To increase exposure, a lawyer wanted to have a drawing for anyone who connected with one or more of his social media platforms. The winner of the drawing would receive a prize.
The North Carolina State Bar found that this was prohibited under the Rules: “Generally, lawyers may not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services. Certain social media platforms, such as Facebook, allow users to connect with or otherwise follow a business or service entity’s social media account by ‘liking’ the entity on the social media platform. Similarly, users may also comment on or share social media posts made by the business or service entity’s account. The user’s decision to ‘like’ or follow the entity and the user’s comments on the entity’s posts are then displayed not only within the user’s social media feed, but can also be displayed on the feeds of other users who have previously connected with that user. Also, when an individual ‘likes’ a business’ social media page, that business’ posts/advertisements may appear in the individual’s social media feed and may appear in the news feeds of the individual’s other ‘friends’ or connections with a caption such as ‘Jane Smith likes No Name law firm.’ Without further context, other users could interpret an individual ‘liking’ a law practice as a personal endorsement and recommendation of that law practice. If the social media platform broadcasts the user’s ‘like’ of the law practice on other users’ social media feeds, Lawyer’s offer of an entry in a giveaway for a prize to social media users in exchange for the user ‘liking’ the law practice’s social media account violates Rule 7.2(b).”
The Bar, at the same time, made it clear that: “This opinion does not prohibit a lawyer or law firm from having a social media presence, or encouraging or inviting other users to like, share, follow, or otherwise interact with the lawyer’s or law firm’s social media account. Non-incentivized social media interactions are not prohibited.”
N.C. Formal Ethics Opinion No. 6 (Oct. 25, 2019).