Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Twitter use in the UK legal sector
@lawyercatrin got the attention of many Tweagles yesterday by drawing our attention to a report published by intendance entitled “Focus on Twitter: An overview of Twitter use in the UK legal sector”. You can read The Lawyer’s synopsis of the report here.
The gist of the report is that: law firms are not very good at using Twitter; unless they are Allen & Overy apparently; Norton Rose are tenth in the law firm Twitter charts even though no Tweets have ever been Tweeted from twitter.com/NortonRoseGroup; and there’s some unnamed guy from Charles Russell (who we must assume is @TMT_Lawyer) who Tweets a lot.
The intendance report does not make any points that anyone half conversant with Twitter (and as a recentish convert I certainly do not make myself out to be an expert or anything approaching) could not work out for themselves. But.....if the results of the research are accurate (and I have not sought to verify them), then that suggests the law firms (meaning entities, not necessarily the lawyers within them) the subject of the research are indeed not half conversant with Twitter so should find it useful.
At this point it is traditional to start putting the boot into law firm partners: they don’t get it, the world is changing, blah blah blah.
But if I were a law firm partner, then I would be putting the boot into my business development and marketing teams.
I’ve just checked the Norton Rose and Allen & Overy Twitter accounts. If I worked in NortonRose comms, I’d have made sure I’d Tweeted something by now about why I hadn’t Tweeted before. And if I worked in Allen & Overy comms, I’d probably be Tweeting something self-congratulatory about the intendance research. Twitter silence however in both courts some 8 hours after @lawyercatrin Tweeted the story.
The Lawyer published a related article in December about PR agencies urging lawyers to wake up to social media. This generated a lot of fairly polarised comment from users, but one of the themes running through the posts is that law firms don’t “get” social media.
Now I know from my own experience Tweeting at legal conferences or seminars, that many lawyers don’t “get” Tweeting and give you a kind of small sympathetic what-a-loser-you-must-be smile when you explain what you are doing. But over time they will get it (and then those of us who like to think we had first mover advantage will complain that Twitter has become mainstream and staid and look for the next new thing. Quora anyone?). But the people in law firms who should definitely “get” Twitter *now* are their marketing and biz dev teams.
All of the law firms surveyed by intendance will have created a lot of valuable content over the last 12 months. Some of that content will be published in the nice glossy pamphlets that still sit in law firm lobbies (another note to law firm marketeers: kill the pamphlets, save the trees, and stick 10 iPads in reception with your client briefings pre-installed as PDFs. Gimmicky but catchy). A lot more of it will have been pushed out by email and deleted by in-house counsel that signed-up to email updates long ago with best intentions but tend to kill what they don’t need in their inbox.
Simple question to law firm biz dev folk: why aren’t you pushing that content out on Twitter?
Generic firm Twitter feeds are not enough. By way of example: twitter.com/dla_piper_news, bubbling under at number two in the intendance charts. DLA’s most recent Tweets relate to Dutch employment law, US bankruptcy law, UK environmental law and how the tax team held a seminar on the Tax Code of Ukraine. Now, unless there are many US companies facing bankruptcy and wondering what impact that might have on their Dutch-national but Ukranian-based employees’ tax status, that strikes me as a tad generalist as a Twitter feed.
Law firms: repackage your content please so that Twitter updates are sector specific, find users who you think will follow and who have decent followings, and deliver the content your lawyers have already created in a format that a heavily engaged audience will really appreciate and most likely use.
This request for tailored legal updates is not intended to negate or replace what I know is the real value of Twitter: engagement, community, interaction, conversation, debate and networking. This is where “the lawyers” within their firms do have a role to play and there are many outhousers out there leading the way (see aforementioned @TMT_Lawyer as one example).
But, looking at the intendance research, it looks to me like it’s the law firm marketing teams who need to raise their Twitter game, fast. And if I were a law firm partner then I’d be having a conversation with my marketing team soon about good old fashioned ROI in the context of good new fashioned social media.