Yet as we continue to emerge from the pandemic, we think it worthy to note that there has been a change in the social order, so to speak. We believe the changes that are taking place are significant enough that lawyers should reconsider and refresh their approaches to engaging on social media platforms. We firmly believe that you and your firm should continue to participate on these platforms to future proof your practice.
The most significant change of note to lawyers is the recent rise in importance of LinkedIn. This has occurred almost simultaneously with, and at least partially because of, the turmoil involving X. We believe it is also related to changing engagement norms and a lack of civility on Facebook, causing users to seek a more business-oriented social media platform.
In short, declining trust in some digital platforms is helping to reshape LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has always been considered the social media platform of choice for professionals. Professionals, including lawyers, have long been encouraged to create a professional profile on the platform to leverage individual networks and create a presence for their own law firms. For many years, LinkedIn was a place to build a personal brand by posting an online CV along with professional achievements, job changes, community awards and similar types of recognition. Furthermore, the platform has become a place for HR professionals to recruit for job openings. Rarely was LinkedIn a place to truly socialize.
Yet as people became recently frustrated with X, more lawyers have been turning to LinkedIn to share their thoughts and opinions on business-related issues. Moreover, as Facebook has become more contentious and political, people are looking for more civilized platforms to politely engage on issues more important than family vacations and children's achievements.
So, if you haven't been on LinkedIn lately, now is the time to take a look. We’re not the only lawyers to notice that the frequency and quality of engagement on LinkedIn has increased dramatically in the past year. The platform has gone from an obligatory place to be, to a platform where people want to be.
The number of users on LinkedIn jumped to over 930 million in early 2023, including 225 million members in North America. Member demographics show the majority have college degrees (you must be at least 18 years old to be a member) and earn above average incomes. Furthermore, 90 million of these users are senior-level influencers with 63 million of those in decision-making positions. LinkedIn has proven to be an effective platform for lead generation and customer acquisition. In fact, it’s 277 percent more effective than Facebook in generating business leads, according to their data.
In 2021 LinkedIn invested $25 million in select creators to “share content, spark conversations, and build community” on the platform. The program was so successful they launched a second round in 2022, increasing engagement across the platform by 22 percent.
Because of the expanded importance and impact of LinkedIn, it is more worthy of your time, engagement and marketing efforts. We suggest these investments of time to dust off your profile and expand your impact on the platform:
- Replace your profile picture if more than five years since your last one.
- Update your profile with current information that highlights your work history and related professional activities (e.g., participation on a bar association executive or community groups).
- As potential clients will look to see if you know other people they or their contacts know, try to increase the number of connections you have. At the same time, be discerning and only connect with people you know and respect. As a rule, neither of us accept connections from people we don’t know.
- LinkedIn generated connection requests are cold and impersonal. Make a stronger positive first impression by sending a personalized invitation to connect. This is especially helpful if the invitee may not be sure of or recall their connection to you (e.g., “Hi Sue. Great to meet you at the XYZ Conference. I would like to add you to my LinkedIn connections. Dan”).
- Create a schedule for regularly creating posts (even once a week is enough) that have information of interest to those in your network. Even better, create a content strategy across the firm to help firm lawyers post content. And be sure to be generous in sharing content written by others in your network, especially those who reciprocate.
- Experiment with short-form videos especially “explainer” videos, where viewers can succinctly learn about your services.
- Don’t overdo it with personal content but show people your personal side too.
- Cross-post from other platforms with appropriate professional content.
- We’re old fashioned enough to encourage that you create your own content as you raise your engagement level, but we also recognize the value of selectively using AI-generated content to expand your engagement as well.
- If your firm does not have a separate profile, add that immediately. If your firm profile is more than a few years old, update it.
- Do consider the quality, not the quantity, of your LinkedIn contacts. We all want to be popular but ultimately, the quality of your contacts is more important than the quantity. Although a high number of LinkedIn contacts may look impressive at first, potential clients will dig deeper and judge you by the details in your profile and the quality of the people in your network.
- Respond to posts by connections in your network. Comment on their updates. Celebrate in their successes. If you like, agree or even disagree with something one of your contacts has posted, share your thoughts. For reputation building, try to post comments on the updates of respected peers.
- Do look at and tweak your settings. Visit the Settings & Privacy in your Profile configuration pages and look at the various settings you can change. Most of you will want to go with the default settings, but you may find configuration options that will make LinkedIn operate in ways that are better suited to your personal preferences.
Social media is here to stay, for now (remember the Yellow Pages?), so learn to leverage it to your marketing advantage. Even if you are not a frequent user of any platform you can help to future proof your practice by revisiting and reevaluating your investment in LinkedIn.