Twitter’s growth is continuing at last year’s super-linear rate. The number of unique visitors using Twitter has grown from 40 Million in May of 2009 to over 80 Million in May of this year.

Growth Twitter in Unique Vistors

Lawyers holding on to the belief that Twitter is not a powerful professional and business development tool are misguided. Twitter is ubiquitous among the influencers of your clients and prospective clients — bloggers, publishers, reporters, association leaders, and conference coordinators.

And though it doesn’t matter if your clients ever use Twitter for Twitter use to lead to business development success, Lawyers will find innovative clients and prospective clients among regular Twitter users — executives, in-house counsel, venture capitalists, and local business people.

Lawyers can use Twitter in multiple ways (I’m missing many).

  • Share news of interest with your target audience (clients, prospective clients, referral sources, and the influencers of those three). Read how lawyers can serve as an intelligent agent on Twitter.
  • Following leaders in the law, media, academia, business, and finance on Twitter is tremendous for professional development. I was told to follow advance sheets and bar publications when I began practicing. Twitter gives you better info in a more timely fashion. Social media and the Internet are not all about marketing, they’re powerful learning tools for lawyers looking to get better at what they do.
  • Building relationships with clients, prospective clients, and their influencers. Sharing what you’re learning from news and commentary in blogs and mainstream media and re-sharing what influencers are sharing on Twitter reinforces your client’s belief that you’re the right lawyer and builds an intimate relationship between you and people you may have never met.
  • Builds trust. People who follow what you share on Twitter and those who see what you share because it is re-tweeted view you as a trusted news source. It’s a small step from being trusted for legal insight and commentary to being called when someone has a legal need, a reporter needs to talk to an expert, or a conference coordinator is looking for a speaker.
  • Building a network to call upon. There’s no way I could have found five or six social media policies in 15 minutes while sitting in a coffee shop in Rockefeller Center without asking my Twitter network.

Larry Bodine recently blogged that Twitter may be unlikely to go ‘mass market’ as only 7% of people use Twitter. If his point was that Twitter does not offer significant business development value for lawyers and law firms, he’s misguided.

Lawyers and law firms have spent billions of dollars in public relations and business development efforts to reach a select group of people — often influencers.

No one found it alarming that only a fraction of a percent of the public had AP subscriptions, had a printing press, or put on Industry conferences. You built relationships with the people who did as they helped build the reputation of you and your firm.

I’d be more apt to follow the counsel of Betsy Munnell, a large firm attorney of 25 years and now business development coach. Munnell explained why a senior lawyer ought to use Twitter, including how Twitter’s unsurpassed as learning tool.

…Twitter is an unparalleled filter for the massive, unwieldy worldwide web, vastly superior to Google Alerts, blog composites and the like. So I get all my news, and a lot of good ideas, off Hootsuite [Twitter web app] and the reliable links my super bright Twitter friends provide.

It’s easy as a lawyer to discount those things you don’t understand and have not used effectively. Don’t do it to Twitter, it’ll be your loss.

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