The Social Law Firm Index

Yesterday evening our publishing partner, Above the Law, announced the results of the inaugural Social Law Firm Index. The index is the second part of our study which we undertook in 2013 to determine how effective the AmLaw 50 firms were with their use of social technologies. The study had three components: (1) a review of the websites and social media profiles of the Am Law 50 across all social networks, including an assessment of each firm’s publicly available content as well as social reach and engagement (number of followers, comments, etc.); (2) a survey of the firms themselves regarding the extent to which they are currently using social technologies and practices internally; and (3) a survey of the ATL readership to glean the perspective of practicing attorneys and other legal professionals.

The first part of our study, The Social Law Firm white paper, was published in mid December and detailed our overall findings, as well as briefly explained the methodology that was used to determine the rankings in the Social Law Firm Index.

In this post, we provide a deeper look into how firms performed in the rankings for each category: reachengagement and overall performance.

 

REACH

The Social Law Firm Index

 

Reach represents the total number of unique people who had an opportunity to see the firm’s content. Reach includes the number of followers on Twitter, LinkedIn, company page likes on Facebook, and followers or subscribers on other of social media channels (for example: YouTube channel subscribers or Slideshare followers). In determining reach we looked at each firm’s social media properties and awarded points based upon the number of followers, subscribers, likes, etc…

We conducted this study from June-October 2013 and our results showed that across all public social networks DLA Piper had a significant advantage over all other law firms when it came to reach. DLA has large numbers of followers on Twitter and LinkedIn and received bonus points for having a firm presence on YouTube, Pinterest and Slideshare. DLA also was the only firm to have a strong presence on Google+, a very important emerging social network. Hogan Lovells also had strong numbers when it came to reach, having the second highest number of likes on their Facebook firm page and placing in third place when it came to followers on LinkedIn.

Other firms that distinguished themselves when it came to reach are White & Case who had the highest number of likes on Facebook, and Skadden, who achieved strong numbers in the three most popular social networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but showed a very small or inactive presence in emerging social networks such as Google+. One interesting firm that stood out is Baker McKenzie which had the highest number of followers on LinkedIn but had virtually no presence on other social networks.

 

ENGAGEMENT

The Social Law Firm Index

Engagement measures the actual interaction with the firm’s content via their own website and through social media. This includes comments on the firm’s website, comments and shares and likes (for status updates) on Facebook, Re-Tweets, mentions or favorite on Twitter, likes and shares on LinkedIn and plus+1’s and shares on Google+.

Engagement is becoming increasingly important when it comes to how websites rank on the major search engines and is often a significant indicator of the overall success of a firm’s social media strategy. Having a large number of likes or followers is insignificant if those individuals are not engaging with and sharing a firm’s content across social media. Generally speaking, there is little evidence that large law firms are addressing the social media landscape strategically rather than using it as just another marketing channel for firm news and press releases. Overall their content seems to focus on promotional content and as a result the engagement numbers across the board are low.

Interestingly, many law firms are taking the time to develop interesting and useful content. However, the method by which they are publishing this content is ineffective for consumption via social media. Most firms that are developing useful content are publishing this content in PDF format which is not optimal for sharing and engagement. Other firms suffer from content that is too long and not easily read over social media channels.

A few firms that distinguish themselves when it comes to engagement include once again DLA which had the highest number of likes on Facebook and Re-Tweets and mentions on Twitter. Baker McKenzie once again has a very strong showing on LinkedIn but virtually no engagement anywhere else. White & Case has strong numbers on Facebook and LinkedIn but little to no engagement on Twitter. Jones Day is an example of quality over quantity, showing that although their reach is not as high as other firms, their overall engagement with their target audience is working, a sign of a good content strategy. Two leaders when it comes to Twitter are Mayer Brown, which ranks the highest when it comes to Twitter engagement and Reed Smith who ranks second. Another interesting firm is Cooley which ranks second behind DLA in their Klout influencer score.

 

OVERALL

The Social Law Firm Index

The overall ranking in the Social Law Firm Index was determined by a combination of factors. We took into account a firm’s reach and engagement score. We also conducted a survey of the ATL readership to glean the perspective of practicing attorneys and other legal professionals. Finally we looked at each law firm’s website to determine the quality and frequency that valuable non-promotional content was being published. A strong indicator of this was whether or not a law firm had a blog or a series of blogs. After considering each factor and score, we came out with the overall ranking.

The rankings are an indication of the top performers in the social arena. However, as we revealed in our Social Law Firm white paper, it is our belief that large U.S. law firms are at the very early stages of use and deployment of Social Business technologies and practices. This early stage is characterized by a nearly universal recognition by large law firms of the growing importance of social technologies for external marketing and business development purposes.  As part of their initial efforts to establish a social media presence, the majority of large law firms have demonstrated a willingness to devote substantial resources to create valuable, non-promotional content to populate their social media properties.  However, in the majority of cases, large law firms are ineffective in their use of social media, achieving low levels of reach and engagement relative to the resources available and the market opportunity.  Moreover, the use of Social Business technologies and practices for internal collaboration and communication among large law firms is in its infancy.

We thoroughly enjoyed conducting this study and we are looking forward to expanding our research in 2014 to include the AmLaw 100 and other firms that have demonstrated a unique and interesting approach to the use and adoption of social technologies. The results and rankings are not meant  as a criticism of any or all law firms, but rather as a means of educating and providing a benchmark to those in the legal industry on where law firms stand and what they can do to improve in the future. We also would like to thank our friends at Above the Law for their support and participation in this important research. We look forward to doing it all over again this year.

If you would like to receive more information about the Social Law Firm Index and to get a complete listing of the rankings or more in-depth analysis please contact us and we will be happy to provide you the list and discuss it with you. We also encourage your comments and feedback. Please use the comments section below.

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