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Is Facebook Becoming The New LinkedIn For Lawyers?

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Social media has become extremely important to lawyers in recent years as many attorneys and law firms take to it to connect with clients, colleagues, and other stakeholders in the legal profession. I am sure that many of us are accustomed to seeing the client alerts, work anniversary posts, and other social media content that is typically churned out by many firms. Such “corporate” and refined content is usually reserved for LinkedIn since this is the platform that people engage with to connect with contacts in their business community. However, because of the rise of Instagram and other newer platforms, which have not been exploited as much by the business community, people are posting such corporate, work-related content more and more on Facebook. This might not be a good outcome since blending work content with a social media platform like Facebook could destroy the boundaries between work and personal life, and work-life balance has already come under assault in recent years. As a result, people can be more deliberate with which social media platforms they use to post content.

Let me say at the onset that I am not an expert on social media. I did not have an Instagram account until 2018, which was far later than most of my contemporaries. Moreover, my social media posts are pretty basic. However, I have noticed a trend among legal professionals in recent years to “friend” work colleagues on Facebook and post work activity on that platform even though people used to almost exclusively post such content on LinkedIn.

I first created a LinkedIn account in 2012 or 2013, and LinkedIn definitely serves a valuable purpose in the business community. Around a decade ago, LinkedIn was a way for individuals to connect with bosses, acquaintances, and other people in the business community with whom they did not necessarily want to share elements of their personal lives like they would through Facebook. Accordingly, content on LinkedIn is usually very corporate in nature, and people often use LinkedIn to post work anniversaries, accomplishments, client alerts, and other content which, although it may not be too glamorous, is important to share in a given business community.

At some point in the past decade, it became more popular to “friend” work colleagues on Facebook. It was almost a novelty at first, people would comment that they had taken their relationship a step further by connecting on Facebook rather than merely being LinkedIn connections. On Facebook, people are far more likely to share personal content that they may only entrust with people they know well. This includes political opinions, baby photos, and other content that they might not wish people with whom they work to know about.

Later, it became much more acceptable to simply “friend” people in the business world on Facebook without regard to blending work and personal life. Perhaps this is because of the rise of alternative social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and the like. Such platforms emphasize pictures over text-based posts, so it is more difficult for business types to exploit those platforms to spread messages that were traditionally reserved for LinkedIn. It is possible that individuals who have numerous business associates as friends on Facebook may be less likely to share personal details about themselves since they do not want work colleagues to know some details about the lives.

In any event, it is much more common to see business posts on Facebook even though this content was typically reserved for LinkedIn. Indeed, I know a fair number of people who copy the same posts word for word that are posted on LinkedIn for circulation on Facebook. While people expect to see work-related posts on LinkedIn when they log onto that platform, they typically do not expect or wish to see such content with Facebook, which has traditionally been reserved for social and personal connections. Such activity might further dilute the work-life balance that has been under assault in the legal industry and other business communities in recent years.

People can be more deliberate with the platforms to which they post to ensure they do not infect a more personal social media platform with work content. For instance, I might circulate a blog post on Facebook from our business page, but I would never post about a panel discussion, journal publication, or other industry-specific content on the platform (especially on my personal page) since this is better suited for LinkedIn. It should also be noted that people occasionally post personal content on LinkedIn, which individuals would normally reserve for Facebook, Instagram, or another one of the more personal social media platforms. This seems like a less-serious violation of work-life boundaries, but individuals should be conscious about the content they publish on different social media platforms.

All told, people lament that the work-life balance has been under attack in recent years, and individuals may be blending the boundaries of work and their personal lives with decisions they make about social media content. People should be more deliberate with which platform they choose to post work-related content so that boundaries between work and personal life are preserved.


Jordan Rothman is a partner of The Rothman Law Firm, a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website discussing how he paid off his student loans. You can reach Jordan through email at jordan@rothmanlawyer.com.