When discussing the importance of tweeting for lawyers, Svenson says it’s imperative to “put the topic into context.” The larger context, he says, is actually about the “kind of clients the lawyer wants to attract.”
Before embarking on social media, in general, and tweeting specifically, Svenson says it’s important to start with the basics. A lawyer who wants to be taken seriously online needs a website, first and foremost, and it doesn't need to be overly complex to be useful, he says.
Another important consideration is the reputation the attorney seeks to cultivate, both online and in the real world. “If you care about your reputation, then you must recognize your reputation is influenced by others,” says Svenson. Therefore, a lawyer without a web presence is basically surrendering his or her reputation to whatever people say about them online.
“Don’t let the world shape your reputation, because it will,” Svenson says.
How Tweeting Helps Attorneys
Jared Correia, Assistant Director and Senior Law Practice Advisor for Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (Mass LOMAP), a law practice management consultancy, says lawyers should tweet for several reasons. Twitter is an excellent resource for:
- Researching potential clients
- Supplementing the attorney’s professional development
- Finding and then networking with mentors and other professionals
Another reason tweeting is on Correia’s "Must-Do List" is that it positions the attorney as an expert in a given area of law. “Tweeting can be valuable as a professional development tool so potential clients and others perceive you as a go-to expert,” he says.
Nancy Myrland, whose company Myrland Marketing & Social Media advises attorneys and legal marketers on how to leverage marketing and social media, says that before posting that first tweet, it’s imperative a lawyer determines his or her target audience.
Even if a lawyer’s client base is generally people in the AARP set, Twitter and social media, in general, should not be overlooked as vehicles for reaching them, she says. Because people of all ages are becoming more familiar and comfortable with social media, it’s a valuable tool for reaching them.
“Think about all of your target audiences,” says Myrland.
What to Tweet About
Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters. While it might not seem difficult to pen something that short, it’s actually extremely challenging to create a captivating tweet in so few words.
That being said, what can or should a lawyer tweet about?
While Correia contends the overall goal of tweeting is making connections, it’s not the only reason. Twitter and social media, in general, are all about “learning from others," he says. "Part of that comes from interacting with the audience.”
Correia himself is a good example. He follows thousands of people on various social media outlets he will never meet personally. But, he reads their content and shares some of it, too. That exchange of information makes him smarter, another benefit of social media interaction.
Because tweeting is an excellent way of establishing one’s expertise on a particular topic, he says lawyers should tweet about what they know. “Tweet about information relating to your practice area," says Correia. "Show you have an expertise in what you do.”
However, he cautions, lawyers shouldn’t limit themselves to only posting about the area of law in which they focus. “Not only can you post your own content, but you can curate others' content to show you know how to” cultivate pertinent information, he says.
While it might seem counterintuitive, retweeting posts published by others is imperative to establishing oneself as a relationship-builder on Twitter, Correia says. “Lawyers have a hard time retweeting other lawyers' posts because their egos often get in the way," he says. "I’ve seen that even with lawyers from different jurisdictions.”
“There’s a big world out there, so it’s wise to retweet other attorney’s posts if they are well-written and useful," Correia says. "Besides, you can benefit from your own posts being retweeted, so it’s a quid pro quo.”
Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and writer.