Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The social media practices of corporate legal departments

OK, we've covered the social media practices of solo and small firms, mid-size firms and one large firm that's decided to take the leap.  Let's now look at what corporate legal departments are doing. A communications consulting firm called Greentarget recently surveyed 164 in-house attorneys about their social media practices. The results can be found in the Corporate Counsel New Media Engagement Survey.  From the summary:

Are in-house counsel frequenting legal and business focused blogs, as well as micro-blogging platforms like Twitter, to stay informed? Are they using tools such as LinkedIn, Martindale-Hubbell Connected, and Legal OnRamp to deepen their professional networks and engage new communities? On a more personal level, are they using social networking sites like Facebook to stay connected with friends and family? And more importantly, how do they expect their use of–and general attitudes toward–social media to change in the future?


The answer to all of these questions is, if not a resounding “yes,” then at least a steady
affirmation. Almost half of the survey’s respondents use LinkedIn, and 68 percent use
Facebook, although, for the time-being, the latter primarily for personal instead of
professional reasons. Blogs are an increasingly preferred mechanism for obtaining
business and legal industry information, and among the most surprising findings of the
research: corporate counsel now are getting more of their business- and legal-industry related information online than from traditional print sources.

Highlights of the Corporate Counsel New Media Engagement Survey:

New Media Consumption, Familiarity and Use
• 53 percent of in-house counsel expect that their consumption of industry news and information via new media platforms will increase over the next six months to a year.
• 69 percent of counsel aged 30-39 expect that their consumption of business, industry, and legal news and information will increase over the next six months or in
the next year compared to:
– 57 percent of counsel aged 40-49
– 47 percent of counsel aged 50-59
– 52 percent of counsel aged 60+ years
• The social networking and new media tools that in-house counsel most frequently use for professional reasons are LinkedIn, blogs, and Wikipedia.
• The social networking and new media tools that in-house counsel most frequently
use for personal reasons are Facebook, Wikipedia, and YouTube.

Go-To Media Sources
• While in-house counsel continue to rely on “traditional media” as their leading
sources for business-related news and information, 43 percent cited blogs and 26
percent cited social media Web sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) among their
top “go-to” sources.
Credibility
• New media platforms receiving the highest ranking by in-house counsel for their credibility as information sources include Martindale-Hubbell Connected, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, and blogs.
• Of the 97 respondents who never use Martindale-Hubbell Connected for professional or personal reasons, 36 percent say it is somewhat or most credible which likely speaks to the strength of the Martindale-Hubbell brand.
• While Martindale-Hubbell Connected is not used as widely as a more commonly used platform, such as LinkedIn, it is regarded as highly credible among the small number of in-house counsel who currently use it as well as by those who don’t.

Influence on Business Development
• In-house counsel ranked the following activities as “most important” for helping them to research outside counsel for potential hire:
1. Recommendations from sources you trust 73 percent
2. Articles and speeches the lawyer has authored 38 percent
3. Bios on the firm’s Web site 30 percent
4. Blogs published by lawyers on relevant topics 27 percent
• Half of in-house counsel agree or somewhat agree that in the future, high-profile blogs authored by law firm lawyers will influence the process by which clients hire law firms.
• In contrast, only 10 percent of in-house counsel believe that a firm’s prominence on Twitter will drive business development.

Law Firm-to-Client Communication
• While the majority of in-house counsel aren’t accessing content from their law firms via new media tools (Twitter feeds, blogs, Facebook pages, LinkedIn discussion groups, etc.), 51 percent said that they would engage these channels to receive relevant information from their firms. This revelation suggests that when law firms start developing content-rich communications, in-house lawyers will receive them more willingly via new media channels, but their interest will be piqued by the substantive information, not by the delivery mechanism.


Wikipedia
• Wikipedia ranked among the most credible sources of industry news and information (behind Martindale-Hubbell Connected and LinkedIn).
• Consistent with its high scores in familiarity, professional and personal use among counsel of all age groups, Wikipedia maintains strong credibility with this audience as well, which is significant given that its open, uncontrolled platform often is criticized for its inaccuracy. This finding may suggest that those respondents who use new media tools (such as Wikipedia) appreciate them as a “communitygenerated” offerings, willingly trading off questions about the validity of their data
for the “open” process by which they receive, share, update and/or correct their content.
• Despite Wikipedia’s broad familiarity and professional use among in-house counsel, only 13 percent of in-house lawyers have viewed the Wikipedia pages of their current and prospective outside law firms.

Facebook: A Blurring of Professional and Personal Use
• 37 percent of counsel aged 30-39 have used Facebook for professional reasons in the past 24 hours, and 48 percent – nearly half – have used it professionally in the past week. This is significant on two levels. First, it signals that tools law firm marketers may have deemed irrelevant up until now may, in fact, be very relevant in the near future. Second, it shows a willingness among younger counsel to allow their professional lives to merge with their personal lives.
• Facebook emerged as the third most frequently used new media platform among inhouse counsel from the largest companies ($1 to $10 billion in revenue), with 28 percent having used the tool in the past 24 hours.


Delivery
• 62 percent of in-house counsel prefer to access their business and industry news online via publication web sites compared to 42 percent who prefer the print vehicle. While at first surprising data, a glance at a roomful of lawyers accessing Blackberries, IPhones, Kindles, and IPads helps put this shift from print to online in perspective. • 74 percent of counsel aged 30-39 prefer or somewhat prefer to use their smart phone or PDA (second to online) compared to:
– 47 percent of counsel aged 40-49
– 37 percent of counsel aged 50-59
– 26 percent of counsel aged 60+ years

Read the full report here.

(jbl).

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2011/03/the-social-media-practices-of-corporate-legal-departments.html

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Comments

These statistics are not a surprise to me at all. Social media started out as a younger person thing and has now spread to people of all ages. The legal sector is using social media a whole bunch, especially in the world of blogging. It will be interesting to watch if this trend continues to grow or not.

Posted by: IBB Solicitors | Mar 22, 2011 5:28:27 AM

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