There is no doubt that social media often gets a bad rep. We regularly see the pitfalls and missteps, the reputational implications of going viral for the wrong reasons, the unsolicited opinions offered by anonymous strangers. There are certainly risks and difficulties associated with it, which are important to understand when engaging with any platform. But there are benefits too. After a year in which the digital world has been more important than ever in keeping us connected to loved ones, that much is clear. The truth is that mishaps or unforeseen developments are pretty much inevitable, regardless of social media prowess. What’s important is how we deal with them.

In my job, I have found that social media has had more of a positive impact than I thought possible. Through Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, the Bar Council has been able to run creative campaigns that help shine a light on lesser-known common experiences, facilitated press coverage on important issues, widened access and demystified the Bar to people from a range of backgrounds. We’ve also been given the invaluable ability to address problems in real time before they have a chance to escalate. The speed at which this allows the Bar Council to spot and resolve issues - even raising them with Government departments where necessary – affords us a level of dynamism that simply was not possible in years past. In the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic in March last year, social media was an integral part of our crisis communication strategy, allowing us to reach many of our members with valuable information as quickly as possible. This year, the Chair of the Bar has their own Twitter account, to better to help us engage with members. Despite these benefits, it’s also crucial to set boundaries. Being active on social media doesn’t mean plastering your brand on every platform available or putting your DMs before your mental health.

It is easy to take a simplistic view of the worth of, or mileage in, platforms like Twitter or Instagram, particularly from a corporate perspective. But the more I learn about social media, from the basics of a good hashtag to the intricacies of social listening or how to measure the ROI of paid social - the more I realise the huge difference it can make to effective communication. Whether you’re coming at it as an individual, a chambers or other organisation, the value it holds for the legal community is worth exploring.

This is the discussion we’ll be having at next week’s Bar Council seminar on navigating social media for the Bar. Polls, case studies, ethical considerations, golden rules for Tweeting – our expert panel of Joanna Hardy (Red Lion Chambers), John Battle (ITN and Bar Council Ethics Committee) and Melissa Davis (CEO, MD Communications) have it all. It is not to be missed, whether you are just starting out with social, wondering whether to dip your toe back in or a seasoned professional looking to fine-tune your strategy or social media policy. Please consider joining us.

Tickets, including discounts and free places, are available here

Shiryn Sayani, the Bar Council's Communications Manager (Policy and Campaigns).