Top firms making more of a mark online – but there’s still a long way to go

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By Legal Futures

5 November 2015

Online knowledge: still a first-mover advantage available

Online knowledge: still a first-mover advantage available

The top 100 law firms have increased their output of content posted online by 77% over the past year as they step up efforts to build their presence and demonstrate their expertise on social media, according to new research.

Passle, a content marketing platform for professional services firms, ranked Irwin Mitchell as the best for showcasing its expertise online and distributing it via social media, maintaining its position at the top for a second year.

But it said there were some big movers in the chasing pack, with Olswang moving up from 17th in 2014 to second this year, and Wragge Lawrence Graham, which shot up from 85th to third, and Osborne Clarke (18th to fourth).

At the other end of the rankings were Gordon Dadds, Parabis Law, Co-operative Legal Services, and, joint last, Dickson Minto and Shakespeare Martineau.

Passle’s analysis found that the top 100 are on track to post almost 47,000 ‘knowledge’ pieces between them by the end of 2015, compared to just over 26,000 in 2014.

Passle reached its results by ranking each firm against seven criteria and coming to an overall ‘Passle Score’. They are: the number of ‘knowledge pieces’ published in 2015, defined as an insight, blog, article or any other piece that demonstrates knowledge and expertise by someone at the firm (excluding news); the number of knowledge pieces per lawyer; the number of Twitter followers; the number of tweets; the number of Twitter followers per lawyer; the number of tweets per lawyer; and finally each firm’s Klout score.

Pinsent Masons was actually the firm that produced the most knowledge pieces, followed by Norton Rose Fulbright and Hogan Lovells, while Bircham Dyson Bell managed the most knowledge pieces per lawyer. Irwin Mitchell topped the overall table because of its success in distributing its content via Twitter.

But the report said: “Whilst a 77% increase of activity in a year is striking, the legal industry is not yet, as a body, anywhere close to demonstrating its true expertise online. The 46,866 posts across all the sectors of law in an industry with genuine global reach, from shipping to human rights, from family to fracking, is just 128 pieces of content per day.

“These 128 knowledge pieces are the total output of approximately 62,000 lawyers. In other words, lawyers produce, on average, less than one piece of publicly available content each year (0.75 pieces/lawyer/year). One post per year (including ghost-written content) cannot possibly communicate the thoughts and opinions of the highly educated experts represented.

“This strongly suggests that there is still a first-mover advantage available, in many areas of the law, to firms who can carve out and ‘own’ their niche.”

The research found that social media use has increased markedly. Twitter use has increased on average by 66% across the top 100, but again this was “from a low base” of slightly over one tweet per firm per day (1.1) to just under two (1.8). Nonetheless, this was paying dividends, Passle said, with an average of 3,733 followers per firm, up by 47% on last year.

The combined increase in both tweets and followers means that the average daily reach per firm has jumped by 142%. The average firm is reaching approximately 672 people by Twitter each day, assuming a 10% reach.

Irwin Mitchell had the highest number of Twitter followers at the time of the research, with 24,902, followed by DLA Piper (21,953) and Allen & Overy (21,886).

Kevin Peake, Group Sales and Marketing Director at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Each year the way the world is consuming its information changes as new technology and channels for communication are developed. It is important to deliver interesting and engaging content that our clients and prospective clients can interact with when they want to.

“We have a loyal following on social media which is growing daily and will continue to invest and develop the way we use online platforms as it is a clear potential growth area for the Irwin Mitchell Group.”

Passle co-founder Tom Elgar said: “The legal industry is not yet, as a body, anywhere close to demonstrating its true expertise online, but in our experience those who do are seeing the benefits in terms of attracting clients and networking opportunities.”

“The reality is that in a market as competitive as the law, firms need to seek every advantage to make themselves stand out from the crowd. Sharing your knowledge in an accessible way is a major element of doing this in the social media era.”

Passle provides a benchmarking report on individual firms’ performance. Click here.

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