The Pros and Cons of Engaging on Twitter

Twitter has undoubtedly been the most talked-about social media platform for the past year because of the affection the current President of the United States has for blasting out tweets at odd hours. It has even introduced a new term to our lexicon: “covfefe.”

It is not unusual for attorneys to want to steer clear of Twitter because many do not understand it. Your messages are limited to 140 characters and too many of you find this to be too restrictive. However, this is the wrong way to look at Twitter. Its most effective purpose is to serve as a platform for sharing content that resides elsewhere — on your blog, your website, a landing page with a free ebook offer — or content that is authored by someone else that will be of value to your followers.

For law firms, the pros and cons of engaging on Twitter break down as follows:

Pros

Creates community. With over 325 million people on Twitter, it is likely you will find both clients and colleagues there. While you hopefully already employ a monthly e-newsletter to stay in regular touch with your constituency, Twitter offers you the ability to jump on something newsworthy or current and tweet it out immediately, before the news is stale. Grabbing on to a news item that is meaningful to clients and prospects in your area of practice and adding your own spin on it helps you build your authority as an expert in your field and lets you stay in touch on a more regular basis.

Creates promotional opportunities. People following your firm on Twitter are already interested in your firm and what you have to say. This provides you with the opportunity to share news items about the firm — your pro bono work, new partners or associates, opening a new office, honors and awards, a big case you just won, etc.

Ties the personal with the professional. Contrary to popular opinion, most attorneys lead interesting lives and many are quite witty as well. Using your Twitter posts to occasionally showcase your personal side helps you build relationships that go beyond the professional when interests are shared.

Demonstrates leadership. Lawyers in leadership roles at law firms who use Twitter to provide greater transparency into the inner workings of the firm reap the benefits of deepening relationships with clients and colleagues. Using Twitter to engage followers in an ongoing conversation about a topic of interest to clients is thought leadership at its finest when you lead and curate the discussion.

Cons

Saying the wrong thing. We’re all human, and no matter how long you have been on Twitter or if you consider yourself a master of the medium, there is always the possibility you may post something that comes back to bite you in the hiney. Whether you voice an opinion on a controversial topic that your followers vehemently disagree with or let something sensitive slip, there is always the potential for putting your foot in your mouth if you aren’t careful.

Posts are not private. Unlike Facebook where you can control who sees your posts, on Twitter anyone and everyone can see your posts.

Twitter Tips

If you’d like to start using Twitter — or if you’ve already started but want to do better — here are some tips for attorneys on how to engage:

Pick a trending topic and offer your own spin. Every time you sign in, your Twitter home page will give you a list of topics that are currently trending on the site. You can even customize this feed for your geographical area. Picking a trending topic and adding your own spin on it is a good way to get more attention for your posts.

Perk up your profile. Be sure you have a current photo of yourself on your profile. Most people prefer to follow a person instead of a company.

Add followers. Syncing your contact list to Twitter is a good way to get followers quickly.

Use visuals to be visible.  Posts with photos and video get more attention on Twitter than strictly text posts.

Share amazing content. Don’t tweet unless you have something of value to your followers to offer. Quality always trumps quantity (pun intended).

Share and share alike. Share any engaging content your followers have posted by retweeting their messages and they are likely to return the favor.

Mind your metrics. Keep track of your Twitter stats — how many engage or click on your tweets — so you can gauge what’s working and what’s not.

In addition, here are some best practices for attorneys using Twitter:

  • Don’t tweet more than four times a day
  • Try to keep your tweet under 100 characters
  • Remember the 80/20 rule — 80% conversation/20% promotion
  • Use links as much as possible in your tweets — these get 86% higher retweet rates
  • Be sure your links are clickable by adding a space in front of the link
  • Weekend tweets get more engagement
  • Afternoon tweets get more engagement
  • Be judicious in your use of hashtags — no more than 2 per post
  • Include the word “retweet” in your posts — studies show these receive 12x higher retweet rates

Armed with this information, you should now feel comfortable engaging clients and prospects on Twitter with timely, topical tweets.