I just shared statistics on how fast Twitter usage is growing. 15% of Americans are using Twitter with 8% using it daily. Those numbers double those of last year, and quadruple the year before.
Twitter is not just for idle chit chat, but it is becoming a key medium for how we receive news and information as well as build relationships.
Made me wonder how many lawyers even understand how to use Twitter. Or how many marketing professionals in law firms charged with what can be an impossible task – drafting social media policies, social media plans, and teaching lawyers all about social media are even equipped to help the lawyers on Twitter, assuming they knew how to use Twitter.
For many of us lawyers we just started trying this Twitter thing, as confusing as it was. Whether we were doing it the right way or the wrong way, assuming there was even a right, we got buy. Eventually what seemed a strange medium made a lot of sense.
A lot of lawyers are scared to just get by. A lot of law firms don’t want their lawyers just getting by out in public. “Our firm’s brand will be damaged. Our lawyers will do something unethical, breach confidence, or violate someone’s privacy.” You and I may blow off these concerns, but they are dead serious to a lot of folks with responsibilities in law firms.
What’s the answer? Put your head in the sand and hope time (and Twitter) will pass you by? Could have done that with email or cell phones, but when you pulled your head out, they were still around.
Doesn’t seem like a wise approach to blow off Twitter and claim luddite status. Claiming Twitter’s just for kids doesn’t hold water. We have senior lawyers, journalists, business people, in-house counsel, doctors, CEO’s and world leaders who have grown accustomed to Twitter and who use it regularly. In time you’ll prove your irrelevance by not being connected on mediums likes Twitter.
How would I teach lawyers Twitter?
For more most firms, it’s going to take someone with a legal background (maybe even with a little gray hair) to show individual lawyers, in addition, to marketing and business professionals, how they use Twitter and how others like them are using Twitter.
Need not be all the lawyers in the firm. Find some lawyers that like the iPad and iPhone – you’ve got lots of them. Do an hour or two session. Follow it with beer and wine with lunch (Saturday) or evening (weekdays). Make it fun – this is ‘Twitter’ and ‘Tweeting’ by the way.
Having the education run through marketing and business development professionals who would the teach the lawyers (coach the coaches) is is not enough. Things get lost in the translation.
Twitter is also more of an information and engagement medium, as opposed to a marketing tool. Rainmaking lawyers who have shunned marketing before may shun Twitter if Twitter is being taught by marketing professionals. Let’s approach as non marketing – as a whole new way of sharing and receiving news, building relationships, and engaging people who you could never have dreamed of engaging — all in a good way.
Education could include, among other things:
- Setting up a Twitter account – in your personal name, not a corporate or brand name
- Setting up a profile and background
- Identifying the best Twitter applications to use, including mobile – Twitter desktop is not enough
- Importance of using Twitter in mobile environments – iPhone, iPad, and now, Android, being key
- Using Flipboard to follow tweets
- How to find people to follow?
- Who do you want to follow?
- How to create Twitter lists
- To follow leaders in the areas you work – law or industry
- To follow business prospects
- To follow mainstream media and lead bloggers
- Who and how to follow during sporting events?
- Using advanced search to follow subjects and follow locations of Tweets
- What to share on Twitter?
- Where do you get to share on Twitter?
- Why you don’t want to use Twitter as a place to push your own ‘stuff’
There’s a lot more you could cover. But lawyers being exposed to the above will grasp the power of Twitter. To learn and to engage. To build trust and to build relationships.
Follow that up with handouts, some videos, and later on phone calls or webinars.
Twitter is a wonderful tool to learn and understand for lawyers, but learning it requires an organic approach. Such an approach is apt to be a heck of a lot of fun, while at the sane time rewarding for everyone involved.
Up for learning Twitter this way? Give me a holler. I’m up for teaching Twitter this way.
And being a lawyer at age 56, I have a few gray hairs sinking in.