Alastair Otter, a twenty year media veteran and now head of Media Hack, a media training and consulting business, shared seven reasons why editors ought to be on Twitter.

I thought many of his reasons reasons were spot on for lawyers.

I’m tired of lawyers saying they don’t have time for Twitter and that’s there not much to be gained from Twitter. Such lawyers are showing their ignorance and shirking their responsibility to lead.

The train has left the station and anyone in the information business, of which lawyers are included, can benefit big time from Twitter.

From Otter, with a little annotation from me, admittedly much of which of which involves changing the focus from editors/publishers to lawyers/law firms, here’s six reasons you as a lawyer need to be on Twitter.

  1. It’s where your target audience is. Gone are the days when the only way clients, prospective clients, or referral sources could express their views on current events was in a letter to the editor or guest article. Twitter is increasingly becoming the go-to place for discussing news issues and expressing opinions. Lawyers are often at the center of topical or community news. You can’t stay abreast of such news without Twitter.
  2. It’s about leadership. Like editors, lawyers proudly declare themselves to be “old school”. Which is fine, except that it ought not to be an excuse for not embracing change. Young lawyers coming into the profession today are already equipped with a range of digital skills: they tote their iPads, Tweet on their BlackBerrys and express opinions on blogs. This is not something that is going to change.Senior lawyers owe it to their staff to be at least conversant with the technology that lawyers are already starting to use in their day-to-day work.

    As much as lawyers may not be pleased about the digital changes squeezing business, there is no way to escape. This is no longer about what damage digital could do to traditional legal business development; it is about what digital is already doing to business development.

  3. It’s about engagement. Not everyone is a fan of your blog or website. As lawyers we ought to be engaging with all viewpoints. Twitter offers a unique opportunity to talk directly with influencers of your clients and prospective clients, such as reporters, bloggers, and association leaders.
  4. It’s about authority. Traditional media has been accustomed in the past to setting and leading the news agenda. Today, they no longer enjoy that privilege, and blogs, Twitter, and Facebook are shaping the news. Standing on the sidelines while competing law firms are shaping the news via Twitter, and other social media, is not where you want to be.
  5. It’s about marketing. As with editors, marketing is not a welcome word for senior lawyers but, for law firms battling to hold onto their territory, it’s a role they’re going to have to become used to. You don’t have to sell your soul as a marketer.In fact, Twitter offers lawyers the opportunity to establish themselves as an intelligence agent of news and information in niche areas of the law. Doing so, you’ll find prospective clients and referral sources following you on Twitter, giving you the opportunity to build relationships with them.
  6. It will open your eyes. Twitter will surprise you if you give it time. And not in a bad way.If you take time to follow a good handful of people (and not just your staff to keep an eye on them), you’ll eventually be rewarded with insights into what people (your potential clients and referral sources) are thinking about. You’ll find new ideas, insights and opinions.

    Twitter is a lot like going to a massive conference, with every imaginable subject on the agenda. Many of the topics will be of no interest to you but with a little bit of time you’re bound to find something that makes sense.

I apologize Alastair for lifting so much from your article. But your kick in the fanny of editors is exactly the message lawyers need as a well.

Thanks to all who attended "Twitter for Professionals" yesterday morning (or afternoon, for the East Coast folks).

LexBlog CEO Kevin O’Keefe shared the strategies he follows when using Twitter for professional and business development.

Kevin started off with a simple question: why should you consider using Twitter? 

Twitter is a way to "instantly connect with relevant information and relevant people," Kevin said, quoting Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.

Twitter is a relationship builder and a way to establish trust — as with traditional networking, it’s more important for someone in the position to hire you or refer work to know you as a person rather than to know your legal skills.

Twitter is also way to stay up to speed as a lawyer — it’s a 21st century version of advance sheets. In this regard, it serves as an RSS alternative. Kevin shared the tools he uses to listen, tweet, search for relevant information and build his network. 

If you want to learn more about how Kevin uses Twitter, or if you just want to watch again, you can view the recording at LexBlog’s Events Center. You can also download a PDF of the MindMap Kevin worked from by clicking the image above. 

Several attendees asked about the difference between personal and professional tweets, and how law firms themselves can best utilize Twitter — Kevin answered these in the session.

We ran out of time, but Dan Bushell of Florida Appellate Review also asked a question that definitely deserves an answer: If I already have a handle with firm name and have significant number of followers, can I change now, or will it mess me up?

Colin O’Keefe, LexBlog’s editorial manager, recently changed @LexMonitor to @LXBN, and weighed in. Colin mentioned that all you need to do to change your handle is to edit your profile. Older tweets may be indexed with your old handle, but your new name will show up to followers as such. He noted that changing your avatar has a bigger effect than changing your handle, so many followers won’t even notice the change. 

I hope that you found this webinar informative and that you’ll join us on Wednesday, August 24 for "Facebook for Professionals," the next in our ongoing webinar series on social media

Thanks to all who attended today’s webinar "Beyond Blogging: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn" — we had some great questions from the audience, and have already heard of at least one new Twitter account created as a result!

LexBlog CEO Kevin O’Keefe provided an overview of these three social media powerhouses and how attorneys and other professionals can use their services to enhance their careers and business development. Lindsay Griffiths of International Lawyers Network and Zen and the Art of Legal Networking posted a fantastic recap of the session on her blog.

If you missed it or want to watch a second time, you can view the recording at LexBlog’s events center

We’ll be going into finer detail on each social media tool in future webinars. The next one will be on July 28 at noon ET / 9 a.m. PT and will cover Twitter in greater depth, including how to optimize your profile, which programs to use, and strategies for sharing content. 

Finally, on a separate but related note, if you haven’t yet taken our short client survey, we would love to get your feedback on the LexBlog experience!

A blog is just one element of social media. You might also have a Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn account, or perhaps you’re curious about using these tools and want to know more. If you are like many professionals, you may be wondering how to best utilize these services for business development purposes.

On Tuesday, June 28, at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT, LexBlog CEO Kevin O’Keefe and LexBlog’s Client Services team will be hosting a free, hour-long webinar: "Beyond Blogging — Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn."

This webinar will provide an overview of these media, to be followed by in-depth conversations on each in three separate webinars to follow. If social media intimidates you or you just want to learn more about improving your current efforts, we’d love to have you attend and bring any questions you may have.

You can register at LexBlog’s events center — the password went out in an email to clients yesterday, and you can contact me if you didn’t receive it. For those of you who are unable to attend, this session will be recorded and posted to Real Lawyers Have Blogs and LexBlog’s support site within 24-48 hours after the session.

Also, if you have not taken our short client survey yet, we’d value your feedback on your experience with LexBlog.

The 35 to 54 year old age group, a sweet spot for law firms seeking to build relationships with clients, prospective clients, and referral sources, is the leading age group for mobile social networking via Facebook and Twitter. This per a report from Marketing Charts on the exploding growth of mobile Facebook and Twitter.

Despite the stereotype of teens spending every waking moment on a mobile device, Nielsen data suggests their parents actually spend more time performing mobile web surfing. Only 7% of mobile social networking activity was represented by 13-to-17-year-olds and only 16% by 18-to-24-year-olds in December 2009.

The leaders in mobile social networking activity are 35-to-54-year-olds, who accounted for 36% of mobile social network usage in December 2009. Close behind them were 25-to-34-year-olds, who performed 34% of the month’s mobile social networking activity. Users ages 55 and up combined for the remaining 7%.

The overall growth in the mobile use of Twitter and Facebook last year was staggering.

Access to Facebook via mobile browser grew 112% in the past year, while mobile Twitter access experienced a 347% jump, according to a new study from comScore.

In January 2010, 25.1 million mobile users accessed Facebook via their mobile browser, up 112% from 11.8 million mobile users in January 2009. While only 4.7 million mobile users accessed Twitter from their mobile browser in January 2010, this represented 347% growth from 1.05 million mobile users in January 2009.

Building relationships by engaging your target audience is the essence of client development for you as a lawyer or law firm. Client development success for law firms is not all about websites, search engine optimization (SEO), and pushing out digital alerts and newsletters by email. It’s about listening to your clients, prospective clients, referral sources, and the influencers of those three. And then engaging them. The result is relationships and legal work.

In order to listen and engage your target audience as a lawyer or law firm, you need to go out to where your audience is. Today your audience is increasingly at Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. It behooves you to start learning how to engage your target audience at these places.

Twitter for Client Development mindmap

We saw another great turnout for this month’s client webinar, with 200 attendees. There was a lot of information packed into this one on the Value of Twitter for Client Development, so check out the recording here and on our Support site, and download the mindmap by clicking on the image above.

If you had any additional questions about using Twitter, feel free to contact our Helpdesk at support@lexblog.com or at 1-800-913-0988.

And stay tuned for more information about our next client webinar on Feb. 18.

One of our most popular webinar topics is Twitter, and it’s easy to see why.

Twitter captured the world’s attention in 2009, and for our first LexBlog Network webinar of 2010 I’d like to focus on lawyers and legal professionals can use Twitter, in conjunction with a blog and other social networking tools, for client development.

In our upcoming webinar on “The Value of Twitter for Client Development", held Thursday, January 14 at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET, I’ll cover:

  • What is Twitter?
  • How is Twitter being used by attorneys and other industry leaders today?
  • Who are some of the "big guns" in the legal industry using Twitter? What are some examples of how they use it?
  • What value does Twitter hold for business professionals/attorneys?
  • Which Twitter applications are worthwhile and which are lame?
  • What are some etiquette tips on using Twitter for professional social networking?

To register yourself, visit our Event Center. If you need the password, email support@lexblog.com or contact a member of our Author Services team at 1-800-913-0988.

Finally, if you’re a member of the LexBlog Network on Twitter and not yet included in LexTweet, drop us an email at support@lexblog.com and we’ll make sure you get added to the community.

I look forward to seeing you all at next week’s webinar.

Real time search came to Google yesterday. Twitter results are now streamed into the top of search results pages so that you can see what people are saying about the subject searched in real time.

Lawyers should not view this as gimmick. Imagine being able to get lawyers’ and business peoples’ reactions to cases, news, and legal stories in real time. Doing so you may be able to find the people with the most knowledge on the subject. Want to get real time information on items being discussed at a conference and who’s discussing them? Turn to real time search at Twitter.

Here’s a YouTube Video depicting the Twitter search results displayed on Google. Below that are three screen shots to show you how you can get to the Twitter results if you are not seeing them on Google.

If you’re not seeing the results, click on the plus sign next to ‘Web,’ as depicted below.

Web show options on Google

You’ll then see a left column displaying search options. Click on the Updates as depicted.

Updates on Google

You’ll then see real time search results referencing ‘Tweets’ referencing ‘LexBlog’ posted my me and three other people.

Real time search results

No one knows how real time search is going to play out, how it’s going to be displayed, and how its going to be used, including Google. And especially legal curmudgeons who question any innovation.

But just as search of the Web had value before Google got the world addicted to search, there’s value in real time search. We’ll be witnesses to how Google and others develop it. We’ll then become addicts all over again.

Need another reason to use your own name, as opposed to a pseudonym, as your username on Twitter? Beyond the fact that your own name is how people know you.

For making it easy for people to give you proper attribution on Twitter on TweetDeck, a desktop application many of us use to Twitter.

I share relevant blog posts of others with my Twitter followers. Rather than just post a blog title and a link, I want to attribute the blog post to its author. I do this by putting the Twitter username of the blog author in parentheses after the text in my Tweet.

See the below example of my Twitter post where I shared Attorney Sam Hasler’s blog post, ‘What Other Indiana Family Law Blogs Are Saying.’ In addition to the post title and link, I gave Sam attribution for the link I am sharing with the ‘@schasler,’ Sam’s username on Twitter.

Twitter post about what are Indiana family law blogs wrting about

How’d I know that Sam’s Twitter name was ‘@schasler?’ I just keyed in ‘has’ in TweetDeck’s autocomplete feature that came up after I hit the ‘@’ key. Up popped Sam’s Twitter user name in a brief list of people I follow on Twitter who also have ‘has’ in their name. See the below for what I mean.

Use own name on Twitter for TweetDeck

If Sam used a Twitter username such ‘@Indianadivorcelawyer,’ something many lawyers too clever for their own good do, I could have never recalled such a username. I follow a ton of people on Twitter and know Sam as Sam Hasler, not some pseudonym.

In addition to giving proper attribution in your Tweets because it’s proper net protocol, using a Twitter user’s name lets the person know you’ve shared a blog post of theirs. If the person didn’t know you before, they do now. Getting known is how you get the influencers to follow you and how you network to build relationships.

The public’s growing use of Twitter or other services to share updates provides fertile ground for lawyers to network and engage their target audience.

Per a just released survey on Twitter and Status Updating from the Pew Internet & American Life Project:

Some 19% of internet users now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves, or to see updates about others. This represents a significant increase over previous surveys in December 2008 and April 2009, when 11% of internet users said they use a status-update service.

Of particular note for lawyers is that median age of those using Twitter and social networking sites.

  • Median age of a Twitter user is 31, which has remained stable over the past year.
  • Median age for MySpace is now 26, down from 27 in May 2008.
  • Median age for LinkedIn is now 39, down from 40.
  • Median age for Facebook is now 33, up from 26 in May 2008.

No question, per the Pew Foundation, that we’re going to see nothing but growth in the public’s use of Twitter and social networking sites.

[I]t is clear that a ‘social segment’ of internet users is flocking to both social network sites and status update services. This segment is likely to grow as ever more internet users adopt mobile devices as a primary means of going online.

The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. Their Internet & American Life Project produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life.

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