Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Anatomy of a Twitter Tweet - Twitter Basics for Lawyers

A few weeks ago while checking email I noticed via a email update that one of my favorite colleagues, Attorney Tom McLain, was following me on Twitter.

Although Tom is an attorney in the Greater Atlanta area, and I practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I have had the opportunity to get to know Tom just a bit via social media.

In addition to the typical pleasantries exchanged upon making a new LinkedIn connection, Tom responded to my call for help in response to the major change in the group policy by LinkedIn.

In a rather short amount of time, I had to “share” my nationwide network of lawyer networking groups, and Tom was both courageous enough to take over ownership of a group and willing to keep the group in part of the larger MyLinkLaw family of lawyer networking groups. (I still "give away" LinkedIn lawyer networking groups as a networking activity itself, but the time pressure has passed.)

After looking at Tom’s Twitter page (which has since flourished), I noticed that he was rather new to Twitter.

I was confident Tom would be able to share interesting content on Twitter, and I knew he was sincere about his use of social media for professional networking. Also because Tom had done me a big favor, I thought I might repay the favor by attempting to attract him some followers to his new account by Tweeting about him.

My Twitter message was –

Follow @TomMcLain Chair, Corporate Lawyer Network on LinkedIn (1700+) - #followfriday

… and Tom responded with a private DM (Direct Message) full of honesty and a great question -

“I think I may be in over my head . . . The message you posted - - what does it do?”

Although Twitter messages are only 140 characters, Tom’s question was a good one since there are a few elements included in this Tweet.

Let’s deconstruct:

1. “Follow @TomMcLain – in addition to the general suggestion for others to follow Tom, including the “@” sign together with his active Twitter account name allows users to easily click through to his Twitter home page, where viewers may learn more about Tom, click through to his website, or choose to follow him on Twitter.

2. “Chair, Corporate Lawyer Network on LinkedIn” – is my attempt to tell others something about Tom. You see … I happened to create and send this Twitter message on a Friday, and I did so with the Twitter meme (the term Internet meme is a phrase used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet, much like an inside joke) “Follow Friday” in mind.

“Follow Friday” can be found as its own Twitter page
and its “bio” reads as basic instructions on how to execute the concept (“Tweet the names of Twitter users you'd like others to follow and tag it with #followfriday”).

One "Follow Friday" Tip -

Some folks pack in as many Twitter addresses as possible in 140 characters for their “Follow Friday” messages:

@barrettdavid, @jdtwitt, @tommclain, @stephenfairley, @bambrogi, @rkodner, @massgovernor, @barackobama, @rex7 #followfriday

However, “Follow Friday’s” are more effective if you include fewer people in each Tweet, and if you explain something about why you think others should follow this person. For example:

@barrettdavid – World’s Largest LinkedIn Lawyer Network, One of 20 Twitterers for Lawyers to Follow #followfriday

3. The “tag” (i.e. “#followfriday”) typically is found at the end of the Twitter message, and this refers to the “#” symbol used to create a searchable term (i.e. distinguishing it from a simple word search, which may have an alternate meaning) by using a service such as Twitter Search. These tags are commonly referred to as “hashtags” and are collected and observed at the Hashtags website.

4. The “(1700+)” adopts some LinkedIn shorthand typically used to show how many LinkedIn connections one has (LinkedIn changed its initial policy and now only shows the number of connections a given member has up to 500) and refers to the number of members in the aforementioned Corporate Lawyer group on LinkedIn,

5. and “” is a quick link to the group, should others be interested to join.

One should note that the "real" link to the Corporate Lawyer group on LinkedIn is:

However, this link is way too long for a Twitter message of 140 characters or less. So I plugged that link into Tweetburner, a free website service which produced this shorter link (i.e. while also tracking how many people “click through” that link.

Now, looking at a Twitter message (or “Tweet”) such as this –

Follow @TomMcLain Chair, Corporate Lawyer Network on LinkedIn (1700+) - #followfriday

Should no longer seem as intimidating.

I hope this helps explain a little bit of the foreign language of Twitter. Twitter can be a great networking tool when used wisely.

Follow Boston Attorney and Legal Social Media Consultant David Barrett on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Do Lawyers Have Good Facebook Manners?

Although these etiquette tips are in the context of the relationship between Timmy and Alice on Facebook “The Electric Friendship Generator,” there are many lessons here that apply to a professional networking presence on Facebook.

Connect with David Barrett on Facebook here.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

This Week's LinkedIn Lawyer "Top Tweets" - May Day Edition

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.

Here are the "Top Tweets" from the last week (partially as tracked with Tweetburner).

David A. Barrett's Recent Most Popular Twitter

"Top Tweets"

Put your Business in front of Thousands of Law Firms -

Lawyers Exploring Twitter Communities -

Lawyer Twitter Practices: 29 Do’s and Don’ts -

Tweet this: You're being sued -

What Documents Should I Post on JD Supra? -

Law Firm Social Media Policy? How About Some Strategy First? -

NY Crain's - Using social media to bond with customers -

International Law & Policy group on LinkedIn (300+) now feeds IntLaw content from JD
Supra -

Are disclaimers and disclosures needed, or even possible, on Twitter? -

Antitrust Lawyer Network on LinkedIn (400+) now feeds relevant content from JD Supra -

Philadelphia Court Officer Suspended for Friending Juror on Facebook -

Law Marketing group on Ning -

Twitter for Lawyers -

50 Terrific Social Sites for Law Students and Lawyers -

When is a "Free" Webinar Not Worth the Price? -

David Barrett's New Google Profile -

#followfriday @stephenfairley - Founder of Attorney Twibe (120+) Helps lawyers run profitable law practices.

Find David Barrett on Twitter @barrettdavid

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lawyers Exploring Twitter Communities

A large online legal network is a useful tool when taking the social media pulse of lawyers nationwide, and there seems to be a current buzz around lawyers making sense of the various Twitter communities online, and how to use them effectively.

This buzz first bubbled up to me when Robin Kobayashi of the Lexis Nexis Workers Compensation blog asked if I had written anything or had an opinion about Tweetlaw.

Smelling the potential interest in a larger blog post not only on Tweetlaw, but Tweetlaw and other Twitter communities for lawyers, I used Twitter to solicit a little feedback –

@barrettdavid Working on a review of Twitter lawyer communities for The LinkedIn Lawyer blog - might you @me a Tweet about your faves?

The response was tepid, like swimmers testing the water with their toes in the springtime … not sure if it is warm enough to dive in and start swimming.

For example, @KMarvel a somewhat anonymous child support enforcement lawyer from San Antonio Texas responded:

Still trying to find good lawyer communities -- not much out there for family lawyers. I'd love some ideas, please!

and apparently responding to one of my subsequent tweets:

@barrettdavid - Just joined a twibe. Visit to join

The “fairly uppity business and tax lawyer” @CynthiaRRowland

Asked: @barrettdavid I don't get it, what's the point of Twibe?

So first, I would generally describe “Twitter communities” or “Twitter Lawyer communities” as self-selected sub-groups of the larger “Twitter Community” (i.e. everyone on Twitter) who join such groups via websites independent of the official Twitter interface. Generally these websites re-broadcast the Twitter feeds of the members, and allow members to find other Twitter users who may be lawyers, legal professionals, or whatever shared interest of the group.

Historically, these communities were not so fancy, and Adrian Lurssen’s hyper-linked article “145 Lawyers and Legal Professionals to Follow on Twitter” (now at 703 members) was a ground-breaking tool assisting lawyers to find other lawyers and legal professionals on Twitter.

Slick website Twitter communities were soon to follow, including Kevin O’Keefe’s “LexTweet,” Justia’s “Legal Birds” and the aforementioned TweetLaw.

These communities further evolved to be defined by the users themselves, and leading the charge with the use of “Twibes” is legal marketing guru Stephen Fairley with his “Attorney Twibe” and “Law Marketing Twibe.”

So @KMarvel - here’s an idea for you, go to the Start page on Twibes and start a Twibe of Family Lawyers. I started a Twibe for Legal Professionals, but like any social media group for lawyers, recruitment is a considerable challenge.

Really a similar result could be achieved by using an existing LinkedIn group, say American Divorce Lawyers and organizing all the members to provide the group manager with their Twitter feed RSS to that the manager may re-broadcast the Twitter feeds of all the members.

However, this will never work. One secret to getting lawyers and other busy professionals engaged in your particular social media activity is to keep the engagement process as simple as possible.

Social media group organizers need to anticipate that folks are not going to just join because you created a group (i.e. “if you build it they will come” doesn’t work), and getting over the considerable barriers of limited time and varying degrees of techy skills requires you to make the sign up process quick, easy and low-tech.

What is the point of Twibes and other legal communities on Twitter @CynthiaRRowland????

There are a few reasons to join:

1. You may want to find other lawyers or legal professionals who you may want to follow on Twitter. This can help supplement your efforts to crib followers off of other people’s Twitter friends lists, and is easier than going through the trouble of running two internet browsers on your desktop and using Google as a sort of third party Twitter Search.

2. You may want to be found by other lawyers or legal professionals who are interested in what you have to Tweet, and you may gain followers.

3. You may want another venue to re-broadcast your Tweets. Much like the static lawyer directories like the Cornell Law School Directory re-broadcasts of your Tweets can enhance your exposure and your presence in search engines.

4. You likely won’t use these communities as a new place to view a Twitter stream, but you could. Most Twitter users want to follow a Twitter stream that relates directly to them.

Generally I would say that Twitter communities for lawyers are very useful, and very helpful when it comes to networking with folks who are your networking targets, not just any Twitter user who may come along.

Related Articles

For the Birds: LegalBirds: Twitter Directory for the Legal Community

Lawyers Are Building Community Online

Follow David Barrett on Twitter @barrettdavid