Twitter for Lawyers: No More Excuses

This post originally appeared on the Spin Sucks blog Oct. 10.

Amidst all the froth about the new Facebook features and the general release of Google+, it’s easy for social media professionals not to spend much time considering the importance of simple tools.

We can get so focused on mastering the “next big thing” that we overlook applications that might seem basic to some.

But to others have the potential to fundamentally affect whether and how they can productively engage in social media.

For solo and small business owners who have the desire to participate in social media but believe they do not have the time to do so effectively, something as modest as an easier way to compose and schedule tweets can be transformational.

It’s in that sense the Buffer app is a “small wonder.”

While it’s generally thought of as just a tweet scheduling tool, my experience has been that it unlocks the promise of social media for businesses that have been sitting on the sidelines.

Unlike dashboard applications such as HootSuite and TweetDeck, which only allow tweets to be scheduled from within the client, Buffer enables users to compose tweets through a Chrome browser extension, then immediately post or add them to a queue without leaving the web page you’re reading.

Tweets placed in the Buffer queue are sent individually and sequentially based on the recurring schedule you’ve set for that day (as opposed to the Twitter clients mentioned above, which require scheduling to be done as each post is composed).

Schedule as many per day as you like (within reason and follower tolerance, of course).

You can essentially ignore Buffer at that point, but if you choose to, you can edit, reorder, delete, or immediately post your pending tweets from the dashboard.

OK, Buffer might be a one-trick pony right now — but what a trick!

I’m a voracious web surfer and RSS feed reader, and share a lot of content that I find interesting and actionable. But because I tend to do my surfing in the morning and late at night, before Buffer I had to manually copy/paste links and individually schedule a lot of my tweets to space them out.

As a result, I shared less content than I would have liked because scheduling was too cumbersome and time-consuming. Now I can tweet without breaking stride, and without inundating my followers with great clumps of tweets — “set it and forget it,” to borrow a Ron Popeil phrase.

That alone is well worth $10 a month.

So How Is that Transformational?

Buffer has been a very productive tool for me, but for some of my clients it has been almost revelatory.

I work primarily with professional firms and small service businesses, many of whom are wary of – or outright intimidated by – the perceived demands of social media. They understand they’re missing out on marketing and networking opportunities by not participating, but it’s difficult for them to envision an engagement strategy and tactics that would work for them.

For some, Buffer has broken through that reluctance and doubt because it meets them where they are in the adoption curve. It makes sense, it’s easy, it’s immediately useful, and it builds their confidence in – and appetite for — social media engagement.

Twitter for Lawyers: The Simplest Way to Schedule Tweets and Track Your Links

I started writing this post on Monday and, as often happens in social media, two big-name bloggers beat me to the punch with a level of thoroughness that left little to elaborate upon. So instead, I’ll crib, credit and cobble together some excerpts from those posts to make my point.

The condensed version is that lawyers who’ve been sitting on the Twitter sidelines, as well as Twitter veterans who want to boost their effectiveness, should immediately set up a Buffer account to schedule your tweets and a  bitly URL shortener account to monitor the activity of the links you’re tweeting.

What is Buffer? from Joel Gascoigne on Vimeo.

I’ve been tweeting and commenting a lot about tweet scheduling app Buffer lately, and Jay Baer came over the top with a full-throated endorsement this week:

“One of my favorite Twitter add-ons is Buffer, an easy-to-use service that allows you to quickly queue up many tweets at one time, with those missives and bon mots then automatically parceled out one at a time on a schedule you determine.(Buffer also works for Facebook)

For people like me that do a lot of curation via Twitter, this is a real workflow advantage. Instead of finding and tweeting interesting content several times daily, I can scan dozens of blogs and email newsletter and RSS feeds in one sitting in the morning, and then use the Buffer browser app to set up tweets throughout the day. Doing so allows me to focus my other Twitter interactions on engagement and response, rather than curation.”

“Buffer automatically sets up your tweets to be sent when more people tend to be using Twitter, naturally increasing potential audience for many Buffer users. You can override the Buffer default settings (as I do) to Tweet more often, on a more diffuse pattern, to include nights and weekends, and/or to Tweet closer to the top and bottom of the hour.”

I you’re unfamiliar with bit.ly, here’s Danny Brown’s elegant summary:

“Primarily a URL shortener to make it easier to share blog URL’s on space-restricted platforms like Twitter, bit.ly (like Hootsuite and BackType) offers a great mix of analytics about the amount of shares each post got, as well as the top referrers so you can see where the links were shared the most.

bit.ly metrics summary

Additionally, much like other analytic services, bit.ly also gives you a breakdown of the countries that have clicked through on your link. This is ideal for getting a better understanding of your readers, and whether you need to install a translation option or not.

You can also gauge when the most popular time of day (and day of the week) seems to be for your links, so you can then schedule tweets to go out at these times to maximize the chance for extra blog traffic at these times.

The bit.ly services offers free and premium versions, with the premium option offering branded links, a more in-depth dashboard and integration with other social media platforms.”

Have you tried either Buffer or bit.ly? Give them a shot. The free versions are plenty useful.