Twitter is one of the main potential tools for lawyers interested in using social media. Many, maybe most lawyers could benefit from Twitter, but not for the reasons most people think. That’s not to say all lawyers are situated to benefit from marketing via Twitter.
Confession: I used to think Twitter was stupid. In my defense, the antics of the best-known Twitter user are enough to give many the same impression.
After learning more about it and tentatively putting a toe into the water, one thing has become clear:
While Twitter definitely has potential, it is not a promising way for most lawyers to promote their practice. I’m aware of only a few exceptions, including Carolyn Elefant, Greg Siskind and Dennis Kennedy. These lawyers have several things in common:
- All had strong reputations before they began using Twitter.
- They practice in “promotable” legal specialties (solo and small firm issues for Carolyn, immigration law for Greg and legal technology for Dennis).
- They had successful blogs before beginning to use Twitter.
- They have the insights, writing skills and personalities to thrive in this environment.
Lawyers without similar advantages will find that it’s hard to market on Twitter. It’s hard to attract “followers.” Without an audience, speaking is pointless.
The biggest benefit of Twitter that I have found is not “speaking” but “listening.” Learn from others first. Be a follower before you even think about using it as a platform to spread your own ideas.
Determining If Twitter Is Right for You
For years the dominant philosophy of surgical training was known as “See One, Do One, Teach One.” Many doctors are beginning to ask whether this approach is the best for patient safety, but there is a core of wisdom here applicable to lawyers:
- Step One: Watch other Twitter users.
- Step Two: Try it yourself. Take baby steps.
After completing steps One and Two, you will be able to decide whether you can “teach,” meaning in this context, use Twitter for marketing.
This approach has many advantages, including: Learning Twitter dynamics by close observation. This will help you decide whether you have the potential to use Twitter for marketing, like Elefant, Siskind and Kennedy, who are all exceptions to the general rule.
How to Get Started
The single best reference Twitter reference I know for lawyers interested in social media is not a website, but on paper:
Jared Correia’s book Twitter in One Hour for Lawyers (ABA 2013). Some technical issues have changed in the seven years since this book was published, but the book’s advice about issues specific to lawyers means it is still a great resource for lawyers.
Suppose you are interested in learning to use Twitter as a source of information, or for marketing. The best place to start is Twitter in One Hour for Lawyers. It gives some advice on getting started and tips on more advanced topics. We’ll look at this book and its lessons more closely in future posts.