Last week, we gathered for another meeting of the NJ LMA city group…only this time, I was the presenter! I’d volunteered to talk to everyone about Twitter, and after accepting questions beforehand, I put together a presentation that tried to be as interactive as possible. 

I started with my background on Twitter – I joined Twitter in April of 2008. Although I initially joined for other reasons, I soon found a group of legal marketing colleagues that I could bounce ideas off of, find inspiration through, see what real concerns both marketers and attorneys have, and eventually become friends with. Using Twitter, I started to get real-time news from people in the know, both in and out of the legal industry. I connected with thought leaders in other industries and saw how they shared content, both theirs and others, to become considered go-to sources. I started to do the same. 

I learned that even with only 140 characters, you could share a lot, including links to blog posts where you could flesh out ideas and thoughts more fully. Before I joined Twitter, I didn’t think I had much to say about the legal industry, certainly not enough for a blog. But Twitter became an inspiration for me, a place to find ideas, and I realized I had a lot to say. And this blog was born! 

Twitter has grown tremendously since then, and my use of it has changed as well, but I find it an incredibly valuable tool for networking and raising the profile of our Network and our member firms. Twitter can be a big time suck, but if you use it carefully, you can connect with other thought leaders in the legal industry and your specialty industries, form relationships with clients, potential clients, potential referral sources, journalists, conference organizers and more – people who will help build your reputation. 

In the four years I’ve been on Twitter (1,538 days as of the presentation!), I’ve had: 

  • 16,348 tweets

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

The big question is always "why should on be on Twitter?" According to Pew Research, only 15% of Americans are on Twitter, but as LexBlog’s Kevin O’Keefe said in a recent blog post

Do not for a second think that you as a lawyer or law firm would not benefit from the smart use of Twitter for business development. It doesn’t matter if your clients and prospective clients use Twitter at all for your use of Twitter to grow your reputation and network of relationships…The influencers and amplifiers (reporters, well-followed bloggers, association leaders, editors, publishers, public relations professionals in businesses and corporations, and a very vocal and growing group of average Americans) all use Twitter daily. It’s these influencers and amplifiers who play a significant role in shaping your online identity. They influence where you are seen in search as well as where what you are saying is seen not only on Twitter, but also on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks." 

The Basics of Twitter

So now that you’re convinced to use Twitter, let’s do a few minutes on the basics: 

  • What is Twitter? "Twitter is an information network that brings people closer to what’s important to them." It’s also been called the 140-character social network or microblogging service. 
  • There are over 140 million active users, and 340 million tweets per day
  • Users who subscribe to your tweets are called "followers," and when you "follow" someone, you are subscribing to their tweets. Unlike LinkedIn and Facebook, you don’t have to follow someone back in order for them to see and subscribe to your tweets, unless you keep your tweets private. 
    • I recommend against making your tweets private – the whole point of social media is to be social. I’m all for making Facebook private, as we share a lot of ourselves over there, but Twitter is such short bursts of commentary and really lends itself to being a public forum that over there, making your tweets private comes off as elitist and will turn a lot of people off. So be public, but be mindful!
  • Each "tweet" is a 140-character message that allows you to share just text, or even links, photos, and hashtags. The reason that it’s 140 characters is that when text messaging on phones first started, you could only send messages to other people in 140-characters. 
  • Tweeting is the act of posting a message, or tweet, on Twitter and your "twitter stream" or "tweet stream" is a collection of tweets, normally in reverse chronological order. 
  • @ messages are also called "mentions" – these allow you to either mention someone in your tweet, either because you’re referencing them, or want them to see the tweet, or, if it’s the first thing in your tweet, it’s also a public message to that person. 
  • An "RT" or "retweet" is a tweet that was originally written by one Twitter user which has been shared by another user. You can also retweet messages to share them with your followers, and people can retweet tweets that you post. 
  • A "DM" or "Direct Message" is a private tweet that is sent to another user, and only the two of you can read it. 
  • Hashtags: Users will put a hashtag (#) in front of a phrase or word to categorize their tweets for others – these can be considered the theme of your tweet. Users can then click on this hashtag because it’s hyperlinked, so that they can see other similarly themed tweets and find yours when searching. In the early days, this was the only way you could search particular terms on Twitter, but now, search is much easier. Many people continue to use hashtags however.
    • On the topic of hashtags, one of the questions that came up during the initial presentation development stages was how to get up there when people search for a hashtag under people results. Unfortunately, there’s no way to do that right now. It’s possible that Twitter will go that way as they grow – as you’ve seen recently with Facebook pages, you can pay to promote either your page, through paid advertisements, or individual statuses from your page, to have those show up in people’s feeds. But there’s no way to do this as of yet on Twitter. I spoke to Nancy Myrland of Myrland Marketing about it to get her thoughts, and she suggested tweeting frequently with a certain hashtag – for two reasons. One, that will show you as an expert on the topic, provided that you’re tweeting relevant information. And two, you’ll come up more frequently in search results – Nancy pointed out that it’s human nature to have it register with you when your eyes scan the page and see the same avatar and username more than once. You might be more inclined to click on it and follower that user. Plus, with the immediacy of Twitter, and the fact that they don’t keep much information around for long, you want to regularly tweet with the hashtags that you’d like to promote so that you’re regularly coming up in the search results. 

Then, we looked at a couple of examples to illustrate what I had been describing: 

This is a tweet that I posted on the morning of the Devils/Kings game 6. The message is an original from me, and is under 140 characters. I included @NHLDevils, which is the Devils official team username, which is an @mention. Rather than this message being addressed to them, it serves just as a mention of the username. A note about this – when a username is included like this in the middle of a tweet, everyone who follows you will see it. However, if I had put it first in the tweet, it would only appear to those people who follow both me and the @NHLDevils. It would still be a public tweet, and anyone visiting my profile page would see it, but it cuts down on one-sided conversations being viewed. 

You can make anything a mention by including a "." as the first character in a tweet, but that can be obnoxious to someone who isn’t following both parties if you do it all the time. 

In the tweet above, I also include the hashtag that the NHL created for this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, "#becauseitsthecup." As you can see, both the @NHLDevils username and the #becauseitsthecup hashtag are in red. That’s because these are hyperlinked so that you can click on them and either see the Devils profile page and their tweets, or others users’ tweets referencing the same hashtag. 

Now for retweets, there are actually two kinds. The first is the original type of retweet, which looks like this: 

As you can see, this tweet includes the "RT," which marks it as a retweet of a message originally shared by Nancy Myrland. Because it’s an original retweet, I can also edit it and add my comments, which I did. Now, as you can imagine, the idea that someone could edit one of your or your attorney’s tweets and make it look as though they said something when they didn’t may give you agita. But there’s currently nothing Twitter has done to rectify that. 

The second kind of retweet is the full retweet – this allows you to retweet something in its entirety, without editing it: 

The nice thing about this is that with the original retweet, the person’s first message needs to be 120 characters or less, to allow for all of the additional characters that get included with the RT and the person’s username. But with the new kind of retweet, the original message can be up to the full 140-characters and still be retweetable. As you can see here, you’re alerted to it being a retweet in two ways – one, there’s the green arrow in the corner that signifies it as a retweet, and two, underneath the tweet itself, it says "Retweeted by Lindsay Griffiths." You can also easily see the username and avatar for the original tweet. 

Using Twitter almost does require learning an entirely new language, so if you have any questions on that or any other terms you’ve heard associated with Twitter, please ask them in the comments! Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the three main uses for Twitter for law firms! 

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Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. She is a dynamic, influential international executive and marketing thought leader with a passion for relationship development and authoring impactful content. Griffiths is a driven, strategic leader who implements creative initiatives to achieve the…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. She is a dynamic, influential international executive and marketing thought leader with a passion for relationship development and authoring impactful content. Griffiths is a driven, strategic leader who implements creative initiatives to achieve the goals of a global professional services network. She manages all major aspects of the Network, including recruitment, member retention, and providing exceptional client service to an international membership base.

In her role as Executive Director, Griffiths manages a mix of international programs, engages a diverse global community, and develops an international membership base. She leads the development and successful implementation of major organizational initiatives, manages interpersonal relationships, and possesses executive presence with audiences of internal and external stakeholders. Griffiths excels at project management, organization, and planning, writes and speaks with influence and authority, and works independently while demonstrating flexibility in thinking, especially in challenging situations. She also adapts to diverse and dynamic environments with constant assessment and recalibration.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

In 2021, the ILN was honored as Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer European Awards, and in 2016, 2017, and 2022, they were shortlisted as Global Law Firm Network of the Year. Since 2011, the Network has been listed as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network, recently increasing this ranking to be included in the top two percent of law firm networks globally, as well as adding two regional rankings. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry and was included in Clio’s list of “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful, and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was chosen as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February 2009.