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Twitter is about relationships : Law firms missing the boat

January 5, 2012

Twitter for relationshipsTwitter is not all about broadcasting your messages and distribution of your content, it’s about relationships.

Sure, you need to share content on Twitter to get the opportunity to build relationships with your Twitter followers, but the end goal ought be engagement with real people, not a lot of followers.

Thomas Pascoe (@MrThomasPascoe) at WalesOnline, brings home the message in his piece, ‘Twitter is all about relationships – only most politicians don’t get it.’

Ben Johncock (@benjohncock), who runs the Twitter Consultancy for the book trade, told Pascoe:

A lot of people don’t realise what Twitter is really about. It’s very simple, really. It’s about relationships. People who realise this tend to use it well.

It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, or what kind of Tweeter you are – a politician or celebrity or someone who has just signed up for fun – if you engage and build relationships; if you’re respectful and polite, if you’re not in it just for yourself – then not only will you find yourself doing well – and enjoying it – but you are far less likely to foul up and have to apologise for something.

If you have a smartphone, you carry with you something that can, quickly and easily, transmit your thoughts to a staggering number of people. That’s a powerful thing, and must be treated with caution and respect.

Your digital footprint will last forever. Don’t be intimidated or paralysed before you tweet anything, but do give what you’re saying a moment’s thought – from a variety of angles.

Listen, engage, respect, think. Just like you would do face to face.

Twitter consultant Mark Shaw (@markshaw) explained to Johncock, “The greatest value which Twitter adds is in listening, not in broadcasting.”

Glen Johnson (@globeglen), a political reporter for the Boston Globe picked up on the same theme in his report, ‘Twitter revolutionizes the way people meet.

Johnson pointed out that with his editing responsibilities he is not out in the field covering the presidential campaign as much as he has in the past. But Twitter has provided him the ability to reconnect with old journalism friends out on the road.

“Hi @globeglen,” said one of [the tweets], Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) of The Des Moines Register, using my Twitter handle.

We both laughed at our mutual familiarity with someone we didn’t really know.

It was much the same when I bumped into NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander (@PeterNBCNews).

I have admired his work for years but never met him face to face, yet last week, we traded a long-lost-friends handshake after meeting at a restaurant.

“It’s amazing how you can spot someone from a 2cm-by-2cm photo,” he wrote in a follow-up email.

Meanwhile, my old friend Kelly O’Donnell (@KellyO) gave me a big hug when I saw her, but the NBC News congressional correspondent said, “I feel like I see you every day on Twitter.”

Attorneys and law firms would be well served to look at Twitter like these reporters and media consultants do. Do not look at Twitter as a content distribution tool that you measure the effectiveness of by analytics (followers and reach).

Attorneys get their best work via relationships and word of mouth. Twitter is another channel to connect and nurture relationships – and even, like Johnson, reach out and connect with someone you admire.

Don’t look at the time it takes to learn how to use Twitter and to build a small following as a burden, look at it as a gift. Twitter is not only a huge time saver compared to other forms of networking, Twitter extends your reach as to who you can build a relationship with.

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