Firm Blog

Twitter for Lawyers, Part 3: Develop Your Following

Posted by: Victoria Santoro

In the final part of this series, I am going to discuss how to develop your following within the confines of a twitter feed and also provide some handy do’s and don’t’s.

Initially, the challenge of twitter is finding interesting accounts to follow in the huge sea of twitter users. Do not be tempted to take the bait and immediately follow hundreds of users before vetting their accounts. Take the time to find interesting, humorous or particularly informative accounts. There is no specific need to limit accounts to your field or practice area, but it is advisable to find the best accounts relative to your day job so you can share interesting content for fellow lawyers and potential clients.

Once you find accounts you like, this enables you to cultivate some examples of well-curated twitter timelines, and provides a foundation that you may emulate in creating your own presence online. Incorporate the things you like (types of humor, news sources, types of interactions, etc.) from various accounts and find the interactions and general tone that suits you best.

Once you feel comfortable on twitter, you can start to fully form your online personality and presence. This makes you an engaging and authentic twitter user and, very naturally, this makes people want to follow you, simply to see what you’ll tweet or share next. Most importantly, you want your self to shine through.

As you begin to develop followers, it’s crucial to make sure you increase your level of comfort with actual online interaction. The people behind most twitter accounts are actually twitter. Even if they sometimes schedule their tweets, accounts are most often monitored by real individuals and, unless it’s a giant corporation, the twitter account is monitored by the person who created the account. These twitter users are just like you, they are looking for connection, for humor and for shared thoughts. They want to know what you think, what you love and what you’re saying. Initially, it can feel very strange to have 140-character conversations with complete strangers but developing a level of comfort with this (think a chat over a cup of coffee with a new acquaintance) is important in continuing to broaden your reach on twitter. The more people who know what type of person you are, and find you interesting, kind, brilliant, etc., the more they will share your content widely and frequently. There are few things more powerful than the real people on the other side of their social media accounts.

The 140 character limit is an interesting challenge for lawyers. Normally, we have pages and pages in a brief in which to make our point. 140 characters is not a lot of space. You have to be unbelievably succinct, whether it’s making a joke or leaving commentary on an article or news item. So I will end this topic with a word of caution: with tweets, it can be difficult to provide tone, context or nuance so read them before you post and mind your tweets.

Do’s

Do make new connections online, and turn them into real relationships. Find people going to the same conferences and meet up for coffee. You can suggest attending an educational talk together, or simply spend 15 minutes learning about the other person. Nothing can replace the importance of the face-to-face meeting and this can serve to really solidify your presence online.

Do use specific hashtags, either in your field, for a particular legal issue that’s important to you, or from a particular conference or twitterchat. This is a great way to make new connections and find interesting content, to share and to read, often times things that you wouldn’t otherwise have come across online. This is also an easy way to see which other twitter users are attending the conference you are at, and further facilitates meaningful connection over twitter.

Don’t’s

Don’t dilute your message and identity by posting for posting’s sake! It’s hard to maintain your focus with the mad drive to keep up with twitter. You can follow hundreds, or thousands, of accounts, and your feed is constantly refreshing with tweet after tweet after tweet. Although difficult to resist this deluge of information, do not simply post just to say you have posted today. Think about your goals, think about your personality, think about what your online identity is, and share something only that is in line with those three considerations.

Don’t post about anything that’s pending in your office, whether or not you’re the attorney working on the particular case and/or brief and/or issue. This may seem so obvious and yet, this type of thing continues to happen. People think they aren’t going to be found out, or that they aren’t doing something that could negatively impact a case. But inevitably, through some quirk of social media, someone somewhere sees whatever you have posted and infers some relevance to a case you are litigating. Or, an enterprising judge finds you online, and realizes your excuse for not being able to attend that hearing was a total lie. So think really hard before you post something about a case or a hearing, and figure out if it could be used against you or your client. And, most importantly, be honest.

Best of luck on your journey into the twitterverse, hopefully you’ll find it very welcoming and as fulfilling as I do.

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