Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A survey of mid-size firm use of social media

Let's go full circle on this topic. We've talked about what the small firms should do and what one large firm plans to do as far as establishing a social media presence, how about the mid-size firms?  Here are the results from a recent survey conducted by a service called the International Lawyers Network.  It sent surveys to its 91 member network of mid-size firms around the world. Based on the 90 firms that responded, ILN found that:

while some firms have jumped on the social media bandwagon, others are still questioning its usefulness as a professional tool for business development.  

Notably, the majority of firms were not using social media, and use of social media tools for professional reasons and as a source of news and information was fairly limited.

Among the other findings:

  • Firms with 151 attorneys or more are focusing more on raising the firm's brand/visibility through social media than smaller firms. Among the smaller firms, greater emphasis was placed on raising personal brand/visibility.
  • Smaller firms are also using social media to test new marketing initiatives, whereas firms larger than 100 attorneys are not doing so at all. Similar results are seen for recruitment.
  • 51 percent of respondents said that their firm does not have a presence in online social networks.
  • However, 77 percent said their firms maintain an online presence on LinkedIn, 46 percent of respondents' firms maintain an online presence on Martindale-Hubbell Connected and 31 percent on Twitter.
  • Only a small percentage of firms have a social media policy (23%), but as firm size increases, so does the likelihood of a firm having a social media policy.
  • 17 percent of firms are tracking social networking leads and 66 percent of the attorneys surveyed belong to firms that are not measuring the return on investment from social networking.

The survey also asked about the social media practices of individual attorneys within those firms:

  • 69 percent of respondents see social media as "very" or "somewhat important."
  • When broken down by firm size, smaller firms are less likely to consider social media to be of importance to law firms (56%). For firms with more than 50 attorneys, the numbers are fairly similar for perceived importance of social media.
  • Respondents considered LinkedIn to be the most important site for law firms (57%), while they thought Twitter was the least valuable (42%).
  • Respondents ranked legal industry websites (68%), general business media (54%), and legal industry trades (50%) as their top three most frequently used news and information sources.
  • The social networking tools that respondents most frequently used for professional reasons are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (despite Twitter being identified as the "least valuable" tool for law firms).
  • The social networking tools that respondents most frequently use for personal reasons are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Not surprisingly, those under 30 have the highest use of social media for professional reasons in the last 24 hours and we see notable spikes in Facebook usage for professional reasons among 30-39 and 50-59 (25% and 22% respectively).  Additionally, usage of LinkedIn for professional reasons spikes dramatically among those in the 60+ age group.
  • 72 percent of respondents use social media tools for attorney networking and 52 percent use these tools to engage with clients

The full survey report can be obtained here.



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