Megan Olendorf

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Marketing and Events Manager, Avvo

Twitter for Lawyers

January 24, 2013 - Posted by Megan Olendorf in Social Media, Twitter

The online world offers many opportunities to connect with people and maintain relationships that likely wouldn’t be possible offline, and Twitter is one great way to tap into those available connections. Today, Megan Olendorf, Avvo’s Marketing and Events Manager, walks us through setting up an account as well as the basics of engaging on the social platform. She also addresses key benefits of Twitter for lawyers, including greater opportunities to network, to demonstrate thought leadership, and to increase exposure to colleagues and potential clients.

Hi, there. My name is Megan Olendorf. I am the Marketing and Events Manager here at Avvo. Today, we are going to talk about Twitter for lawyers. I’m going to go through a couple of steps and the first thing I want to talk about is setup. With Twitter, for those of you who might not even be very familiar with what Twitter is, it’s a micro-blogging platform. It’s a social network where people communicate to each other in 140 characters or less. People talk about what they’re doing during the day, or they share a news article that they find interesting. They talk to each other through Twitter. But, again, it’s all through short snippets, 140 characters or less.

So to get started on Twitter, first what you want to set up an account and create a profile. More specifically, the first thing you want to do is set up a username. For lawyers, some people have personal accounts, and they use their name. Other people have Twitter handles that are reflective of their firm name. Some people do both. Some people have multiple handles. It really is what you want to do, how much time you have, and more importantly, matching the reason you’re on Twitter. If you’re there to talk about and promote your firm, then you probably would want to have a handle that’s reflective of that. If you’re there to be yourself, then you should use your own name.

Once you have a Twitter handle name set up, then you also – please, please, please – put up a picture. You want to make it personal. If it’s for your firm, you can have a logo. You could have a picture of all your partners, or you could just have a picture of yourself. But the picture is really important because it’s about connecting with other people and talking to each. You want to make sure it’s personal and that you have not only a profile picture, but also a background picture. There’s free software that you can use to customize your background. Again, as you get familiar with Twitter and look around, you can see that other people have their contact information or pictures of themselves in their backgrounds. You can really make it more about yourself or about your firm, depending on the purpose of your account.

Once you’re all set up on Twitter in terms of having a profile, a description, and pictures, the next thing you want to do is find people to follow. That is what it’s all about. A way to do that is, quite simply, Twitter has a search engine. You can type in keywords. You can type in “lawyer”. You can type in “criminal defense attorney”. You can even look for people that are in your geographical area. If you are a huge NBA fan, you can search on that. Think about what your interests are. Again, think about who you’re trying to connect with on Twitter and why you’re there in the first place. Use those keywords to search and find people to follow. When you search a term, you’ll come up with a list of other handles. You can simply click on those profiles you want to follow and you’ll see a big “Follow” button to initiate following. They’ll get a notification that you’re following them, and hopefully, as is often the case, they’ll follow you back.

This does bring me to the next point of, how do you get people to follow you? You’re on Twitter, great. Now what? I think this is a big thing. Yes, you want to go out there and find people. So, one of the ways to get people to follow you back is to make your profile, and share information about you. It really does bring me to the whole point of the center of what Twitter is all: to listen, create, and engage.

With Twitter, you want to first listen to what other people are saying. You’re using the search engine to find people to follow. There are things that are called Twitter lists. You can look on other people’s lists and find people to follow. Again, people, subjects, you could think about news organizations and people that you follow or read about in the newspaper, reporters, the media. They’re all on Twitter and they could be a wealth of information, in terms of finding more people to follow. It kind of has that effect where you find one person, and then you can find more people through that one person. Twitter also will automatically suggest people for you to follow. And, again, you hope those people will follow you back, but you need to do something more.

As I mentioned, you’re there to, first, listen. You’re finding these people. You want to listen to what these people are saying. The next thing that you want to do is create and share. If somebody shares an interesting article, maybe you want to share that, too. So then that’s you kind of engaging with them by doing what’s called a re-tweet. You can share their article. You can also comment on their article by tweeting a reply to them directly. There are a lot of resources out there. I’m not going to get into that much detail today about how to specifically reply or re-tweet. That’s really easy to pick up and a simple Google search will teach you how to do that, if you can’t get that from just being on Twitter itself.

Again, you’re there to listen. So you want to listen to what other people are talking about, what people are sharing. Then, see how you can join in that conversation, again, by either re-tweeting something or commenting on something that somebody else shared.

Another way that you can kind of get yourself out there and then ultimately get more people to follow you, is by sharing your own content. Twitter is a great place if you have a blog. You could write a blog, then post the article and tweet that URL out to your followers, with the hopes that other people will see it.

Another thing to do is just take a step back here and let people know that you’re on Twitter. If you have a firm website, put your handle on there. If you have an email signature, put it in your email signature. Add it to your LinkedIn profile. There are a lot of places where you can just let people know that you’re on Twitter and it increases the chances of people following you back.

Let’s go back more to the idea of listening, creating, and engaging. When you’re on Twitter, you need to think about those three things. You need to focus on listening to others and on creating your own content, whether it’s sharing a blog post or writing your own thoughts, your own opinions on things, or finding other interesting articles and sharing that.

The other part is, then, engaging. That really is the most important part Listening and creating, yes, those are important. But, engaging, that’s really what Twitter is all about. Nobody wants to just hear you, in the sense of Twitter, just tweeting out the same things all about yourself over and over and over again. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about engaging. It’s about following people and talking to people.

That brings me then to the next point, which is, why even participate in the first place? What are the benefits of Twitter for attorneys?

I think the first benefit is building relationships. Twitter allows you to communicate with people, to meet people that you otherwise probably never would in an offline world. Being online and being on Twitter can connect you with people that are in the same practice area as you, for example, but in a different state. Or people that are all going to be at a conference. You could find out who is going to be there and you can connect with those people ahead of time. It really just increases your network. It helps you build and keep relationships that, in an offline world probably wouldn’t be possible.

Twitter also allows you to demonstrate thought leadership. Through being able to share information about who you are, by commenting on things that are happening in your industry, by sharing things that you’re writing or accomplishments, or other things that you have going on in your practice, that’s allows people to learn more about you. That’s really important as other attorneys are looking and seeing if they want to connect with you. Even a potential client may come to your website, see that you have a Twitter handle, click on it, and just read through to learn a little bit more about you. Your Twitter feed is not necessarily going to sell them on you, but it’s another piece when somebody is doing research on whether or not to hire you, or whether perhaps or not to give a referral. Twitter is another place they can look to learn more about you and what you know about.

That brings me to the last part, in terms of benefits. Really, Twitter is a tremendous learning tool. If you focus on the listening part and the engaging part, you can really learn a lot from others. The online world has created the ability to connect with people and learn from others in ways that just wouldn’t be possible unless you are able to leave your own town, your own city. Twitter really just opens doors to learn a lot more from people, which will ultimately help you as you move along in your practice.

The other thing a lot of people talk about, and a question that we get here at Avvo is, “Okay, Twitter – great. If I’m going to spend my time on here, is this going to get me more business? Will I get more business?” I’m definitely not going to get up here and say, yes, Twitter is what’s going to get you more business, because I don’t necessarily believe that. However, I do think Twitter is growing as a good referral source for attorneys. A lot of attorneys are active on Twitter and looking to connect with other attorneys in that space. If you can, like I said all along here, create online relationships through Twitter with attorneys and they could potentially send business your way. That is definitely a possibility.

I do not think that a lot of consumers, particularly, are going on Twitter and searching for lawyers. I don’t think so. I do think, as I just said as well, that Twitter is another piece of the research that could be helpful when people are looking to learn more about you.

I do think Twitter is definitely worth your time. How it’s set up, where people talk and share information very quickly in short bursts, means it doesn’t take a lot of time. You can really learn a lot from others, build your network, and definitely demonstrate your thought leadership, which many, many lawyers have told us. Again, just by logging on and observing, you can see a lot of attorneys are getting great benefit from using Twitter.

So that’s all I have today. Thank you so much for listening. If you have other questions or comments about Twitter for attorneys, please feel free to share them or send me an email. I’m happy to talk more about this or help anybody out, if you have specific questions. My email is Megan, megan@avvo.com. Thanks again.