The Florida Bar and Florida Supreme Court has just handed down its new advertising rules. For the most part, the rules are a welcome change. However, one area of concern is social media posts such as Twitter and Facebook.
According to the rules all social networking must follow the new rules. This means that all Tweets, Facebook posts and other comments must have the name of the firm, attorney name responsible for the ad, and the office address.
We called the Florida Bar Hotline number (850-561-5780)and asked about social networking posts, just to be certain. Per Florida Bar, every Tweet must include the name of the lawyer, law firm and office address! Every Facebook post also needs to have that info, according to the Florida Bar.
Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.
What to do about Twitter Character Limits?
On Twitter, you are limited to 140 characters per post. If you are to include your name, office address and firm name, you could theoretically run out of character limits without even posting anything of substance. Let’s give it a try with some fake firm names if PaperStreet was a law firm:
Peter Boyd of Boyd, Kane, DiSebastian, & Brunette, 219 SW 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33315
That is 101 characters with spaces! That leaves me 39 characters to post something. Add in a link to a document you are referencing, such as http://bit.ly/3i0woY, and I would be down another 22 characters (with spaces surrounding the URL).
So overall all my Tweets, with the URL shortner and contact info, could be only 17 characters. I could post:
- Cool (4 characters – Fine)
- This is cool (12 characters- Fine)
- This is really cool (21 characters – RULES VIOLATION)
- The Florida Bar New Advertising Rules are good, but do not consider social networking ramifications. (103 characters) – RULES VIOLATION
In essence, the Florida Bar’s extension of the advertising rules to Twitter posts will seriously curtail a lawyer’s ability to use Twitter as a means of communication.
Our Conclusion and Advice for the Bar
When you criticize, you must offer solutions. That is our rule in my house and company. I suggest that the Bar consider social networking a bit differently. Our proposed rule:
If the firm’s contact information is displayed on either (a) the profile area of the social network, (b) the social network profile links to the firm’s website that has the information, or (c) the social networking post links to the firm’s website that has the contact information, then the firm should not be in violation of the rules.
Quite simply, people who use Facebook and Twitter know how to click on a link. Users can quickly view their profiles. Users can quickly go to an attorney’s website. It is all there and easily read.