Every year, towards the end of the year, Good2bSocial (www.good2bsocial.com) publishes a ‘Social Law Firm Index’. It is a study of digital marketing adoption, use, and best practices in the legal industry. The report aims to determine the effectiveness of law firms’ efforts and includes reviews and rankings of the US top law firms. It assesses the firms’ publicly available thought leadership content, and measures social media reach, engagement, and marketing performance on specific social platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Here are some of the highlights of the 2018 Social Law Firm Index.
Let’s start with some general observations on trends:
- There still is an ongoing rapid increase in the use of digital technology and social media among law firms.
- There also is a noticeable surge in video adoption. (See below).
- Firms are maximizing the potential of interactive content:Interactive content is one of the best ways for law firms to facilitate engagement across digital channels like email and social media. In 2018, there was a trend towards interactive content such as free tools, polls, and surveys.
- When it comes to the actual content, more firms are crafting client-centric thought leadership and social media content that aims to address client desires rather than simply touting a firm’s bona fides. (On Twitter, especially, there was a major increase in high-quality, non-promotional firm content.)
- Compared to 2017, we can notice shifting priorities and shifting channels:Law firms are getting smarter about setting aside social platforms that don’t reach their target audiences or provide a return on investment. Facebook, which was hit by several scandals in the last year, in particular saw a major decline in use amongst firms.
- There’s an increasing need for paid social. (See Below).
The study closely examines how firms are using digital platforms to communicate and amplify thought leadership. Good2bSocial believes that a law firm’s most valuable resource is its intellectual assets. They therefore define thought leadership as material that, for the purposes of business development, communicates to potential clients and others information about those assets. These communications can take the form of articles, client alerts, tool kits, videos, podcasts, and blogs.
The report also looked for what characterizes the best and worst performers. The best performing firms are demonstrating the greatest comprehensive adoption, integration, and use of social media and content marketing to market and grow their practices. Their messaging is coherent, consistent, and current across platforms, and best practices are evident at all stages of execution. They displayed the following characteristics, some of which were mentioned above in the general trends:
- Video Takes Over: In 2017, 26% of law firms used it; in 2018, 36% does. Take content like testimonials, case studies, and blog posts, and turn them into videos for a more engaging way to connect with your target audience.
- Interactive Content is Key: Use interactive content like polls, surveys, and free assessment tools to understand your clients and provide them with future content that you know they’ll find valuable.
- Thinking like a Client: Use surveys and polls to inform your content strategy. You can’t write the right content if you don’t know what your clients or prospects care about.
- Quality over Quantity: Aim for at least 70 percent of your social media messages to be original, non-promotional content like blog posts and client alerts.
- Shifting Priorities and Shifting Channels: Analyse and measure which social networks are the most effective for your law firm. Then, prioritize the ones that bring you the highest ROI. While Facebook is still effective for law firms trying to reach consumers, corporate law firms are finding that they’re better off using LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Rise of Paid Social: Thirty percent of law firms surveyed reported using paid social in order to enhance the reach of their social media messages. Facebook and LinkedIn are equally popular choices when it comes to firms investing in sponsored content on social.
The characteristics of the worst performers, on the other hand, fall in two categories. First, there are the abandoned profiles, i.e. profiles on social media that are no longer updated. Secondly, there are all the missed engagement opportunities. The following best social media engagements practices were not observed:
- Sharing blog content on social media channels: it’s not enough to publish a blog article. Let the world know about it on social media. This not only applies to new articles but also to older ones that are still relevant.
- Employee Advocacy: Employee advocacy has the power to exponentially increase the reach of your law firm’s thought leadership content.
- Engage / interact with others: like, retweet, comment, mention key influencers and thought leaders. Following social media best practices like influencer marketing, using hashtags, and posting content multiple times are too often forgotten and lead to missed opportunities for law firms to generate awareness and clients.