Your brand is what people think about your law firm, and Twitter is an excellent place to build your brand. When it comes to projecting your image on Twitter, you must do more than set up an account. You must use it. You must engage others with it.
Consider this your Twitter engagement primer. If you are new to Twitter or if you don’t make regular use of your account, know that you do not have to adopt every strategy here. Of course, if you’d like to make better use of Twitter (and other social media platforms), you could also hire someone to manage your social media accounts on your behalf.
Twitter Ground Rules
Since it will inevitably come up, check with your state bar (and check state regulations) in regards to how you can use Twitter as a licensed attorney in your state. Also, talk with your malpractice insurance company and ask whether you would be covered if someone misunderstands the purpose of your post (informational, educational, and not legal advice).
If you have a personal Twitter account, it should not be used for your law firm unless you are solo. Then you can decide whether you want to manage a separate firm account. If you run an entire law firm complete with partners, associates, and support staff, you need an account set up specifically for law firm use. Your law firm’s Twitter profile should tell followers the type of law that you practice, and you may want to include a (very short) disclaimer that tweets are informational and do not constitute legal advice or the formation of an attorney-client relationship.
Following, Follow Back, and Lists
While you could follow people or businesses who fit your ideal client profile, you don’t have to follow everyone. There are better ways to see what people are talking about (and you’ll learn about that soon).
In addition to following others, you can use a list feature. You could set up lists on Twitter for anything you want. If you practice family law, you could setup a list of other law firms who tweet news related to family law. You don’t have to follow anyone to do it, either. To create a list:
- Visit your Twitter profile and click Settings.
- Click Lists.
- Create a name for your list.
- Find accounts that you want to add to your list.
- Add them to your list.
Going forward, you can just look at your list to catch up on what those accounts have posted without having to follow them. It’s a nice feature if you don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter. It’s also a good way to keep up with similar law firms to see how they use their account.
Twitter keeps a list of trending topics that use hashtags so that people can easily see all tweets related to that topic. A hashtag is the pound sign. To use it, type the pound sign (#) and a word or a short phrase without any spaces. For instance: #bankruptcy or #AppellateTwitter. It’s not necessary to capitalize the first letter of every word that’s part of your hashtag, but it does make it easier for people to read.
You can click on hashtags on Twitter and see what other people are saying about it. This is a great tool for engagement because you’re able to accomplish two tasks:
- You could find someone who needs a question answered; and
- You could find a lot of ideas for creating content to share on Twitter.
If you’re nervous about the possibility of being sued for malpractice or having a complaint filed against you, go with the second option. Take the concerns, questions, and commentary that you find when you look at hashtags and develop content for your blog or tweets about those subjects. This enables you to address the concerns of your target market without worrying about whether someone will assume you are giving them legal advice.
Here’s an example: if you used #bankruptcy as your hashtag and clicked on it, you would definitely see some junk. You’d also see questions, news stories, and opinions people have about bankruptcy. You could write about the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. You could talk about how bankruptcy will affect credit and will also give people a clean start. You could talk about whether people could continue to send Little Jimmy to jiu-jitsu lessons while they’re making Chapter 13 payments.
Creating content based off of hashtags is a good move for your law firm account. Semantic searches will play a big part in search engine results page rankings in 2017. A semantic search works by trying to understand the searcher’s intent and the contextual meaning of terms used. So if your main subject on Twitter is bankruptcy, semantic searches would capture some of the associated terms and topics discussed above. When you create blog posts, make sure that you place a short call to action in it and direct people to your Twitter account so they can follow you there.
Twitter search is a fantastic tool. It can help you find accounts related to certain subjects or conversations. You can choose whether you’d like live search results, accounts, or look at tweets. Using both tweets and live search results, you can find conversations related to the subject you’d like to read or post about.
When and What Should You Post on Twitter?
When should you post to Twitter? You can send out updates to new blog posts every time something is published. You should also think about your target market and when they are most likely to be online. Consider using a free online tool that will analyze your Twitter account to determine the best times to post things to your followers. You can then either post things on your own at that time or use a social media tool like Buffer or Hoot Suite to send it on your behalf automatically. Using tools like these can dramatically cut down the amount of time it takes for you to keep up with your Twitter account.
Once you’ve established your schedule, it’s important that you use it (but don’t make it the only times you ever post), and it’s also important to review the schedule every so often. Using tools like Buffer makes this part of being active on Twitter easy. You can also see which of your links were re-tweeted and clicked the most.
The thing that confuses most people, regardless whether they run a law firm or a clothing boutique, is what they should post on Twitter. First, let’s talk about what not to do. Don’t constantly look to sell. How annoyed do you get when you go to a store and you’re just looking around and you’re accosted by 12 sales professionals? Does it make you want to do business there if you honestly weren’t looking to buy at that moment? No. It just annoys you and makes you want to look for a place that gives you the information you need.
Not every tweet you send should be “Go to my website. Book an appointment.” That should be saved for the point in time that you’ve established your spot as an expert with the person you’re talking with. Until you reach that point, tweet like you are a normal person. You can give them helpful tips or say things out of empathy and compassion. You can direct people to your blog to learn more about common legal questions and concepts. Give them the information they want without sounding desperate.
Here some ideas for Twitter content that works.
Drawing from your blog posts. When you write your blog post, note the main points so that you can compose tweets that address those points. If you are a real estate attorney and you write a blog post about the importance of a title inspection, create a list of questions that the blog post would answer and link to your post.
FAQs. If you have FAQs related to legal questions that you’re asked on a regular basis (such as how long it takes for a divorce to become final in your jurisdiction), you can use those on Twitter in much the same way that you use blog posts.
Legal forum Q&A. If you’re an active member on Avvo or any other legal forum, your Q&A responses can be a Twitter gold mine. Post the question and use a hashtag on the key word. Then, use a link back to Avvo.
Videos. There are a lot of law firms that use videos on Twitter. The easiest option is to download and install Periscope on your mobile device. Periscope videos feed straight to Twitter. You can also elect to have the video saved to YouTube. Saving it to YouTube means you get to use it again and again.
Why Periscope? Because people share the live broadcast and you can see people interacting with you. You may get people who ask questions. You can answer those questions or you can use it to make even more videos.
Some law firms spend a lot of money producing videos for YouTube and Twitter. You can spend as much as you want or you can keep it simple and just use your phone. If you don’t know what to record, you can start with frequently asked questions. You can consolidate blog posts into a video. You could answer questions you find on Twitter. You can even go and look at law firms who currently use videos and see what they’re doing. That will help you find some ideas.
OPC. Other people’s content is another great thing to share on Twitter. You can share things that you read about in your local news, bar journal, or a current event. You can share out important decisions from your state courts related to your practice area of law. You can share out other people’s articles. If you share out someone else’s content, look for them on Twitter. Find their account name and include their twitter handle in your tweet to them know that you’re sharing their work or that you found it valuable. This is a great way to build relationships, get new followers, and continue to engage with others on Twitter.
Twitter engagement doesn’t always happen overnight. Don’t quit because you don’t see spectacular results the day after you post something. Much like practicing law, a lot of work has to go into getting the final result.