Twitter is hardly new.
But for law firms, many are new on the scene.
Rather than take another (cheap) shot at the way it isn’t being used, I thought I would put together 10 tips for law firms, lawyers and marketing/business development teams to focus on.
Answer the ‘Why’ question up front. Don’t spend hours and hours (and some more) debating whether and in what way you should embrace Twitter. Accept that you have to have a presence, but make sure that whoever is using it, has a ready-made answer. It could be as simple as connecting with our target market or brand awareness but please don’t default to using it to syndicate your firm news only. It is dull.
Align your firm’s values (with all its stakeholders) with the voice that you use. Yes this sounds a bit ‘corporate’, and I have no desire to witness the proliferation of cookie cutter profiles, bland/standard Tweets or something that feels manufactured. No, what I am getting at is consistency, enhancing your brand values and building a reputation.
Secure all the Twitter names (handles) that you think you will ever need. Don’t make the mistake of starting down the road with one feed (for everything – news, client wins, recruitment and PR) only to discover that you need to refine your engagement across multiple channels but the names are already taken. For firms with long names, if you are forced to abbreviate things, don’t be clever. Try for something that everyone will understand particularly if they can’t see your avatar very well on their mobile.
Consider very carefully how you will manage firm vs. individual engagement. Will you even allow it? If so, how will it work so you avoid duplication and minimise risk? Those people that insist on telling me (and the wider Twitterverse) who they work for and what they do but are Tweeting in their individual capacity and have a bland disclaimer copied from someone else, ask yourself what are you trying to achieve. Are you Tweeting for the firm? No. Then what are you going to talk about? Have you thought it through?
Twitter is not 9-5. It’s 24/7, 365 days per week. You cannot expect to grow your presence and get meaningful results if you are not monitoring what is going on. Very often law firms don’t even bother to respond when they get a reasonable comment. Why? Probably because nobody is checking the stream regularly enough or they have been told not to engage. Engagement is key. Go and check out Starbucks and Ford and you will see what I mean. There are of course some excellent law firms who do respond but they are in the minority in my experience.
Reach out and connect. Start using the direct message function where you are following and the person is following you back. Don’t send one of those stupid automated Tweets or True Twit validation. It looks like you don’t care or have something to hide. Start a conversation. Invite them to talk on the telephone. Ask how you can help and start using Twitter as a way of winning new clients. Yes, there will be risk associated with proffering advice but that is no different to those people who call asking for a bit of advice or to pick your legal brains.
Use Twitter to promote something remarkable. An ebook, a podcast or webinar work a treat. But don’t overdo things. Don’t spam your audience and don’t ask people to RT. It looks desperate. The point is you need to give your audience something of value. I have mentioned before the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success from the book the The Go Giver. The first law states: “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.” And the third law: “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.” Take a moment to reflect on these. How will they work in practice? You sell time. But what if you were offering a free taste. What would it ‘feel’ like? It is difficult to imagine. But produce something that feels valuable but doesn’t cost (initially) anything and you get the idea. In time you might be able to sell your products allied to your services. Even something like training is being promoted in this way.
Are you passionate about your work? If not, you will run out of steam. Stay focused on the ‘Why’ and have a few objectives if you think it will keep you on the straight and narrow. Think about your audience. What are they really interested in? Don’t think you can forever trade off their fears.
Install a dashboard: Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Seesmic all work well. I use Hootsuite for its analytics and for the fact that it has been the most stable of the three. Using a dashboard makes the process more manageable and it means you can schedule some of your material to go out when you are not around. You might also like Buffer. It works well as a means of auto-posting but don’t go OTT. Just remember if you look carefully at Hootsuite you can see where the Tweets are coming from.
You could always stick to plain old Twitter. I don’t yet have the new Twitter but I do use lists and searches to make sure I am tracking the conversation. I am looking forward to getting new Twitter so that I can then start using some Tweets for later blog posts.
Have fun. I have a saying: “If it’s not fun it’s not worth doing.” If you think that you won’t have the time, or can’t see the point of it or have been told to do it then I would question whether you will have the patience, persistence and passion to keep things going. I suspect you will give up after 6 months.
And finally as Gary Vaynerchuk says you have to build “brand equity” (if you haven’t checked out his Ted video then I highly recommend it).
What other issues do you think law firms or other professional service organisations should be focused on for Twitter?
[The photo is licensed under a Creative Commons license as “Scott Beale/Laughing Squid” laughingsquid.com.]