10 Simple Ways Twitter Will Make You a Better Lawyer

twitterTwitter is probably my favorite social network. Sure, when I’m at home, I might spend more time on Facebook than Twitter. LinkedIn may be a more “professional” way to network with other professionals. And Google+ is much easier to make fun of.

Yet I always come back to my Twitter feed (displayed nicely on TweetDeck). There are a lot of really nice things about Twitter, most of them completely contrary to the negative opinion that many lawyers I talk to have built in their minds. There are a ton of people there, the news comes fast and furious, and there’s always something new.

But most importantly (particularly for this post), it’s simple. It’s easy. Really, it is. What you see is what you get. You don’t have to worry about which one of your privacy settings were just reset, without warning, by Mark Zuckerberg. Every Tweet is public, so no worries about someone pulling a SnapChat and holding your private posts for ransom.

It’s simple. And amazingly effective. Best of all, you don’t need to be a computer programmer or social media guru to get the most out of Twitter. Here are 10 simple ways Twitter will make you a better lawyer:

1) Generate more leads by interacting with prospective clients and using targeted ads.

Your clients and prospective clients are on social media. While they may not all be on Twitter, a lot of them probably are. As I’ve mentioned countless times before, social media marketing is more about being social than about marketing, so engage already!

Reply to Tweets, and respond to those who reply to yours. It’s a conversation.

Beyond simple engagement, Twitter has an amazing ad platform. You can create numerous types of ads, like promoted Tweets, promoted Hashtag campaigns, all the way to promoted accounts. Thanks to the sheer volume of Tweets and information, you’re also able to target your ads to a very specific audience.

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Yes, they can target the ad THAT narrowly. More concerning, I suppose, is that they know which of these categories you fall into.

Oh, and one more thing: Twitter ads drive conversions for roughly one third the cost of more traditional advertising platforms. Consider the mic dropped… and picked up again, that was just the first point.

2) Become a recognized leader in your niche by sharing quality, timely content

The whole social network concept is something that many lawyers didn’t take to very well. As I’ve mentioned before, too many lawyers saw it as just another advertising platform, and their Twitter feed looked like this:

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That’s a lesson I will continue to teach on how not to use social media.

Many experts suggest that at least half of the things you post, particularly if you’re sharing your law firm’s content (i.e. blog posts or updates), should be content created by others. This is referred to as “curating content,” and sharing quality content is just as important as creating quality content.

Remember, a lot of people (like me, for example) spend much more time reading on Twitter than writing. Share good articles or stories, and you will be recognized. There are a number of people I follow who share so much great content created by others, they’ve become hugely popular. Great content doesn’t need to be yours to help you out, particularly if you have a knack for finding it!

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to read all that good material you curate, otherwise you’re just helping other lawyers get better.

3) Identify and interact with thought leaders and influencers using Twitter Cards

One of the great things about the world of social media is that it really doesn’t take much skill to figure out who the real leaders are. They’re the ones who post regularly, but never seem to spam. They mix up pictures, links and video. Half of their posts are discussing content with people, and the other half have links to the content.

Most importantly, your interest level goes up as soon as you see one of their posts come across your news feed. These are “influencers.” They’re the knowledgeable social media power brokers. They have two distinct skills – 1) they’ve got expertise in a certain field, and 2) they’re good at sharing it on their social network.

Find them. Follow them. Converse with them. First, because they have that first skill – expertise. You want to follow them because you value what they have to say. But just after that, you want to follow them because they’re reliable, they’ve got a schedule down, and because a whole ton of other people follow them too.

One great way to do this is through Twitter Cards:

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Using the data therein, you can see who in your network has the most exposure to your Tweets, and whether they read them. Pick out the ones who read more than others, and make a point to engage. The more they look at your stuff, the more they might like. And share. With their thousands of followers.

4) Stay up-to-date on important news and topics using TweetDeck

For me, Twitter is a phenomenal news feed. If there’s something going on in the world, it’s going to be discussed on Twitter, and usually in real time. Even better, if you set up your feed properly, you can get not only the news as it happens, but real time commentary from some of the most important people in your field.

And from @TheTweetOfGod.

How do I do this? TweetDeck, the best tool I’ve found for Twitter. Here’s a screenshot of my TweetDeck feed this evening (on my glorious new monitor!):

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Keep track of numerous different lists of people and companies, scroll independently through each one, and you’ll always be up-to-date on the latest news in your field.

And thanks to a recent update, you can now have your entire social media team monitor one TweetDeck account!

For a list of other great tools to boost your social media engagement, check out our Ultimate List!

5) Expand your network and monitor your competition using Lists

My guess is that a lot of the trepidation that most lawyers feel when it comes to Twitter involves the fear of drowning. One news feed, thousands of followers, tens of thousands of Tweets each day… it sounds like a daunting task!

First, tamp down the ego, you’re not going to have thousands of followers (probably). Next, do you really think those of us who use Twitter have simply managed to filter through conversations at the speed of a stock ticker?

No, we use Lists!

twitter list 1

Have a group of local lawyers you’d like to follow? Put ‘em in a list! How about a list of technology evangelists that you like to converse with? Put ‘em in a list! Your family? Sure, why not! (Seriously, I’ve seen people do this.)

There are two types of lists, public and private. Private lists are, as should be painfully obvious, private. Nobody gets to see them. Public lists, on the other hand, are not only public, but shareable. Know any great influencers? Want to see who they follow? Check out their public lists.

Monitor your competitors, connect with other leaders by putting them on a public list (they’ll be notified and grateful), keep all of your clients and employees on one list, and important journalists on another. Then, do like I did and make one list dominated by @theOnion and @FunnyOrDie.

6) Humanize your practice by mixing professional news with personal stories and comments

In case you’ve forgotten, social media marketing is a conversation, not a bulletin board. You need to engage. You have to make connections with people through your words and the content you share. Let’s face it, just sharing content about a particular legal niche is freaking boring! Mix it up!

Show your personality, but make sure to be yourself. Once you start establishing an online persona, you’re going to be held to it, and the backlash can be quite significant if your authenticity disappears. On the other hand, personal stories and opinions add color to an otherwise boring persona.

A post in the Attorney at Work blog cited the Twitter feed of Mitch Zulkie, the chairman of Orrick Talley, which is pretty cool:

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If he can do it, so can you!

7) Guarantee that you are part of (and driver of) the conversation with Twitter Chats and Periscope Broadcasts

This might be where we start getting a little technologically advanced for the more timid of you, but stick with me.

One of the reasons you join Twitter is to be a part of “The Conversation.” I always felt that term was a little condescending – usually said, as here, by someone who is already a part to someone who may not be. However, there’s no denying that when a conversation is happening, the only way you’re going to have any impact (other than being the subject – get arrested, that’ll do the trick!) is by actually participating.

Twitter Chats

Some of the most in-depth discussions happening on Twitter occur in Twitter chats. These are essentially like conference room-sized versions of Twitter, with a limited number of people in an actual discussion. Think of it like a big Q-and-A session, with moderators guiding the discussion.

To really take things to the next level, here is a Step-by-Step Guide to Hosting a Twitter Chat, from the marvelous folks over at Buffer.

Periscope Broadcasts

But that just takes care of the text based chats. We’re now in the era of “live streaming” thanks to the huge debut of an app called Meerkat. Not to be outdone, Twitter launched their own version, called Periscope, shortly thereafter.

What does it do? Well, think of it as a Twitter Chat, but on video. That’s right, you can engage with a small, large, or global audience, in real time, over video. Want to have an impromptu video meeting with your partners in different cities? Periscope. How about having a seminar that you want other attorneys to be able to access later in the day? Periscope.

Want more suggestions? Try these!

8) Gain a better understanding of your audience with Audience Insights and Tweet Analytics

Among the most powerful tools you have at your disposal is Twitter’s analytics. Prior to today, there was Tweet analytics (and Twitter Cards, which were basically the same thing), which were amazing. They provide you about every piece of information you could possibly use about engagement with your Tweets.

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Track impressions by hour, to find out when your posts are reaching their largest audience. Track engagement separately for opens, URL clicks, Hashtag clicks, retweets, and Favorites. Oh, and in case you really want to analyze it further all by yourself, the data can be exported directly to Excel.

I did say until today, though, didn’t I? Yep. Earlier today, Twitter announced an entirely different type of analytics, primarily geared towards marketers. The new tool, “Audience Insights,” helps you learn more about your followers, and will really help for those targeted ads I mentioned at the top of the post… like six weeks ago.

Audience Insights gives you a look at your followers and their traits, such as demographics, interest, lifestyle, purchasing behavior, mobile footprint, and my favorite (for what I would imagine is sheer uselessness), TV viewing behavior.

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My followers are interested in technology news. Too bad I write a blog about men’s shaving accessories!

These insights are provided by numerous 3rd parties, and since this is just the first day, I would imagine these insights could expand dramatically.

9) Boost your reach and your law firm website’s search engine ranking… just by Tweeting

Not long ago, Twitter and Google got into a little fight. Thankfully for all of us, you’d never know it today! The rekindled friendship has resulted in several benefits you can reap for your law firm as an active Tweeter.

First, Google is now displaying Tweets in real time as part of a Google search. What does this mean? If you Tweet from your personal account, and someone searches for you on Google, your Tweet will appear in the results. At the top of the page.

More importantly is what this means for people searching for keywords related to your area of expertise. If you’re doing the things I’ve suggested, and sharing good content, then it’s likely that those Tweets will end up in the search results. The more high-quality Tweets, the more exposure.

Second, Google recently announced that social media would play a more significant role in its search engine algorithm as well. Does your law firm have a website? (If not, just go.) How about a blog? Is the blog connected to social media? Making that connection and sharing your content could be the difference between being on the first page of a search result, or on whatever other page (because if you’re not on page 1, it basically means you’re not there).

10) Enjoy yourself by… enjoying yourself!

At the end of the day, social media marketing is about connecting with whomever is out there. It’s a giant conversation about everything, and you have a phenomenal amount of information available at your fingertips.

Don’t forget to sit back and take it all in. Oh, and have some fun out there! In a matter of minutes, you could read about an important new legal precedent, discover new shortcuts for Microsoft Office, watch a 5 minute tutorial on your law practice management system, and be confounded by the color of a dress.

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As Stephen Colbert noted: “This was the issue that divided a generation. You had the Vietnam War, your grandchildren had an ambiguously colored Tumblr post.