Happy 10th birthday, LinkedIn! What started as an idea to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful by leveraging relationships has become a must-have social media tool for business people around the globe. And, thanks to LinkedIn’s ability to connect users, the world has become much smaller. 

Long gone are the days of flipping through dozens of Rolodex cards to contact those you knew. Now you can connect to your network’s network, with the ability to reach thousands of the 225 million users on LinkedIn, a number that has grown by more than 135 million since 2010 and continues to grow at a pace of two members per second.

What can law firms learn from this? Think about where your law firm was 10 years ago, and the changes and growth it has gone through since then. Chances are that marketing played a big role in that cycle.

A decade ago, firms notified the world of those changes and that growth by pushing out client alerts by mail and email. Firms sent press releases to reporters working in well-staffed newsrooms. Advertising spend was enormous. Networking was done on the golf course, at cocktail parties, during long lunches and at school reunions.

Law firm marketing now lets firms reach those – and new – key audiences by leveraging many new channels. Today’s law firms and attorneys who are social media-savvy can distribute news releases and share thought-leadership content well beyond traditional methods by using platforms such as LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Slideshare, blogs and many more. Firms and individual attorneys build trust and relationships, and do deals, between LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers who would have never known of each other’s existence 10 years ago.

All of this is being done strategically, with users finding skillful ways to target key audiences through direct channels and – most importantly in this economy – with slim budgets. Suffice to say, social media is an easy sell.

The ability of law firms to tell their stories by creating and deliberately distributing their own content has never been greater, and this is where we foresee that law firms will change the most over the next decade.

Social media for law firms continues to evolve. It’s no longer a question of use but an expectation, and the degree of use will only continue to accelerate. The focus on self-published content and new ways to develop relationships is just in its infancy.

As marketing tactics and technology continue to change, there are some questions every firm should be asking itself. For example, does your firm have a five-year (or other long-term) strategy in place? Will marketing have a greater role within the firm? What will the firm do to educate its attorneys and staff on how to get the most out of new technologies, including social media?

What are your firm’s plans for content marketing and social media use, and how do you plan to make them happen? Leave a comment below, let me know directly at vhood@jaffepr.com, or find me on LinkedIn or Twitter.