A major study released this month by Stone Temple Consulting provides excellent insight into Twitter from the perspective of Google and marketing as a solo attorney or law practice. The net result of the study is this: if you have less than 10,000 followers the likelihood that any activity on Twitter will be noticed, much less indexed by Google is zero. The vast majority of attorneys on Twitter don’t have anywhere near 10,000 followers. The study goes on to show that in order to reach more than a 10% index rate, you had to have more than 1,000,000 followers. When you combine this with Matt Cutts’ (Google engineer in charge of web search quality regarding spam) recent comments about the absence of social media signals from Google’s organic search algorithm a logical question arises:
If Google isn’t paying attention to Twitter accounts with less than 10,000 followers (for all intents and purposes) why should I even consider Twitter as a part of my strategy?
If your sole purpose of being active on Twitter is to improve your website’s performance in organic search results you probably need to re-evaluate. That being said, I believe there are several reasons to continue to be active and participate in the Twitter community as an attorney.
Why Attorneys Should Participate on Twitter
The first reason is connection. I have personally met with literally thousands of attorneys over the past 10 years, and my first question is always: “What is your best source of new business?” With two exceptions the answer is without hesitation: “Referrals.” The first reason therefore to participate is to expand your network of connections and to provide genuine value in a way that demonstrates your expertise, experience and the quality you will bring to any client relationship. You never know when an online connection will become the next source of a great referral. Providing insight on recent developments in the news, and interpretations of legal developments within your niche can and will attract people with like interests and bring new clients through the door.
The second reason is validation. Referrals are researching (on average) 4 to 7 potential candidates before selecting a lawyer, and they are looking for evidence of their own: evidence that you are a thought leader, prominent, experienced. Social media is considered a business basic, especially as your target audience gets younger. The presence of an active Twitter account shows that you are technologically savvy and engaged with the world and your online audience. If they review your tweets, you want them to see posts that showcase your expertise and accomplishments, as well as a bit of your personality.
This also falls under a “branding” conversation, as well as “reputation management”.
The number one reason people hire an attorney is expertise – their ability to successfully resolve the legal issue faced by that client. Reason 1A is close thereto – can they connect with you on a personal level? For most legal situations the client is going to be sharing some fairly intimate information – even if its business related. They want to be able to connect with you on a human level.
The third reason is knowledge and intelligence. The online world changes literally daily, and the ability to stay current with developments and changes is a critical component of maintaining your competitive edge. If you are a business attorney targeting a local company, the Twitter account of one of its officers could provide excellent insight into ways to connect with them. If they are constantly tweeting about cigars, you might want to consider relevant information and experience with cigars as an opportunity for establishing and building a connection. Following other prominent attorneys in your region or state can provide market intelligence and insight into their minds. Not to mention the added benefit that they’ll usually follow you back!
Finally, there are other search engines than Google. Like any other piece of information, this study provides insight that is valuable, but it must also be viewed in context and perspective. Success leaves clues, and successful attorneys are often social attorneys.