Social Media 101: Takeaways For Our Lawyer Friends Who Are New to Twitter

Karen Korr
San Diego County Bar Association

At the San Diego County Bar Association, we have a program called the "PR Power Hour." It is a lunch and learn where myself and other public relations and marketing professionals share some tips and go over basics with our members.  Annually, I do a "Twitter for New Tweeters" program, and that and our social media programs are always well attended.  Anecdotally, I get asked about social media by lawyers more than nearly anything else. So I asked the experts - i.e. all of you - to give me your top tips for those who are new to social media. Thanks to everyone who contributed. Here's some great advice to share as needed: 

Brandon Vogel, New York State Bar Association
Your online reputation is an extension of your professional reputation. Always read an article in full before you retweet or like it. 

Evann Kleinschmidt, State Bar of New Mexico
Social media is a real job and a task that must be tended to daily (if not more). My best advice would be to find a way to busy-proof social media at your organization. After all, you wouldn’t stop checking your email or sending press releases if you got busy. Particularly for bars with smaller communications staff, having built in systems and habits to keep social media on the to do list every day will help. Whether its having a backup (or several), creating a schedule, pre-drafting tweets and posts, using a pre-scheduling program like Hootsuite, or just having a reminder on your phone, whatever makes it easier to do will help make you successful. This is especially true at the beginning. 

Eric Anderson, Alabama State Bar Association
Remember the social in social media. Interact in a positive way with others and let your little light shine. Social media allows lawyers to show their personality to peers in the legal community, clients and potential clients in ways that a static website or traditional marketing efforts never could. 

Rule number 2 (for those who like rules) with full credit to Danny Aller at the Florida Bar and others – use the rule of thirds. Spend a third of your time promoting yourself, a third promoting others and a third for fun and entertainment. Relates to the first point of letting others know your personality. 

Carol Manning, Oklahoma Bar Association
Never, and I repeat NEVER, post personal info/photos that would reflect negatively on your professional life. 

Steve Grumm, Lancaster Bar Association

  • Audience: it’s the age-old advice: always always always write for your audience.
     
  • Tone: social media tends to take a lighter/lighthearted tone as long as appropriate for the content
     
  • Substance: especially for legal audiences, do not post fluff or a pic of your last meal.  There is always a way to work substance into a post, even about a meal.
     
  • Image: image-driven posts work.  Include a pic.  Or if you are, for example, retweeting another article, try to ensure that tweet’s image will come through on the retweet.
     
  • Oh, and a bonus: when reposting/retweeting others’ content, don’t rewrite verbatim their post or headline language.  Pull some fact or new lede out of it for your audience.                                                                               - 

From  anonymous experts:

  • Don’t use those “X person followed/unfollowed me” extensions on Twitter. They’re self-indulgent and no one really cares! 
     
  • Remember that social media can’t measure facial expression or speech inflection or vocal tone, so be very judicious as to how you express yourself.

And mine:
No matter how much money your firm is spending on SEO, Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In are likely spending more.  Social media channels are some of the top results when you google your own name - you might as well own that space and control your message. The Twitter egg picture doesn't differentiate you or your firm from a bot, so be sure to personalize and brand your social media pages so that your top messages are showing up at the top of the Google search results.