Survey Says: Look Closer When It Comes To Social

Attorneys should take a closer look at social media

Shortly after Attorney at Work published its Third Annual Social Media Marketing Survey Report, commentators seized upon one particular juxtaposition of responses: 96 percent of the 302 attorneys who responded reported using social media, but only 7 percent said they considered social media use to be “very responsible” for bringing in new clients.

That combination of responses seemed to generate a lot of interest because it played into the legal industry’s longstanding skepticism toward social media. Law is one of the last professional fields to fully embrace the form, with many attorneys maintaining their deep-rooted beliefs that social media isn’t appropriately respectable or useful for brand-building.

That this piece of the survey drummed up the most buzz prompted me to take a closer look at the relationship between attorney use of social media and what Attorney at Work’s results actually show.

The first thing to note is that while only 7 percent of respondents think social media use is “very responsible” for new business, a full 42 percent said it was “somewhat responsible” for bringing in new clients. In sum, then, a total of 49 percent of the responding attorneys could attribute new clients to social media with at least reasonable certainty. That’s quite good for an industry like marketing, where the connection between an undertaking and its results aren’t always crystal clear.

Second, remember that lawyers are by nature a skeptical bunch (hey, it’s what law school trained us to do!), so let’s take their mistrust as a given and look at what consumers have to say. FindLaw’s own research shows that 54 percent of overall legal consumers said they would like to hire an attorney who is active on social media. Bear in mind that 54 percent is all legal consumers. The figure is higher in certain demographics like younger consumers, where it reaches 69 percent. If clients are as keenly interested in social media as a tool for finding and evaluating attorneys as they seem to be, then does it really matter what we think of it?

It also bears noting that several points in Attorney at Work’s survey suggest lawyers have a little maturation to do when it comes to employing the finer points of social media platforms. For example, 67 percent of respondents said they do all social media writing posting, updated and interacting themselves – so it’s mostly lawyers, not social media managers or marketers, doing the lion’s share of social media work – but only 40 percent said they use paid social promotion, which the digital marketing industry agrees needs to be a part of the standard promotional mix these days. Of the 40 percent of attorneys who report using paid social promotion, only 50 percent say they are using Facebook for such promotion. Facebook arguably presents the best value of any social platform when it comes to getting your message in front of the appropriate audience; the fact that lawyers don’t seem to use it much, then, indicates we need to embrace paid Facebook promotion more widely.

Overall, Attorney at Work’s excellent and revealing survey seems to show that the legal field still has a ways to go before it can say it is really maximizing all the opportunities social media offers. As a group, we have made progress, but there’s plenty of territory left to conquer.

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