Surviving Social Media: Nearly All Small Firms Use Social Media in Legal Marketing

Vol. 1, No. 10

Larry Bodine is the Editor-in-Chief of Lawyers.com, the top online destination for finding a lawyer and the latest legal news for consumers. See blogs.lawyers.com. He has 11 years of experience as business development trainer who helped more than 250 law firms generate revenue and get new business.

 

  • Participate in LinkedIn to make yourself more visible.
  • Make sure you are using social media to generate in-person meetings.

 

The era of the Luddite lawyer is over. Solos and GPs in firms of one to five lawyers are embracing social media wholeheartedly, according to new research—even more than our colleagues in large law firms.

People are joining social media by the millions.

  • LinkedIn announced in February that it had reached 150 million users.
  • This is dwarfed by Facebook, which says it has 900 million monthly active users.
  • 90 million people have registered for upstart social network Google+ since it launched last summer.
  • Twitter claims to have 107 million active users.
  • There are now 70 million WordPress blogs, accounting for half the blogs on the internet. Blogs written by lawyers account for 6,300 “blawgs” in 75 subcategories according to Blawgsearch.

Joining the crowds online, lawyers in small firms are actively sending updates, tweets, and blog entries to promote their practices. In fact, 91% of lawyers in small firms (one to five lawyers) plan to implement social media as part of their marketing programs, according to research by Vizibility Inc. and LexisNexis. This is a higher percentage than law firms in general, of which 81 percent report plan to use social media marketing tools.

When asked how important social media is in their firm’s overall marketing strategy, 59 percent of lawyers in small firms said it was extremely important. Respondents in small firms in the Vizibility/LexisNexis survey said they use the following social media channels:

  • 90 percent use professional social networks like LinkedIn and MyLegal.com.
  • 88 percent write blogs.
  • 73 percent use Twitter.
  • 68 percent use consumer social networks like Facebook and Google+.
  • 51 percent use video networks like YouTube and Vimeo.
  • Only 19 percent use social question-and-answer sites like Wikipedia, Quora, and Yahoo Answers.

It’s true that LinkedIn Is a Happy Hunting Ground for Lawyers. Rule No. 1 of law firm marketing is to “go fishing where the fish are.” That fishing hole is LinkedIn, where 100 million executives and in-house counsel have profiles. In my opinion, if you’re not on LinkedIn, you are invisible online.

The facts show that a prominent blog influences hiring of law firms. Most corporate clients attribute some level of importance to a lawyer’s blog when deciding which firms to retain, according to a new Greentarget report. Law firms that blog have far better marketing results, specifically more web visitors, inbound links, and indexed pages. More website visitors mean more people to convert to leads and sales.

LexisNexis and Vizibility also asked lawyers in small firms how they measured the success of their social media program.

  • 76 percent of respondents measured lead generation.
  • 71 percent measured new business.
  • 61 percent measured increased website traffic.
  • 54 percent measured the number of followers and online connections.
  • Interestingly, 24 percent measured by improved client satisfaction.

As a lawyer who trained other lawyers in business development for more than 10 years, I think that lead generation and new business are the only valid measurements of social media marketing. Attracting more followers and online connections is worthwhile only if they lead to in-person meetings. Online marketing has to produce new files and new revenue, or it’s not worth doing.

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