I’m not gonna lie to you, because that’s not the kind of guy I am: I just don’t like Twitter. As a regular user of Facebook, I see Twitter as nothing more than a co-opted feature of Facebook: Twitter is a scroll of your status updates, and the status updates of your friends. (My first thought: Why not just use Facebook?) The buzzword that has developed for this sort of connecting (you have to have a good buzzword these days) is “micro-blogging”. To my mind, “tweets” seem far too micro to be blogs, of any kind, in earnest; but, I won’t argue semantics, or try my thumb as a stopper against the onrush of popular culture. Nevertheless, I will say that my cellphone does not flip, its screen does not roll over when I hold it on its side, nor does it connect to the Internet. It makes phone calls. Now, I do like GMail and Facebook; but, if you dropped me in the center of Iowa next week, and told me to farm the land, I’d get to farming the land; and, I wouldn’t care if I never saw another computer again in my life. That being said (I could live without technology), does not mean that this is being said: I do live without technology; all I’m saying is that, if I am going to use some new form of technology, it has to be intuitive (think: Could a five-year-old do it?) and truly useful.
Even though I’m not fool enough to believe that privacy is anything other than an antiquated relic of the 20th century, until the uses and applications of tracking information become more transparent, I will prefer to labor under the delusion that I can disappear when I want to, such that no one will know where I’m having dinner next Tuesday night. To that end, I tend to avoid (or to make so cryptic that no one can understand) my personal Facebook and GChat status updates, AIM away messages and Tweets. The question then becomes: What use do I have for Twitter if I don’t want anyone to know where I am and I don’t really care to know where anyone else is?
Plenty. Twitter may well represent a revolution in legal marketing. Think of the ways in which attorneys digest and produce information. The common theme is this: timing is everything. People who bill out at 6 minute intervals can’t access the leisure moments required of reading news articles; in fact, they’re likely weary of reading this blog post by now, if they haven’t stop reading already. Their answer is Twitter. Twitter allows you 140 words to produce your information. You are forced to drill down to the essentials of your subject matter, before releasing your tweet upon the wider world. The fact that Twitter can be routed to a business purpose far more easily than the other social networking options listed above is to its great advantage. The fact that it fits so easily into the attorney consciousness, by bending around the lawyer’s pre-existing frame of mind, is why attorneys love it.
Although marketing can be defined very generally as what you do to get clients, marketing is not just about getting the word out direct to targeted areas of the general population that best represent your potential client base. Remember that referrals from other attorneys represent the bulk of client intake. One of the best new ways to build your referral base is through twittering. It is far easier and less time-consuming than traditional face-to-face networking. It takes moments to compose a tweet that pops up on the scrolls of all those who follow you. The more followers you have, the more the word is spread. Once you have tweeted, you are just one forward, or “retweet”, in the vernacular (I know, I’m sort of creeped out by the specialty language as well), away from reaching all of the followers of those who deem your riposte repeatable, excuse me, “retweetable”. Get retweeted by someone with thousands of followers, and you’re in business. The calculus begins to make itself apparent, no?
On one level, the concept is simple and familiar: Do everything to build your Twitter network online that you would do to build your personal network offline . . . Set yourself up as a specialist, and as an expert within that specialty. Promote your appearances and your publications. Express your willingness to take and make referrals. Keep in regular touch with the people in your network. Remember that building anything takes time. On another level, the concept may be difficult to grasp and will create the discomfort of unfamiliarity: But, nevertheless, Do take advantage of all that Twitter has to offer . . . To get started, check out the What, Why and How of Twitter. Sign up, invite your friends, and tweet some. Once you’re ready to dive in, review these 100+ Twitter tips, check out one of the two competing Twitter dictionaries (where you can learn about the wonders of hashtagging, among other things), download Tweetdeck or Twhirl to manage your account and watch how some of the frequent/your favorite twitterers operate. Some folks in the Twitter world who have, in my humble estimation, tamed the medium, each in their own way, are: http://twitter.com/bobambrogi, http://twitter.com/leannahamill, http://twitter.com/kevinokeefe, http://twitter.com/jennsteele, http://twitter.com/alexisneely, http://twitter.com/ClaxtonLegal, http://twitter.com/Rex7, http://twitter.com/lawbiz and http://twitter.com/healthblawg.
Now, I am certainly not advocating the taking of a Twitter stance in lieu of face-to-face marketing (there is still something to be said for a handshake, and for looking someone in the eye–that is, if you can stop texting for a moment), but Twitter is another valuable tool for your toolbelt. And, you should do everything you can, in the real world, and online, to increase your exposure.
Oh . . . and one more thing: Follow me on Twitter!