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Kevin O’Keefe: Smart Lawyers Will Use Twitter for Client Development

Posted Oct 14, 2009 12:00 PM CDT
By Kevin O'Keefe

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Kevin O'Keefe

Imagine 15 years ago as a practicing lawyer taking 30 minutes in the morning to skim news headlines from 400 or 500 reliable news sources you selected because they offered news and commentary related to your work as well as monitoring keywords relevant to your area of law (clients' names, subjects, cases, and the like) for their use in the news and private commentary.Then in the same 30 minutes you instantaneously shared 10 or 12 of those headlines, with a very short comment, with 1,000 people who looked as you as a reliable authority in your niche. The people you shared the headlines with included clients, prospective clients, referral sources, and their influencers (reporters, publishers, conference coordinators, civic leaders, association leaders, and the like).

Let's get crazier yet. Imagine many of the recipients of the information you shared in turn shared the information with their friends, business associates, reporters, and association leaders. Of course they gave you attribution as the source of the information.

As long as we're getting nuts, imagine a little button in their attribution to you which everyone knew to push to see what you did as a lawyer and who you do it for. Because of course those second hand recipients wanted to sign up to get these morning blurbs from you. They too saw you as a trusted and reliable source in your niche area of the law.

Imagine if I told my law partners in 1994 I was going to start to do the above as a means of tasteful and effective client development? "Sure, When cows fly. Go make in your office and take your medicine."

Well, with the use of a newsreader and Twitter the above is not only doable, it's something I try to do each day.

Not only do I learn by skimming the latest news so as to improve my company's service to clients, but my brand as a thought leader in my niche is going through the roof.

Blog traffic up. Comments on my blog up. Speaking engagements up. Calls from reporters up. Calls from law firms asking me to speak at their firms up. Employee swagger at my company knowing folks are working at the known leader in the industry up. And most importantly, bottom line revenue up.

This 30 minutes probably produces a higher ROI than any client development work I do.

Let me give you a couple examples from my use of Twitter one recent morning:

I shared that use of Microsoft's Bing Search Engine was up for the third month in a row and had a 9% market share.

Then, I was able to see that 84 people had clicked on the link I shared on Twitter earlier that morning.

Among a number of other things I shared on Twitter: I tweeted word of my blog post referencing Larry Bodine's piece in Marketing the Law Firm Newsletter saying that Twitter was a waste of time for client development.

Later, I was able to see that 161 people had viewed my blog post via the link I shared on Twitter that morning.

In addition on both of those items I saw numerous legal professionals and other folks share what I tweeted with their followers on Twitter ('retweeting').

I have more than 6,000 people who follow me on Twitter. The vast majority of those followers are lawyers, other legal professionals (managing partners, CMO's CKO's, CIO's), marketing & communications professionals, reporters/editors, publishers, conference coordinators and the like.

That group has a high percentage of what I'd call innovators, leaders, and influencers. They are go getters growing their businesses. They think outside the box. They spread what they read and hear via email, blogs, newspapers and conferences.

These folks have come to rely on me for news and commentary I see on networking through through the Internet, client development for lawyers, social media/networking, 'Web 2.0' and the like. I am their trusted intelligence agent.

This is the type of audience a PR professional dies for. And a tool to put me in touch with my target audience on a daily basis? Never happened before.

And as an added kicker I am nurturing and making meaningful relationships with the people I want to get to know. We're becoming friends of each other.

Start small. You are not going to have 1,500 valuable followers overnight. Growing an audience interested in news related to your niche area of the law from 50 to 100 to 500 can take time.

That's okay. You're strengthening your brand as a reliable and trusted authority in a niche and making relationships with your target audience everyday. It's the stuff law firm client development dreams are made of.

Call Twitter mindless babble that's beneath lawyers if you like. Smart lawyers and law firms will ignore such mindless rhetoric and use Twitter as a high ROI relationship building tool.

This essay originally appeared as a blog post at Kevin O'Keefe's Real Lawyers Have Blogs. O'Keefe, a veteran trial lawyer, is the CEO of LexBlog, Inc. Before that, he founded the online community Prairielaw.com, which was incorporated into Martindale-Hubbell's lawyers.com.

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