Saturday, February 07, 2009

Director's perspective: Using Twitter effectively at a law firm

Editor's note: Michael J. Zukewich is a Public Relations Coordinator for the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, here in Washington, DC. He's been experimenting with Twitter as a communications and marketing tool on behalf of the firm, so I asked him to share insights, results and feedback he's received in a guest post to this blog. I've added emphasis in areas I think this blog's readers will find important.)

Have you recently been hearing a lot of buzz about Twitter and asked yourself, “What the heck is Twitter?” You’re not alone. Despite its odd name, more and more people around the world are signing up for a Twitter account.

Twitter is basically a micro-blogging social medium that asks the question, “What are you doing?” Some people simply “Tweet” (posts on Twitter) a direct response to that question, whereas others take it to the next level and Tweet about their industry or profession and provide hyperlinks to articles of interest.

So now you ask, “Who reads your Tweets?” It’s quite simple really. You begin following whomever you would like to follow and, in turn, others follow you. The “following” or networking process is much easier than other social media platforms. Twitter is very user friendly: those who want to be involved in the conversation can easily converse and those who don’t want to be involved can simply observe. Getting started is very easy and before you know it, you will have built a nice network of colleagues, clients, potential clients, and friends, all involved in your conversation.

I came across Twitter in October 2008. My main reason for experimenting with Twitter was because I heard that it can increase your search engine optimization in Google searches. I work in marketing for a nationally recognized law firm and saw this as a proactive initiative to increase our firm’s exposure. I created my personal Twitter page with Tweets solely about legal news involving our firm. I began seeing a couple of our Tweets appear on the first and second pages of Google searches. In addition, I began networking with other legal marketers through Twitter and got involved in the Law Firm Media Professionals (LFMP) group, all because of Twitter. The topic of the first LFMP chapter meeting I attended was social media and Denise was the guest speaker. We spoke after the meeting about Twitter and have been following each other since.

With Denise’s motivation, I presented Twitter to my boss and am now the creator of our firm’s Twitter page. For the past few months, our firm has been seeing great results on Google, including several Tweets that have appeared as the first post in Google searches! We are now strategically leveraging our network of followers and always looking for someone new to follow. Our Twittering has also been acknowledged by some of our followers. Here are a few Tweets that we have noticed on Twitter about our involvement with this social medium:
    • “If I did communications for BigLaw, I would use Twitter like Manatt. I think that is an effective use of Twitter for PR.” Tweet from Bruce Carton, editor of the Securities Docket.
    • “I bet immediate future for BigLaw on Twitter is as a publisher without conversation. Like Manatt. Effective form of PR.” Tweet from Bruce Carton, editor of the Securities Docket.“
    • '90% of lawyers will use Twitter for PR in 2009.’ I think it will be law firms not lawyers. My ‘bold prediction’-I'm thinking like Manatt.” Tweet from Bruce Carton, editor of the Securities Docket.
    • A tax attorney made this Tweet: “Anyone have an example of a law firm that’s connected in a really good way? Meaning social media, etc.” Adrian with JD Supra responded to that Tweet by saying, “There’s a bunch I think that are good in terms of objectives, start with Manatt.”
    • “FYI - Manatt (large law) has been using Twitter for some time. Been following. I think it's using Twitter effectively.” Kevin O’Keefe, CEO of LexBlog.
In her LFMP presentation, Denise mentioned that getting involved with social media, whether for business or pleasure, is an experiment and takes time. She used the example of getting into a swimming pool. You don’t just jump in all at once without testing the water first. You should put one foot in, then the other, and then slowly ease into the water. For some it might be one toe at time, but regardless, getting in the social media pool is important because your colleagues, clients, potential clients, and friends are in it. It’s time that you take the plunge!

--Michael J. Zukewich

(You can follow Michael Zukewich and follow Manatt on Twitter to stay up-to-date with how they're using this social medium. I've noticed that Michael posts a variety of tweets, sharing news coverage of the firm, noting when one of the firm's partners has expertise on a breaking issue and more. One great way for you to use this resource: Send him a tweet and ask him whom to follow in areas of the law that interest you. Readers of this blog can find me on Twitter here.)

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