Lawyers and Twitter: 7 Tips How Lawyers should use Twitter
By Bjoern Wind On March 25, 2015
June is putting the finishing touches on a brief when someone knocks on her office door. “Come in,” she says.
It’s Steve, her paralegal. “You know that guy with the workers’ comp claim?” Steve asks.
“You mean the one who’s suing my client?”
“Yeah, that one.”
“What about him?”
“He just tweeted from Squaw Valley,” says Steve. “He’s skiing today.”
June looks at him incredulously. “You don’t say.”
“Complete with video.” Steve walks over to June’s desk and hands her his smartphone, with the evidence that will win her the case.
While this is fiction and an extreme example, it’s just one instance of how lawyers can win with Twitter—and the bad guys can lose.
Times have changed.
Only a few short years ago, most law firms had strict policies against using all that new-fangled social media for any purpose, including business development.
Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, Twitter, and all the rest were relegated to personal use only, and then only under very strict guidelines. Privacy and confidentiality were considered to be at risk with these networks, and suspicion abounded.
Times have changed. Twitter has now become a prime referral source for attorneys.
You can be sure your competition is using Twitter, and you don’t want to be left behind.
Up and coming law firms and their attorneys now flock to Twitter and the other social media platforms as a way of connecting with clients and prospects, finding out more about their competition, networking with other professionals, and keeping up with industry trends.
The best of them have developed guidelines for their staff to adhere to because attorneys, of all people, definitely should practice good judgement and social media etiquette.
If you’re an attorney, shouldn’t you be tweeting, too?
While you shouldn’t view any of your activity on social media as direct marketing—it’s not—you can and should be getting your name out there by way of Twitter, Facebook, and all the rest. To make your firm’s Twitter presence even more effective, encourage your entire staff to get involved. You can read more about that below.
If you’re an attorney and you’re not using Twitter on a regular basis, prospects could be slipping right through your fingers.
Convinced? Ready to get started? Here are some tips to help you make the most of Twitter.
1. Use Twitter to learn how your firm is perceived.
What are people saying about you and your firm? Using Twitter’s search tools, conduct a search for your firm’s name.
Each mention you find is an opportunity for you to get involved and engage with someone.
On the other hand, if no one is talking about your firm, you’ve got some catching up to do! Consider it an opportunity to start with a clean slate.
2. Set some guidelines for everyone in the firm to follow.
One such guideline that everyone in your firm should follow is that Twitter and all the other social media are about engaging, not promoting. You’re not there to advertise; you’re there to have conversations, to network, and to learn.
Nothing will lose you followers faster than a constant barrage of promotion about your firm.You are there to see and be seen, though, so that people will remember you when they need your services.
It will be important, once you get going, to maintain a consistent—but not overwhelming—presence. It’s a fine balance, but you’ll find it with time and practice.
Take your time to start tweeting. Learn the landscape. Listen and learn for a while.
When you do start tweeting, your tweets should be, above all, interesting and informative. And if you can add a dash of real humor now and then, all the better.
Another good thing to remember is that in Twitter there is no privacy. None. Anyone can retweet what you’ve tweeted, and all their followers can do the same.
And if you feel the urge to delete a Tweet? Fuhgettaboudit. It’s difficult if not impossible to do that. As the Roman poet Horace said so many centuries ago, “A word once uttered can never be recalled.” This is a truism that is doubly true in the Twitterverse.
So caution is essential. But you’re an attorney. I probably don’t need to tell you that.
Just as you wouldn’t discuss your firm’s pending cases at a cocktail party, neither should you discuss or even mention them on Twitter. Stay away from controversial topics. Keep everything light, friendly, and professional and no one will get hurt.
Meritas, an alliance of independent law firms, published a good set of social media guidelines for their members to use. View those guidelines here.
3. Decide what you want to accomplish with Twitter.
What are your goals around tweeting? What do you hope to accomplish? Do you want to learn more about your clients? Attract prospects? Network with other professionals in your practice area? Keep up with breaking news?
Having a clear set of priorities will help everyone in your firm to deliver a consistent message.
Make your goals specific and measurable, and start small.
You don’t have to jump in with both feet. It’s okay to dip a toe in and wade ankle-deep for a while until you get a feel for the waters.
After you have watched and listened for a while, you’ll be ready to start tweeting.
So what should you tweet?
A good way to start is with a search for topics that are relevant to your practice area. That way, you’ll find interesting content you can use and retweet, people you can connect with, and conversations you can join.
Share what others have shared by retweeting content you find interesting.
Add a comment when you can. Engage in conversation with other Twitterers and share a little about your own personal interests.
Be yourself, participate, and enjoy this new community you’re building.
Finally, and only now and then, throw in a little something about a seminar your firm is offering or some other promotional content.
4. Encourage everyone in the firm to get tweeting.
One of your main goals, most likely, is getting your firm’s name out into the Twitterverse in a positive way, and that will be more easily accomplished if every attorney in the firm is actively using Twitter to engage with clients and prospects and to monitor what people are saying about your firm.
It’s a big job, but it’s easier when everyone pitches in.
5. When you host or attend a conference, use the conference hashtag in your tweets.
When you use a hashtag (#) or pound sign in front of a word or an unspaced phrase you set up a link that other users can follow.
Twitter users organically created the practice as a way of categorizing and labeling data in order to simplify their searches and connect with like-minded users.
Using a conference hashtag when you’re planning to attend or present at a conference gives you a way to interact with attendees before the conference.
6. Use a Twitter management tool
Tools such as these can help you to keep track of clients and prospects, follow trends, schedule tweets, and monitor for responses to your tweets and other social media activity.Set up search columns of your clients and the topics that are of interest to you, and set up some alerts.
You can also set up search columns for followers you want to attract or interact with.
7. Check out these resources before you begin tweeting.
Janet Fouts, whose book Social Media Success can give you more information about using all of the social media including Twitter, lists a number of good resources on her blog for attorneys using Twitter. To read more about what she says on this topic, click here. Here’s her list:
- Legal news feeds
- Tweet Scan
- JD Supra
- BigLaw Lawyers on Twitter
- Legal Tweets
Also, from the LexisNexis UK blog, here are some good Twitter feeds to follow if you’re an attorney:
- Lexis Nexis UK News: @LexisUK_CA_News
- LexisNexis PSL Commercial: @LexisUK_Comml
- Intellectual Property Office: @The_IPO
- Advertising Standards Authority: @ASA_UK
- Law Society Gazette: @lawsocgazette
- Law Society: @TheLawSociety
- Law Society International Team: @LSInternational
- LawSoc Brussels Office: @LawSocBrussels
- Solicitors Regulation Authority: @sra_solicitors
- GOV UK: @GOVUK
- European Commission: @EU_Commission
- European Parliament: @Europarl_EN
- EU Court of Justice: @EUCourtPress
- Information Commissioners Office: @ICOnews
- Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: @bisgovuk
- Ministry of Justice: @MoJGovUK
- UK Parliament: @UKParliament
- UK Supreme Court: @UKSupremeCourt
- 10 Press Office: @Number10press
- UKTI: @UKTI
In 2012 (I know, back in the Dark Ages, right? but still relevant in this case), BusinessInsider.com published a list of twenty legal tweeters worth following.
View the full list here.
Don’t expect instant results, and don’t expect to build a great Twitter presence in a single day. In Twitter as in life, one thing leads to another that leads to another.
So just keep at it in a consistent way, and before too long, you’ll have your Twittersphere humming along.
One additional note, if you want to read more about Twitter, I can recommend our article for small business owners. Or if you want to learn how to get more Facebook Likes, check out this. But first, make sure you get your free Twitter report.