I’ve been dabbling in Twitter for the past year trying to evaluate it for use by attorneys for marketing purposes, as well as for my own curiosity. Initially, I was skeptical as it seemed to be dominated by self-promoting “shouters” (I think I am borrowing that term from Kevin O’Keefe). And it still is. It is also dominated by persons who tweet constantly about Twitter, just the way bloggers used to blog only about blogging. This seems to be the natural progression of new media — the early adopters use the new medium to talk about the new medium.
Twitter Is For Listening
However, despite all the self-promotion and social mediabation, Twitter has some real benefits. I used to advise lawyers (as long as 2 months ago) to not worry about Twitter, at least until they have completed and mastered Linkedin. But now I’m recommending that you should pay attention. Even if you don’t see how you could ever use Twitter in business, use it to “listen” to the marketplace, or your peers, or your competitors (or your clients!) by using Twitter search, and by building your network. As more people start to use social media tools, they turn from talking about the tools, to actually talking about their business.
The other reason you should jump onto the Twitter bandwagon is that, if used properly, it can tremendously benefit your visibility on the web and search engine optimization. Grab your name or keyword specific handle now. Figure out how to use it later. Or have your someone teach you, coach you, or assist you in mining the benefits of Twitter. Until then, keep listening to me via this blog, or, follow me on Twitter at: amyblog.
“Listening” via Twitter is how I found this presentation: Twitter 101 for Business, via Rex Gradeless.
Read more posts like this on: Amy Campbell’s Web Log.
We have found great success for our lawyer clients with twitter. Like other social media platforms, twitter is very good for professional networking. This is especially true in the legal arena. Biggest mistakes we have seen on twitter are self-promoters (as you mentioned), auto following, and logistics issues (i.e. not realizing that when someone replies to you or direct messages you, they are talking to you). http://tinyurl.com/twitterlawyerguide
Our twitter guide for lawyers lays out some very basic info to help lawyers get started and includes some folks that we follow in legal.
I am also currently experimenting with hootsuite, which I am finding very effective. Really like the built-in analytics. For example, today twitter sent me over 300 visitors.
Often people put off using a new tool because they don’t know how to use it, but the best way to learn is just by doing. Even if they don’t know what to do with Twitter now, they should start experimenting and I think they’ll discover the uses it has.
Twitter is for many the primary means of obtaining information; in fact, it’s begun to replace RSS feed readers for some people as they start using their followers as curators and filters for only the most interesting and relevant information.
For lawyers, Twitter is not only an excellent listening post (though I’m a big fan of SocialMention.com for listening, the standard Twitter Search is useful as well) but also a great way to connect with others who share your personal and professional interests. As with “real” networking, the key is to be known, liked and trust by others. Once you’ve accumulated that social capital you are apt to be considered a trusted resource (or, as Chris Brogan and Julien Smith call it, a “trust agent”).
The platform may be new, but the methodology is as old as time. Be yourself, be friendly, share information freely with others, and the impact on your bottom line will be significant. Certainly more so than with a static website or a 30 second commercial.
Twitter can work for lawyers. However, it is about interaction, not interruption with useless information. I believe my fellow lawyers can benefit from tweeting by:
1. Learning to blog. Twitter is a microblog. For those who want to put their toe in blogging waters twitter is perfect;
2. Building an online reputation. There is a whole world outside of the courthouse that most of us lawyers are unaware. Twitter let’s you meet people without a law degree (which in my experience is a good thing);
3. Sharing “how” you practice law. If you believe your product (i.e. the way you practice law) is unique or just better than the guy down the hall, twitter lets you show it.
4. Learn! I have learned several tips, tricks and practices that have made my firm better.
5. Countless other things I don’t have time to list because I have to get to court.
However, please don’t use twitter if you are simply going to tell me what you had for breakfast. For example, I had a bagel. I am guessing you don’t care and nobody else will either.