How New Facebook Friends Can Lead to New Clients While Avoiding Ethical Problems

May 1, 2017

Connecting with colleagues and contacts as Facebook friends and engaging with them will keep you on their radar screen so that they are more likely to think of you when its time to hire a lawyer. It’s as simple as that.

Now, as a practicing attorney and social media marketing consultant for lawyers, I understand that there are certain variables that will determine how successful you are at converting Facebook friends to clients – such as how you are engaging with them, how often you engage with them, and how well your social media marketing strategies are identified and implemented. But there is absolutely no question that if your colleagues and contacts not Facebook friends or following your law firm’s Facebook page – then there is close to a 0% chance that they will convert to clients as a result of your social media engagement.

It is therefore an essential that we connect with on social media with our colleagues and contacts to become Facebook friends or followers of our law firm’s Facebook profile. But, we must be abundantly careful not to violate the legal advertising ethics rules when sending friend requests. This blog will teach you how to add Facebook friends, invite or attract followers to your law firm’s Facebook profile, and ethics issues that we should avoid when doing so.

How to Add Facebook friends

  1. Use the Facebook Search box on the top center of their Facebook Profile to locate people you want to add as a Facebook friend. When you type the name of the person in the Search box, Facebook will generate a list of relevant profiles of people with whom you may connect. There are often several profiles for the same name, so look for the picture of the person for whom you are searching. Facebook will often list people with whom you share mutual Facebook friends with or ones who live in your area so that it is easy to locate the person you are looking for. Selecting the name of the person will bring up their Facebook profile and may offer additional information to help you confirm that the person is the individual with whom you want to connect.
  2. One you feel comfortable that you have found the right person, you can select Add Friend on the top right of their Facebook profile. A Friend Request will be sent to that person. Once the recipient confirms the friendship, that person will show up on the your Friends List.
  3. You may also receive Friend Requests from your friends and colleagues. You will be notified that you have received a Friend Request by selecting the people icon on the top right of your profile. You can accept the Friend Request by selecting Accept.
  4. If you do not want to accept particular Friend Requests, you can select Delete Request. If you choose to delete a Friend Request, the notification for the Friend Request will no longer appear. The sender will not be notified if you delete a Friend Request.

Once you’ve accepted someone as a Facebook friend, you can then easily interact and engage with your Facebook friend by sending them a private message, tagging them in a status update, or leaving a comment on their profile. You might also want to invite your Facebook friend to “like” or follow your law firm Facebook profile. Here’s how to do that:

Invite Your Facebook Friends to Follow Your Law Firm Facebook Profile

Building a following on your law firm’s Facebook profile is essential for developing new business. Why? Because you can only do so much “marketing” of your services on your personal profile before your Facebook friends lose interest. This is not suggest in any stretch of the imagination that your personal profile cannot or should not be used for marketing (it absolutely should be used for marketing as it allows you to blend a mix of personal and professional content that is both attractive to your Facebook friends and also scores highly of Facebook’s edge rank [aka your personal Facebook profile gets a lot of attention]).  What I am saying is that your friends connected with your personal profile to connect with you – not to subscribe to daily updates about your law firm and practice. That is exactly what your law firm Facebook profile is for.

By subscribing to your law firm Facebook profile, your Facebook friends are signaling that they want to hear about your law firm, professional achievements, and services. By “liking” or following your law firm Facebook profile,they are essentially “opting in” to receive your updates. This is an incredibly powerful tool to for converting Facebook friends to clients.

There are at least three different ways to encourage your Facebook friends to “like” or follow your law firm Facebook profile. The first way is moderately effective, but is free from potential ethical issues. The second and third way are very effective for building your law firm’s Facebook following, but may encounter ethics violations if not performed correctly. Let’s evaluate these three options:

Option 1. Post an Invitation on Your Timeline Asking Facebook Friends to Like Your Law Firm’s Facebook Profile

This option is quick, easy, and moderately effective since you are posting one general invitation to all of your Facebook friends through your Timeline. Therefore, all of your Facebook friends have the opportunity to view your post and “like” your law firm’s Facebook profile directly from your post. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Once logged into your personal Facebook, navigate to your law firm’s profile.
  1. Click [. . .More] on the cover photo
  1. Select “Share”
  1. In the window that appears, click the drop-down menu and select “Share on Your Own Timeline.”
  1. Type a short message such as “Please take a moment to like my firm’s Facebook page to learn about appellate law and the exciting things we do at the firm!”
  1. Select “Post” to publish onto your Timeline.

I say this method is “moderately” effective because you reach a wide audience but you are not asking a specific Facebook friend to like your law firm’s profile. I will get into the benefits of inviting someone directly on Facebook to like your law firm’s profile. The good news is: this method of inviting your Facebook friends to like your law firm profile through a general status update is that you completely avoid violating the rule prohibiting direct contact with a prospective client, which may be implicated (and explained in more detail) in the options below.

Option 2 & 3. Inviting Specific Facebook Friends to Like Your Law Firm Profile

Facebook provides you the opportunity to invite specific friends to like your law firm’s Facebook profile in an incredibly efficient manner. Within a few minutes, you can send direct invitations to hundreds of Facebook friends. Here’s how to accomplish this:

  1. Once logged into your personal Facebook, navigate to your law firm’s profile.
  1. Click [. . .More] on the cover photo
  1. Select “Invite Friends”
  2. Either type a name in the search box to find specific Facebook friends and select Invite or you can simply scroll down the of your Facebook friends and select Invite next to the names of all Facebook friends you wish to invite.

This method is incredibly effective for asking your Facebook friends to like your law firm Facebook profile as each friend you select will receive a notification from Facebook telling them that you have invited them to follow your Facebook profile.

Alternatively, you could send a private message to a specific Facebook friend through Facebook, include a link to your law firm’s Facebook profile, and ask them to like it. This is also a very effective manner of building your law firm’s Facebook following. Just in the same way that sending an email to one person asking them to do something produces better results than emailing a group of people asking if someone will do something, it is much more effective to ask a specific person to like your law firm’s Facebook profile instead of a general request to your entire audience.

The problem with these options is that you could potentially violate the legal advertising ethics rule against prohibiting direct contact with a prospective client. According to some state bar’s ethics guidelines (including Florida), invitations sent directly from a social media site via instant messaging to a third party to view or link to the lawyer’s page on an unsolicited basis are solicitations in violation of Rule 4-7.4(a), unless the recipient is the lawyer’s current client, former client, relative, or is another lawyer.

Yikes. Yes, you read that correctly. These social media legal advertising ethics guidelines say that you could potentially violate the direct solicitation rule on Facebook by sending someone an unsolicited invitation with a link to your law firm’s Facebook profile. Therefore, it is incredibly important to ensure that if you are going to send invitations to specific Facebook friends to like your law firm’s Facebook profile, you must be careful to comply with your jurisdiction’s social media legal advertising ethics rules. I’ve authored additional blog posts providing a more in-depth discussion on whether the legal advertising ethics rules apply to your personal social media profile and how to avoid prohibited solicitations on Facebook.

Next Steps

Your personal and law firm Facebook profiles will serve as the foundation to attract new clients and referrals – and your Facebook friends and law firm followers will serve as your audience. Once this foundation is built, your next step should be to develop a social media marketing plan will serve as a road map for planning, preparing, and executing your social media strategies to enable you to covert your Facebook friends and followers into clients.

I recommend that you “start with the end in mind.” First consider your ultimate goals. Identify who are the types of clients or referrals you want to generate. Set forth the specific area of law in which you want to become a well-known expert. Set forth the specific business development objectives that you want to accomplish. Think of these goals as your mountains on the horizon – the success you ultimately want to achieve. Then, begin identifying the steps you need to take in order to accomplish those goals. And if you need some assistance, I’m always here to help.


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