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Practical and effective social media use for lawyers: Twitter edition

I wanted to talk about how lawyers use social media in comparison to how I think lawyers should use social media to leverage relationships and, most importantly, build friendships. I have broken this down by social media platform. This week, I’ll talk about Twitter. (You can follow me on Twitter, too.)

Before I get into Twitter talk, let’s break down the phrase “social media”:

Social. “Seeking or enjoying the companionship of others.”

Media. This word has two relevant meanings to me. First, media refers to various information and platforms that you consume that information on. Second, it is the news media.

So, the key to social media is to seek or enjoy the companionship of others on platforms that you can consume information on and that the news media is also on.

But you can’t just be on a platform. You need to engage on that platform. Otherwise, it’s like going to a networking happy hour and just sipping a drink against the wall and twiddling your thumbs.

You have to insert yourself into conversations. You have to look around the room and find people you want to talk to. Have you ever been solicited on social media by a salesperson? That salesperson likely did their homework on you through Twitter and decided that it would be wise to engage with you. As an attorney, you can do the same thing.

On Twitter the power is in the listening, not the speaking. (I know this is hard for many of you legal eagles out there.)

There are a few ways to listen on Twitter: First, utilize Twitter search. People put a lot of weight on the use of hashtags to find people and to be found on social media, but the fact is that Twitter search will find any word whether it is hash-tagged or not. The value of the hashtag is that it signals to others in the conversation to use the hashtag so there is some uniformity and a way to track the conversation. Twitter search is powerful because you can search within a specific mileage of your current location or current law practice. In other words, if I’m interested in learning about all that is currently being talked about in my area of law at any given time within say 20 miles of me, I easily can.

To listen on Twitter, I like to look for what my geographical area is doing. I practice in Annapolis, so I simply search for the term “Annapolis.” This allows me to keep abreast of the news and share with my local network. I also make sure to comment and engage with people on the content that I enjoy. Since I live near these people, these Twitter conversations have led to real life coffee meetings, referral sources and friendships.

Another way to listen on Twitter is to create lists, which allows you to organize your groups of people so, for example, when I’m interested in keeping up with my “ABA Peeps” I just go to that list or my “Annapolis” group or my “criminal defense” group.

My new favorite way to use Twitter is to respond to people’s tweets to me via Twitter video. This personalizes the message. New video livestreaming apps such as Periscope and Blab link to Twitter and can greatly help you build and engage your network.

Next time, I’ll take a look at Facebook and how lawyers can use it practically and effectively.