I recently finished Gary Vaynerchuk’s book The Thank You Economy. In the book he refers to an Ad Age article: Most Brands Still Irrelevant  on Twitter: Marketers Are Certainly Tweeting, but Users Are Barely Listening. In the article, the writer speaks to businesses tweeting:

Twitter Logo.pngWhile marketers such as Dell, Comcast, Ford and Starbucks have been, at times, clever participants on Twitter, the majority of marketers use it as a mini press-release service. Only 12% of messages from marketers are directed at individual Twitter users, meaning marketers still see it as a broadcast medium rather than a conversational one.

The article includes a link to a 360i White Paper: Twitter & the Consumer-Marketer Dynamic.

One of the key findings in the White Paper is that Twitter is primarily for people, not corporations. A second finding is that companies tend to talk at people-not with them. I found this quote from the White Paper interesting:

Marketers could benefit from looking for ways to engage consumers more fully on Twitter through a more conversational tone (e.g. asking questions and inviting response rather than simply passing along information). Encouraging and participating in a dialogue with consumers will encourage more re-tweets, as well as help promote deeper brand relationships.

I follow several law firms that are on Twitter and I don’t think they are effectively using the tool. Those law firms are talking at people not with them.

Most firms are using Twitter as simply a PR tool and a tool to distribute their content (blogs, articles, webinars). In some cases, to get the linked publication, I have to complete a form giving my email address. Firms appear to have an administrative staff member preparing tweets to push out the same information about the firm and its lawyers at various times during the day. So, it is just being used as another tool like email alerts to broadcast firm content and information.

It does not appear that law firms are using Twitter to listen to businesses or to engage an audience. I have never seen a law firm retweet what someone else has written and I have never seen a law firm engage in a dialogue on any subject.

So, the question I have been asking myself is whether those firms simply do not know how they could more effectively use Twitter, or whether any law firm can effectively use Twitter given the ethical and other considerations. Here are questions I have been pondering?

  1. Since clients really hire lawyers far more often than law firms, does it really matter that law firms are really only using Twitter as a PR tool?
  2. Does any law firm have a Twitter strategy or are firms tweeting randomly hoping a tweet will stick to the right wall?
  3. Are any law firms effectively using Twitter to communicate they understand their clients’ industries and businesses?
  4. Can a law firm effectively use Twitter to enable potential clients and referral sources to get to know what the firm really values?
  5. Would a law firm benefit by using Twitter to ask about potential pro-bono opportunities? 
  6. Instead of merely announcing a presentation on Twitter, would it be more effective for a law firm to announce it is planning to do a presentation on a particular subject and ask for input on specific topics to be covered? 
  7. What would potential clients and referral sources think of a law firm seeking input on twitter for potential charities it might contribute to?
  8. Would a law firm benefit by tweeting what industry experts have written?
  9. Would it be effective for a law firm to actually have its lawyers tweet on the firm’s page?
  10. Has any law firm gotten a new client or expanded a relationship with an existing client as a result of something the law firm tweeted?

Since law firms are spending very little time or money to post on Twitter, it is hard to see a downside for using it as another PR tool. However, since most firms appear to have no strategy using Twitter, it is also hard to see an upside.  What do you think?

P.S. You might also find it valuable to download and read Who Says What to Whom on Twitter