Twitter for Lawyers - How to Start

Maybe you’ve heard the buzz about Meerkat and Periscope or read my prior posts on the two new platforms, and you’ve thought:

I’m not ready to live-stream, I just want to learn how to use Twitter first!

In fact, you may also wonder WHY even bother?  Well, here’s a brief outline of my suggestions on Twitter for lawyers, followed by a few reasons why to use it.

1. You don’t have to tweet.  You can observe from the sidelines.  I recommend doing that to get a sense of how it works and how people communicate, share, and promote ideas.  When you create a profile, you will have a better idea of what you will tweet and how to describe what you have to offer.

2. Set up an account:  your profile picture, avatar, twitter handle, and summary will quickly define you to others. 

a.   Avatars -  the small headshot or logo that will sit next to every tweet.  If the twitter account is for a firm, then use the firm’s logo, or some distillation of it that will look good at that small size.  (The firm name Anderson, Anderson, Anderson & Zworski would be far too long to serve as the avatar, and a logo will help with branding.)  If you will tweet as yourself, use a photo.  Guy Kawasaki, @GuyKawasaki, advises:  Use the same photo for all of your professional social media, that gives you a uniform presence across platforms, making it easier for followers to recognize you; use a crisp shot, 600 pixels wide. 

b.   Background photo – use something that reflects your work, firm name, practice, motto – it’s a billboard for messaging and visual impact.  See what others do. 

c.    Handle – your name/ID on twitter, and how you will distinguish your “Jane Jones” from so many other Jane Joneses.  Use the handle to reflect your name or your name in conjunction with a company name, phrase, etc.  For example: Teresa Martin and  @TMartin or Teresa Martin and @FlipCatLLC.

d.   Profile Summary – a brief statement of who you are and what you offer.  Feel free to mention interests – anything that will resonate with you target audience.  Bar Rules tip: refrain from using the terms “expert & expertise.”

3.       Followers & Following.  Now that your account is “live,” you’ll want to begin following people.  Based on your initial observations (noted in no. 1 above), you should have a handful of people in mind.  For common names or for prominent people, always check out their profiles first to ensure you are following the correct person (e.g. @RealDonaldTrump is The Donald, any others may be spoof or fan accounts). 

a.   Are you following the correct account?  Some companies tweet as do their company leaders.  Maybe you like a particular company and decide to follow its CFO.  Turns out – the company account tweets information relevant to your practice and your interests while the CFO’s Twitter feed is full of his sports-related tweets and antics.  While entertaining, you might not find his account as valuable as the main company account.

b.   Followers – A popular Twitter practice is the follow-back.  You follow me, so as a courtesy, I follow you back – we grow and learn together.  I do this regularly with my personal account, not for my professional account.  One reason: I try to maintain a generally focused scope of people I follow.  (Some folks will follow you who appear greatly removed from your business.  You may not want to follow, conversely you may find something interesting in their tweets or profile.)

4.       Lists – Lists provide a great way to organize and curate your followers into categories.  You can create a list on the fly.  Let’s say you practice in energy.  You might have lists for your law school classmates, your firm’s attorneys and alumni, energy companies, legislators and other political entities involved in energy, etc.  If your prior lists did not include a category for fracking, and today you see someone you would like to follow, you might also create a fracking list and add them to the list.  Some people also use lists instead of following.  Perhaps you found someone interesting, but aren’t sure you want to follow them all of the time – just add them to a list without following.  Once lists are created, you can open Twitter and read the feed under your “Home,” “Trends,” or any of your lists, based on your need for broad or focused information at that point in time.

5.       Sharing – Twitter is ALL ABOUT the sharing of information, be it a weblink, article, another’s tweet, photo, or concept.  A simple step for this is to select a tweet you like (or select “details”) and then click the “Re-tweet” button to share the message intact.  To comment, click the “reply” button.  To send your followers to a particular article, website or blog post, paste the URL into your tweet.  As you write your tweets, an indicator shows if you are within or past the 140 character limit.  Adding a URL or an image will take up room and limit the remaining characters in your tweets, and that will hone your editing skills!  Today’s rule of thumb: when appropriate, include an image to promote greater interaction.

6.       # - Hashtags are a terrific way to search and learn about new conversations and trends or start your own.  For example, yesterday I attended a luncheon and tweeted relevant comments from the event.  I added the hashtag #LawMarketing to some of my tweets.  That tag will help anyone searching for tips on law marketing, and will help me direct anyone who missed the luncheon to search on that hashtag and my avatar to see my curation of the presentation.  Most seminars today make great use of hashtags, enabling those who could not attend to still gain insights about the material presented by following the conversation.  If you see an interesting hashtag you don’t understand – Google it!  Google often has a definition of tags to help identify the associated entity or purpose.

7.       Notifications – Once you regularly tweet, share, and interact – you will receive “Notifications.”  A button in your Twitter nav bar will alert you when someone has commented with a re-tweet, liked a tweet by clicking on the star, or replied to one of your tweets.  Notifications help you understand how people react to your tweets and give you an opportunity for further conversation.  Keep in mind:  You may only receive a handful of comments, retweets, or likes though far more people may be impacted by your activity.

WHY join Twitter?  ( …though I think once you’ve used it – you’ll come up with your own long list of WHY.)

  • Expand your reach
  • Observe and learn from colleagues
  • Find interesting information, articles, seminars you may have otherwise missed
  • Connect with people who may become future referral sources
  • See what your clients discuss
  • Carve out your own place with your authentic voice and acumen in cyber space!

For more in-depth guides to navigating the Twitter-verse and understanding its sharing mindset, read Twitter Power 3.0 and The Tao of Twitter.

These basic steps will help establish your presence on Twitter.  To develop a productive strategy for client development via social media, and a plan that integrates with your overall marketing initiatives, contact us today.  Flip Cat provides overviews, training, and strategy for Twitter and other social media platforms – related to legal practice.