Header graphic for print
Real Lawyers Have Blogs On the topic of the law, firm marketing, social media, & baseball

Twitter to enter news publishing business : What's it mean for law firms and legal publishers?

Twitter publishingCould Twitter morph into a publishing platform for the curation of news, whether done by Twitter itself or existing publishers? Appears so, based on a couple stories this morning.

The first comes Ingrid Lunden (@ingridlunden) who reports that Twitter UK has poached BBC sports social media editor, Lewis Wiltshire, just in time for the London Olympics.

Lewis Wiltshire has been playing a big role in how the BBC would cover this year’s Olympics across various platforms. Wiltshire reported via Twitter that in his new role he will certainly be focusing on sport in the UK.

Lunden is going to be talking to Twitter to find out more including:

…[H]ow/if this represents a new chapter in how the company plans to do more curation of information that passes through its network every day. That, at least, is certainly where an opportunity lies in hiring someone like this.

It appears Twitter is jumping on the Olympic’s decision to clamp down on Tweeting by athletes and reporters with the mainstream media which bought the coverage rights.

Just ‘end run’ the Olympics and the mainstream media and do reporting on your own by curating Tweets from attendees and the like. There’s no way the Olympics is going to shut down Twitter – ask the former Egyptian and Libyan governments.

State side, Justin Ellis (@JustinNXT), Assistant Editor, Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, reports the Boston Globe is quietly testing a redesign of its Your Town product on Boston.com to give it a “real-time feel” by curating a Twitter stream of stories and information.

Your Town is a network of 50 sites dedicated to local news in the towns surrounding Boston. The goal of Jim Bodor (@jimbodor), director of product development for Boston.com, is to create a “dashboard for a reader’s community.”

With just a reporter and editor, the new look will aggregate individual tweets hand-plucked from locals identified as prominent Tweeters in the community, displaying them inline with other news in the feed. A tweet earns the same visual rank as a Globe story, each its own solo news item.

From Ellis:

It’s common for news sites to include Twitter widgets displaying their own tweets or those from trusted sources, but it’s rare to see tweets themselves — particularly non-staff-produced tweets — displayed as a unit of news. Bodor said what’s happening on Twitter is part of the broader news discussion in a community, one that a segment of readers already knows about. This amplifies that to a larger audience and creates a richer site, he said…….Employing Twitter makes for a good two-for-one opportunity. By sourcing and prominently featuring tweets from the community Your Town not only can add to the amount of content on sites but also extend a hand to readers and create a more engaged audience. That’s important because the Your Town sites are in a competitive local-news space that includes Patch sites as well as the Wicked Local network competing on school coverage, traffic and road updates, and sports from Pop Warner on up.

Don’t look at this ‘Twitter publishing’ as just providing raw Tweet text. That could look pretty boring.

Flipboard runs, in large part, on curated Tweets. The story behind the Tweet and accompanying images are displayed by Flipboard in an eloquent digital magazine interface. Twitter, itself, and publishers using Twitter as part of their publishing platform could do the same.

What’s this mean for law firms and legal publishers?

For law firms, it presents a golden opportunity. Identify prominent Tweeters in the industry or community you’re looking to engage. You can then run relevant news and information fed to you via Twitter along side blog posts by your lawyers and guest bloggers on a blog or custom social media solution. You’ll have the leading news publication in a niche without a major investment of time and expense.

For legal publishers, it means avoiding the end run. Relying on traditional top down reporting isn’t going to cut it anymore. Your subscribers need and want information you simply cannot keep on top of. You also need to keep your subscriber base and industry engaged. Publishing at them, as opposed to with them, is not going to keep anyone engaged.

And to think many in the legal industry blew off Twitter as a gimmick a couple years ago. Scary part is some still do.