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Life is full of distractions, particularly when you work in an industry where you have to be at the beck and call of clients (some easier than others). It can be hard enough to fit in the urgent jobs, without having to commit to investing time and energy on something you don’t really understand the point of.

Twitter is a social network used by millions of people, and thousands more are signing up every day to send short messages (140 characters), called ‘tweets’, to groups and individuals.  Twitter describes itself as a way to “stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

How is it relevant to law firms?

Working on the basis that every client is, first and foremost, an individual (whether representing themselves or a business), business development is all about developing that one-to-one relationship – but you know that already.  By answering the question “what are you doing” you can showcase the sort of work you do, your knowledge and, perhaps more importantly, the sort of person you are.  You can provide a number of things for that client/prospect to identify with.  It’s a great way to get links to your firm website and/or push news posts out into the marketplace, as well as a tool for promoting specific areas of work.

Most importantly, it’s a great way to learn more about your target market. By reading and listening to what they are doing, what they’re saying and what they’re asking… you might learn something really helpful to your business development strategy. Armed with this knowledge you can make your marketing and BD more targeted and relevant, thereby stealing a march on those firms that haven’t yet cottoned on to the value of this tool.

How do you get involved?

It’s simple to get started. Just head over to http://www.twitter.com and set up an account.  Think about whether you want to build your law firm, service area or personal ‘brand’ when you choose your username… and try to steer clear of anything too cryptic. Think about what people will be searching for and how you want them to find you.

Next, do your homework. See how other firms are using it. Decide what works for you and what you like about their activity. If you go to http://tweepml.org/uk-law-firms/ you’ll find a list of firms that I’ve found (so far) that you might want to look at for inspiration.

Once you’re all set up you can follow people to carry on reading what they’re saying. The list mentioned above might be a good place to start. Just click on their name to view their profile, and then click on the button on the top left that says ‘follow’. Once you’ve done this, anything they tweet will appear in your twitter feed (to view this, click on the ‘home’ link on the top right) when you log in.

How do you use Twitter?

After logging in, you have a ‘feed’ that is updated all the time with information from the people you are following.

You can add you own ‘tweet’ by just typing it into the box at the top and pressing ‘send’.

Followers – these are people who follow your tweets.  Anyone can follow anyone else, though you can set it up so permission is required (but this sort of defeats the point, if you ask me).

Retweet – If anyone that you follow says something you want to share with your followers, you can retweet it. This means that it will be shown to all of your followers, irrespective of whether they follow the original source of the tweet or not.  It’s a great way to share useful content and a good way to make connections (because the person who originally posted it will be notified that you have retweeted it).

Five tips for lawyers:

  1. Think about doing something useful with your background. Why not create an image file that you can upload that contains some information about your services and/or newsletters… don’t waste the space and leave it on the standard design.
  2. Use the search box on the right to look up people who are talking about certain things. You could type in ‘accountants’ if you’re looking for accounting referrers, or ‘probate’ if you’re searching for people worried about what to do when someone dies. You can save your searches to run them again.
  3. Try and tweet at least once every day. Mix it up with retweeting useful things you’ve seen and also telling people about yourself.
  4. Put a link to your Twitter on your firm’s website… at least… you might even want to consider adding it to your email signature or your profile. If you’re on Linkedin there is a great application that allows you to synchronise your Twitter with your Linkedin status.
  5. One of the best places to learn more is to look at the people your competitors are following. Click on their profiles and then look on the right hand side, to see a list of the people they are following. You might want to follow them yourself.

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