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2017 Survey Results: Lawyers’ Use of Social Media for Marketing

Facebook continues to gain fans in the profession, according to Attorney at Work’s 2017 Social Media Marketing Survey, conducted in February. This is the third year we’ve asked lawyers about their social media habits, preferences and attitudes, and 302 responded to this year’s survey.
How are lawyers using social media in their marketing efforts? Here is what we learned.

WHAT’S THE SOCIAL MEDIA STORY FOR LAWYERS THIS YEAR?
Nearly everybody is now using social media: 96 percent of responding lawyers say they do. What’s more, 70 percent of this year’s respondents say it’s actually part of their overall marketing strategy (compare that with 60 percent just two years ago).10 Which sites are regularly used?
Facebook is getting more love than ever—80 percent of lawyers responding say they use it regularly, up from 72 percent last year. Twitter use is growing, too. Last year, 47 percent of lawyers said they regularly use Twitter—that count has jumped to 59 percent.11
LinkedIn is still No. 1 among lawyers, but it is falling behind a bit—89 percent reported using it regularly last year compared with 84 percent this year.
As for Snapchat, 4 percent say they use the emerging platform regularly.

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What’s used most often?
When asked which platform they use most often, Facebook came out on top: 48 percent of the lawyers cited Facebook compared with 27 percent who said they spend more time on LinkedIn. (Perhaps that’s why LinkedIn is making big changes over there.)

BUT IS IT WORKING?
Only 7 percent of this year’s responding lawyers say they believe their use of social media is directly responsible for bringing in new clients. (That’s an increase over last year, when only 3 percent said it was directly responsible.) However, 42 percent say it is “somewhat” responsible.

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As for which platforms are most effective for bringing in new business...
Facebook again took first place—at 31 percent—with LinkedIn second at 27 percent. “None” was a close third, at 26 percent, and Twitter a distant fourth at only 5 percent.
When asked, “Do you believe lawyers are actively using social media for marketing purposes or is it really more hype than reality?” lawyers were split: 44 percent say they do believe lawyers are actively using it, while 43 percent think it is hype.
A little help here?
Do lawyers handle all of their social media marketing activities themselves? Most do, according to the survey results: 67 percent do it all, while 23 percent say they get some help, and 10 percent say it is all handled by someone else.
Management tools.
How are lawyers managing multiple social accounts and scheduling their marketing activities? When asked, “Do you use any social media management tools such as Hootsuite, Google Analytics, TweetDeck, Buffer, etc.?” 38 percent say they take advantage of management tools, while 58 percent say they do not.

ABOUT SOLO PRACTITIONERS’ USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Compared with last year’s results, more solo practitioners are talking the social media talk and walking the social media walk: 94 percent of solos say they are using social media—10 percent more than last year. In addition, 75 percent say they use social media as part of their marketing plan, compared to 70 percent of all lawyers surveyed.
Solos continue to use LinkedIn first (82 percent) and Facebook second (78 percent), but Twitter is gaining a greater following over past years. Almost 60 percent of solos reported using Twitter—a 14 percent increase over 2016. However, Facebook pulled into first place—at 34 percent compared with 22 percent for LinkedIn—when we asked which platforms are most effective for bringing in new business. Twitter was next, pulling only 3 percent.

MAKING THE LEAP TO PAID SOCIAL AND CONTENT-SHARING TOOLS
Paid social advertising. For the first time, we asked respondents if they are using paid social media advertising to market their firms. Of the 40 percent who said yes, 50 percent regularly use Facebook Ads, the most popular platform for this by far. In contrast, only 8 percent pay for LinkedIn ads and only 4 percent purchase Twitter ads.

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Content sharing.
We also inquired about content-sharing platforms—websites that help lawyers and law firms distribute articles. We learned that of the 31 percent who reported using a platform beyond their own blog, website or social media accounts, 32 percent are using LinkedIn’s publishing platforms and 26 percent are using Facebook publishing tools, while 9 percent use JD Supra and 7 percent use Medium. n

Joan Feldman

Joan Feldman is Editor-in-Chief of Attorney at Work and partner at Feldcomm. She has created, steered and contributed to myriad leading practice management and trade publications, including the ABA’s Law Practice magazine where she served as managing editor for a dozen years. Joan is a trustee and fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, and a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism. Follow her @JoanHFeldman, LinkedIn, and on Google+. Previously published in http://www.AttorneyatWork.com.

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About the Author: Joan Feldman is Editor-in-Chief of Attorney at Work and partner at Feldcomm. She has created, steered and contributed to myriad leading practice management and trade publications, including the ABA’s Law Practice magazine where she served as managing editor for a dozen years. Joan is a trustee and fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, and a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism. Follow her @JoanHFeldman, LinkedIn, and on Google+. Previously published in http://www.AttorneyatWork.com.

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