Firm Blog

Twitter for Lawyers, Part 2: Content Development And Privacy

Posted by: Victoria Santoro

In my first blog on this topic, we discussed setting up goals for your twitter account and learning about what tools you can use for pushing your content out in an efficient manner. Once you’ve mastered those and have a clear idea of what you want your twitter feed to accomplish, it’s time to put some effort into content development. Basically, what are you going to tweet?

This can be a complicated question to answer as the internet is so full of other content, it is tempting to simply retweet other people’s blogs, jokes or news items. But the most important thing to be online is unique and fresh. This means developing your own content, and including it in your twitter feed is absolutely critical. Twitter serves as a window into who you are as a person and as a professional; you must be diligent to ensure that the links you are tweeting provide clear insight into who you are.

Content development

In order to be interesting online, and develop a following, you must come up with different kinds of content and posts so that your followers aren’t always seeing the same type of thing from you. Most importantly, be yourself and allow your sense of humor to show. In developing content, keep in mind that everything you share publicly should have a filter on it. Particularly controversial content, news or jokes should not become a part of your twitter feed (see below). But this does not mean that a law firm Twitter account should only share legal news. Local events, fundraising efforts, volunteering, community races are all things that can be blogged about, and then tweeted out to your followers.

Sharing your local community endeavors, as well as your legal acumen, provides a more complete picture of who you are as a lawyer and simply as an individual. If you saw a particularly beautiful art installation in your city, find the associated twitter account and retweet the event to your followers. If your staff competed in a relay race over the weekend, write up their results and why they participated and share the blog. Naturally, if you have been dealing with a particularly interesting legal issue, write a blog about the issue and make sure your followers have easy access to it.

You must devote the time and effort into developing your blog presence. If you are blogging, this is fresh, original, unique content that you can share on your twitter feed. Twitter, and other social networks, work in tandem with the topics you wish to blog about and serve as platforms for pushing your voice out to the larger community.

It is generally recommended that Twitter users break up their tweets in the following way: 50 percent sharing other people’s content, whether that’s retweeting or posting a link to other articles; 30 percent interaction with other Twitter users; 10 percent your own promotional content; and 10 percent your personal interests, which helps humanize lawyers and makes them more approachable and relatable. This is an excellent rule of thumb and can help you continue to tweet without constantly feeling as if you have to be writing new blogs daily.

If you really want to be rewarded for your twitter usage, it’s essential that you create fresh, original content (most frequently from blogging on your own) and also interact with other twitter users. Naturally, this takes a good deal of time. So if you’re going to do it, do it right, focus on the goal of your usage (See Part 1) and devote a couple of hours a week, especially at first, to developing your online presence and creating content.

The Internet Is Permanent

Even though you may not feel this way early on in your Twitter lifetime, people tend to start to feel comfortable on the internet, joking around or sharing controversial content, particularly on Twitter as this platform can feel highly interactive, relaxed and fun. As I mentioned above, everything should always be posted with a filter in mind. Clients, referring attorneys, opposing counsel and even judges have access to the items that you are tweeting. Do not be lulled into believing otherwise, even if you have high security settings.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that everything is cached on the internet, particularly if you use a Google platform. Whatever you post is stored on servers somewhere and is very likely kept forever. What this means is that there is no true “delete” button and you should operate under this assumption. This should inform every post you put up on the internet.

On Twitter, you can have a “private” account. And while that may mean that only your approved followers can see your tweets, it does not mean that your information is more private. Generally, courts feel that anything shared on social media is directly in contravention of privacy. Whether you have 50 followers, or 5,000, sharing it with all of those people makes it immediately public. They can take your tweets and do whatever they’d like with them. Even on private accounts, users can screen grab a tweet they find offensive and then share that image with their own followers.

As useful and fun as Twitter can be, it’s important to keep these words of caution in mind as you being creating content, engaging with other users and interacting. Find the balance between being overly sanitized and overly comfortable online. Remember that nothing can be scrubbed from the internet and always make sure that you’d be comfortable with anything you tweet being published in the newspaper.

My next blog will discuss the development of your following and provide some handy do’s and don’t’s to guide you in your interactions on Twitter.

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