Lawyers turn to TikTok for marketing. Will this trend last or fizzle?
Social media trends and apps come and go but a few of them seem to stand the test of time. A popular trend emerging in the legal community is TikTok attorneys.
The land of TikTok attorneys is an interesting one. Though these attorneys are highly qualified, the content is very interesting but it sometimes can be a bit confusing. So the question remains…is TikTok an effective social media app for attorneys?
In this weeks’ #FollowAttorneyAmanda, Amanda talks about securing her place on the TikTok app, her reservations about its validity, and what it has done to legal professionals.
Watch the video below and see what this week’s episode is all about. Also, leave a comment, and let’s start a discussion on whether or not TikTok attorneys are here to stay or will fizzle out like other trends.
Amanda Shaffer: Welcome to #FollowAttorneyAmanda, where you join me on my journey to get more likes on social media and ultimately more business. Today we’re going to talk about Tik Tok. Anyone who doesn’t know what TikTok is is a social media platform where you create at most 15-second videos. You can splice it with different clips, different photos, you can put music on, like popular music too. There are all different filters. It’s a combination of Snapchat – well it is Snapchat if you know what Snapchat is, but public, because Snapchat’s all secretive. Similar to Instagram reels, which came out – which is just starting to get a little more popular, but with Instagram reels, if you have your fear on Instagram, you can use it, but TikTok you need to have a separate thing.
There’s been a lot of controversy with TikTok for a while now. There was a lot of privacy concerns at first. That was one of the main reasons I didn’t use it at first. I was concerned about the privacy issues. I’m less concerned now, just because there’s just so much content and data out there, but also, it’s just another way to get yourself out there that you have to learn and I’ve gone through it, I’ve done like tutorials on it and stuff. It’s not that it’s difficult; it’s just another thing. There’s a lot of features, which could be a good thing, so the question is, “Is it worth it?” Now that was a controversial one, the privacy.
Controversy two with Twitter has to do with the types of content people are putting on there, who are lawyers. There’s been a lot of infighting in some of the attorney groups I’m in about what’s appropriate and what’s not. I’m sure this is an issue I’ll discuss a lot because I’m still learning about all this just as much as everybody else. We’re all learning in real-time. Yes, we’ve had internet for a while and social media, but the way we’re advertising today is still fairly new and in fact, the pandemic really – what’s it called, got it going. I got my COVID shot yesterday, my second one, but I’m a little tired. Yes, there’s a lot more – I guess – silliness on TikTok. You have lawyers dancing, lip singing; some lawyers giving good content, helping people answering questions. You could also go live on TikTok too, which is not limited to 15 seconds, but ultimately what you’re looking at is just another platform to make videos that people are going to watch.
However, you also have a different audience. The TikTok audience from my experience at least tends to be much younger and I’m not targeting young people with my practice. Eighteen and over, fine, but even eighteen-year-olds are not exactly ideal, because a lot of eighteen-year-olds can’t afford a lawyer, even if they’re ready to start their immigration journey. It’s their parents that we’re going to go after. I never thought TikTok was the best audience for me. My colleagues who focus more on the Latino community seem to find it to be a good avenue. They are encountering other problems, however, and that’s the third problem with Tik Tok right now. They are being targeted for removing videos for violating TikTok policies, but they don’t really know why they are violating policies and I’ve seen their videos, not all of them, but I know what the content is about. They’re all there to sell their practice, sell their services. There’s nothing – like they’re not wearing bikinis, they’re not getting all political and putting people down, or bullying, or trolling, it’s none of that stuff. There’s no threats. All the things that you would think of naturally that are going to violate TikTok policies, that’s not happening.
But I mentioned the infighting with the attorneys earlier, and there’s some talk that maybe there are other attorneys out there that are reporting it because if you see something, not just TikTok, on any of the platforms that you feel violates their policies, you can contact the platform and say, “Hey, this should be removed because it’s ‘spam’ or it’s ‘porn’ or it’s a threat or a hate speech, whatever it is.” Some platforms, this has been in the news a lot lately, but some of them will monitor content a lot less than others and TikTok seems to be on a kick, at least the last year, where it’s almost like you report something – it’s what it seems – I don’t really use it, but from what my friends are telling me, it seems like they just need a report from one person and the stuff goes down and they don’t get much of an explanation, which is frustrating. You have to monitor your time and pick what is useful. I did make a username on TikTok. I didn’t make a username on Instagram because I was like, “This is stupid. We have Facebook, we have Twitter, we don’t need it”, and then when I realized that people were getting business through Instagram and people are shifting from Facebook to Instagram, the username I wanted for the law firm no longer existed. With TikTok, I actually made one so we have it and we don’t have to worry about that.
I honestly hope I never have to use it, because I really – it’s just a lot – and I don’t, at least at this point, I don’t think the audience for us is there, but it brings up a lot of interesting points about the types of things that go viral, not just on TikTok, but social media in general, but Tik-Tok’s really been the leader in this area where you have attorneys – as I said, there are some wearing bikinis. There was an attorney who was holding up an approval notice and then all the video is her walking towards the camera, showing it, turning around wearing a tight dress, and walking back. I would never do that. I don’t know if I could point to something particularly unethical, I think it’s bad taste. I think it’s not a good look for the profession, but do I think it’s worthy of reporting to the board, or the bar at this point? No. Do I think the bar would care? I don’t know. I don’t think so. That’s where we’re getting at. It seemed like the bar used to be so strict about advertising. One of the traditional forms of print media and granted, there are humongous differences, between these types of advertising, but there’s just so much content out there. I think that’s the biggest problem for the bar that they have to figure out, but we don’t have any lines. Nobody’s drawn them. There are not even ethical decisions about this stuff yet. I just try to be careful and only do things that I feel I’m comfortable with and are appropriate and are informative because my main goal is to be informative- that – and to show people that we’re good lawyers and you want to hire us.
I just try to focus on that and not get too into it – the creative stuff is awesome and I wish I was more creative, but at the end of the day, the videos that do the best for me are the ones where I’m just giving information. I’ll talk more about TikTok, I’m sure, and some of these ethical issues that, because I’ve been battling with them for a while, trying to figure out what’s okay, what’s not. Not because I’m necessarily going to be dancing in my bathing suit tomorrow, or anytime soon, but because we’re all competing with one another to get our names out there and it feels cheap in a way for what some people are doing and misleading in a way because I just feel like what I’ve always been taught was our profession.
We have to be so careful with how we present ourselves, yet all of a sudden we have this new generation that is just doing whatever they feel they want to do, which again, I’m struggling to say unethical, because there hasn’t been a finding of any of them being unethical at this point. Maybe it’s not; maybe it’s just a change in direction. I’m trying to be open-minded about that because I also have to be on the ball in case I need to make a shift. Again, never would shift towards the bikini, but just to shift and be more lighthearted or something with the advertising. That is all today for #FollowAttorneyAmanda, I will be back in our next episode, to talk more about my journey for more – for more thumbs up. Thanks for watching.