For lawyers and law firms who look at social media as a broadcast tool they’re apt to want to get as many followers as possible on Twitter.

Not so fast writes Eva Abreu (@EvaAbreuNJ) of New Jersey’s Daily Record (@DailyRecord). Do you really need more Twitter followers?

Though it seems like you’d want to get as many followers as possible so you get your message in front of a lot of people, that ought not be your goal.

Think quality of engagement, rather than quantity of followers, when first starting out on Twitter. Focus on the quality of your posts and Tweets, as well as the type of individual followers you are attracting, rather than the actual number of people you are connected to.

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As you continue to learn more about using Twitter on a professional level, consider how to improve your engagement with your current followers by posting Tweets specifically tailored to those users. You might end up gaining a few more new followers as a result, as other users discover you through these natural Twitter conversations.

Abreu shares a few tips, most that I don’t use, that you may want to consider in generating engagement with those people you’d like to get to know on Twitter.

  • Greet the user by name (use the @ symbol, followed by their Twitter handle, no spaces) and ask how they found you on Twitter.
  • Send a “Thank You” tweet to new followers, as a public post, not private message.
  • Use the #FollowFriday, or #FF hashtag, on Fridays and mention new followers by their Twitter user name for added recognition.
  • Take a moment to read a new follower’s profile or visit their blog or website and post a Tweet or question about an interesting point that you read.

I’m not one who’s apt to do the follow Friday’s or send thank you’s to people who follow me. I do look at the profile of each person who follows me.

In cases where the person piques my interest, I’ll check out their LinkedIn profile. Where a new follower is of some stature, has a strong business background, or works for a leading company I may drop them an email or request to connect on LinkedIn. I’ve developed some good business relationships doing this.

There are a couple things I have done to engage people on Twitter that have really worked. One, retweeting things others are sharing. That way they’ll notice me and there’s the opportunity for an exchange.

The second and leading way that Twitter has worked for engagement and relationships is my sharing other’s content. I’m a zealot when it comes to sharing on Twitter the news and information I read on my RSS reader (Mr. Reader or Flipboard). I probably share other’s content over my own by a 30 or 40 to 1 clip.

Many of my followers then re-tweet the information I share or thank me for sharing an item. This is in efffect engagement and often leads to an opportunity for us to get to know each other.

I also get the opportunity to engage the people whose content I share. I include their Twitter handle in my tweet giving them credit for the piece and so that they’ll see that I shared their post or article.

By sharing information of interest to me, I get plenty of followers without having to worry about it. And those followers are interested in the same subjects as I – they’re my target audience, if you will.

Bottom line, follow Abreu’s advise. Don’t look at Twitter as a broadcast tool trying to get as many followers as possible.

Look at Twitter as an engagement vehicle, and through these engagements a way to build and nurture relationships.