Since 2013, Consultancy Good2bSocial has released an annual social media report card for law firms. The Report reveals law firms’ social media reach, engagement, and marketing performance.
This year’s Report, released last week, gives DLA Piper top marks. Also getting high marks: White & Case, Norton Rose Fulbright, Baker McKenzie, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. These firms all have comprehensive strategies for using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Also last week, I gave a presentation at the Fall Seminar put on by the Kentucky Defense Counsel. My topic: why and how lawyers should engage in social media and blogging.
I have been thinking a lot lately about social media and its importance to lawyers. I thought I would share some of my perspectives. This post deals with why social media and blogging are essential for those in the legal industry. My next post will deal with how to use social media and the lessons I have learned along the way.
First: my story. Five years ago, I didn’t touch social media. I didn’t see the need, thought it to be of little to no business value. I was a real scoffer.
At the time, I was trying to build my brand and get more business in the data breach and privacy areas. I wanted to let potential clients know about my expertise and knowledge in these areas to get hired.
The traditional way to get new business in new areas is to network at events where potential clients might be. The hope is through this networking to build up a referral network with those in the field.
This approach takes a lot of time. Time to attend conferences. Time to make physical connections. Time to make visits to see potential clients.
But this approach takes a lot of time. Time to attend conferences. Time to make physical connections. Time to make visits to see potential clients. And not only does it take time, time away from billable hours, it is also expensive.
Like most, I, of course, realized that another way to develop business was to write articles. I could then get these articles published somewhere and email them to the contacts I already had.
But that raised another hurdle. I didn’t want to just send emails to the few people I knew in the area since that wasn’t casting a wide enough net to get the work I wanted. And I didn’t want to cold email people I didn’t know.
About this time, I discovered that I could write and post articles on LinkedIn. These articles could then be seen by my connections and anyone else who was interested. And by increasing my LinkedIn connections, particularly with people I wanted to impress, I could cast an even broader net. And this took little extra effort or increased cost. So I cleaned up my LinkedIn bio and started writing.
Being active on LinkedIn, in turn, led me to get more active on Twitter. This allowed me to push my LinkedIn content to those on Twitter. Again, a broader net. And by commenting on content from others in the field, I could let more people know my expertise. Ultimatly, this led to the use of Facebook and even to the creation of my very own blog.
Since 1995, Mary Meeker has issued an annual comprehensive internet and social media Report. As I previously discussed in a post about the Report, the Report highlights the most important digital technology, internet and advertising trends. Everyone in tech and social media related occupations–and lawyers–should pay particular attention to Meeker’s findings.
The average time spent per day by people online last year was 6.3 hours,
Here are some interesting findings from her research and report this year:
- 51% of people are online and use social media.
- There are 3.8 billion worldwide internet users.
- 26% of people are always online.
- The average time spent per day by people online last year was 6.3 hours.
- Last year, for the first time, the time spent by the average person on the internet was higher than the time spent on TV.
- When it comes to the type of social media people look at, Facebook is king.
Now consider how people hire lawyers. According to this year’s Legal Trends Report published by Clio, 57% use online resources to find a lawyer. Many of these people only used online resources: “Technology is making it increasingly easier to research law firms online.”
And what do they want to know about lawyers: 77% want to know a lawyer’s experience and credentials; 72% want to know what types of cases the lawyers handle.
(By the way, sometimes we make business development and pleasing clients complicated. But according to Clio, what clients want is relatively simple: 81% just want their lawyers to be responsive. 80% want their lawyers to tell them how to proceed, 76% want to know how much the matter will cost, and 74% want lawyers to tell them told what the process will be.
Given these statistics, how best to reach people, establish your experience and credentials and what you do?
In the U.S., alone, 79% of people or 244 million people used social media. Social media is where people are
Social Media, Blogging and Legal Marketing
The broadest, most impactful, and most cost-effective way to do this is through social media and blogging. According to Statista, over 65% of people or 2.65 billion used social media in 2018, a number projected to increase to over 3 billion by 2021. Again, according to Statista, in the U.S. alone, 79% of people or 244 million people used social media. Social media is where people are.
Why should lawyers use social media and have blogs? The main reason for lawyer marketing efforts is to get business, right? How do you get business? The best way, according to the Clio survey, is be known for what you do and, more importantly, be known for something that gets you business.
Social media and blogging is a way to (a) connect with a vast digital audience, (b) that you are purposefully trying to reach. The people that will send you business.
Think again about networking. To work best, networking requires casting the broadest net possible and reaching as many people as possible. As discussed, physically doing that is difficult. That approach takes too much time and money for what could end up being lots of dry holes. It is incompatible with the demands of representing clients and practicing law day to day.
Whether and Why
Let’s face it, most of us don’t have the funds or time to go everywhere and meet everyone that could potentially give us business. But by using tools such as social media and blogging, we have a chance to have a “virtual handshake” with people we could not and would not otherwise reach. To show our expertise and knowledge to a broader swath of people.
Social media and blogging are ways to reach a select audience you want to impress. They are ways to establish you as an authority on a specific subject matter to that audience.
Want some case studies? Read Bob Scoble’s and Shel Israel‘s article: Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk to Customers. Scoble and Israel talk about how blogs are changing how businesses communicate with their consumers. They present more than 50 case studies of how business leaders interact through blogs with the audience they want to reach.
Here’s another thing: by providing regular, consistent content through social media and/or a blog, potential clients get to know and rely on you. Before they ever meet you in person or talk live with you, they got to know your voice and style. They are able to learn not only about your legal expertise but also something about you as a person. They will discover things about you that makes them want to hire you. You are able to present yourself, your skills, your personality, and your expertise to potential clients and build trust.
As Kevin O’Keefe, the owner the well-known blogging platform, LexBlog, says, “I always come back to blogging being a conversation, a way to engage one’s audience in a real and authentic way.” See Kevin’s excellent article, Can Content Alone Create the Intimate Relationships Blogs Do?
Next: the how of social media and blogging-lessons I learned the hard way.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash