We’ve now talked about a couple of uses of Twitter for law firms, but there was a third one that I snuck in there during my presentation, and that’s finding intelligence. 

Social media in general is an excellent way to research clients and potential clients, as well as competitors. The information is current and constantly updated, and it’s coming to you, rather than you having to go and find it. 

How would you do this on Twitter? 

There are a couple of ways. Most people who use Twitter do so using a third party application – that means that you’re not visiting the Twitter website directly, but you’re reading your tweets using someone else’s program. There are a few out there, but my favorite it Tweetdeck, mostly because that’s the one I started with. 

Tweetdeck is also now owned by Twitter. Tweetdeck has two versions – one that you can download directly to your computer, which runs like its own program. I don’t use that one because it tends to take up a lot of computing power and slow down your machine, which can be a hassle. Recently, they came out with a web version, which you can run in your browser, and I like it very much.

Tweetdeck allows you to create columns, which filter out tweets in a few different ways. Through your Twitter account, you can create lists of users by category. These are public, so you want to be mindful of what you name them – like "jerks I work for" wouldn’t be an ideal name for a list of your attorneys on Twitter. 

Right now, Twitter only allows you to list people individually, so if you have an existing set of followers, you’ll have to go through each of their profiles to categorize them. It’s worth the time investment – I did this myself, and created a number of lists, including "legal marketers," "LMA12 conference attendees" and more. I then assign each person I follow to one of the lists, and I can create a column so that I can read the tweets just from those people. When you’re following thousands of people, this is an easier, more manageable way, to get at the information you really want. 

Along these lines, you can see how you might follow a list of journalists or other influencers that you might want to pay more attention to, so that you can read what they’re writing and see how it might tie in with what your attorneys are doing. You might want to set up a column just for clients and potential clients, so you can see what they’re tweeting about – you might then want to filter this information through to the appropriate teams in your firm so that they can either follow up or write about topics that you already know are of interest. 

Another note about lists – you can also follow other people’s lists as well, so you don’t have to go through and individually follow each of the people on a list and then list them on your own lists. By the same token, bear in mind that people can also follow your lists. 

But using Twitter for intelligence doesn’t stop with lists. You can also create columns to filter tweets by a search term or hashtag – this way, you can also see tweets from users that you might not be following. Perhaps your firm has a particular interest in a geographic location – like Gail focusing on southwest Florida. She likely has columns set up for both the #SWFL hashtag and the term "southwest Florida" so that she can monitor what’s going on there. 

Or you might want to search client names or topics of interest. This can be useful if you want to break into a practice area as well, to see what’s already being written on and get your attorneys started there. It’s also a good idea to set up a search term for the firm itself, so you can see what’s being said about the firm, get ahead of it if you need to, and respond to any comments in a timely manner. 

That’s another important consideration to remember for social media – social media has once again changed the landscape for communications. In the past, people expected you to respond within 24 hours to an email – social media users expect a response MUCH quicker. it doesn’t happen as frequently in the legal industry as in others, but you do need to be regularly monitoring your Twitter feed, responding to any comments or concerns in a timely manner, and making sure the right person is the one behind the account. 

I’ve set up Google Chrome, my browser, to open Tweetdeck when I start it up in the morning, so that way, each morning, I don’t have to remember to look at Twitter. It’s already up there for me, and I can take a few minutes to retweet things of interest, particularly those that my clients have tweeted, and check out a few other areas of interest. It keeps me engaged, but in a much more streamlined and efficient way. 

Let’s look at a few examples of what Twitter lists look like in the Tweetdeck environment. 

 

Here’s an overview of the Tweetdeck window that opens for me. You can see that the first column is everyone I follow on Twitter, with their latest tweets. I then have a column for @ me mentions, which are when anyone tweets something with my Twitter handle in it. My inbox includes all of my direct messages that I’ve received, and the next column is a list that I’ve set up through Twitter of ILN tweets – these include firm account tweets, along with individual ILN attorneys tweets. I monitor these here, and then anyone I think would be of general interest to our membership and our audiences gets included on the Twitter list we have on our website. 

Let’s look at that list: 

 

Here, you can see recent tweets from ILN members, including my tweets. 

And then here’s a look at columns by hashtag – as I mentioned earlier, I’ve set up columns for various hashtags, including these two for #LMAMKT and #LMANJ: 

 

That way, whether I follow someone or not, if they use either of those hashtags, it will pop up in this column. That’s a good way to find new Twitter accounts to follow, as well as focus on content that is directly relevant to me. 

In my next post, I’ll talk about some frequently asked questions and wrap up the session we had on Twitter!