Legal PR blog

New research: Law firms and social media

  • 76% of law firms use social media: LinkedIn is the most popular platform with 40% of firms using it followed by 34% using Twitter
  • The use of social media on work IT equipment is still prohibited in 48% of firms
  • 79% of firms have a social media policy
  • 45% of firms believe social media is best used for announcing firm news
  • A third of firms (37%) spend up to 15 minutes each day managing social media
  • Finding the time (64%), convincing partners and management (58%) and building a substantial following (51%) are the biggest challenges

Law firms still view social media as one-way ‘announcement vehicles’ despite confirming that clients want a dialogue.

45% of law firms believe social media is best used for announcing firm news
45% of law firms believe social media is best used for announcing firm news

The Social Media Legal Survey 2011 polled marketing managers at 50 UK law firms and found that almost half thought online social networks were best used to ‘make company announcements’, while only 13% thought it worthwhile to conduct a two-way dialogue with customers, potential clients and other organisations.

The vast majority of law firms are already (76%) or are planning to use (15%) online social networks in a corporate capacity and more than half (53%) have been doing so for over a year. Ralph Savage, managing director of Legal PR agency RTS Media which commissioned the survey said: “There’s no disputing the popularity of having a presence on networks like Twitter and Linkedin, but given the results of this survey perhaps law firms should consider investing more time and effort engaging with clients and contacts rather than simply making announcements.”

The survey found that clients contacted 47% of respondents through Linkedin, and 29% said that customers would send their firm direct messages through their corporate Twitter account. “More people are moving towards new media channels and want to interact with law firms online,” adds Ralph.

Time management appears to be the most pressing concern for law firm marketers, closely followed by a continued reluctance amongst management to embrace social media efforts. Nevertheless with 79% of law firms having a social media policy in place, it is abundantly clear that they are keen to enforce rules and regulations about how social media should be used.

“Having a social media policy is important but it can too easily become just a list of restrictions. As this survey has shown, social media can play a crucial role in communications and customer relations efforts. If viewed as part of the firm’s overall business development strategy, online social networking can be highly effective as long as participants behave in the same professional manner as they would in a physical networking environment.”

More than one third (37%) of firms spend a maximum of 15 minutes each day managing their social media presence, which supports the concern amongst law firm marketers that simply finding the time is a daily challenge (64%). “It’s like asking them to man reception at the same time as doing their day job,” says Ralph. “If law firms are serious about building and maintaining an online presence, they must be willing to invest time and resources. This could mean training a small group of Twitter ambassadors who can monitor traffic throughout the day using software such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, share interesting content and engage with followers in line with the firm’s overall communications strategy.”

Post by: Ralph Savage / Website:
A business journalist by trade, Ralph Savage represents a series of B2B clients on media and marketing matters. He provides strategic PR advice, media training and consultancy. He also ghost writes regularly on behalf of FTSE 250 CEOs, leading counsel and senior professionals including solicitors, accountants and brokers.