There’s been a recent flury of Tweet exchanges debating whether or not Twitter gives lawyers a return on their investment of time and effort. @larrybodine feels strongly that it is not a good marketing tool for law firms while many others strongly disagree. I was recently interviewed about this ongoing controversy by Nora Tooher, one of Lawyers USA’s excellent full-time writers. Below I’ve listed out my response to Ms. Tooher:
1.It’s too early to tell whether it is a smart marketing tool for lawyers from a financial perspective. Yes, Twitter’s been around several years, but for the most part, attorneys/firm are just now really taking notice and becoming active in the twittering world.
2.Yes, Twitter can be used as yet another excuse for resourceful procrastinators who want to avoid their “to do” lists. As with any tempting distraction, self-discipline is the key as in plain ol’ common sense. This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s a waste of time for everyone. Far from it in fact!
3. IMHO twittering can benefit our marketing plan, but the word “plan” is the key one here….in other words, Twitter used as just one aspect of our comprehensive marketing plan may prove to be very profitable. With that said, crystal clear guidelines should be established by the firm’s leadership as to how and what to “Tweet” as a representative of the firm.
4. Often we think marketing is not successful without clear evidence of a decent financial return from our efforts. I believe, however, that Twitter– when and if structured smartly in tune with your goals– is a huge resource of quick information, leads and tips for folks. I almost see it as a fast-moving, free, mini-continuing education course that never ends assuming, of course, that you’ve wisely structured who you’re following and who’s following you, etc. This type of educational resource in itself makes individuals more marketable because they will be sharing worthwhile things learned on Twitter with their clients and prospective clients. It would be hard if not impossible to quantify how much knowledge you may be gaining from your twittering time, but you will know very quickly if you are or are not learning things you may not have known otherwise.
5. Finally, I would advise larger firms and legal departments that have decided to be on Twitter to designate just a few attorneys to be their reps on Twitter…perhaps only 2-4 individuals. Establish clear guidelines and appoint one of the partners to monitor their Twitter activities. Non-designated attorneys and staff should also be advised of the firm’s Twitter (and other social media) guidelines and most importantly, everyone must be held accountable to live within the guidelines established. Without accountability and enforcement, why bother to create any guidelines or rules in the first place?
6. In small firms, I suggest limiting time on Twitter to a designated amount of time each day or week. This means, of course, that the small firm lawyer must also commit the necessary amount of self-discipline to stick to such a plan. Twittering is fun, informative and entertaining. Much, however, remains to be seen as to Twitter’s future, usefulness and value to lawyers and other businesses. I personally think it’s too early to deem it of little value to a lawyer’s or firm’s marketing efforts. We should, however, be re-assessing its value to our firms often to ensure it is indeed earning (and re-earning) its right to be a part of our comprehensive marketing plans.
Okay…those are my thoughts re Twitter’s place in marketing a law firm. What about yours?