A recent analysis (by me) of the largest 100 law firms in the Boston area (as compiled by the Boston Business Journal) revealed that merely 15% of law firms have taken steps to set up a firm-branded Twitter account, and fewer than 15% are actively tweeting. Why would a law firm have a Twitter account? Why not? You are already spending lots of time creating and approving content for public consumption. Twitter is just another (quick and easy and highly effective) way to disseminate that information.
While Twitter is designed for use by individuals (it really does work best when people use these tools to engage in real and meaningful markets of conversation) don’t overlook the value Twitter can bring to your overall marketing effort in the form of a firm-branded account.
Here are 5 quick, off-the-top-of-my-head reasons why your organization (law firm or not) should tweet.
1. Protect your brand. The most important reason to start a Twitter account is to claim your name — so that you own it, not someone else. Remember the domain name gold rush of the 1990s? Twitter name prospecting hasn’t taken off to the same extent as domain name squatting, but wouldn’t it be a drag if someone else had your preferred Twitter handle? If for no other reason than protecting your brand or domain name, it’s a good idea to sign up now. Your Twitter user name can be 15 characters long. For many corporate or law firm names it’s not long enough, so claim a street version of your name. One version of your name might work better than another in the Twittersphere, so consider carefully before you commit. (See what others are doing by clicking on this Twitter list I created: Law Firms That Tweet.)
2. People are listening. At the beginning, Twitter feels like the sound of one hand clapping. It takes a while to build followers and to flock with your “friends of a feather.” And while it often seems that no one is listening to what you have to say, know that they are. Sure, many of your followers will never see or read your tweets. But know that some are paying attention. They don’t always answer back, but your messages are being received. And, among the Twitterati are journalists scouring Twitter for trends and story ideas for their next pitch meeting.
3. Search engines eat it up. Even if you doubt that people are listening to your Tweets, know that search engines are. Starting and using a Twitter account properly can be an effective distribution channel and a great way to get content quickly indexed by search engines and in front of relevant audiences. Google rapidly absorbs tweets into its index, so, what you tweet can quickly show up in searches. When set up properly, your firm’s Twitter account can be an important step in an “Own your name on Google campaign” — working to own all the page-one results on a Google search of your firm’s name. (But that’s a topic for another time.)
4. The best way to learn it is to do it. Starting a firm-branded Twitter presence is a safe and easy way to start. It is an excellent way for you and your marketing staff to lead by example and to become better able to help your professionals embark on their own Twitter branding parade. Once you and your firm understand Twitter a little better, you’ll begin to see how you might use it to reach and track moods and happenings in a specific industry niche or for a specific practice group. Share what your doing with others in the firm — individuals will learn by watching what you are doing.
5. Build your Twitter infrastructure and network now, for when you need it later. Twitter has some interesting widgets (and developer tools) that allow you to easily embed Twitter feeds or selected tweets into any web site or blog you publish. So, you can easily create a tweet-on-demand content management system to report by cellphone direct to your web site on a specific breaking news event with up-to-the-minute reporting. It could be a great tool to use in a crisis. Your firm-branded Twitter page can be a valuable extension of your web site, and a key component of your overall PR and web visibility effort. As you build your Twitter following, you build a valuable and relevant network you can listen to and count on to keep you in the know or to help get your message out.
Want to know more?
I’m happy to discuss your Twitter and social media presence over lunch to help you better understand how your firm can best take advantage of these new networking and web publishing tools. Contact me here, and follow me on Twitter.
Want help or training?
Let me know if you would like help getting set up and started right on Twitter. I can help you select a user name, and set up a robust password (important!), discuss the types of things your firm can and should be tweeting, show you how to do it, including how to use hash marks, when to direct message people, how to re-tweet, and other do’s, dont’s and best practices. And, I can show you some examples of the real benefits that can result from an active Twitter presence.
Related previous post: Twitter 101: Twitter Is for Listening
Also, just found this related post from Lawyer KM discussing the AmLaw 100 on Twitter trend (which isn’t much of a trend) from about a year ago…