As reported by the New York Times’ Nick Bilton, a new study released by the Pew Research Center found that 8 percent of Americans who are active on the Internet are enthusiastic users of the social networking service Twitter.

Unfortunately, the offshoot of that study has been bloggers telling us that Twitter may not be as relevant as thought. Only 8% of Americans are using it.

As a lawyer or law firm you may be apt to dismiss Twitter now. “There’s only 8% of people using it. We don’t see many of our clients using Twitter.” That would be a mistake.

Twitter has become an information network for the influencers of your clients and prospective clients. Bloggers, reporters, publishers, and association leaders use Twitter heavily, not only to receive information, but to share it.

Though I don’t see Twitter as a PR tool, imagine a press release is a good analogy when thinking of Twitter. How many people receive press releases? It’s far less than 1% of the population.

But would you dismiss press releases to reporters as inconsequential because they represent only a small slice if America? And because none of your clients and prospective clients receive press releases?

Twitter is viral. When you share on Twitter the relevant news and information you’re reading others with similar interests will begin to follow you. They’ll share it with their followers on Twitter, many of whom will also have similar interests.

As a result both the people following you and those following them see you as someone who has a keen interest in a particular area of the law or business. They also see you as someone who stays up to speed for business purposes.

This is exactly how you, as a lawyer, want to be seen. This is how you develop a word of mouth reputation as a trusted a and reliable authority.

Rather than viewing Twitter as limited, look at study’s findings which demonstrate Twitter’s pervasive use.

  • 8% of the American adults who use the internet are Twitter users. With 74% of American adults as internet users, Twitter users amount to 6% of the entire adult population.
  • Twitter is one of the most popular online activities among tech enthusiasts and has become a widely used tool among analysts to study the conversations and interests of users, buzz about news, products or services, and announcements by commercial, non-profit, and government organizations.
  • College-educated are slightly more likely than average to use Twitter.
  • 36% check for material posted by others on a daily basis or multiple times per day.

And look at how Twitter is used. Opportunities abound for you as a lawyer.

  • 62% post updates related to their work life, activities or interests, with 12% doing so on a daily basis.
  • 55% of these Twitter users share links to news stories. One in ten (12%) do this at least once a day.
  • 53% of these Twitter users use Twitter to retweet material posted by others, with 18% doing so on a daily basis.

Rather than look at the glass as half empty on Twitter, look at the glass as half full. You’ll be way ahead of your competition.

  • Kevin,
    I think you bring up some great points about how this study is being misrepresented. Even if it’s just 8%, the people following your Twitter profile likely share your interests and could even share your content with their followers, and so on.
    Such interpretations of the study also seem to ignore Twitter’s undeniable growth trend. Twitter is less than five years old, and has already become a significant force in many social and professional spheres. For me (and many others), it’s an essential part of daily news intake. As Twitter continues to evolve, and as word continues to spread, it seems likely that it will become even more prevalent.