I haven’t written on this topic for a while as I’ve been on Twitter for 8 years and I have just started to assume everyone is on it and knows how to use it effectively. But then I saw these two interesting tweets from a colleague who wrote the following:
“I have cleaned out my twitter: for those who were not following me, I am no longer following you. If you don't want to have a relationship with me here, I won't follow you. If you are following me I will follow back.”
It was such a throwback to 2009 when lawyers were fighting Twitter and just thought it was a time suck. So it struck me. There are countless books and blog posts written on the topics of how to set up your Twitter account, how to market, when to post, Twitter follow ratios, Twitter clients, duplicate postings across platforms, Twitter etiquette, and building Klout. That's not what this post is about at all.
This post shares the numerous reasons why you should be on Twitter and why limiting your exposure to just those who 'follow back' defeats the purpose of the platform and can foreclose marketing/business opportunities to grow your practice.
1. Twitter is an RSS Feed
I follow numerous newspapers, columnists, magazines and news outlets to get my morning news. It is neatly organized in lists so I can see what it happening in the world, what the world news organizations are talking about and it's right there for me to digest with breakfast. I don't expect to have a relationship with these organizations or journalists but if there is something of interest to those who follow me, I'm going to pass it along. In addition, if I want to respond to something they've said, I'm going to possibly catch their eye with a simple "." in front of their Twitter handle when I reply. It will then go into their Twitter feed for all their followers to see. Who knows? My comment might intrigue others and they may retweet to their followers and then follow Solo Practice University to see what we're about.
2. Twitter is Soft Intelligence
I've written about this before but it bears repeating. Following those you perceive as competition to learn what they are doing, who they follow, what is of interest to them, who they are conversing with, can only help your business. Plus, what do your clients have to say about you, your services? Are there unmet needs you can discover? Does it matter if these people follow you back? If they do, great? If they don't, your reasons for following them remain the same, gathering information and keeping your finger on what is happening in your practice area and perceptions of you as a practitioner. Do you really need to have a 'relationship' with these sources on Twitter? It could develop over time and if appropriate. But lurking is a legitimate reason to follow those on twitter who don't necessarily follow you back.
3. Twitter is an Education
There is so much to learn from others who take the time to share whether it is blog commentary, business promotion, even self-promotion. You may learn many marketing techniques you never considered before. Some you may use. Some you may shun because it's not the way you want to conduct business. But why shut the door on learning when it's right there for you...for free! And no relationship is required other than you following their twitter feed. Some of the best education I've found is the Twitter battle, those long conversation threads (often between multiple lawyers) where two tweeters go at and others join in? Why miss out on these learning moments? They can be very revealing.
4. Twitter is a Marketing Platform
That's right. As Twitter 101 as it sounds, Twitter IS a marketing platform. Whatever you choose to market (yourself, your service, your product, your practice, your book, your extensive reading of WSJ, or, etc.), it IS a marketing platform. Everyone has something to sell even if it is just their engaging and clever prose. Once you throw your personality into the mix in any way shape or form, you are hoping to attract the attention of others by saying, “Look at me. I have something to say.” Therefore, get over the fact that others do it. Just decide what you actually want to see in your twitter feed and accept that periodically something you don't want to see will pop up. Just don't click on the link and continue scrolling down. If more pops up that you don't like versus what you do like, unfollow.
5. Twitter is for following those you want to follow, not for blindly following everyone who follows you.
This isn't about numbers. Many people will follow you for the various reasons listed above. They don't necessarily want to have a relationship but want to learn what you have to say. They may stay with you for a while and then leave. It's not personal. They may solicit you in a way you're not comfortable with and so you block them. They may be bots or spam. You, in turn, don't necessarily want to have their tweets in your stream because they 1) aren't your target market; 2) you find their tweets offensive; 3) they have protected tweets and you don't want to ask permission to see their tweets; 4) they are corporations or vendors of services, or any number reasons. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to follow you unless you actively cull your list for specific reasons. Just don't feel compelled to follow them until there is a valid reason for you to reconsider.
Here's the short list for what Twitter is not:
6. Twitter is not one size fits all
Do not feel compelled to use Twitter in a rigid, formulaic way. Everyone has a different reason for using the platform and there is a myriad of ways to get benefit. Just understand why you are on the platform, that it is a very powerful tool to see the world and to be seen, and be sure to stay open to the all opportunities that are available.
If you'd think you can learn a thing or two from what we share, please follow us on Twitter @SoloPracticeU.
Susan Cartier Liebel is the Founder & CEO of Solo Practice University®, the only educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students designed for those who want to create and grow their solo or small firm practices. A coach/consultant for solos and small firms, an attorney who started her own practice right out of law school, an Entrepreneur Advisor for Law Without Walls, an adjunct professor at Quinnipiac University School of Law for eight years teaching law students how to open their own legal practices right out of law school, a columnist for LawyersUSA Weekly, the Connecticut Law Tribune, The Complete Lawyer, and Law.com, she has contributed to numerous online publications such as Forbes.com, legal publications and books on this topic as well as the issues facing women in the workforce. She speaks frequently to law schools and professional organizations around the country on issues facing solos, offering both practical knowledge and inspiration.