The growing popularity of social media has ushered in an exciting new era for law firms. By leveraging their most valuable resource—their intellectual assets—across social and digital channels, leading U.S. law firms are uncovering new opportunities for thought leadership, business development, and recruitment.
Good2bSocial, a leading marketing agency, has compiled its third annual Social Law Firm Index, which analyzes law firm social media strategies used by the top 100 firms in the country. The index measures social media marketing performance, reach, and engagement across different platforms, with a keen eye on how law firms use digital tools to communicate and amplify thought leadership.
Below is an excerpt from the Index report, which provides vital insight into how top performers leverage the most popular social media platforms for law firms.
Every Platform has its Purpose
Social Media marketers have discovered over time that specific platforms are optimized for different functions, and certain media channels are more effective at reaching prospects than others. The best firms on The Social Law Firm Indexes have broken the code to how each of these different platforms contributes to accomplishing specific aspects of a diverse outbound communications strategy, and how to harness each to drive inbound traffic and grow business.
X, formerly Twitter
X, formerly Twitter has become a very popular platform for law firms and attorneys to cultivate credible relationships and dramatically extend their business networks. The immediacy of the platform, combined with the ease with which outbound comments and curated news can be retweeted and generate organic comments, makes X, formerly Twitter a top performer for extending reach and engaging with followers. The best performers demonstrate a comprehensive regular communications routine in which X, formerly Twitter is an essential element.
Successful X, formerly Twitter campaigns contribute considerably to the online traffic a law firm website receives; the best campaigns have proven more effective in drawing visits than any advertising, pay-per click or search strategy. Among the law firms most effective on X, formerly Twitter, multiple lawyers at each firm actively tweet under their own handles or under a practice-area handle, meticulously cultivating and enhancing their own Thought Leadership image while simultaneously shedding luster on the firm’s overall brand.
Perhaps the most important reason for X, formerly Twitter’s outsized impact: bloggers, reporters and the press rely on this medium for timely content and guidance as they research and compose their own articles and advance their own credibility in the field. Lawyers effective on X, formerly Twitter typically generate more “ink” for their firms in the form of quotes, mentions or full stories appearing across other digital and nondigital media. In this way the firm and its contributing attorneys become influencers to a potentially much larger audience, further enhancing the reach of their social media output.
LinkedIn is the hands-down winner for professional marketing, primarily to communicate the firm’s brand and reputation, and also to recruit. The best performers have discovered that LinkedIn allows firms to create showcase pages for specific practices and host their own LinkedIn groups organized around specific topics or matters. The top firms might chair several diverse groups representing specific practice areas and all designed around the common objective of communicating the firm’s Thought Leadership.
For the Law Firms in our study, Facebook has evolved to serve employees and the community. Though these are obviously essential elements for any organization, the Social Law Firms have recognized that their most productive business development may not be coming from this channel. Thus although the branding, look and feel fall within marketing’s control, Facebook has become the realm of HR and community relations. It has proven itself a very effective platform for revealing the culture inside a firm and creatively communicating the ambitions and expectations of firm recruiters. This highly visual network is used by savvy firms to convey what it is like to work there, and also to demonstrate their associations with and commitment to local causes and charitable organizations.
Google+ has, not surprisingly, seen very low adoption rates among the AmLaw 100 through 2016 despite having very effective social networking capabilities akin to LinkedIn – or perhaps because of that. This platform has seen a wider adoption in European and Asian markets; those few firms in our study that did possess and actively cultivate a larger Google+ following were those firms with a considerable business presence in one or more of these geographies. Yet what appears a reasonable resource allocation decision to the majority of firms is actually a misstep.
An important aspect of being discovered online involves being found by search engines like Google and Bing. The practice of improving the odds of being found online—Search Engine Optimization (SEO)—is a rather standard exercise for most marketing departments, who assume it is only about aligning the correct search terms and keywords with a website and its content. But the science of SEO goes much further and deeper. The Google search engine in particular ranks a firm’s website in part by its association with an affiliated Google+ presence. No Google+ presence means a firm may not appear on the first page of results regardless of keywords.
A law firm avoids Google+ at its own peril: competitors’ websites and content will appear first in Google searches, and they will get the first crack at converting prospects to clients.