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How In-House Counsel Use Social Media (And What All B2B Marketers Can Learn From That)

ImageAnyone looking for a perfect example of that oft-heard phrase "social media are just tools, how you use them depends on who you are trying to reach" should look no further than the 2012 In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey conducted by Greentarget, a communications strategy firm for professional services.

Greentarget - whose clients include some of the largest law firms in the world - set out to answer a simple question: everyone is telling lawyers and law firms to jump into new media, but what are some of their biggest clients (specifically: in-house counsel) actually doing on these social platforms?

The findings are fascinating and reinforce, once again, the notion that you don't do something for the sake of doing it. Marketing does not happen in a vacuum, and begins with a keen understanding of the behavior(s) of your target audience. Watch the video report on the survey (which includes a look at the findings starting about 1:30 in), and read our takeaways below:


  • blogs influence hiring decisions by in-house counsel.
  • in 2012 (versus 2010) the age differential has leveled off. In other words, no matter their age, in-house counsel are using new media.
  • counsel consume lots of information on these platforms, but they're there primarily to learn, not to make relationships.

One of the more interesting aspects of this excellent study has to do with thinking through strategy and tactics based on the findings. There are lessons here for all marketers, including (or perhaps especially) marketers for B2B and professional services.

For example, we know from the study (available in full below) that more and more in-house counsel include Wikipedia as a credible source of information online. We also know, as noted above, that in-house counsel are not online to have conversations or leave comments on blogs; they are there primarily to learn about the legal matters affecting the markets in which their businesses operate. They lurk. And so, as lawyers and law firms prepare their plans in response to this study they should not measure success by number of comments on blogs, or growth of an attorney's LinkedIn network, but rather by the numbers that reflect what counsel are actually doing online: How many readers do we have for our work? Who are those readers? Are our blog posts, advisories, and updates being cited by editors on Wikipedia in the fields where we want to be found? And so on...

And again, on this last score, strategy comes from understanding your market AND understanding the tools available to reach that market. Law firms should not build a Wikipedia page for the firm; rather, they should enact content programs that include as one goal producing work that is good enough (and visible enough) to be cited in Wikipedia. (In my view in-house counsel use Wikipedia because they use Google. As you research an issue on Google, Wikipedia is favored to come up early in search results. If you know this, you know your goal: be cited in Wikipedia.)

Just the tip of the iceberg of what is a rich study. Read (or download) it in full below. An updated version is expected in early 2013.


What are your takeaways?

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  • ChrisSyme's picture
    Dec 19 Posted 4 years ago ChrisSyme

    Great info here, and being a B2B, I definitely see the crossover value. Thanks.

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