The Time Blawg – Two Years On (Part 1: Social Media)
On 1 January 2011, The Time Blawg materialised.
One year ago I looked back at the first year of The Time Blawg – One Year On.
Today I will look back at what went on during the second year of The Time Blawg with specific reference to Social Media and give my thoughts on what 2013 has in store for social media and lawyers. Part 2 will follow on the topic of Blawging, Part 3 on Legal Technology and Part 4 on anything that is left for me to sweep up (QualitySolicitors perhaps).
It is almost 4 years since I started tweeting and it still amazes me how much is being written about lawyers and Twitter. I am still regularly asked to comment on such matters and indeed I am being filmed for a documentary on the topic next week.
However, whilst a Twegal (tweeting legal) pioneer, even I apparently get it wrong. Just the other day I was criticised for wishing many of my followers a Happy New Year using the hashtag #FirstFoot. This was seen by some as filling their timeline with spam. If you can’t be social by wishing followers a happy new year on social media then what can you do?! I don’t do Follow Friday very often but plan to continue my annual #FirstFoot which I have now been doing for the past 3 years. With well over 100 replies of thanks and well wishes this year I reckon I can cope with a few Twitternezer Scrooges going Bah Humbug. They probably also object to my law firm, Inksters, and their followers tweeting photos of Christmas Hats!
It is often tweeted these days, by those of us who have been there since the early days, that the fun has been taken out of Twitter. This does, at times, appear to be the case but let’s put it back when we can.
In late 2012 I was scolded for Inksters taking breaks from Twitter. Apparently Inksters “had undoubtedly been for some time a steward of the industry showing others how to do it”. However a 16 day episode of non-Tweeting “was ostensibly a dereliction of that Twitter client and industry duty”. On the contrary my view is that solicitors can and should take breaks from Twitter. My views are set out in two posts: Why lawyers can take breaks from Twitter and prior to that Tweeting less but meeting more.
As Veep tweeted on New Year’s Day:-
Took 19 hours but have seen my first “how to tweet” tweet of 2013. How about we just respect the choices of people to tweet as they choose?
— Veep (@PrincessofVP) January 1, 2013
Veep is correct in that there are too many people telling us how we should or should not tweet. Let people find their own way. As Charon QC says there are “no rules”. With that policy he notched up 100,000 Legal Tweets on 3 April 2012. To some social media Gurus he will have completely missed the ‘sweet spot’ of tweeting!
There may, however, be an argument that a little guidance to the uninitiated might not go amiss and “no rules” could land some lawyers in trouble as indeed happened to @GeekLawyer. I blogged about this last January: Lawyers cannot hide on Twitter.
Law firms, in particular, perhaps need a little nudge that being social on social media should involve at least some interaction and not just broadcasting or retweeting yourself/your other accounts or autotweeting Paper.li tweets or the like. Having mentioned Paper.li I had promised a follow up in 2012 to my 2011 post on Should lawyers have their own Paper.li?. Sorry I didn’t get around to that in 2012 but perhaps I will manage it in 2013. I do have some thoughts to share.
Law firms and lawyers are certainly at times receiving the wrong messages from marketers. One such marketer who compiles a monthly list of the top 100 lawyers to follow on Twitter had his top tweeter in July 2012 being a lawyer who had hardly tweeted in over two years: Top Lawyer to Follow has only tweeted three times in two and a half years! Despite my post that Top Lawyer to Follow has only fallen to Number 2 in the marketer’s December 2012 list!
2012 saw a number of successful Twegals Tweetups (my preferred term to what is alternatively known as Tweeting Legals Tweetups). Linda Cheung and I hosted the #Lex2012Tweetup – The First Anniversary Twegals Tweetup in April and other well attended ones were organised by Shireen Smith, Jonathan Lea, Jon Harman and David Allison. This included a change in format as David Allison introduced the comedy Trial to proceedings. I mention the two ‘Trials’ in my post Charon QC’s UK law tour (in a jag rouge) and his impending trial and the second ‘Trial’ in Tweeting less but meeting more. Adding an extra dimension to Tweetups is also something that Michelle Rodger did in Glasgow in 2012 with #themeet140 (Tweetups for all Tweeps and not just Twegals). Her innovation was to introduce a chat show format (“Question Time meets Top Gear”) to the Tweetup with a social media related topic. I was on the panel of the first one in May: Social Media and Legal Action: themeet140 Debate. Perhaps this is a format we could see at a future Twegals Tweetup?
A Tweetup for legals organised in December with not much notice and perhaps too soon after the second ‘Trial’ was not well attended (I believe the organiser didn’t even go!) and Jon Harman wondered if this was the death of Tweeting Legals:-
The official death of #tweetinglegals twitter.com/colmmu/status/…
— Jon Harman (@colmmu) December 12, 2012
I hope not and that this was just a blip in the life of Twegal Tweetups. On Hogmanay Jon posted a brilliant compilation video of some of the 2012 Tweetups:-
FF New Year – An Ode to Tweetups from Jon Harman on Vimeo.
The Future of Social Media for Lawyers
Hopefully, we will see many more Tweetups like those shown in Jon’s video taking place in 2013. Face to face networking following on from the virtual kind can be very powerful. Shireen Smith has recently set up a LinkedIn Group for Tweeting Legals and she will be organising the next London Tweetup on Monday 11 Februray 2013 (details to be announced soon). I trust this LinkedIn Group will work hand in hand with Mike Briercliffe’s Twegals LinkedIn Group (not to be confused with the alternative Tweagle LinkedIn Group – although all three Legal Tweeting Groups should liaise!) where Tweetups have been advertised in the past. Following on from Shireen’s Tweetup on 11 February Jonathan Lea will be organising one on Tuesday 19 March 2013 (again details to follow).
I would like to think we will see less debate about Twitter and Lawyers in 2013 but unfortunately I reckon there will be even more. I will no doubt add to that here at The Time Blawg!
Perhaps we will see more debate about lawyers using social media platforms other than Twitter: Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn or even Facebook anyone?
I would also like to think that Lawyers will start to realise that social media is a networking tool and accept it for what it is rather than believing there are a mass of potential clients eager to follow or friend them (there may be a few).
An acceptance that social media is not some magical answer to business development would also be nice. There are many other basics that most law firms need to sort out first (e.g. websites) before energy is expended on social media.
Use by lawyers of social media tools designed to help them manage their social media presence will perhaps get more attention. I plan to blog about cubesocial in 2013.
Brian, when I first organised a tweetup I gave it ‘Twegals’ as a hashtag without thinking of the Linked in group. It was a name I’d noticed on Twitter, and someone had set up a Tweagles group (spelt differently) on Twitter. I hadn’t intended to be partisan when choosing Twegals as the hashtag, the aim being purely to have a hashtag for the tweetup. So I came up with the Tweetinglegals hashtag which has stuck ever since. Many tweetups have used the hashtag, and that’s why it seemed worth setting up a more permanent place where people could find details of its tweet ups and discuss them afterwards. So I set up the new TweetingLegals Linked in group purely to organise tweetups and discuss them. I’m not a member of Twegals, so I don’t know whether there is such an overlap between the groups aims as you suggest. I note you are one of the moderators of Twegals, but I’m not aware of its aims being to organise tweetups. I hope you’ll agree that they each have their own distinctive roles to play, and are not treading on one another’s toes so to speak. As for alternative styles of tweetup, I’ve got a number of ideas to ring the changes.
I recall a heated debate on Twitter over the use of the Term “Twegal” (which is, of course, simply an abbreviation of “Tweeting Legal”). Some Tweeting Legals made it clear that they did not wish to be associated with the term as they didn’t like it. Around the same time a similar debate raged over Blawgs and Law Blogs. It appeared those that were happy being blawgers were also on the whole happy being Twegals but if you were a Law Blogger you wouldn’t be a Twegal. I thought it was that debate that resulted in the use of the non-abbreviated Tweeting Legals to keep the anti Twegal Brigade on board. And if that was necessary to create unity I had no difficulty with it. Although, I think through time views may have mellowed a bit on abbreviations in Twitter. Only lawyers would want to maximise word length rather than reduce it even with only 140 characters to play with!
I certainly don’t want to reopen the ‘are you a Twegal or a Tweeting Legal?’ debate. Like Blawgs and Law Blogs we have both terms and some will use one or the other. Often we end up using both with hashtags #Twegals and #TweetingLegals appearing in tweets as indeed do #Blawgs and #LawBlogs together. That is the way it is and that is fine.
The Twegals LinkedIn Group is a place for Legals to discuss Twitter which includes Tweetups. It also has an associated Twitter account @Twegals. It is not particularly there to organise Tweetups but its members have organised them and it has historically advertised them. The Tweeting Legals group is also discussing Twitter use (not just Tweetups) including my recent post on taking breaks from Twitter. This is fine. Debate is good. But there are cross overs between the two Groups and there will be with the Tweagle Group also. My only point was that with there now being three Legal UK Tweeting Groups on LinkedIn (there is also the perhaps more International one: Legal Tweeters) I hoped they would work together (with notifications, if appropriate, appearing on more than one) and not compete with one another. Perhaps someday all three will merge into one.
Looking forward to seeing your ideas taking shape for alternative styles of tweetup to ring the changes. This would be a useful topic for discussion on the Tweeting Legals LinkedIn Group.
Thanks for your post on this Brian and reminding me of the legal twitter world. From which I seem to have been a bit absent of late.
However I have not been absent from twitter, and can report that I HAVE had several new customers from twitter – they said so!
I mostly use twitter now for re-tweeting my blog posts and useful articles I find on the web in my ‘niche’ in the hope that followers will then pick up on occasional marketing tweets. Which they do.
I have started using a service called Buffer (nearly typed something else then – the g key is very close to the f key …) which I find very useful. It allows me to add tweets which they then release over time. Has anyone else used this?
Living as I do in the remote fastness of Norwich, I won’t be able to attend any London tweetups but I wish you all the best for them.
Business can and does indeed come from Twitter. I find on the whole it comes via referrals rather than directly from the customer. However, I think the chances of a customer coming directly through Twitter is higher when you have a niche area that you are Tweeting about as, of course, you do. The same would be true, for example, of my niche @CroftingLaw account.
Not tried Buffer. Is it any different from Scheduling a tweet through HootSuite? I see that HootSuite have a new ‘Auto Schedule’ function but I have not tested that yet.
Hope to catch up with you again IRL sometime soon even if not at an organised London Tweetup.
I like buffer because it is really easy. There is a little buffer icon on my browser which I click when I come to an article i think interesting. Buffer then saves the link and stores it up to release over time.
So I can do a lot of tweets within a short period of time but have them released gradually. I know Hootsuite (which I also use) does that too, but it is more bother to set it up on Hootsuite.
Hootsuite is still great though as it does lots of other stuff, whereas buffer just releases tweets over time (or at least thats all I use it for)..