In previous articles, we mentioned how social media have become an essential part of online marketing strategies. A report, published in January 2019 by the Attorney at Work website, reveals that in 2018, 85 percent of responding lawyers use social media as part of their marketing strategy. More than two-thirds, 71 percent, of lawyers say social media contributed to bringing in new clients.
Generally speaking, LinkedIn is the network of choice for lawyers, with 77 percent saying it is their favoured marketing platform. This has to be nuanced, in that larger law firms whose clients mainly consist of companies tend to focus more on LinkedIn, while lawyers who deal with individual clients tend to slightly favour Facebook. In this article, we will give you a first introduction to LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a professional social network, which is mainly used for professional networking. It is a business and employment-oriented service that operates via websites and mobile apps. It was founded on 28 December 2002, and launched on 5 May 2003. Since December 2016 it has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft. As of October 2018, LinkedIn had 590 million registered members in 200 countries, of which more than 250 million are active. Signing up to LinkedIn is free, but some premium features are only available with a subscription one has to be pay for.
The main reason people use LinkedIn is to help grow their business or career. It is a tool for networking (which includes a system of introductions), for recruitment (where people can list their skills and experience), for marketing (e.g. to display endorsements and recommendations), advertising, and for research. It also is a publishing platform, and it offers discussion forums, called groups. These can be important to lawyers, as LinkedIn promotes certain authors as influencers (or thought leaders).
LinkedIn offers a package that includes:
- Networking Tools / Connections
- Company Pages
- As well as some other services, some of which can be useful for lawyers.
Let’s go over these in some more detail, knowing that we can only scratch the surface, and that each of them could easily warrant one or more articles by themselves.
Profiles: when one signs up to LinkedIn, the first thing to do is to create your profile. This is a profile for you as an individual. Think of it as a standardized bio or résumé. In it, you can give a summary of who you are, and provide more information about your background: your education, experience, skills, endorsements, accomplishments and interests. For each of these categories of information, LinkedIn offers a separate section in your profile. You can also make posts from your profile, and publish articles. Your profile contains an activity section that lists those. If you want to start a blog on LinkedIn, you can do so from your profile. Profile sections can be added in more than one language.
Networking Tools / Connections: LinkedIn not only allows members to create profiles but also connections to each other in an online social network. These connections may represent real-world professional relationships, but don’t necessarily do so. Members can invite anyone (whether an existing member or not) to become a connection. Members can also ask other members to introduce them to their connections. When looking for someone on LinkedIn, it will show you how many connections you may have in common, and if there are none, how many degrees you are separated from them.
LinkedIn also offers Company Pages, where you can provide information about your law firm. Here the rule is that each company only has one main page, for which a custom URL can be created. It consists of several sections, and each section can be entered in more than one language. Linked to the company pages are showcase pages. If your law firm, e.g., has offices in several locations, each one could get its own showcase page. Showcase pages can also be dedicated to services or products you offer. For showcase pages, too, it is possible to have them in more than one language.
Company pages can post updates, but can’t publish articles. It is therefore not possible to set up a company blog on LinkedIn. It is possible for individuals (profiles) to publish articles, and to provide links to those articles as company updates. Also good to know is that company pages can be linked to a LinkedIn Group.
Groups in essence are discussion forums. Anybody can create a group, and invite people to become members. These groups can either be public (anybody can join) or private (upon invitation or approval). As mentioned above, companies can create a group that will be linked to their company page. Often, these are used, e.g., by the customer care and / or the support department. Interesting for lawyers is that groups can be dedicated to specific topics, and that there are plenty of groups that deal with legal matters (as well as legal technology). Taking part in discussions in such groups can help build your online reputation.
Like other social media, LinkedIn also offers messaging and notification services. For lawyers, LinkedIn also is an important advertising platform (cf. the statistics quoted in the introduction to this article).
Apart from the services mentioned above, LinkedIn also offers a series of other services. These focus on learning and on insights; they allow you to post job offers, etc. In this context (of recruitment) it is worth mentioning a new service that at present is only available in the US and within specific service categories, and is called ProFinder. “LinkedIn ProFinder is LinkedIn’s professional services marketplace that helps you find the best freelance or independent professionals in your area.” It already does include certain legal services, and is expected to include more services, and to become available internationally.
Also worth mentioning is Slideshare. It is a hosting service for professional content including presentations, infographics, documents, and videos. Users can upload files privately or publicly in PowerPoint, Word, PDF, or OpenDocument format. Content can then be viewed on the site itself, on hand held devices or embedded on other sites.