An Ohio lawyer thanked me Saturday, via Twitter, for my words of encouragement on using Twitter as a lawyer. Just beginning her use of Twitter, she had 22 followers.

She had seen my post that lawyers, by and large, have more followers on Twitter than other Twitter account holders. 100 followers puts a lawyer at the 60th percentile. 250 followers puts a lawyer at the 80th percentile.

Success on Twitter ought not be measured by followers. Measure it by the value you are providing folks, the relationships you are nurturing, the learning network you are building and the reputation you are earning.

Of course that’s just on the tweeting (sharing) side. You learn by following people and organizations who are sharing relevant information. You’re also nurturing relationships when you engage via a reply or retweet.

At the same time, it’s nice to grow your followers. It’ll build your influence and get your blog posts seen when others share your posts on Twitter.

I’m no rocket scientist and I’m sure there’s any number of ways to grow Twitter followers, but here’s thirteen tips based on what worked for me.

  1. Your Twitter account should be in your own name. Not your law firm’s name, not your blog’s name, and not in a pseudonym. People trust people. As a lawyer you need all the trust you can get.
  2. Focus on a niche. Random tweeting about various legal, business, and social news and information can end up just being noise among all the other tweets. Tweeting on a niche, ie, legal ethics, will become a clear signal to relevant users. As others with an Interest in legal ethics start re-tweeting what you are sharing you’ll pick up a following. You’ll also find Twitter recommending that others with an interest in legal ethics follow you.
  3. A RSS news reader is a must. Follow sources of interest (blogs and news sites) and keywords and phrases of Interest. Feedly is a good one to use. I use Mr. Reader hooked up to Feedly on my iPad. Your reader will collect news and info leaving you with plenty of items to Tweet.
  4. Use a news reader that enables sharing to Twitter. Most readers, ala Feedly or Mr. Reader, allow you to share items directly from the reader with the push of a button or two. It’s too hard copying and pasting items into Twitter.
  5. Give attribution to the source in your tweet. Leave the Twitter handle of the source of the blog post or news story you are sharing. That way the source, often influential, will see you. They’ll often thank you.
  6. Leave enough characters for a retweet. A tweet can only be 140 characters. A retweet includes “RT” and your twitter handle, ie, @kevinokeefe. A retweet of my tweet takes 15 characters, “RT @kevinokeefe:,” so I try to limit my tweets to 125 characters. That way they’re easy to retweet.
  7. Don’t get caught up in the number of your tweets. I saw someone advise lawyers to do a tweet a day. That’s nuts, no one will see you. Tweets are a river of items that go by, no one goes back to see what they missed. Share from your RSS reader when you have time. If you see 10 items, share them on Twitter. If you see one, that’s okay too. If you don’t have time that day, that’s okay. Remember your RSS reader is getting you the information you need to be a better lawyer in a time efficient fashion. You may find you go to it once or twice a day like I do.
  8. Use Buffer to space out your Tweets. If you share 10 items in 30 minutes, Buffer will enable you to space those tweets out in time increments you set. I use 5 or 10 minute increments.
  9. Watch for people responding to your Tweets. You will receive replies, you will see your tweets marked as favorites, you will see people retweet your items, and you’ll see people start to follow you. Be aware and look for opportunities to engage. Don’t “retweet a retweet of your item.” Don’t thank people for following you. Replies may signal an opportunity to reply. Bottom line use your common sense, there are no rules other than to be social and polite.
  10. Do your own tweeting. I have done all of mine. We’re talking real authentic engagement. We’re talking sincerely trying to help others by sharing valuable information. We’re not talking “make noise so people hear and follow me.”
  11. Do not use software to get followers. There are software solutions one can use to get more followers. It shows. One in the type of followers you’ll end up with. And two, people you are trying to get to follow you see your attempts to follow again and again. You’ll look foolish. Unfortunately that has not stopped many in our legal profession.
  12. Be online when you are tweeting. Sounds obvious, but many folks schedule their tweets for optimum times (whenever those are) and are not online when their tweets go out. I want to see how people respond to my tweets. It’s the right and social thing to do. People will reply, people may ask questions, and people will retweet. You need not be watching this live, but it’s nice to check in later on. If I share items via buffer at night, they’ll go “live” when I am back online the next morning.
  13. Be personalable. Have a sense of humor. Act professional, but yet personable – this is Twitter after all. Weave in personal interests. In my case it’s been family, sports, and more. People who follow me know my interests and quirks.

Like I said, there are no rules nor is there a right way or a wrong way to get Twitter followers. Look at the above tips, they sound a little crazy. Do what you feel comfortable doing and what works for you.

This is what I’ve come to do, and I was as dumbfounded as anyone that people, mostly lawyers and business professionals, started to follow me.

Not to worry if your followers take time to grow. Like all good things, it takes time.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Mitch Huang