Is There a Place in Legal for Social Media?

Aderant Think Tank

Is There a Place in Legal for Social Media?

Few would argue that social media is rapidly changing every aspect of our daily lives. Mobile technology has transformed the way we communicate, work, and ultimately make new connections. For most law firms, however, this transformation to an online-centered world pushes up against the tried-and-true methods of word-of-mouth referrals, client meetings, and paper-based practices.

I will admit that, until recently, I was skeptical about social media in the legal industry. Sure, social media works for technology-oriented industries, or for sales and marketing people, but for conservative attorneys and legal professionals: no way. But I was wrong. This blog that you’re now reading changed my perspective. Every day hundreds of readers find the Think Tank via social media sharing, and this post will likely be read by nearly 2,000 legal professionals. Over 60 percent of that readership will generate from Twitter and LinkedIn sharing.

The proof of resistance in the legal industry is in the spending: the recent Social Law Firm White Paper found that content marketing among all B2B companies comprised 33 percent of their marketing budget, while only 13 percent of law firms spend more than 20 percent on content marketing, and 41 percent of law firms spend 10 percent or less. As someone who has spent his career in marketing and has been on the front lines of the massive changes now taking place, I can assure you that sitting on the sidelines of the social media revolution is no longer an option.

To highlight this point, in 2012, the American Bar Association published A Practical Guide to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Blogging to make the case of greater engagement to their members. They noted that “Younger people today have grown up with technology all around them, and it is intertwined in every aspect of their lives. Nearly all the younger lawyers at your firm will have Facebook profiles they check daily, many will have already uploaded their résumés on LinkedIn and some may tweet links to online content of some sort.”

Of course, the first step in any new marketing strategy is to examine the pros and cons of your current strategy. Along these lines, the Everyday Lawyer blog had a recent entry titled How To Fix Your Firm’s Terrible Social Media Strategy. While painful to read if you’re in the marketing business, the post accurately noted that “After taking a quick look at law firms on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I found that many of the same social media ills that have always plagued law firms are still prevalent.”

So if you’re not yet a big player on social media, or your online strategy is outdated, what should you do? The ABA guide mentioned above does an excellent job of setting forth the basic steps for each of the major social media platforms. And they admit that “The morass of social media services may seem bewildering—there are thousands of them—but with a bit of research and guidance you can sort out which ones have the potential to do something for you and your firm.”

Of course, the most obvious and helpful use for social media will ultimately be to obtain new business. The Real Lawyers Have Blogs site recently argued that “The best lawyers get their work via relationships and word of mouth. Always have and always will. The Internet and social media did not change that. Social media, including blogging, just accelerates relationships and word of mouth.”

So what does that mean for you? I encourage to spend some time on LinkedIn and look for your own partners, competitors, and industry leaders. While some firms are already embracing the social media tools available and using them to increase their online presence, recruit new business and establish their unique “voice” in a cluttered field, many have not. Considering the recent trends in the global demand for legal services, there’s little doubt in my mind that wisely managing your social media profile will be crucial to your firm’s future growth. Let’s use those social media platforms now to discuss it!

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