Passle undertook research last year on the top 200 UK law firms, to find out how they engage online, with a focus on knowledge pieces produced, Twitter activity, and Klout scores. The research is freely available here to law firms wanting to find out how they rank compared to the UK top 200.

Putting these individual reports together made me curious as to how the situation might have developed in this first quarter of 2015, as well as how law firms engage with different social media channels beyond Twitter. So I decided to undertake some preliminary research to get a better idea of the current situation.

Which channels are the most used?

In last year’s The American Lawyer’s survey, it was ascertained that Linkedin is the ‘one social network most lawyers feel most comfortable in using’. Looking at the UK top 50 law firms suggests that this is the case across the pond, with every law firm having a Linkedin company page. By contrast, 12% of the top 50 don’t have a Google Plus account, and 25% do not have an official Facebook page. Twitter fares better with only two law firms in the top 50 without an open account.

I was expecting Facebook to be more popular with law firms than it was, so this result was a bit of a surprise! Law firms predominantly seem to use Facebook to host graduate or trainee pages, with 50% using the younger demographic of that channel to recruit or promote their programmes. They do this by having a Facebook page devoted to it (sometimes instead of an official page for the firm itself).

Comparing the number of followers on Google + and Linkedin, suggests that the former isn't being terribly effective. The top 50 combined have around 1,232 followers on Google Plus, compared to 370,305 followers on Linkedin. Last year, the top 50 UK law firms had 196,385 followers on Twitter, a number that I expect will have increased significantly this year.

Of course, high numbers of followers do not necessarily translate to high engagement rates, but an early conclusion would be to encourage law firms to concentrate on Linkedin and Twitter over Google Plus.

When no activity is better than the wrong kind

The practice of having a ‘placeholder’ page is prevalent both on Google Plus and Linkedin pages for law firms. In other words, their company pages have a complete description, but no recent activity.

Many of the Facebook pages had as their most recent post a status dating from early 2013, something not unusual to also see on Google Plus, Linkedin, or Twitter either.

If a law firm has limited marketing resources, I would recommend the placeholder option over having out of date information on display – the latter makes you look careless (and might make a prospective client wonder if you are still current). It’s better not to have a page or account at all, than one that looks half done!