Twitter 101 for bar association people

Continuing with the spark I got from Kevin O’Keefe last week, I’ve been trying to up my Twitter game. I got some great practice during the Wisconsin Solo and Small Firm Conference (you can see my noobish tweets under #WSSFC). I admit that I don’t have the hang of it yet. The most difficult thing, for me, is engaging others without sounding annoying or obsequious.

It’s a good thing, then, that the social media advice from Kevin O’Keefe just keeps coming. While I was at WSSFC he was attending the National Association of Bar Executives Communication Workshop (#NABECOMM16), sharing some great nuggets of social media wisdom:

More recently Kevin tweeted a link to a new Twitter 101 post by Niki Black over at MyCase. It’s a great introduction for lawyers. What follows is my distillation of her main points and my thoughts applying the article to bar association leaders/employees.

Twitter is good for attorneys who:

  1. Have potential clients who use Twitter;
  2. Would like to network with other attorneys across the country with similar practice areas;
  3. Want to connect with local/national media; or
  4. Want to keep up with new & info useful to their practice.

For bar association leaders, Twitter is even more of a no-brainer. Attorneys use Twitter. Other bar associations really use Twitter—and there’s a valuable network to have. Connecting with the media is an obvious good. And keeping up with news and trends is an essential part of the job.

To get started:

  • Choose a username based on your name, not your law firm’s. People prefer to interact with other people, not entities.
  • Write a bio that mentions your firm and 1-2 personal interests. Show that you’re a unique person with interests.
  • Include your law firm’s website link.
  • Find people to follow.
  • Set up Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.

Heed that first suggestion! Bar association leaders: you need to be on Twitter, as real people with real personalities. A “State Bar of X” account is fine and useful, but it’s not really going to be social. Here’s a golden opportunity to show your members that their bar association is made up of real people with real personalities who work hard to serve lawyers.

I would also add, on a practical note, that you should check out Buffer for scheduling posts and creating visuals, and goo.gl for shortening links you want to share.

Start tweeting.

  • Link to your firm’s latest blog post.
  • Link to news of interest.
  • Tweet about any topic that interests you.
  • Engage in conversations by replying and retweeting.

Your tweets should be:

  • 50% links to other people’s content
  • 30% interactions with others
  • 20% promoting your own content

These are the basics, and there’s not much to add. As I mentioned above, engaging in conversations seems the most difficult part—though maybe not if you’re more opinionated than I am. Retweeting things with a comment is one of the easier ways to participate. Try not to take the conversations too seriously; the medium is informal and not suited to nuance. It will certainly give you practice in getting quickly to the bottom line! The most important thing, I think, is to not be too hesitant or fearful—don’t worry, nobody’s following you at first, and your tweet will be quickly buried by the avalanche that is everyone’s feed.

Always think before you tweet!

This is the one caveat to what I just said about being hesitant and fearful. Tweets are entirely public, so they do require a modicum of judgment. If you wouldn’t say it at a crowded bar association event, don’t put it online. But don’t be afraid, either, to say something controversial or provocative! Those are the things that need to be said, and they can be said as one person’s opinion even when they cannot be said as the official statement of a bar association. In fact, that’s how you start a conversation, and isn’t that why we’re on Twitter in the first place?

For further reading/viewing, Niki’s post links to two MyCase webinars by Gyi Tsakalakis and Kevin O’Keefe, both worth checking out.