In this article, we focus on social media for lawyers. We start with some statistics about social media that underpin their relevance. Next, we have a look at the different categories of social media that exist. We conclude with a selection of social media that are recommended for lawyers.
Some statistics about social media
In a previous article, we explained why social media matter. They are a valuable marketing tool, even for lawyers, because they provide direct access to your target audiences. Legal consumers are online consumers and social media allow them to familiarize themselves with the lawyers whose services they want to employ.
And social media are extremely popular, as the following statistics illustrate.
- In April 2023, there were 4.8 billion social media user identities, which is the equivalent of 59.9% of the global population. If we narrow it down to adults (18 years and older) then we are dealing with a number that is the equivalent of 78% of the population.
- If we look at the number of people using the Internet, then we find that 92.7% of them are on at least one form of social media.
- The average time a social media user spends each day on social media amounts to 2 hours and 24 minutes.
- Demographics: 46.5% of social media users are female, while 53.5% are male.
- People who are active on social media tend to be active on more than one platform and on average have 6.6 social media profiles.
A key concept in the metrics about social media users is the number of monthly active users (MAU). These are the unique users who use a social media platform at least once a month. Based on these monthly active users, these are the 21 most popular social media platforms.
- Facebook — 2.96 billion
- YouTube — 2.2 billion
- WhatsApp — 2 billion
- Instagram — 2 billion
- WeChat — 1.26 billion
- TikTok — 1 billion
- Sina Weibo — 573 million
- QQ — 538.91 million
- Telegram — 550 million
- Snapchat — 557 million
- Kuaishou — 573 million
- zone — 553.5 million
- Pinterest — 444 million
- Twitter — 238 million
- Reddit — 430 million
- LinkedIn — 424 million
- Quora — 300 million
- Discord — 150 million
- Twitch — 140 million
- Tumblr — 135 million
- Mastodon — 2.5 million
Now, many of those you may not be familiar with because they are mainly used in the Far East, and more specifically in China. Those are probably less relevant for most Western lawyers.
Not yet included in the list is Threads, the new Twitter alternative that was launched by Instagram. In the week after it was launched on 5 July 2023, it already gathered more than 100 million users, which would put it near the top 20. But note that at the time of writing, Threads is not available in the EU.
Categories of social media
There are many different types of social media. To tell them apart, it makes sense to group them in different categories. The Wikipedia uses the following categories.
- Blogs are informational websites published on the World Wide Web, consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (posts). By now, most law firms have their own blog. (For more information, read our article on starting a blog).
- Business networks are a type of social network service that focuses on interactions and relationships for business opportunities and career growth, with less emphasis on activities in personal life. LinkedIn is an example of a business network. Most law firms also are on LinkedIn.
- Collaborative projects like, e.g., Wikipedia.
- Enterprise social networks focus on the use of online social networks or social relations among people who share business interests and/or activities. Enterprise social networking is often a facility of enterprise social software. Yammer and Socialcast are examples.
- Discussion Forums
- Microblogs are a form of blogging using short posts without titles. When Twitter, e.g., launched, the size of a message was limited to only 140 characters. Other examples include Tumblr, Mastodon, Post.News, Threads, Spoutible, et. al.
- Photo sharing websites like Instagram, Flickr, Photobucket, etc.
- Websites with crowd-sourced reviews of products and/or services. Sometimes these focus on specific market segments like, e.g., Tripadvisor, while others are more generic, like Yelp or Amazon.
- Social bookmarking are online services which allow users to add, annotate, edit, and share bookmarks of web documents. Delicious and Pinterest are two examples.
- Social gaming (ex. Mafia Wars, World of Warcraft).
- Generic social network sites like Facebook.
- Video sharing websites like YouTube, Vimeo, TikTok, etc.
- Virtual worlds are computer-simulated environments which may be populated by many users who can create a personal avatar, and simultaneously and independently explore the virtual world, participate in its activities and communicate with others. (We discussed virtual worlds before in our article on Web3).
Note that in this overview the Wikipedia did not include messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal, while most other overviews do include them. Not included either are websites where people can ask all kinds of questions, like Quora or Reddit.
It is also worth pointing out that the boundaries between these categories are fluid and that they often overlap. Videos, e.g., are not only shared on video sharing sites, but also on virtually all messaging apps, as well as on most other popular platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
A selection of social media for lawyers
The annual reports by the American Bar Association and Good2bSocial reveal that by now most law firms are active on social media. Many are present on the most popular platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, and most have their own blog. The most important current trends are that a) more and more law firms are discovering short form video and start using those, and b) that firms who cater to multiple audiences are seeing the importance of market segmentation. In other words, law firms are learning it pays off to target different audiences on different platforms.
Online articles that recommend lawyers which social media to use are fairly consistent in their recommendations. The selection below is limited to those social media that are most relevant for lawyers, topic-wise and geographically. For most of the ones listed below, we have discussed them before in our blog articles.
When it comes to business networking, LinkedIn is the platform of choice.
When it comes to general social media, Facebook is the most popular choice. Recent statistics show that in the US more law firms are advertising on Facebook than on LinkedIn.
When it comes to messaging apps, there are more options. WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Telegram, and Signal are all popular. Because of privacy concerns, Signal is probably most recommended for lawyers. Note that most messaging apps now also allow to create groups which can function as mailing list for updates as well as short newsletters. A WhatsApp group can currently have 1 024 members, whereas a Telegram super group can have up to 200 000 members.
Because online consumers like to know in advance who they are dealing with, photo sharing apps can provide them with a more human side of a law firm. Instagram still is the most popular platform, followed by Snapchat, Flickr, and Photobucket.
Up until recently, the platform of choice for micro-blogging was Twitter. But since Elon Musk took over, many users and advertisers have turned their back on Twitter. Several alternatives are available, like Mastodon, Threads, Tumblr, Bluesky, or, e.g., Post.news. Threads seems to be positioning itself as the main alternative but is not available in Europe.
For video sharing, there again are several options. For longer videos, YouTube and Vimeo are the platforms of choice. For short-form videos, TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat are currently most popular. Note, however, that for lawyers TikTok is not recommended because of serious privacy concerns. Several governments worldwide have ordered officials to remove TikTok from their smart phones.
Pinterest still is the recommended platform for social bookmarking.
When it comes to question-and-answer forums, Quora and Reddit are the two main platforms.
That concludes our overview of recommended social media for lawyers in 2023.