Twitter has been around for almost a decade, and many law firms are still understandably hesitant to dive in. How can a site that lets you post only 140 characters at a time help your firm and its attorneys? Here are some advantages and disadvantages of Twitter that apply to both firm and individual attorney engagement.
It’s easy to Tweet. With Twitter, promoting your law firm and sharing its information has never been easier or faster. Find relevant information by searching hashtags, retweet (RT) interesting content, post about podcasts or webinars you participate in, and share your accomplishments. Just remember not to spam your followers or ask people to RT.
You can connect with a quality audience. Many have deemed Twitter followers to be more valuable and more actively engaged than followers on other sites, namely Facebook. Additionally, users on other sites tend to be comprised of the general population, while prominent influencers (including potential clients, reporters, etc.) are more likely to have an active presence on Twitter. Use the direct message (DM) function and tweet at people you want to connect with. Not only can you build relationships, but this also increases traffic to your firm’s website and puts your practice in a positive, experienced light.
It keeps you informed. Twitter allows you to see breaking legal news in real-time. Follow news outlets like @AP or @HuffPost, as well as courts, government agencies, and those in congress to learn about court rulings or other major legal events. Twitter also automatically generates trending topics, keeping you in the loop about popular and emerging news from across the world.
It’s time-consuming. If you find yourself allotting a few minutes here and there for Twitter, then there’s a good chance you’re not using the site to its full potential. Are you posting frequently enough? Interacting with other users? Between that, scheduling tweets, and scrolling through congested feeds, a successful Twitter account takes a lot of commitment and effort to maintain. You might consider giving an attorney some business development hours to handle the tasks or finding a savvy marketing professional who knows the ins and outs of an integrated social media strategy. Otherwise, like most good marketing ideas, inertia will set in and the task will fall by the wayside (see “blogging”).
Twitter is crowded. In the first quarter of 2015, Twitter averaged 236 million monthly users. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for your content to get buried. For this reason, tweeting multiple times throughout the day about relevant content is essential. It is also extremely important to use Twitter to let your legal brand shine (Branding = another key ingredient of an integrated approach).
You can’t always trust its content. From celebrity death hoaxes to reports of shark-infested floodwaters during Hurricane Sandy, Twitter has a history of credibility issues. A recent study found that 25% of everything on Twitter is false. Retweets quickly spread incorrect information, and it can be difficult to separate breaking news from gossip. Thus, it is important to build a solid network of authoritative sources you can trust.
Despite the cons, Twitter has become a great platform for fast, responsive communication, and law firms and lawyers need to have some sort of presence to avoid missing out on engaging with clients and prospective clients.