We have issues with behavior on the Internet, and on social media specifically. Some people just don’t think before posting, or they don’t care and they go for it, not thinking about the ramifications.
3 recent instances brought this to mind for me.
Is It Okay To Publicly Call People Out on Social Media?
The 1st was in a group on Facebook. It doesn’t matter which one. Someone who taught a certain discipline was concerned because another teacher of that same subject matter was producing faulty instruction to his viewers.
He was curious about how best to react.
Lots of suggestions were offered about how to make a statement, including commenting on this other person’s “faulty” instruction, creating content that blatantly called out these faulty practices being displayed, and more.
My suggestion to him was:
Just keep creating good videos and don’t worry about this other person. I see weak marketing and social media advice regularly, but that tells me I have an opportunity to publish content that is even better.
Frank Aquila Attacks Sarah Huckabee Sanders
The 2nd example was one I covered a while back on this blog titled You Damage More Than Your Own Personal Brand With Bad Online Behavior.
It was about a high-profile partner, Francis “Frank” Aquila, who chose to lash out publicly on Twitter at White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I will spare you the foul language and cursing, but long story short, on Twitter, he told Ms, Sanders to rot in somewhere very hot you b-i-t-c-h.
Michael Avenatti Lashes Out On Twitter
The 3rd example is specific to the legal profession and involves lawyers acting out on Twitter.
On February 4, New York attorney Diego Aranda Teixeira began by airing his grievances against California attorney Michael Avenatti, tweeting, “OMG, Michael Avenatti CALLED ME AND HE’S CRAZY.”
The post prompted a reply from Avenatti, who labeled Teixeira “a terrible lawyer.”
Do you see how rich this is? One lawyer attacking another lawyer for attacking him on Twitter when he is now doing the same. I needed a bucket of popcorn for this one!
The confrontation continued with Teixeira questioning Avenatti:
Let’s Not Reduce Aquila, Avenatti, and Teixeira To “Chatty” Lawyers
The author of the article above on Delaware Law Weekly, which is where I first discovered this story, Raychel Lean, said:
“With the era of chatty lawyers in full swing, tweeters and non-tweeters render their verdict on whether the platform helps or hinders the legal realm.”
I don’t care for the term chatty lawyers as I think it’s misguided. It’s not being chatty that gets people in trouble. It is not using enough common sense to understand how to act in public.
The article mentions my social media friend, Brian Cuban, Texas lawyer, author, speaker and activist, who said that “Legal Twitter” as he called it, is a powerful factor — and it comes with many positives.
What Happened To Common Sense and Decency?
It is amazing to me that common sense flies out the door in these situations. Even labeling the post “chatty” is misidentifying the real issue, which is really about lawyers or anyone using the platform in inappropriate, disrespectful, inflammatory ways.
Michigan Judge Qiana Lillard, who is known to Tweet regularly, was quoted at the end of the article
“Lawyers should know that we can disagree respectfully. That’s the beauty of the legal profession,” she said. “People on opposite sides of an issue using the same law and facts to argue their respective position. It’s important in all arenas, especially social media, that (this) be done with decency and professional decorum.”
You’re Making My Job Too Easy
Stop making my job so easy by providing yet more examples to add to my presentations about ethics and/or how best to use (or not use) social media.
3 Sensible Social Media Suggestions For Avenatti, Aquila, and All Lawyers
I have 3 suggestions for you:
- Think twice before firing off comments, Tweets, or replies that reflect how you feel but that do not serve any useful purpose and might serve to cause ill-will or damage to your brand, your practice, or your firm.
- Use common sense. If you are lacking in that, let me know because I’d be happy to coach you on what is and isn’t.
- Don’t always have to have the final word. At some point, decide that it serves no purpose to get into fights publicly, and it serves no purpose to one-up another person by having the final word. Sometimes radio silence when someone else is trying to get under your skin is the best choice, or even “So nice to hear from you. Have a nice day” will shut them down and make them wonder what just happened.
Some people just like to argue or fight. You don’t have to be one of those on social media. Observers will probably respect you a lot more than if you had engaged in that fight. (Of course, there are exceptions.)
Nancy Myrland is a Marketing and Business Development Planning Consultant, and a Content, Social & Digital Media Speaker, Trainer & Advisor, helping lawyers and legal marketers grow by integrating all marketing disciplines. She is a frequent LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook for Business trainer, as well as a content marketing specialist. She helps lawyers, law firms, and legal marketers grow their practices by making their marketing and business development efforts more relevant to their current and potential clients. She also helps lead law firms through their online digital strategy when dealing with high-stakes, visible cases. As an early and constant adopter of social and digital media and technology, she also helps firms with blogging, podcasts, video marketing, voice marketing, flash briefings, and livestreaming. If you would like to reserve an hour of Nancy’s time to begin talking strategy or think through an issue you are having, you can do that here. She can also be reached via email here.