The 2019 Social Law Firm Index is our annual study which examines how the top 200 firms ranked by The American Lawyer adopt and apply digital marketing in terms of outreach, engagement and business development. We study and publish our findings to raise awareness about the value of digital marketing for business development. When we first started, six years ago, law firm digital marketing was still in its infancy, and digital marketing strategies weren’t a reality for many firms.
The state of digital marketing and social media usage in our industry has significantly shifted since we published our first report in 2013. Every Am Law 200 firm now has a presence online, and most use at least two digital media platforms. Digital and social have developed into required components for law firm marketing. The Social Law Firm Index measures the effectiveness of law firm reach and engagement across the variety of online digital media channels. These factors are reduced to numerical measures, weighted and incorporated into an algorithm to develop each firm’s rank on the Index. The full report includes overall and individual channel rankings, along with feature stories on the top ranking firms in each category: LinkedIn, Twitter, SEO, Instagram, Thought Leadership, Facebook, and YouTube.
Similar to last year, law firms are using more video and interactive content to engage with prospects and clients, and they’re also producing better client-centric educational content. We also saw firms embrace data analytics and start to develop their strategies around measurement and key performance indicators in order to gain a better understanding of their return on investment.
Other Key Findings in The 2019 Social Law Firm Index Are:
Rise in Paid Social and especially LinkedIn:
Prospects can immediately research you or your firm, browse your network, content, endorsements and easily connect. We found that 30 percent of the Am Law firms use paid LinkedIn, which is a significant increase from only 10 percent just a year ago. LinkedIn is the most popular and successful choice when it comes to firms investing in sponsored content on social.
Decrease in the use of Facebook; increase in the use of Instagram:
The Infinite Dial study from Edison showed that among Americans ages 12 to 34, usage of Facebook declined sharply between 2017 and 2018, but Instagram steadily grew in that same timeframe. Facebook is still a giant, but Instagram is turning into a better social network. If that continues, it’s likely that Instagram will surpass Facebook in popularity in the United States by 2020.
More video and more podcasts:
To stay competitive on social media, video is now a required platform. An optimized video increases the chance of your brand making front page of a Google search result by 53 times. Nearly 25 percent of Americans listen to podcasts weekly. Podcasts offer a hyper-focused audience that chooses to listen to your content and listeners have been shown to be the most loyal and engaged audience of any digital medium.
Continued investment in marketing automation:
With marketing automation, your law firm can utilize various tools save time, free up bandwidth and ultimately improve ROI. Time-consuming processes can be replaced by a system that can automatically send out emails based on an email response or website visit. When firms combine content with marketing automation, they can analyze what their clients engage with and how. By knowing more about your client, you can deliver better customer service.
Top Performing Firms:
This year’s top five firms overall demonstrated the greatest comprehensive adoption, integration and innovative use of digital marketing, social media, and thought leadership content to market and grow their practices.
Previous first-place winner and 2019 first-place finisher DLA Piper has clearly demonstrated their prowess when it comes to digital marketing. DLA Piper uses social media to convey the firm’s values and brand proposition. The firm’s main channels are LinkedIn and Twitter, but it has also embraced Facebook and Instagram to share more of the firm’s culture and social responsibility work. According to Erin Dimry, the firm’s Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer, “By sharing imagery on these channels, we hope to share a sense of who we are and what we value. Our commitment to inclusion and service comes to life in the activities of our people.”
Obviously, DLA Piper’s efforts have paid off. Not only is this the firm’s fifth first-place win in the Social Law Firm Index, but their quarterly analytics continue to trend upward in terms of shared content, followers, and engagement. On top of regular communications across the firm, the team also provides on-board training so that everyone is aware of their efforts and how they can participate.
“We want to enable our attorneys to share who they are and what they know with the market. We are proud that our efforts here are having an impact,” said Dimry.
The 2019 Social Law Firm Index rankings are based on a proprietary methodology developed to assess the effectiveness of each firm’s use of social media and digital marketing. Our analysis is further informed by the depth of our experience working with law firms, our familiarity with current trends and conditions in the marketplace, and best practices used across digital marketing channels. For more digital marketing insights, case studies, and full rankings of all Am Law 200 firms across categories, you can download a copy of the 2019 Social Law Firm Index. If you need help with your social media strategy or if you’re looking for ideas on how to improve your firm’s performance on social media, contact us today.