Everyone is talking about social media and whilst law firms are, to say the least, late adopters when it comes to marketing, even law firms are now generally very active on social media.
As with almost every conceivable topic, there are a plethora of articles extolling the importance of social media. Here are just a few :-
Away from the legal sector big brands are spending a lot of time and money on twitter, using it to communicate with customers, listen to clients, communicate offers and develop their brand. This indicates an understanding that it is a vital channel – after all there are over 550 million twitter accounts.
Darlingtons are active on social media so the questions and comments below are not coming from an angle of anything other than an open debate. For me, I also think differently about Linked In, which in my experience can generate direct work, than I do about twitter.
For too long, many if not most law firms have ignored or underprioritised marketing. Perhaps even more damning is the tendency now to recognise the importance of marketing but just to follow the crowd.
So, the question is, if you are active on social media, why and what are you getting from it ? As a corollary, I also ask, why are the biggest law firms not using twitter in the way others are ?
The first question
We have debated the issue of whether twitter leads to significant leads and client enquiries quite a few times with others in the legal sector on twitter. We love twitter, but thus far, for us, it has not led to direct work. We have listened to the arguments to the contrary and been told that others are getting work via twitter, but found little evidence ourselves. As a very simple exercise, try using the search function in twitter to search “solicitors + recommendation” or derivative terms. We see very little activity when we do this (see screenshot below of my search today, preparing this post – about 60 tweets in total in the last 6 months) – in other words, there seem to be few people of the millions in the UK using twitter, using it to ask others for recommendations for solicitors. There are plenty slagging off solicitors though !
In our experience, most of those in law or the legal sector who use twitter mostly follow others in the sector and vice versa. There aren’t that many twitter accounts for law firms, lawyers or those in the sector that interact much with businesses or individuals not in the legal market. This suggests that lawyers are mainly talking to lawyers.
We use twitter regularly as we enjoy and believe the above may well change going forward, so we want to be well placed when that happens. We also spend time on twitter as a way of keeping our “ear to the ground”. It’s great for listening and we need to know what’s going on in law, the trends, the opinions and what our competitors are doing and thinking. In that respect, it’s a fantastic business tool.
Perhaps the worst use of twitter, which is all too common, is to just log in, every so often, not interact or engage at all, post a few articles and think that you are doing your bit to market you or your firm. That simply doesn’t work and is frankly a waste of your time and others.
The second question – why are the biggest firms not that active and not listening ?
We ran a test this week, out of interest, on the top 10 UK law firms twitter accounts. The interesting thing about almost all of them (we are compiling the data and will publish that separately) is :-
- they have lots of followers – some have thousands
- they follow very few other accounts, often less than 200
- they don’t tweet much, and generally only about content on their websites or mentions about them
In other words, the biggest law firms are deliberately not engaging. On the issue of followers v following, we doubt this is the case, but we have come across those that see it as a badge of honour to follow very few others but to have lots of followers themselves. People have said to us that if you follow more than are followed this is a bad sign. Frankly, we take the view this is nonsense, and if it’s a strategy, it’s based on arrogance.
Why do the biggest law firms adopt thus approach ? I suppose we’d have to ask them – they certainly all have big marketing and business development teams, staffed by very good people. The obvious takeaway as that, they have decided they need to be on twitter but don’t see the need to reach out to others or to listen to many others (if otherwise they would follow a lot more accounts). They clearly don;t see twitter as important for client acquisition.
The biggest law firms are completely different to the smaller ones – as we say above, in our experience, twitter is not something law firms at the moment, should see as a direct way tio get work, but I have to say i am somewhat surprised that the biggest law firms aren’t following the big brand trend of carefully listening to what their market is saying or the wider twitterverse !
All lawyers will be familiar with the concept of invitation to treat – I invite the top 10 firms to tweet !
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