Managed properly, social networks should present you in a polished, professional manner, providing a personalized touch to your law practice that more formal media channels can’t. In fact, the highly personal connections that social media fosters are a primary reason why these channels can be such effective marketing tools for attorneys.
“Taking control of your online presence is a necessity, and there are few better ways to do so than social media. Used carefully, social media can give your firm a voice, amplify your professional reputation, and help drive new business.”—The American Bar Association
But, how do you know if you are using social media correctly? One way to find out is to compare your efforts to those of practices that are doing social media well—like those listed in The Social Law Firm Index, a yearly study by Good2BSocial, a growth marketing agency for the legal industry.
According to The Social Law Firm Index 2018, the following are the top-five practices in terms of overall social media effectiveness:
1. Norton Rose Fulbright – Crowdsourcing employee content to build its brand
Number one in the index for overall social media engagement, as well as number one for Twitter use and thought leadership, Norton Rose Fulbright has leveraged social sharing among its employees to generate authentic content that tells its global brand story while still resonating with local audiences.
On its Instagram account, for example, it highlights its more than 8,000 employees in over 50 cities via its #lawaroundtheworld hashtag. But in an unusual twist, it displays the employees’ photography instead of pictures of the employees themselves. As a result, Norton Rose Fulbright’s more than 2,400 Instagram followers can enjoy gorgeous scenes ranging from a Costa Rican rainforest to views from the Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Paris. It then showcases these employee perspectives on its other social media platforms.
An underlying theme of Norton Rose Fulbright’s digital marketing initiative is thought leadership. For decades, the practice has presented audiences with multiple publications about legal trends. Among these are the Litigation Trends Report, the Project Finance NewsWire, and the International Arbitration Report.
Norton Rose Fulbright’s Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer Nora Shearer explains the reasons behind the practice’s focus on digital communication:
“Digital marketing has allowed individuals from all corners to shine, reflecting positively on our global organization. Digital encourages our legal professionals to share their own and their colleagues’ work and successes, thereby elevating our brand as a whole. By encouraging digital activity, we have positioned ourselves as thought leaders in the global marketplace.”
Social media stats
- 78,109 LinkedIn followers
- 4,266 Facebook followers
- 16.9k Twitter followers
- 2,403 Instagram followers
2. DLA Piper – Targeting social media content to the right audience
With thousands of lawyers in more than 40 countries, DLA Piper sits at number two overall, due in part to its cohesive digital marketing strategy. DLA Piper achieves brand consistency by educating its lawyers about good social media practices. It also provides them with yearly digital marketing reports featuring analytics and examples of successful content and campaigns.
Another reason DLA Piper has an impressive social media reach is that it has studied which messages will do best on a particular platform. For example, the practice has discovered that posts about corporate social responsibility and pro bono work do better on Facebook. Alternately, Twitter and LinkedIn are more effective vehicles for content about thought leadership.
DLA Piper particularly excels in its Instagram strategy, which promotes its workplace culture with pictures of employees having fun at company events. For a law practice, these posts boast a high level of engagement, garnering an average 80 likes each.
Social media stats
- 111,846 LinkedIn followers
- 10,472 Facebook followers
- 37.6k Twitter followers
- 3,888 Instagram followers
3. Baker McKenzie – Employing social media listening to better understand clients
The top-ranking practice for Twitter use, Baker McKenzie created its Twitter presence over a decade ago. Since then, it has been steadily evolving its social media strategy, transitioning from merely broadcasting information to actively engaging with its followers and presenting a consistent brand voice.
Part of engaging with followers involves listening to what they are saying.
“Content is still king but what’s crucial for us, is knowing our audience and giving them what they want—it’s about being authentic, informative, live and interesting. It’s not just about what we’re saying though. We also listen to what others are saying about us, good or bad. We want to know what our influencers, ambassadors, advocates and forward-thinkers are saying—they’re the ones actually shaping the legal landscape”—Baker McKenzie
Another benefit of Baker McKenzie’s social media listening efforts is that they help the practice find out what messages their competitors are posting and how their audiences are responding to those messages. According to Baker McKenzie, “By listening, we understand our audience, we know what’s important to them, we can monitor competitor performance, and pluck key insights from that to include in our digital strategy. There’s no point in listening to conversations if we don’t use that knowledge.”
Social media stats
- 159,801 LinkedIn followers
- 13,785 Facebook followers
- 26.6k Twitter followers
4. White & Case – Leveraging video, ads, and employee content to attract followers
White & Case has worked hard over the past year to improve its presence on LinkedIn, moving up 47 positions from its place in the 2017 index. As a result, it currently ranks at number four overall and number one for LinkedIn.
Michael Hertz, White & Case’s CMO, explains the reason for the practice’s increased focus on LinkedIn: “LinkedIn supports our overall digital strategy by helping us make powerful connections between our people, our thinking, and our clients in a way that supports our position as a global elite law firm.”
As part of its social media strategy, White & Case leverages the platform’s employee advocacy tool, called Elevate, to make it easier for individual lawyers to share interesting and relevant content with their followers. White & Case also uses paid advertising to build its online reputation in certain key business areas by targeting audiences with relevant content based on an individual’s industry or position.
On its LinkedIn page, as well as on other platforms, White & Case stands out for its use of video content to educate clients and attract new prospects. According to Hertz, “Video is increasingly important across all major social networks, and we know that native videos get higher visibility and engagement than any other posts. This is a good reason to use video on social when we have something that we really want to get in front of our audience.”
Social media stats
- 72,302 LinkedIn followers
- 13,785 Facebook followers
- 63.9k Twitter followers
- 2,765 Instagram followers
5. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe – Engaging followers with interactive content
Named the “Most Innovative Law Firm in North America” three years in a row, Orrick serves the global finance, technology, and energy and Infrastructure sectors. What puts it at number five overall in The Social Law Firm Index is its use of interactive content. For example, it offers clients a free tool kit full of interactive guides, assessments, and calculators on its website, which also displays the practice’s Twitter feed.
Orrick’s Facebook page focuses on building social connections through videos highlighting the lives and contributions of individual employees. And, its LinkedIn and Twitter feeds are constantly updated with active and engaging posts.
- 17,459 LinkedIn followers
- 1521 Facebook followers
- 7029 Twitter followers
Other things you need to do to get social media right
Those are some of the best examples out there, but what if you’re unsure how to get started? Noted social media attorney Scott Malouf suggests that those new to social media do the following:
“(1) Know your ethical & practical Do’s and Don’ts by checking out the NYSBA ComFed’s Social Media Ethics Guidelines.
(2) Start small, listen first, especially to folks you respect and see what they do and what they eschew. Once you feel you know the online community a bit you can be more active.”
We’ve also written a number of other articles on social media best practices for businesses more generally. Use these to help you develop a strategy that fits with the particulars of your law practice.