One fact about social media that is relevant to all law firms (and all businesses), it’s that it’s not going away! Social media generally refers to a communication tool or platform that allows Internet users (whether an individual or a brand) to communicate with large audiences. This communication can be person to person, brand to person, person to brand, or brand to brand. The sooner you start embracing social media instead of ignoring it, the quicker you can create a well-rounded online presence.
Social media has changed online user behavior in various facets, but particularly when it comes to finding out more about products, services, and organizations. Prior to the emergence of social media, consumers would visit a store or office, get information about products and services directly from the company, or ask their friends for personal recommendations. Today, people get this information from various online sources and are more influenced by online reviews.
Law firms must keep pace with social media in order to use it in a positive way. Those that are not participating can be sure their competitors are taking advantage of their absence. It can be tricky to figure out which channels to use for your firm, but your decision should be based the firm’s overall growth objectives and target client profile.
One of those channels is Twitter and it’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to figure it out initially. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect.
Pros & Cons of Using Twitter in Law
Getting followers is relatively easy – When brands were still trying to figure out how to maximize the number of followers, many of them paid (and still pay) for mass followers. This is not recommended because there’s very little point in having thousands of irrelevant followers. However, with a little patience and research you can accumulate interested and engaged followers. Start with following various law organizations, your competitors, and attorneys/contacts you know from undergrad, law school, or social events. Chances are, they will follow you back.
Hashtags are a great way to find and to be found – By including popular hashtags such as #law, #legal, etc. individuals who are specifically searching for those keywords will be able to find you. This is a great way for you to make connections, provide helpful answers, and discover law events that may be happening in your area.
Your tweet has the ability to go viral – Going viral means that your image, video, link, or message has spread quickly and to those beyond the legal community. In essence, it has reached the masses. It is not easy to go viral, but the use of media and savvy copy will at least allow you to stand out from your legal competitors.
There is a paid advertising component – Twitter gives you the option to boost your tweets. You can create customized campaigns to gain followers, more engagement, website clicks, etc.
You become part of a larger community – There are about 330 million people on Twitter. You can bet that some of your clients and prospects are using it on a regular or frequent basis. Posting on Twitter regularly (i.e. multiple times a day if you really want to stay relevant) allows you a simple way to stay visible and relevant.
Promote your firm as much as you want – Unlike some other marketing strategies where sharing your accolades is frowned upon, people generally do not take offense to companies that want to share good news. Win a big case? Secure a popular client? Sponsoring an event? Speaking at a seminar? Let the world know!
Setting a good example – Twitter is intended to be a place where people engage in back and forth conversations. You can gain a lot of attention by addressing issues, clearing up inconsistencies, and providing assistance. People may tweet out to find solutions or guidance regarding their legal troubles, and you can use this as a legitimate opportunity to help out. It doesn’t cost much except a few seconds of your time. The more you are willing to help others, the more people will take notice.
It’s easy to feel like no one is listening – The high volume of users presents an opportunity, but it can also make brands new to the platform feel like they are wasting their time. Fast-paced and dynamic, the channel is a constant stream of information. The tweet you posted 20 minutes ago is already old news unless someone is specifically searching for a keyword or hashtag in your content.
Bots and spammers – Bots are accounts that are fake, so even if you have a high number of followers, you can never be certain they are all real people. Bots and spammers follow thousands of accounts and “favorite” tweets just to get attention.
Making a misstep can negatively impact your reputation – While going viral can be a great thing, you don’t want to go viral for the wrong reasons. One innocent mistake and your reputation can take a major hit. For example, there is a fine line between sharing and exposing, as in the case with sharing that you’ve won the business of “Client A”, except “Client A” hasn’t told his old firm that they are fired.
It requires a time investment – A tweet is only 140 characters, but the strategy behind crafting each message takes a lot longer. Especially because you really have to tweet or engage with others multiple times a day in order to get the most out of the platform. Many brands automate their tweets, which is a good option, but if there is a big development in the news that pertains to your area of law, you need to seize the opportunity and comment in real time.
If you’ve decided to give Twitter a try, here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind:
Do give people who follow you the information they are seeking.
Do engage in back and forth discussions with fellow attorneys, clients, and future prospects.
Do create a comprehensive profile and keep the information up-to-date.
Do follow hashtags that interest you.
Don’t tweet off topic from the firm’s official account.
Don’t ignore people who reach out to you.
Don’t tweet sporadically.
Don’t set up your account and then forget about it.