140 Characters ~ The Immeasurable Power of Twitter

140 characters is so whimsical.

Why not 160 or 200 characters?

The entry on Wikipedia for Twitter says:

“The messages were initially set to 140-character limit for compatibility with SMS messaging …”.

On its face 140 characters is nothing. It’s no wonder URL shortening services have become so widespread. Just imagine if you didn’t have them? In some cases that is practically all the Tweet would comprise.

But how do you weave in 140 characters to your:

  1. Business plan?
  2. Your personal development plan?
  3. Your monthly target?
  4. Your firm news?
  5. Your firm’s blog (if you have one)?
  6. Growing your client base?
  7. Developing a presence?
  8. CSR activities?
  9. Firm successes?
  10. Hires, promotions and leavers (if anyone is interested of course – competitors possibly)?

The thing is, no one person or organisation has a monopoly on Twitter (certainly not the Law Society, SRA or the Bar Council) and even though the courts have laid down guidelines for its useage, that does not inform the content.

 That is all down to you.

 Here are a few things to consider:

  • How many accounts will you have?
  • Have you secured the names (handles in Twitter speak)?
  • Who will manage the firm Twitter profile?
  • Will you allow multiple or any personal accounts?
  • Will they all have a disclaimer?
  • Will you stream all the various things going on across the firm in one Twitter feed?
  • Will you have a named person (@[name]) manage the account?
  • How will develop meaningful engagement?
  • Will you have a content policy?
  • Will you have a policy at all?
  • How will you measure success?
  • Will you tell your clients you are Twitter via your off-line material?
  • Why Twitter as opposed to email?

If you are going to use Twitter to leverage your brand, then you need to think very carefully about what you say.

In addition, there are far too many accounts that are dead. I don’t mean that the firm isn’t Tweeting but no one is engaging and all that is happening is a repackaging of news from elsewhere.

I am not suggesting that you spend hours or even minutes crafting the most tightly worded Tweet, but you need to think how ultimately you will earn attention as opposed to begging for it.

Instead of broadcasting a message, why don’t you ask those people that have taken the time to follow you what they would be interested in knowing about. A mini-feedback exercise.

How about this as a suggested Tweet:

“Hi. We are new to Twitter. It would be great to get your ideas on what sort of legal *stuff* you would be interested in.”

Does that sound too cheesy?

OK then think of something that is more on message with your brand but don’t keep telling me stuff like:

“We have just opened a new office …”

“For the latest employment news check out …”

“For our latest video on the [name] Act, check out …”

Twitter for me is all about the conversation. Yes, I put my blog on Twitter but I also take time to engage and also listen to what is going on. Where possible, through my 30+ feeds on Google Reader, I also try to share at least 5 bits of quality content per day. I usually RT one or two pieces of content. I don’t just talk about law (as much as it fascinates me) but love to engage with a few people on some of my other passions like cycling, music and personal development. Would I like more followers? To be honest I haven’t given it any thought.

That is not to say that I am not humbled by the fact that you might think I have something worthwhile(ish) to contribute. For me it isn’t about that.

Next time you have a meeting, why don’t you start talking about Twitter and see where things go. I have been amazed with the number of people who have discovered it and for many it has proved more than just an outlet to tell the world how wonderful they and there firm are.

Just remember this: less is most definitely more. You are not getting paid for the word count in this paradigm.


Spend your time on Twitter wisely.

Make everything count and be prepared to defend a position. Ignoring people is not the answer.

Twitter is incredibly powerful but don’t expect it to revolutionise your practice. Doing a good job and super pleasing the client will do more for you than anything else.

Enjoy it.

~ Julian Summerhayes ~

 Related posts

 The Why of Social Media

How Twitter changed my (professional) life

Can social media make you a better lawyer?

Would you give up Tweeting?