When I attended the general counsel panel a couple of weeks ago at the LMA’s Annual Conference, I was happy to hear that the moderators would be spending some time focusing the panelists on discussing social media, and their use of it in their outside counsel relationships.
I’m going to delve into that discussion more in a future post, but today, I wanted to talk about the results from Greentarget, Inside Counsel, and Zeughauser Group’s In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey results, which were released last week. I pay very close attention to this survey because let’s be honest, social media isn’t going to matter one whit to my clients if their own clients aren’t paying it any attention.
This year’s survey results reaffirmed both the comments of the three general counsel at the LMA Conference, and my anecdotal experience, which I often share with my attorneys. Today, let’s look at a couple of highlights. To see the survey results in full, click here.
New media usage is not only common, as last year’s survey showed, it’s mainstream. The percentage of respondents not using new media tools has shrunk from 43 percent in 2010 to 27 percent in 2013."In 2013 the lawyer who has his paralegal print his emails for him, gets all his news from the print edition of The New York Times, and thinks a ‘blog’ is a smudge on his tie is part of a dying breed."
Yet our survey shows that some of the most popular regions of the new media ecosystem are far from fully exploited—rich with opportunity, perhaps, for pioneering lawyers and law firms that create high-quality content that grabs attention on those channels."
An increasing number of in-house counsel are reading daily general business media on their smartphones (53 percent), tablets (39 percent), or mobile apps (23 percent), which signals their growing consumption of media on the go."
The percentage of respondents who said they use Wikipedia to conduct company and industry research jumped from 51 percent in 2012 to 65 percent this year, which is one of the most significant changes in the most recent survey data."While Wikipedia already was considered the top platform used for personal usage in our 2010 survey, it has emerged as an important professional tool. Just shy of half of respondents, almost 49 percent, said they had used Wikipedia in the past day or week for professional reasons, second only to LinkedIn." [emphasis added]
Few respondents (12 percent) are visiting the Wikipedia pages of current and prospective outside law firms. In order to reach in-house counsel through the increasingly popular site, a law firm should consider using Wikipedia to credential individual attorneys on various subject matters tied to their practices, and not focus solely on the firm’s Wikipedia profile."
Despite the number of print publications that are folding or struggling, more than half of in-house counsel continue to read daily print versions from their general business media, such as The Wall Street Journal and local business news. An even higher portion, 74 percent, read print legal industry trade publications weekly and monthly—a frequency that reflects the hard-copy publishing schedules of the legal industry trade press."
- "The ‘serious’ social network is LinkedIn: I say this all the time to my attorneys and the survey backs it up – "LinkedIn is the most used professional social network, with 40 percent of respondents having used it in the past 24 hours and another 27 percent having used it in the past week. When using LinkedIn for professional reasons, most are using it for several reasons. Seventy percent use it to connect with in-house colleagues; 66 percent use it to connect with business and industry leaders; 61 percent use it to get news and information; and 60 percent use it to connect with outside counsel with whom they work."
- Invisible users are growing: Last year, the survey revealed that in-house counsel are mostly consumers of information, and are not using them to engage, but they cautioned that firms shouldn’t assume their efforts aren’t valuable because they don’t receive a certain number of comments or shares – "The portion of respondents who actively post information to new media networks still is significantly lower than those who pull information from them. In fact, this ‘invisible user’ phenomenon, identified last year in this survey, is growing stronger. The percentage of respondents who used social media in listen-only mode rose from 68 in 2012 to 74 in 2013."
- Legal aggregators are considered among the most credible sources: According to the survey results: "Traditional media remains the most credible news source, in the opinion of in-house counsel. After that, the sources that rank highest as ‘very credible’ are, in order, legal news aggregators such as JD Supra and Lexology, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, and blogs. The sources that rank highest when ‘somewhat credible’ votes are included are LinkedIn, legal news aggregators, blogs and Wikipedia. Blogs and Wikipedia are rising in terms of credibility, rivaling more obviously trusted sources such as LinkedIn, which is considered the ‘serious’ social platform, and legal news aggregators, which pick up the most popular content." So even if you’re sharing your own content, you may gain credibility if you have it shared under the JD Supra or Lexology umbrellas.
- Opportunity with online video: Online video may be the next big thing, and with few law firms using it, there is a huge opportunity here. The survey said that "A majority of respondents (55 percent) said they access law firm websites and YouTube channels to some degree to access substantive video content. Frequency is modest. Since few law firms provide content in this way, there may be an opportunity here for law firms that produce quality online video to stand out."
- Blogs continue to be influential: The survey showed that once again, high quality and substantive blog content continues to be important to in-house counsel. "Forty-six percent of respondents said they had used blogs in the previous day or week. Blog usage also grew slightly in the past year. Which blogs do in-house counsel frequent and value the most? The answer: law firm attorney-authored blogs (55 percent check ‘somewhat’ or ‘very often’) and media-branded blogs written by professional journalists (54 percent). In-house respondents indicate they are reading attorney-authored blogs as frequently as they read blogs authored by professional journalists, which indicates those blogs are increasingly considered credible sources of information and underscores the importance of and opportunity associated with high-quality blogs."
Greentarget, Zeughauser and Inside Counsel once again give us a lot of food for thought and help in refocusing our social media efforts with their latest survey. What struck you most about the results? Are your current efforts in line with what in-house counsel are emphasizing?