Does your law firm wield clout in the cloud? It’s a question law firm managers and marketers need to ask in the exploding world of social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. These sites draw hundreds of millions of users and present law firms with an unprecedented opportunity to market their knowledge worldwide.
Klout.com is a web site that purports to measure your online influence in the social media world (think of it as the Nielsen ratings for online geeks). It does so using algorithms to gauge activity and influence in social networks, measuring things like “re-tweets,” “mentions,” “likes,” and “comments.” Klout uses a scale of 1 to 100. For simply existing, you get a 10 and build from there. An average Klout score is about 20, and those who achieve 50 or more sit in the 95th percentile, according to a recent tech podcast.
It’s interesting to look at the Klout scores of Canada’s 20 largest law firms (see them all at canadianlawyermag.com). Most law firms now at least have a Twitter feed, Facebook page, and LinkedIn group, and many have added a YouTube channel.
I looked at law firms by size, and how they are ranked according to their Klout score as of Dec. 26, 2011. The findings show that size doesn’t matter in the online world. In fact, one of the highest-ranked law firms is Atlantic Canada’s Stewart McKelvey. It’s tied with Norton Rose Canada for top score. As well, Miller Thomson scored well, as did Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, neither of which is near the top of the heap when it comes to size. Despite having the greatest number of tweets, and the highest number of LinkedIn and Twitter followers, Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, one of the biggest law firms in the country, scored in the middle of the pack.
Interestingly, Stewart McKelvey and Miller Thomson both achieved their high scores despite having a low number of tweets and followers. Why is that? Because they both scored well in influencing other people who are active in the social media world. They are positioning themselves as thought leaders, which is where you want to be when it comes to influence on the Internet.
Take Miller Thomson’s Stuart Rudner, an employment lawyer who actively blogs. His personal Klout score is 48, which qualifies him as a Klout “specialist,” influencing 655 others. Those 655 others then influence others and so on.
In fact, social media can be the great equalizer when it comes to competing with larger firms. Lawyers in small and medium-sized firms can comment on legal developments, share information, and build profile and reputation just as easily as lawyers at brand-name firms. In his book, Social Media For Lawyers: Twitter Edition, Adrian Dayton documents instances where lawyers land files using social media and responding to chatter, including how he brought in one of his first clients using Twitter.
More interestingly, though, is the shift underway among in-house lawyers in their use of social media. A 2010 survey by InsideCounsel magazine reveals interesting trends. While in-house lawyers rely on traditional media as their go-to source of information, 43 per cent cite blogs and 26 per cent cite social media like Twitter and Facebook as their top go-to sources. More than half expect their consumption of news and information via new media platforms to grow — particularly so for lawyers under 40.
The survey suggests that in-house counsel are increasingly looking at lawyers’ bios on web sites and following blogs to stay abreast of legal developments. Half feel that in the future, high-profile blogs will play an important role in influencing law firm hiring decisions (but only 10 per cent feel a firm’s prominence on Twitter will influence hiring decisions).
It’s a new frontier. Digital communications matter more today than they ever have. Looking at how Canadian firms compare to their U.S. counterparts, Skadden Arps has a Klout score of 33, with 86 tweets and 1,657 Twitter followers and 3,929 LinkedIn followers. Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP has 1,214 tweets, 1,998 followers, and 2,209 LinkedIn followers. Its Klout score is 34. So Canadian firms are in the same league.
Interestingly, Clifford Chance LLP, that global legal giant, can only muster a Klout score of 13, the same as mine. But I haven’t tweeted, though I expect that will change by the time you read this.
The Internet has been the great equalizer in many industries, particularly retail, where small mom-and-pop stores can compete with global enterprises. It has also disrupted many more industries such as newspapers, books, music, and film. Legal services are not immune and social media is only starting to play a role in everything from how lawyers build profile to how they communicate and interact with clients. So you have to ask yourself, does your law firm have Klout?
Jim Middlemiss blogs about the legal profession at WebNewsManagement.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JimMiddlemiss and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.