Friday, January 23, 2009

Lawyers Get Snippy on Twitter

Inside the Debate on “Effective” Twitter Use for Lawyers

Twitter is a free and easy-to-use "micro-blogging" site that allows you to send and receive short updates from multiple users. David Barrett, The LinkedIn Lawyer is "Twittering" -- follow me here -- and keep up to date with news about Web 2.0 social media and the legal profession, with a particular focus on LinkedIn.

Figuring out the social media landscape in this ever-changing environment is not always easy. Social media mavens of all stripes, including lawyers, have differing philosophies regarding many many issues involved with the use of various social media.

Some of these differences are fundamental (i.e. “Facebook is my personal network – not business” or “I only connect with people I know personally and would recommend on LinkedIn”), however other social media philosophical differences are more subtle.
One such nuance recently debated on Twitter, was regarding “effective” use of Twitter.

This first came to my attention by a ReTweet by Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog:

RT @collinudell: lawyers using twitter effectively: @kevinokeefe @dougcornelius @nikiblack @lisasolomon @ctemplawyer @dancanon @vpynchon

Which Mr. O’Keefe well balanced with Twitterers of a different opinion:

RT @danielschwartz: It depends. Lawyers use twitter differently based on the audience they are trying to reach. No 1 right way.

Followed by a solicitation of more views:

@kevinokeefe Anyone else with 140 character answer on how lawyers use Twitter effectively?

I first touched on this issue while putting together my list of “10 People All Lawyers Must Follow on Twitter” and although I recognize that a variety of styles of Twittering may be used, I have a humble opinion about what is the most useful and productive approach.

As such, I offered my 140 character answer on how lawyers use Twitter effectively:

@barrettdavid Micro-blogging is an effective lawyer use of Twitter - private chats are boring for rest of followers.

Which received a quick comment in support:

dancanon @barrettdavid A-freakin'-men, brother. Some tweeps seem to forget they have email, IM, phones, etc. God love 'em.

As an early adopter of social media among lawyers, a social media consultant, and as a former teacher and trainer, I habitually seek to educate with my social media activities, whether those are Facebook posts, LinkedIn questions, or Twitter Tweets.

I happened to be writing another blog post about micro-blogging, and checked Wikipedia for a general definition. Both in an effort to streamline work activities and educate others on how they may use Twitter for micro-blogging, I used this Wikipedia ( link as explanatory information in my Tweet.

However, challenges to this view of “effective” Twitter use for lawyers soon approached:

vpynchon @barrettdavid what do you consider a "private chat"?

As I am something of an advocate for a microblogging rather than open email approach, we took the debate to Twitter Direct Messages (DM’s).

DM to vpynchon I think its pretty self-explanatory. I said M-blogging "an" effective use - not "the only" effective use, but my bias is obvious.

DM from vpynchon wikipedia . . . is there an article there by you?

DM to vpynchon but maybe I'll write another. is there a need to insult me?

DM from vpynchon are you talking to ME? insult you? link was to wikipedia . . . didn't see article by you will check this link

DM from vpynchon lose nuance in 140 chars but truly was asking Q 4 clarity; sorry u felt insulted; wld love to know what I sd 2 insult

This may not exactly be a Heavyweight prize fight, but an interesting debate remains. Is Twitter best for relationship building and networking, or as a microblogging tool?

If both, what kind of mix would be most effective?

Some call a conversational style "engaging" while others call it "Serial Twittering" and cite it as a reason to un-follow someone.

Is is possible to microblog and relationship-build/network on the same Twitter account, or should lawyers use two accounts differently in order to maximize the benefits of each? One Twitter marketing guide thinks so, but it may be possible to balance well with one account while keeping one's larger audience in mind.

I would suggest that your social media marketing activity be part of your overall legal marketing plan, and that lawyers match each social media technology with specific goals and specific opportunities offered by a particular technology.

Appendix A

“A Micro-Blogging Twitter Style by David Barrett”

Are Law Marketers Really Using Twitter? - 5:00 AM Jan 20th from Tweetburner

LinkedIn QuickLink Invitations (Quicklinks are Great!) 4:35 AM Jan 20th from Tweetburner

Thank you for following me on Twitter, welcome and enjoy - 2:43 AM Jan 20th from web

Human Rights Lawyer Stanislav Markelov and Russian Journalist Killed Please Retweet. 10:05 PM Jan 19th from Tweetburner

Les aficionados de twitter, facile à trouver difficile à conserver - 9:46 PM Jan 19th from Tweetburner

Law Marketing group on Ning - 9:41 PM Jan 19th from Tweetburner

Six Elements of a Great LinkedIn Profile - 8:18 PM Jan 19th from Tweetburner

This Week's LinkedIn Lawyer "Top Tweets" - The MLK Day Edition - 9:53 AM Jan 19th from Tweetburner

@barrettdavid is giving away 3 x 1 hour LinkedIn consults - - Just RT this to enter, will Tweet the winners 10:57 PM Jan 18th from Tweetburner in reply to barrettdavid

Using LinkedIn as a Small Business Owner - 10:32 PM Jan 18th from Tweetburner

7 Critical Elements of Your Social Media Strategy - 10:29 PM Jan 18th from Tweetburner

Appendix B

“A Conversational Twitter Style by Victoria Pynchon

@nomadtoes tiers so crazy; we're the most status obsessed profession I know of though the top biz school ppl & places like McKinsey ditto about 5 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to nomadtoes

@gerkmana imagine what ppl with Ph.Ds do abt school debt; when I was teaching at Univ. felt sorry for profs who couldn't moonlight like me about 5 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to gerkmana

@gerkmana also much greater distance between attys and teachers/nsures than b4; trite to say middle class disappearing but true about 5 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to gerkmana

@gerkmana yes; there's the 2 professions problem too: one range for top of class; another 4 rest at much greater distance than when I began about 5 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to gerkmana

@gerkmana everyone sd market flooded in '80 when I grad: always work for attorneys & if can't get "job" always able to hang out shingle about 5 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to gerkmana

@gerkmana $700/yr 3 yrs at U.C. Davis; Adam's tuition at UCLA started around $25K & increased over his time there: I grad '80; he grad '06 about 5 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to gerkmana

@idealawg I left a comment on the post on law school debt/disclosure by law schools: Stephanie's post here: about 5 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to idealawg

@charlesthomas what percentage of your criminal clients have drug/alcohol problems associated w/ crimes? about 5 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to charlesthomas

@gerkmana as atty for nearly 30 years now, in taxes & pro bono services, State has more than recouped $$ on my education about 5 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to gerkmana

@gerkmana Cal severely contracted funds for education, public libraries, etc; not smart in democracy requiring critical

Many Thanks to Attorney Victoria Pynchon for her engagement in this debate.

DM to vpynchon Interesting issues to blog about. Would you like me to leave your identifying info in or out?

DM from vpynchon feel free to leave it in

Related Articles –

Analysis from "Mr. Tweet" -

My Twitteristics: Tweets more than the Twitter founders(3.7/day), Conversational(20%), Hyperlinked(95%)!

Find David Barrett on Twitter @barrettdavid

Click here for a video introduction to David Barrett's Twitter profile.