I’m bringing you another recap from LMA14 today – this one focused on "LinkedIn…or Left Out? An Opportunity to Big for Smart Firms to Ignore." The session description reads: 

LinkedIn is radically changing the way General Counsel evaluates outside firms. Greentarget’s 2013 social media survey found that two-thirds of in-house counsel use LinkedIn on a weekly basis. LinkedIn threatens to sideline firms who ignore its impact, and presents an opportunity for firms who mobilize their partnerships to embrace social business. In this panel, we’ll explore how leading firms are using LinkedIn to burnish their brands, enhance attorney reputations, and continuously engage clients with thought leadership." 

The panel featured Patrick Baynes (@patrickbaynes) of PeopleLinx, John Corey of Greentarget (@greentarget), Lindsay Gotwald (@lindsayweb) of Faegre Baker Daniels, Megan McKeon (@meganmckeon) of Katten Muchin Rosenman, and Michelle Woodyear (@mwoodyear) of Orrick. 

Although the session did have a LinkedIn bent, it focused mostly on the soon-to-be-released Greentarget survey of general counsel, and for the first time, law firm CMOs (the survey will be released April 21st!). Let’s take a look at the salient points to come out of that: 

  • The survey had 189 in-house respondents & CMOs. 
  • The vast majority of respondents are still using social media in listen-only mode – 71%. 
  • The top three tools used by GCs are still LinkedIn, Wikipedia & blogs, however, the number for those consuming information via blogs may be plateauing, because the volume of blogs has grown significantly while GC readership has remained steady. 
  • 38% of in-house counsel have been on a blog in the past 24 hours. 
  • The AmLaw 100 is producing over 1000 blogs. 

But what about when it comes to LinkedIn? The survey says…

  • In 2010, there was a generational divide in LinkedIn usage, but in 2014, it’s even across age groups. 
  • Over the past four years, LinkedIn has seen tremendous growth among older counsel. 
  • The greatest concentration of lawyers on the web is on LinkedIn. 
  • 35% of inside counsel are using LinkedIn to connect with outside counsel with whom they do not work
  • More than half of professionals use LinkedIn to connect and receive something (51%), versus giving something. Only 19% are using it as a sharing platform (READ: HUGE OPPORTUNITY)
  • 34% of inside counsel use LinkedIn to research outside counsel – they’re doing this by joining and participating in groups to get access to specialized content. 
  • 42% of in-house counsel use LinkedIn to join/participate in groups led by outside counsel on specific practices. 
  • Greentarget ranked the sources in terms of how credible inside counsel consider them, and LinkedIn nearly ties traditional media in credibility of information, though traditional media is still considered the most credible. 
  • 46% of inside counsel envision a future when an attorney’s online profile will influence hiring. 
  • 77% of inside counsel still find practice group newsletters to be the most valuable firm-generated content, followed by client alerts and blogs. 

 

All of this boils down to a few key takeaways: 

  • If you’re not on LinkedIn to connect with your clients and prospects, your competitors are. 
  • If clients find practice group newsletters the most valuable, look to how you can repurpose the work you’re doing to create those in other ways, so that you meet all of your audience where they are (can you turn it into a blog post, webinar, share newsletters on LinkedIn, etc?). 
  • Although many lawyers are ON LinkedIn, not many of them are using it as effectively as they could be, so there is HUGE opportunity here. 

The survey also looked at CMOs for the first time, and that revealed some interesting information about the state of social media in legal as well: 

  • 84% said they will increase the volume of content they are producing, while only 39% said they will increase their budgets. 
  • Only 25% of law firms have a content strategy in place. (The truth is that law firms have been content publishers for a long time – it’s one area we’re ahead of most other industries – but now it has a name). 
  • 47% of firms plan to have a content strategy in place in the next 12 months, while 28% have no strategy or plans to have one. 
  • 32% of firms have a LinkedIn strategy in place, however 88% of them believe that LinkedIn is an important business development tool. 81% are providing LinkedIn training. 

The panelists talked a little bit about best practices, including one firm who hosted a "social media lounge," which showed their lawyers how to update their profiles and share content on LinkedIn.  As a side note, we’ve done that once or twice at ILN conferences, and it works really well – it can be tough to manage if you have a lot of interest, but it’s helpful to the attorneys to talk to them one-on-one, and walk them through setting up their profiles and how to implement some of the best practices we, as marketers, suggest. 

Also importantly, an overall content strategy is key for firms – LinkedIn is only one tool to execute that strategy. In terms of getting your attorneys to buy into that strategy, the key is to start small, and work with the attorneys already interested in LinkedIn (or other tools) to build successes. Some firms are also tying LinkedIn to revenue generation to increase buy in. 

 

As a side note, I had a conversation with a few people on Twitter and in the room about why Wikipedia might be appearing so highly in the results here – there are two reasons that seem to make sense: 

  • GCs search for outside counsel using Google, and Wikipedia ranks highly with Google, and so will come up on the first page of results. So Google is driving the traffic. 
  • From an attorney on Twitter: "Best way to consume info on a specific topic/term/case/company. Gives a full history, definitions and neutral authorities." 

So how about your firms? Do you have a content/LinkedIn strategy? Are you engaging with in-house counsel, or at least producing information in groups that is relevant to them? Add your thoughts below! 

Huge thanks to the live tweeters at this session!