Now that we've gone over the basics, let's jump into the meat of Twitter for law firms. In my presentation, I went through what I consider to be the three uses of Twitter for law firms, beginning with the dreaded "broadcasting."
When I was initially using Twitter, I would have completely advised against this, but I've changed my mind. Twitter has become an excellent source of news, and pretty much every news source is using Twitter to share headlines these days, like CNN, Fox News, the NY Times, the Huffington Post, etc. If a law firm has individual attorneys and marketers who are using Twitter under their own account names and engaging with people, then I have no problem with the firm's branded account being used primarily as a news feed. There are many firms out there who have been using Twitter this way, and they've been very successful in getting journalists and other influencers to follow them.
However, if you're going to do this, it's important to remember who your audience is, and who you want them to be. You don't want to clutter up this feed with announcements of new partners, Chambers awards, etc. These pieces have their value, but you want the majority of what you're sharing to be links to substantive content authored by the attorneys at your firm. That's what's going to help you get the attention of those influencers that Kevin O'Keefe mentioned earlier.
Additionally, look at the firm's account as part of your overall marketing strategy - social media is not a strategy unto itself, but should be considered a tool to be used as part of a larger marketing strategy. So when your firm is hosting client breakfasts on a subject matter of interest, promote them using Twitter to build excitement through the firm account. Same goes for webinars and other events. Use Twitter to reach out to clients or potential clients when the firm will be sponsoring a booth at an industry event. The list goes on.
Let's look at a couple of examples of how this works. I saw Marcy Salo of Cairncross & Hemplemann at this year's LMA Annual Meeting, and while their use of Twitter is still developing, the firm's profile is a good example of how broadcasting can work for firms.
As you can see here in this first tweet, Cairncross is letting its followers know that two of its attorneys are attending a lunch - this tweet is accomplishing a couple of important things. First, it's taking online relationships offline. We'll talk more about that in the next section, but that's the goal - for relationships to become business relationships, they will eventually have to go offline.
Through the above tweet, Cairncross' followers know that they can meet up with two of the attorneys face-to-face at a local event. Consider how many events your attorneys are attending, either locally or not, and think about tweeting where they'll be to encourage clients, potential clients, referral sources and influencers to meet up with them. Obviously, if the attorneys have their own Twitter accounts, they should be doing this as well, but how can you use the firm's account to support them?
This tweet is also promoting a local organization, the GSBA - by referencing their Twitter name in a tweet, the GSBA knows that the firm will have attorneys at their lunch, and it's likely that they will retweet this post, which gains additional exposure for the firm. Consider what organizations your firm is involved with, and how you can leverage those relationships through Twitter.
Let's also think about clients - many of you will have clients who have Twitter accounts. You can monitor those accounts to keep up with what clients are doing, and we'll talk more about that in a future post. But you can also retweet what your clients are up to - obviously, I'm not talking about anything confidential, but if clients have won awards or been honored for something, or they're hosting a charity event, publicizing those things through the firm's Twitter account can go a long way in promoting the firm-client relationship.
Here's another example of Cairncross using their Twitter feed to promote attendance at an event. In this case, they're also promoting a contest they'll be holding, which incents those attending to come by and meet the Cairncross attorneys who will be there. How can you do something similar at tradeshow events that you're attending? Importantly, most events/conferences these days will have their own Twitter hashtag - like the Legal Marketing Association uses "LMA" plus whatever year it is, so next year's conference hashtag will be "#LMA13." Find out what that is for each conference, and make sure to include it in your tweets, so that people searching for tweets from the conference, who may not necessarily be following you, will be able to find your tweets.
Another firm that does an excellent job of using Twitter for broadcasting is Henderson Franklin in Florida.
In this first tweet, you can see that they're using Twitter to push out their content - they include the title of the article, a link to it, and two hashtags - one of them is #law, which puts this in with other legal themed tweets, and the other is #SWFL, which identifies it as a southwest Florida tweet. That way, anyone in southwest Florida looking at tweets with this hashtag will see the Henderson Franklin tweets - it's a way of expanding their reach beyond legal followers.
In this second tweet, which is a retweet of Henderson Franklin's marketing director, Gail Lamarche, you can see that the firm is promoting an upcoming event that they're having. Gail does an excellent job here - she asks a question that clearly communicates the focus of the event - corporate immigration concerns in southwest Florida - and she links to one of her attorneys who is presenting, which gives people the opportunity to follow and engage with him before, during and after the event. She also includes the firm username, which gives people the same opportunity. Additionally, she offers the link to register, so that people can do that directly.
During the event, Gail will also monitor the Twitter feed for any questions or comments that may come up, so that she can engage with followers on an immediate basis.
At this point, I got a very interesting question from the audience - when promoting an event like this, what's to stop people looking for a free breakfast or lunch from just showing up? That's a great question, and is actually something that the ILN faced during our INTA lunch, after promoting our event through LinkedIn. My suggestion was to hold back the location from your tweets and public invitations until people register and you're comfortable that they're planning to attend the event for the right reasons. Has anyone else come up against this issue? What are your solutions?
As you can see, there are a lot of ways you can use the firm's account in terms of broadcasting - and it's not just about news items. You can broadcast events that your firm is sponsoring or hosting, events that your attorneys are attending or speaking at, etc. You can broadcast articles that your attorneys are quoted in, have authored, or blog posts that they're writing (either as guests or as primary authors on a firm blog). And you can broadcast on behalf of your clients and other local organizations that you might be involved in for charity, etc.
In the next post, we'll talk about my favorite use of Twitter for law firms - engagement!