A question arose in a legal marketing discussion group this morning about the merits of a law firm having a Twitter feed in the name of a niche practice group or in the name of a law blog. For example China Law or Pharmaceutical Patents.

A topic Twitter feed can be a source of news for third parties and internal lawyers, but you have a couple challenges. One, will it be kicking out news all the time and two, you will lose the social aspect which drives social media.

On the first point, as surprising as it sounds, you may find a twitter feed in an individual lawyer’s name to be a more reliable stream of news and information.

Lawyers with niche expertise need to stay up to speed. Sharing items from their news aggregator takes a minute.

In addition, as an individual lawyer you are more apt to get social media ‘love’ than a group is. Meeting people on line and off line, people coming up to you at conferences telling you they like your stuff and like you etc. Twitter exchanges regarding what people share of yours and what you share of theirs.

This positive feedback and desire to engage with others keeps you going. It’s human nature.

Groups tend to be who’s up next? Who is not pulling their weight?

Who is tweeting — do they know what to tweet and favorite to get our group tweets retweeted? It’s not so much you who moves your tweets as it is others favoriting and retweeting what you tweet. This grows your influence. Influence gets you suggested as someone to follow on Twitter and gets your Tweets displayed on Google.

I have seen many an online effort by a group or company stagnant — and in public you look lame. Do you want to worry about maintaining yet another thing? You already have enough to do.

Two, social media, by its name, requires being social. It’s how media moves today.

New York Times reporters have personal Twitter accounts to move their stories and to build a name for themselves. Building their relationships gets their stories shared.

Building relationships also develops gets lawyers connections, phone calls and work. It’s why social media works  so well in business development.

When I see a group or company Twitter account I am apt to ask who is tweeting. I want to have a relationship with the source. I want to trust that they are knowledgeable on the subject.

Why would you want to risk lawyers saying I don’t need to use Twitter, we have a group or blog Twitter feed?

In considering a group feed, I’d go slow and ask what is the reason for a group Twitter account? What is the goal? Will a group account help us achieve that goal? Are there better ways to achieve that goal?

Twitter is a powerful way for a lawyer to establish themselves as an intelligence agent on a niche and develop relationships, the combination of which bring in work. A group feed is unlikely to realize nearly as much and may even undermine an effort to get individual lawyers to use Twitter.