Law Firm Use of Blogs and Social Media (Reseach/Trends)

law firm social mediaIn a Linked in Group where I am active, Legal Blogging, this question just came up:

… I am looking for case studies of lawyers who’ve found success with social media and blogging … “

I’ve spent some time talking to lawyers about social media, and recently came across a few studies that might surprise you.

I shared these studies with the Linkedin group, but that was preaching to the choir!  I decided to post them here as well.

Always Start With WHY

To begin, you might be wondering if blogs and social media are effective tools for law firms?

For the answer, look no further than you own habits.

We search for information FIRST, find trusted sources SECOND, and do business with those we like and trust THIRD.  This is as true for law firms and other professional practices as it is for any other considered (non-impulse) purchase.

Studies show that 57% of a buying decision is made before the very first conversation!

So, how do you get found online?

    • understand how people are searching for information,
    • create helpful content (blog, whitepapers, videos, etc.),
    • use social media to create relationships, and help distribute that content.

As Jay Baer says in his new book, Youtility:

“Content is the gasoline, social media is the match”.

It’s as simple as that.

“That’s Not How We Get Business” …

Unfortunately, studies show that law firms have been slow to adopt blogs and social media.  This is slowly changing, but here is a typical example.

About a year ago, I was pitching a marketing project to a regional law firm with 200+ lawyers.  In preparing to meet with this particular firm, I learned the following:

 … of 200 lawyers, only 1 wrote a blog or used social media.  Now, that one lawyer ended up on every who’s who list, was invited to speak on national panels, was extensively quoted in the media, and effectively branded himself as the “expert”.  Despite this, the others still seemed set in their ways.

Armed with two studies that showed how law firm adoption of blogging and social media are key factors in acquiring new business , I made my pitch to the managing partner/COO…. unsuccessfully, as luck would have it!

My sister- in-law and my lawyer friends …

Even though I did not get the big law firm project, I couldn’t contain my excitement about the data I had found!  The studies were too good not to share!

So, in my excitement, I sent them to my sister-in-law, who founded a law firm with 50+ partners.

She also didn’t share my excitement, however.   Her response?  

“Our firm is different …”

Still bursting with the good news, I told not one, but TWO dear lawyer friends about it … only to hear, 

“My practice is different, that’s not how I get business …”

Why are the lawyers I KNOW resistant to social media and blogging?  It is most likely age related, as you’ll see in the research.  There’s a definite uptick in adoption, across all ages … but especially among digital natives.  Read it, and make up your own mind.

Research Summary: Law Firm Use of Blogs and Social Media

The 2013 In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey (conducted by Greentarget Research …  was recently released in April, 2013.  Here’s a link: http://insidecounselsurvey.com/

… the 2013 study confirms blogs and linkedin as the two most influential platforms for lawyers to use in order to build influence and business relationships.

Research findings fare summarized below:

Summary:

  • In house decision makers are relying on blogs for critical business information, which then influences which law firm to hire. There is an increased use of other forms of social media to build relationships as well.
  • In terms of trend, in 2010, blogs were well used across the board, but use of social platforms like Linked in, Facebook and Twitter were much more concentrated among younger in-house lawyers.
  • In contrast, by 2012, there was much wider social media adoption among in-house lawyers in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, while the younger demographic is holding steady.
  • As the legal industry has been slow to adopt new media, early adopters gained an advantage. Going forward, the lack of an integrated strategy becomes a distinct competitive disadvantage, as the use of these tools becomes the new standard. 
  • Law firms must integrate a forward-looking social media strategy into their websites, help more of their lawyers become bloggers, and integrate the use of social platforms into their client interactions.

Key Findings by Social Media Platform:

Blogs:

  • In-house attorneys exhibit widespread trust (84%) in blogs.
  • In-house attorneys read attorney-authored or firm-branded blogs more often than they read blogs written by journalists.
  • 76% say that a lawyer-generated blog had some level of influence over which firms to retain.
  • While daily blog readership dropped, weekly and monthly readership more than made up for it, shedding new light on the quality versus quantity debate.

Other New Media:

  • LinkedIn leads all other social networks in professional usage and credibility (88%); law firms clearly aren’t taking full advantage of its networking capabilities.
  • While blogs are read more consistently across age groups than the “big three” social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter), new media usage is gaining steam, especially among younger counsel.
  • While in-house counsel rarely contribute content on social channels, they are listening and consuming regularly.
  • Social media as a firm-to-client client services mechanism is also increasing, with an eight percent year-over-year increase.

These findings mirror the trends from a older (2011) global study from Martindale-Hubbell on social media use among law firms:

So to my dear sister-in-law, and any other lawyers who are watching from the sidelines, I say this:

It’s only a matter of time.  These new tools are not going away!   Sure, we trust referrals … but we start with online research to get information and become educated.

Start an SEO optimized blog, and a Linkedin profile, NOW, and get going!

Do you have personal experiences and successes to share, to give with other lawyers that “nudge” to get started?

If so … leave a comment! 

(And, stop by and say hi on Twitter or my facebook page, where I share marketing tips, opinions, stupid cat photos, and more).  Thanks!

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About Rhonda Hurwitz

Rhonda Hurwitz is a content strategist and marketing consultant who helps mid-sized businesses develop more effective online strategies. @rhondahurwitz on Twitter, and on Forbes.com: http://blogs.forbes.com/people/rhondahurwitz/
This entry was posted in blogging, content marketing, Social Media Best Practices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Law Firm Use of Blogs and Social Media (Reseach/Trends)

  1. This is about the most updated research unfortunately. Green target is already working on the 2013 edition though.

    • Thanks for adding this update, Adrian. I will certainly look forward to seeing the 2013 edition! If the trends in the earlier edition are any indication, there was already a trend for adoption, especially among younger lawyers. I’m interested in seeing if it picked up steam among the more experienced set!

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