In recent weeks, I’ve been having a lot of conversations about lawyers on social media. Lots of people want to post content or build relationships online because it can be a great way to do business development, find a new career opportunity, or network with peers. The problem is that most people don’t know how to get started or can’t figure out which platform to focus on. So today I’ll share a quick rundown of the four platforms I’m most familiar with:
LinkedIn: Humblebrag Your Way To Riches
This is, hands down, the most commonly used platform by lawyers. Probably because the platform started off as a place to brag about your professional accomplishments. Most people are accustomed to using LinkedIn to find new jobs, but over the past few years, it’s emerged as a place where you can find interesting content and conversations related to the professional world. Having said that, it’s still full of humblebrags and cringey content so be prepared for that.
The good news is that most people there are extroverts and *want* to connect with each other, so you can build your network quickly. Some entrepreneurial lawyers have even built entire businesses around their audience there. I think LinkedIn is different from most other platforms because people on there have to use their real names and job titles, which lends a certain level of accountability to the interactions. There are fewer trolls on LinkedIn than anywhere else.
Twitter: The Best Way To Impress Other Lawyers
This is the best platform for lawyers to share thought leadership. There’s a ton of quality posts on Twitter, especially when it comes to the latest legal developments. You can build your professional network there too, although it’s a bit harder than on LinkedIn. That’s because Twitter lawyers are generally less interested in networking for its own sake, and more interested in learning or joking around.
What are the challenges? Well, the bar for quality content is pretty high on Twitter. It’s difficult for your posts to stand out from everyone else’s. Those who are successful on LinkedIn try to bring the same type of positivity and earnestness to Twitter but it often receives a lukewarm reception. It’s a tough game. But if you are able to build a following on Twitter, you’ll gain a certain level of credibility that you can’t get anywhere else.
Instagram: Make Them Jealous Of Your Life
This is the platform for showing your personal side on social media. Historically, Instagram has been a place to share curated, aesthetically pleasing image — whether they’re of your family, your travels, or yourself. I still remember when I created my account. Back then, it was all about posting pictures of your food. In recent years though, the content has evolved to include other types of material. In fact, some of the biggest legal memelords out there built their reputations on Instagram.
Having said that, most of what I see from lawyers on the platform is still curated images. If LinkedIn is the best way to brag about your professional life, then Instagram is the best way to brag about your personal life. One major change I do see coming to IG though, is that there’s going to be less of a focus on pictures and more of a focus on short form videos — the platform is prioritizing Reels as a way to stay competitive against TikTok.
TikTok: Are You Cool Enough?
This is the Wild West of social media. Most of TikTok’s user base is still relatively young, but it’s still pretty useful for some lawyers to market themselves or their practices. The algorithm is incredibly good — it relies on “watch time” to determine what other types of content to show you, which ends up being a pretty strong predictor of what you like. Plus, the way that it’s designed makes the videos easily shareable by others on competing social media platforms and group texts.
The challenge there though is that your videos have to be engaging or entertaining or else the content won’t get very many views. Most lawyers are unaccustomed to the video format — we’re more comfortable with text and writing. Which is kind of an opportunity, too. Like Twitter, it’s kind of tough to win over the crowd, but if you can pull it off — the organic reach you can achieve is unparalleled. The fourth video I ever posted on TikTok received over 2 million views even though I had zero followers at the time.
When it comes to social media, there’s no single best platform. It all comes down to what your ultimate goals are. Not everyone needs to go viral (but if that is your goal, you should check out this breakdown I wrote about how to create viral posts). And not everyone needs to have a social media presence, but given how many potential clients, hiring managers, and lawyers are active on various platforms today, you should probably at least dip your toe in the water.
Alex Su is currently the Head of Community Development at Ironclad, a leading legal technology company that helps accelerate the contracting process. Earlier in his career, he was an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell and clerked for a federal district judge. Alex graduated from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, where he was an editor of the law review and the student commencement speaker. In his free time, he writes about his career journey and legal tech in his newsletter Off The Record. You can find Alex on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and yes, even TikTok.