Are attorneys only talking to each other on LinkedIn? Many attorneys and law firms use LinkedIn to network with other legal professionals but completely ignore the large group of prospective clients they could reach. They’re missing out on huge opportunities and don’t realize it.
One reason attorneys may be neglecting prospects on LinkedIn is that they just do not know how valuable a resource it can be. Attorneys have been slower to adopt digital marketing strategies than professionals in other industries. In the past it may not have presented as big of an issue, but in the vastly expanding digital world of today how much is this hurting their practice?
We surveyed several hundred people to find out how profitable LinkedIn could be for attorneys. Here’s what we learned:
- When and how people use LinkedIn to “attorney shop”
- Who is most likely to use LinkedIn when searching for a lawyer
- What kind of online content these shoppers find most compelling
Knowing how LinkedIn is being used by prospects can help you convert them into paying clients. It provides the opportunity to engage them strategically and successfully. Based on our findings, we’ll show you several actionable strategies for optimizing your LinkedIn presence and securing more clients.
How People Use LinkedIn to Hire Attorneys
We found that when searching for an attorney, people use LinkedIn for at least two major reasons:
- To identify lawyers who could help them with their issue
- To research a referral they received through word-of-mouth
Although law firms generally appreciate the importance of being found online by potential clients, they do not necessarily recognize the importance of their online presence for referral validation.
Shoppers of all types increasingly turn to websites, professional profiles, and social media channels in order to make informed purchases. They’re especially likely to do this for expensive and important decisions, such as finding legal representation.
Here are the stats on LinkedIn usage for these two purposes:
- 68% of people with LinkedIn accounts were likely to use LinkedIn to find a lawyer if they needed one next week.
- 94% of people with LinkedIn accounts were likely to use LinkedIn to research an attorney they were referred to by someone they know.
Surprised? You should be. These numbers are huge! Are you doing everything you can to profit from these behaviors on LinkedIn?
Interestingly, prospective clients were consistently more likely to use all social networks for researching a word-of-mouth referral rather than for trying to find a suitable lawyer.
Why does that matter? Because it shows that exclusively relying on word-of-mouth referrals just doesn’t cut it anymore. People want verification and this means you need an online presence and you need it to be good. A non-existent or shoddy online presence undermines the power of your hard-earned reputation in the legal community.
You may have noticed that the statistics above were calculated just for people who had LinkedIn accounts, which was 63% of everyone surveyed. To put that into perspective, if you look at everyone (whether or not they have LinkedIn accounts), 43% of people will use LinkedIn to search for suitable lawyers and59% will use LinkedIn to research a word-of-mouth referral. Still pretty impressive numbers, right?
In fact, LinkedIn is the most commonly used network for finding attorneys compared to other options such as:
- 27% for finding an attorney
- 46% for researching a referral
- 13% for finding an attorney
- 17% for researching a referral
- 11% for finding an attorney
- 14% for researching a referral
Basically, if you are going to put your time, money, and sweat into optimizing your social network presence, then start with LinkedIn.
A Profile of LinkedIn Prospects for Attorneys
Who are these people anyway? Good question! We built a persona to give you snapshot of who your typical prospective clients are on LinkedIn.
- Sex: Female
- Average Age: 34
- Ethnicity/Race: White
- Education: Bachelor’s Degree
- Politics: Democrat
- Relationship Status: Single
- LinkedIn Activity Level: Most Active
In contrast to this persona, people who are unlikely to refer to LinkedIn when looking for an attorney are:
- Older (average= 43)
- Less educated (some college but no degree)
- Less active on LinkedIn
Obviously, your prospects are not all 34-year-old democratic women. But this persona gives you a benchmark for the strategies you’ll want to implement for your LinkedIn prospects.
From here, you should consider your own target market and identify how this profile will shift for your legal practice. For example, criminal defense lawyers will probably see a shift from female prospects to predominantly male prospects. Each practice will have a unique persona or set of personas that they can use to focus their marketing strategies, but having an idea of the typical persona based on actual data is a great place to start.
What Attracts Your LinkedIn Prospects
Consider how you’re appealing to your LinkedIn prospects. Are you giving them the information they want? Do your posts address their specific concerns or issues?
To establish a baseline understanding of what is most appealing, our LinkedIn “attorney shoppers” told us how much they wanted to see each of 6 different types of content. Here’s what we found:
- 96% of LinkedIn prospects wanted an attorney to share legal opinions.
- 94% wanted an attorney to post helpful tips and articles.
- 78% wanted to see an attorney directly interact with their online following.
- 55% would dislike seeing an attorney’s opinions on non-legal matters.
- 58% of prospects were against an attorney sharing humorous content.
- 66% of prospects were averse to updates on the attorney’s personal life.
Does it surprise you that LinkedIn prospects were significantly more interested in hearing attorneys’ opinions on legal matters than receiving helpful tips, articles, or advice? Obviously, both types of information are valued, but opinions are meaningfully/statistically preferred over advice. How much of what you share is opinion versus advice?
Surprisingly, only 78% of prospects wanted to see an attorney interact with their audience. In other words, it’s not the most essential part of the content equation. This has some significant implications for legal marketing on LinkedIn. For example, if you’re concerned with the amount of time that LinkedIn marketing takes, you might be reassured that posting desirable content can be more valuable than time-consuming daily interactions with your LinkedIn following. Less routine interaction with your following could be beneficial without being a big inconvenience.
Although it is great to know what people want to see from a lawyer online, it can be even better to know what prospects actively dislike. Despite what you may think folks, prospects aren’t interested in attorneys’ musings on non-legal matters. Don’t try to be funny and always keep your personal life personal—apparently your prospects aren’t really interested in your 4th of July barbecue. Their loss!
What We Know Now: Practical Strategies
Based on our survey results, LinkedIn should be treated as an important source of new clients for law firms and solo practitioners. Many attorneys don’t realize that LinkedIn is crucial for their careers. Other attorneys realize the extent to which LinkedIn is valuable, but don’t know how to market appropriately and successfully. Everyone needs to start somewhere, so here are few tips to help you get going:
Demonstrate Your Expertise
People want to hear your opinion on legal matters. Why? One reason is that it helps them gauge your expertise. By creating in-depth pieces that showcase your extensive knowledge of a legal area, your prospects are likely to find that content inherently helpful and feel reassured that you know what you’re doing.
Best Link to LinkedIn
If people are being pulled in by your LinkedIn profile, make sure that you’re leading them in the direction you want, but more importantly in the direction that they expect and want. Too often, attorneys include a link to a generic law firm webpage. At the very least, lead prospects who were interested in you, specifically, to a page about you, specifically.
Better yet, lead them to a page that facilitates conversions. Your firm’s own appointment scheduling system or a 3rd party service like Acuity Scheduling can set people into in-person or virtual appointments. Don’t make interested prospects search for how to get in touch with you. Make it easy!
If you’re going to go through the effort of finding and creating content to share with your LinkedIn audience, consider sharing the love. Distributing the content to multiple networks can considerably increase your audience. For example, posting on social networks like Facebook can attract an entirely different group of prospects—like the 37% of people who aren’t on LinkedIn.
Whether or not you think LinkedIn is an effective way to reach your prospective clients, they apparently think it’s an effective way to reach you. Do you really want to miss out on 94% of LinkedIn members? No? Then don’t!
It is never too late to get your own firm started on an online strategy. Just set up a plan of action and stick with it for long enough to judge its efficacy. In general, give any new strategy at least 6 months. That’s considered a fair shot. Many businesses fail on social media by being inconsistent and giving up too soon. Don’t do that.
Finally, integrate your LinkedIn marketing strategy into a cohesive digital marketing plan. All the LinkedIn marketing in the world won’t help you if the website you lead your prospects to is ugly, unfriendly, or unavailable. Avoid these three “U”s. Make sure that LinkedIn captures prospects’ attention and that your website converts them into clients.