Lawyers are in the business of compliance and risk aversion. They are accustomed to being in the room for major milestones and confidential moments for others. For this reason, many find it difficult to join social channels and are hesitant to participate online. The Twitter-sphere can often be depicted as a negative and combative space. But is this any reason not to play?
Earlier this month, NATIONAL Public Relations and Twitter Canada co-developed a fireside chat with two prominent Toronto lawyers about how to use social media as a legal professional. The panel featured a lively discussion with Lynne Golding and Craig Thorburn, both talking about their personal experience using Twitter to supercharge their online presence and professional visibility.
Are you sitting on that first draft tweet, waiting to make the plunge? Here are the top five reasons lawyers (or any subject matter expert) should be building a Twitter presence now:
1. You’re a subject matter expert—let it be known!
From industry stakeholders to political leaders to your competition, online conversations related to your sector are happening with or without you. Twitter is the platform for you to call attention to sector-shifting news and discuss critical industry developments in real-time, and as they unfold.
As you add your voice to the discussion, you are building your credibility by demonstrating that you are a subject matter expert. From there, you can add your own “why”, channel opinions, and inspire action.
Our advice: Linking to a longer-form blog post or piece of media can provide helpful context when working within the fast-moving platform known for its brevity.
2. Feeds are like free focus groups
By tracking the relevant users and hashtags, a lawyer can quickly gain an understanding of how an event, legislation, or regulation might impact different stakeholders. From #fintech to #competitionlaw to #cybersecurity, you can dive into niche industries and absorb what matters at a given moment. Clients will appreciate the insight that you can share from conducting a scan of their reputation and positioning within the industry. Broad cultural movements also tend to bubble up on social media first, providing those without a voice an outlet to talk about critical social issues such as workplace harassment, immigration and healthcare.
Our advice: Always use your best judgment when it comes to jumping into sensitive or politically charged conversations. Sometimes it’s best to simply observe and learn from the sidelines, or keep a neutral position.
3. You get access to a limitless network
As Golding mentioned during the panel, your social media profile may never result in a clear or immediate new business lead. However, it can—and does—play a role in allowing you to network with industry stakeholders. From a single tweet, you can begin conversations with those you potentially wouldn’t meet due to geography or other limitations. As long as you are publishing content, the platform will reinforce your authority and leadership to those who may be researching options for new legal counsel. Beyond that, your online presence is an opportunity to strengthen existing relationships by engaging in friendly banter with your peers and colleagues.
Our advice: Your firm may have already invested in social media tools to help you identify conversations drivers and emerging trends. Simple “Like” mentions, retweets and even a follow are all steps towards expanding your digital and professional network.
4. It allows you to build up your profile
Law firms rely on having strong brand reputation. Because of this, being active on social media is increasingly becoming a performance indicator for successful lawyers. A new generation of practitioners is entering the workforce with established social profiles. There is still plenty of space, however, for senior lawyers and partners to showcase their expertise along with authority and track record, too. Having an active Twitter handle can help boost search ranking when potential clients Google your name. Further, many journalists scour Twitter for expert voices to provide comment. Those with established profiles and strong POVs are more likely to bubble to the top, and be considered for media opportunities.
Our advice: Promote your speaking engagements and media coverage by using relevant links and hashtags.
5. It’s an opportunity to humanize your firm
Lawyers provide a wealth of knowledge not easily accessible to everyone. As an unintended consequence of this specialized knowledge, they can sometimes come across as inaccessible. The democratizing nature of social media allows you to build a brand for yourself not only as a resource in legalities, but as an expert in an array of subjects, expanding your interests into new networks. Twitter is a great way to share things you also enjoy in your personal life, too. We’re not talking about your dinner from yesterday—it’s an opportunity for your hobbies and interests to shine through and connect with people outside the boardroom. Part of building a profile means giving online audiences a glimpse of your true self.
Our advice: The best content sounds like its coming from a real person. Content that is too curated or robotic is less engaging and will often fall flat.
The first tweet is always the hardest. During the panel discussion, Lynne shared the story of her first tweet which involved being sequestered to a boardroom until she hit send. We’re not proposing measures quite that drastic, but we would encourage you to step outside of your social media comfort zone. It could be as simple as sharing this article on Twitter.
Interested in diving deeper into executive positioning and brand development? That’s one of the things we do here at NATIONAL. Contact our experts in the professional services sphere to learn how we can help.