Today in “The Lawyer’s Corner” I’d like to talk about Twitter.  I began using Twitter in earnest last year, then abandoned it, and recently decided to give it another chance.  However, I struggle to define my audience. Am I communicating with potential clients? Referral sources? Other lawyers or my former paralegal students? How much information should I share about my own parenting experiences?

Today I came across a well-written article that deals with these questions, and provides some practical tips for lawyers who tweet. It’s by Gina Rubel and was published online in the Legal Intelligencer Blog.  Here it is, reproduced in full:

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Benefits of Twitter for Lawyers: A Strategy for Engagement
By Gina Rubel
Special to the Legal Intelligencer Blog

There are many benefits of lawyers using Twitter. In fact, I know many lawyers who have met both referral sources and new business contacts using Twitter.

As far as having a plan to engage in Twitter communications, I recommend taking the following approach: Define Purpose > Follow > Listen > Create > Engage. Here’s how:

1. Define your purpose in using Twitter. Identify what you want to accomplish by using Twitter as a vehicle for communication.

2. Follow: Identify the target audiences you want to reach: business and community leaders, referral sources, colleagues, experts, media, prospective clients and other thought leaders. Research those within your target audience who are using Twitter. Search for them by name, company name, topic, hashtag, etc. Start by following those people who are thought leaders in your industry.

3. Listen: Pay attention to what others are saying online. Add each person you follow to a defined list. Keep the lists private. For example, you can have lists for colleagues, legal media, experts, etc. Be careful, however, how you name your lists, as nothing is every truly “private” online. For example, I don’t recommend naming a list “clients” or “referral sources.” Consider that T.M.I. (too much information).

4. Create: Create and or share content and information of value, such as breaking news, important news stories, upcoming events, resources, interesting observations, industry trends, articles, blogs posts, valuable website content (articles, practice area information), etc.

5. Engage: Engage in two-way conversation by direct messaging, mentioning others and retweeting information of value to your target audiences.

Twitter is an excellent tool to add to the mix of communication vehicles that you are using to build or reinforce your brand, increase referrals, build community relations, share information and build your network. Other benefits include crisis management, issue advocacy, marketing, public relations, media relations, reputation management and thought leadership. Just be smart about using social media, encourage the implementation of a social media policy in your firm and always be sure to adhere to the rules of ethics proscribed by the states within which you practice law. 

Gina F. Rubel is the owner of Furia Rubel Communications Inc., a public relations and marketing agency with a niche in legal communications. A former Philadelphia trial attorney and public relations expert, Rubel is the author of “Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers.” Rubel and her agency have won numerous awards for legal communications, public relations, media relations, strategic planning, corporate philanthropy and leadership. She maintains a blog at www.ThePRLawyer.com and is a regular contributor to The Legal Intelligencer blog. You can find her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/ginafuriarubel or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ginarubel.  For more information, go to www.FuriaRubel.com.

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