Ratings of social media in professional services firms – are they really a good measure?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Living Ratings recently published its League Tables about accountancy and law firms’ use of social media. While this includes a good overview of Deloitte and Evershed’s activity (as the top scoring accounting and law firm respectively) do these league tables really mean anything?

I have to admit, I’m sceptical.

The introduction does say the tables are looking at the maturity of social media output but that doesn’t appear to be the only thing being measured according to the measurement categories. Sure, you can look at the types of content firms are sharing but that’s not the sole purpose of social media.

I also wouldn’t be so quick to jump to the conclusion that your own ‘branded content’ is better than curating third party content. In reality, both have a role to play. Both (provided the content is good, timely and relevant) help to position you as someone/a firm who’s up with the issues and an added advantage of sharing others’ content is the ability to build relationships with those people.

You can’t measure what you don’t know

It’s really hard to measure how well any firm is doing without understanding their objectives (likely to be multiple) and the extent to which their activity has helped them achieve these. Measures should be tied to objectives and will be different for different firms (and parts of a firm).

Looking at it from a BD perspective, my questions would be:

  • how many and what quality leads has each firm generated through its social media activity?
  • what’s each firm’s ratio of leads to conversions (compared to what it was previously) 
  • how much revenue can each firm directly or indirectly attribute to its social media activity? 
If you want to know what you should/could measure, I recommend you read Olivier Blanchard’s book: Social Media ROI. For my take on what you should measure (largely influenced by Olivier) read Measuring Social Media ROI in Professional Services Firms

While there are certainly things that firms can (and should) do at a firm level, such as graduate recruitment, the vast majority of things from a BD and marketing perspective should be tailored to each audience. 

That means more will be done at a practice group, key client and industry sector level.

And at an individual level.

Where the rankings fall down in my view

While the rankings do (sort of) take into account activity at a practice group and industry sector level they pay no attention to what individuals within firms are doing.

I say ‘sort of’ because the ratings do look at such things as how many Twitter accounts a firm has but they then rely on the firm’s Kred score to evaluate performance.

Unfortunately, a firm’s outreach score increases if they RT other firm accounts within their main one (which some of the firms do and it’s good that they’re coordinating things but it’s hardly a measure of how effectively they’re engaging with others).

The league tables also look at the number of social media channels a firm is using in order to assess brand presence. I’d hope that, unless there was a clear rationale for using all 10 platforms mentioned, firms would use fewer platforms well, rather than trying to do everything…

and that they’d focus on being present in the same places as their target audience(s). I do accept that different parts of the firm will be looking to do different things but that’s another reason why I don’t think you can bundle activity together in one league table – surely there should be one for graduate recruitment, one for BD etc if you want to go down that route.

Why activity at an individual level is so important

Measuring activity at an individual level is hard given the thousands of employees in large firms. However, it’s in this last area that I believe firms need to focus their efforts if they are to find, connect with, and help prospects and ultimately generate leads and new business meetings. 

Social media is about networking. It’s about building relationships one by one and that can only really be done at an individual level. It’s your people who need to be active and who need to be acting as a firm’s ‘social sellers.’

That’s how you can focus on helping others.

That’s how you’ll uncover opportunities.

That’s how you’ll generate leads.

And, that’s how you’ll set up new business meetings.

So, while league tables are nice to see (and it’s good to see the examples of what firms are doing) do they really show how well a firm’s social media efforts are working?

I don’t believe so.

How about you?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net






Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant