Twitter. It can be hard for attorneys to take seriously. The nature of the popular micro-blogging network with its frequent, short posts seems to bring out the worst and the most childish in people. It is the home of celebrity Twitter Wars, in which those with way too much time and ego trade insults in a public forum. It is also the home of a stream of pointless posts about eating a sandwich, taking a nap or sitting on the patio. (Hat tip to you, Verizon.)
But there is a place for your firm to create a community within the sanctity of its Twitter profile, far away from the pointless and mundane chatter. More and more law firm marketing professionals are recommending Twitter, and not just because it is popular or because they like to use trendy marketing buzzwords (you know, like “buzzwords”). Using social media generally – and Twitter in particular – can provide value to your firm if it is done correctly. Strategic linking can up your relevance to search engines and building relationships online can help to establish you as a go-to authority.
In the world of Twitter, some Tweets are more equal than others. Following Tweeting best practices can help your firm make the most of your posts.
Mind your @’s and #’s. For those not familiar with Twitter’s platform, the @ symbol and even more mysterious # symbol may as well be hieroglyphs in a yet to be discovered language. These characters exist to provide important ways for you to connect with others and categorize your posts. The @ symbol, when it appears in front of a username (i.e. @myfirm) creates a link to that user’s profile. You can use the @username terminology to link and give credit to others who have posted particularly useful information or to link back to your own profile to help build readership.
The # symbol, or hashtag, is Twitter’s way of creating a linkable tag, or category. When you put the # symbol (with no space) before a word, it creates a searchable link to that topic. Others can then use the same hashtag to create a conversation about a topic. If, for example, your firm is participating in a community event, you can create the hashtag #myevent to help promote your involvement. Others can then use the same #myevent tag in their posts and all Tweets with that tag will be categorized accordingly. Users can then search for the #myevent tag in Twitter to see all Tweets related to the event.
Do not overuse hashtags. Those who are familiar with Twitter have likely seen Tweets with strings of seemingly meaningless # laden nonsensical words. This is considered hashtag spam. Targeted tags are very useful, but too many tags per Tweet often do more to turn a user away than anything else. Twitter’s own hashtag help page states, “Don’t #spam #with #hashtags.” Their best practices guide recommends no more than two tags per post.
Post 1-3 Tweets per day. Consistency is good. Over saturation is bad. Followers should know that they can expect a certain level of engagement from your firm. But they should not be so bombarded with posts that they filter you out. Too many posts can cause you to lose relevance in the eyes of users.
Be interactive. Ask for Retweets. Provide links to useful information within your Tweets. In addition to posting about your firm, look for issues related to your practice areas that are getting a lot of attention and comment on them. If someone Tweets something nice about your firm, acknowledge them with a thank you. Reply to comments when necessary, and do not be afraid to ask for retweets.
Post images when you can. Studies have shown that posts that contain images or video spur the most user engagement. Post relevant images with press releases or links to interesting stories. Take pictures at firm events that can be used for promotion.
While a lot of what is out there on Twitter can seem silly, remember that Twitter is just the tool. It can be used for good or evil, silliness or results. Make the best of it.
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