Facebook account. The people who are fans on Facebook likely already follow your Twitter feed and check your site regularly.

    What makes Facebook useful is when your readers post articles from your site on their wall, giving you exposure to a new audience who otherwise might not have ever heard of you.

    Your conclusion is right though; moving your entire operation onto Facebook is dicey at best. Not only do you lose control over your material, you isolate yourself from people who aren’t on Facebook.

    • Avatar Tim B. says:

      Good point about the Twitter connection and traffic numbers. Though some may rather show their support/spread the word by commenting on a Fan Page which then shows up in their FB feed rather than spamming their friends with status update links. Trust me, most of my FB friends don’t care a lick about continuing legal education :-)

  2. Avatar Randall R. says:

    Agreed. Facebook should compliment your blog, not host it.

  3. Avatar Kate Battle says:

    Agreed. In addition, the concept of moving your entire business to Facebook makes me think of all of the bands who forward their personal web addresses directly to their Myspace page. While Myspace originally gave bands a lot of freedom to design their pages and give them a distinct look and feel, recent changes have thrown out all of the hard work designers and bands put into those pages and the way they share music.

    While Facebook is smooth and user-friendly at the moment, we don’t know where they will be and what features they will offer years from now. If you want to maintain control of the user experience of your web presence, you probably shouldn’t get rid of your main site.

    • Avatar BL1Y says:

      I think as far as law firms go, they should probably consider not even having a Facebook page. I was at the first firm to get one, and it generally gives the appearance of someone old and out of touch trying to be hip and fit in with the cool kids. It also makes you look creepy, and will make employees worry that they’re being spied on.

      • Sam Glover Sam G. says:

        I’m not sure it’s quite that bad, but I agree there is almost no good reason to have a law firm Facebook page. I’ve yet to see it work well, despite the chorus of SMGs recommending it.

      • Avatar Kate Battle says:

        Haha…I can’t think of a time when I thought someone’s Facebook page was old or creepy, but I do see your point. I once had an internship in college, and we did social media marketing using Myspace…I may or may not have used the company fan page to get more info on potential customers and certain individuals since people are more likely to fan a company than they are to add a new friend.

  4. Avatar Tim B. says:

    And we haven’t even discussed the slew of ethics rules governing lawyer advertising, etc which can usually be covered with a disclaimer on a blog but could be more dicey when held hostage to a third party’s ever changing terms of service and privacy controls.

    That said, I’m not sure that it’s completely useless for Law Firms to be on Facebook, though gingerly so at first. I’ve seen some effective pages and engagement, but admittedly, they are the smaller, very niche practices.

  5. Good post, Tim! It’s also harder to be distinctive on Facebook. Just as Kate pointed out about MySpace, Facebook makes your site seem formulaic. A blog with a unique layout and theme and NO Facebook ads or icons all over it simply looks more professional. People may love being social and being connected and interactive through Facebook, but when they want to find a good lawyer you don’t want them thinking you’re only on Facebook because you couldn’t afford a “real” website. For as many people as might connect with a Facebook law firm site, it will turn off many others who expect something more professional. Keeping an independent site allows you to appeal to everyone.

    • Avatar Tim B. says:

      Thanks, Anthony! Agree with the points that you and Kate so eloquently make. I’m a user and an advocate for social media/networking, but only with the caveat that these platforms come with significant concerns depending on industry, type of business and other factors. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But the one thing that I do encourage in just about all situations is to own your home base – your content and how it’s distributed. Like you said, keeping an independent site.

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