Accused murderer George Zimmerman remains in hiding, but his legal team is raising its online profile by launching a social media strategy.
Zimmerman's legal team, led by attorney Mark O'Mara, created a website over the weekend (gzlegalcase.com) that includes blog-style press releases and is set to collect donations for Zimmerman's defense. O'Mara's staff also set up Twitter (@gzlegalcase) and Facebook accounts.
"Using social media in a high-profile lawsuit is new, and relatively unprecedented, but that is only because social media itself is relatively new," a May 1 post on the website states. "[S]ocial media in this day and age cannot be ignored, and it would be, in fact, irresponsible to ignore the robust online conversation."
The debate about George Zimmerman's killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, was largely fueled by social media, with Twitter and Facebook posts that clamored for Zimmerman's arrest, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Zimmerman himself launched a fundraising website that received $200,000 in donations before it was shut down, attorney Mark O'Mara told a court last week. Two of Zimmerman's friends also launched fundraising websites on their own, O'Mara said in a website post dated April 26.
"Discrediting and eliminating fraudulent websites and social profiles" is one of seven reasons Zimmerman's defense team cites in launching their "unusual" social media strategy. As stated in a website entry April 28, the other reasons are:
- Disputing misinformation.
- Discouraging speculation.
- Acknowledging the larger significance of the case.
- Providing a forum for communication with the law firm.
- Providing a voice for George Zimmerman.
- Raising funds.
But in apparent response to critics who called the social media strategy "unethical," the latest entry on O'Mara's Zimmerman website states what the defense team will not do online -- namely, comment on Trayvon Martin or his family, or comment about evidence.
"We believe that social media will inevitably become a standard part of the legal process," the May 1 entry states -- a prediction that seems especially true for high-profile cases that get people talking.
If your firm is considering a similar social media strategy like George Zimmerman's, FindLaw's Social Media Solutions offers a simple way to set up and manage multiple platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. Check out our Lawyer Marketing site to learn more.
- Shooter in Trayvon Martin case gets new fundraising site (Reuters)
- Social Media: Ethical Obligations for Lawyers in the Modern Era II (FindLaw)
- Zimmerman Web Donations Trigger Bail Dispute (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Is George Zimmerman's New Website a Good Idea? (FindLaw's Strategist)