Twitter for Law Firms: Better Tweeting Through Science

Dan Zarrella is one of the most influential people in social media because he takes a rigorous, empirical approach to proving, disproving and improving the basic elements of online networking and marketing.

In the following infographic, Zarrella illustrates how various factors affect click-through rates (number of clicks / number of followers = CTR) of hyperlinks embedded into tweets. The variables tested include:

  • The tweet’s length.
  • The position of the link within the tweet.
  • Your tweet frequency.
  • Common terms and phrases that stimulate click-through.
  • Best times of day to tweet.

As the saying goes, “individual results might vary,” but the beauty of Twitter is that it doesn’t cost you anything to run a test of your own.

Do you have any secrets for getting followers to click through? Retweet?

 

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 12.14.11

A digest of social media advice and tips for legal marketing.

Twitter for Lawyers: Not All Tweets Are Created Equal

There is no lack of tools that help you decide who to follow and unfollow on Twitter by examining the activity of accounts in your Twitter ecosystem.

One of the current “buzz” Twitter clients, Twit Cleaner, provides users a very interesting detailed breakdown of how it identifies potential “garbage” accounts among people, organizations and bots you follow on Twitter.

In general, tweets that demonstrate active engagement (e.g. “@” messages, retweets and links) are favored, while automated tweets (e.g. paper.li distributions, Foursquare check-ins, RSS bot feeds) count against you if used extensively.

After you request an analysis of your Twitter followers, Twit Cleaner sends you a Twitter direct message containing a link to your customized results. In addition to the statistical breakdown by “type,” the analysis includes thumbnail avatars of all the Tweeps in each category, which yield individual details as you mouse over each with your cursor.

To cull out the undesirables, just click on the corresponding avatars.

Here’s how the categories break down:

Potentially Dodgy Behavior

  • App spam – More than 50 percent of tweets are auto-generated messages, aka “app spam” (e.g. paper.li, Foursquare, blip.fm)
  • Uses advertising networks
  • Nothing but links – Few retweets, no “@” messages
  • Repeating the same URLs – Duplicates the same link more than 25 percent of the time
  • Posting identical tweets

Other Dodgy Behavior, Now Absent

No Activity in Over a Month

Not Much Interaction – Fewer than 10 tweets

  • Not active yet
  • Don’t interact with anyone – No “@” messages or retweets
  • Bots – M0re than 90 percent of tweets pumped out from an RSS feed
  • Hardly follow anyone – People who follow back fewer than 10 percent of those who follow them

All Talk, All the Time – Averages more than 24 tweets a day (excluding @ replies and direct messages)

Little Original Content – Retweets are 70 percent or more of total output

  • High percentage of retweets
  • High percentage of quotes

Not So Interesting – More than 50 percent of their tweets are about themselves

  • Self-obsessed
  • Relatively unpopular – Few followers

So if you’re having trouble attracting and/or keeping the  followers you seek on Twitter, a quick self-diagnostic might be in order.

Do Or Do Not. There Is No Try.

During a bout of insomnia earlier this week I decided to get caught up on my Twitter hygiene and prune inactive friends/followers from my legal marketing accounts. This includes using Twitoria to unfollow individuals who have not tweeted in more than a month. To my surprise and dismay, one of these inactives turned out to be one of the subjects of a blog post I had planned for this week.

What started off as a post on successful niche law practices is now a cautionary tale about the downside of abandoning or neglecting social media marketing once you’ve started.

I learned of Alison Rowe’s equine law practice last year during a Cordell Parvin webinar, and started following her on Twitter and subscribed to her blog. In an interview last July she discussed her integrated social media marketing strategy and activities in detail. Based on those strong first impressions, I added her to my editorial calendar for a future blog post.

After I discovered that Rowe’s last tweet was Sept. 3, I checked out her other online real estate and saw that she hadn’t posted on her blog since June 30. Her last activity on her Facebook page was a Jan. 10 response to a question that had been posted Dec. 15.

This story still turned out to be a case study, just not the one I intended.

Once you start publicizing your social media credentials, you risk serious damage to your personal brand if you don’t maintain a credible level of activity.  It’s not a problem to take a break from — or even eliminate — active engagement in certain platforms, or social media altogether. Just alert your followers to what’s going on.

If you know you’re going to be away from Twitter or your blog for a while, post a placeholder status, like “I’ll be on hiatus from [Twitter, blogging, Facebook] for a few months, but let’s stay connected on [Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn my blog, etc.]. ” If a platform isn’t working out for you and you don’t intend to resume activity, retire your account. Don’t just let it sit idle. It looks unprofessional. And you’ll disappoint Yoda.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3hn6fFTxeo&w=640&h=390]

My Picks for Notable Posts of the Week 11/12/2010

Twitter is like a Dremel tool: Either it sits on your workbench unused, or it’s indispensable for every project. It all comes down to:

  1. Having a clear use case
  2. Keeping your tool in good working order,  and
  3. Looking for new ways to use it.

The Social Media Examiner nailed the use case issue with “8 Simple Steps to Grow a Quality Twitter Following,” including considerations like targeting, frequency, format and keywords.

Franck Robert posted one of the most comprehensive and useful Twitter resource lists I’ve ever encountered. Following are just a few of the links he’s assembled:

Mashable Twitter Tips:

 It is all about facilitating conversations, so learning how to build your community is vital to getting the most from your experience.

 Twitter for Business

It’s not all play on Twitter — there’s serious business being done as well, and this guide will teach you how to put Twitter to work.

Last but not least, since so much of Twitter’s value derives from retweets, Hubspot backs into some actionable tips through interesting and helpful graphics illustrating “8 Ways to Not Get Retweeted.”

My Picks for Notable Posts of the Week 10/29/10

As any of my profiles (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) will tell you, at my personal and professional core I am a storyteller. As such, I look for ideas and inspiration in a lot of places. This week I found it in Judith Newman’s New York Times account of her experience with a juice-based “cleanse” diet. Informative and hilarious, it struck me as a metaphor for legal social media marketing:

  1. A simple premise for achieving important, difficult objectives.
  2. Low barriers to entry.
  3. Celebrity adherents and preternaturally cheery partisans (who also happen to sell the simple stuff required).
  4. Options to spend as much or as little as you choose, uncorrelated with probability of success.
  5. More effort, discomfort and discomfiture than anticipated.
  6. Combines sound, verifiable claims with outlandish, wishful ones.

Music business and technology blog Hypebot discussed the findings of a new report that found a brand’s Twitter followers were twice as likely as Facebookers who “liked” them to say they might make a purchase. In other words, you might have fewer Twitter followers than Facebook friends, but your tweeps could be more valuable.

Finally, today while researching a future post on the anatomy of successful niche practices — in this case, biking law — I came across an item about a 4-year-old-girl being sued for negligence in the death of an 87-year-old woman the child ran into with a bike. Several questions came to mind:

  1. Is there any way to sue a child without appearing despicable?
  2. How does one find a firm that will take such a suit?
  3. What do such cases do for the  personal/professional brand of the plaintiff attorney/firm?

Blog Hygiene

A friend I’ve known since college has a very strict bedtime preparation routine that he’s followed for many years to help him manage his chronic insomnia. He calls these rituals “sleep hygiene” — hygiene in the sense of consistent practices conducive to health.

“Blog hygiene” is never going to catch on as a social media meme — though heaven knows I’ve tried — but the metaphor is still useful. A few simple blog maintenance measures practiced consistently can make the difference between hosting a vibrant hub of ideas, or a dark and lonely terminus.

The basic components are simple:

  1. A regular rhythm of posts. Daily, twice daily (a.m./p.m), weekdays only — more is not better if it impacts the quality of the content or interferes with higher priorities.
  2. An editorial calendar. Unless you are a professional blogger or community manager whose job it is to ride the “trending topic” wave, focusing on real-time, same-day turnaround posts is too onerous and disruptive. That’s what Twitter is good for. Planning a week’s or a month’s worth of blog post topics, plotting them into an editorial calendar and maintaining that lead time keeps you focused and ensures you have solid, thought-through anchors. You can always add impromptu topics interstitially.
  3. An inventory of completed posts. Time is a tyrant if you’re continually writing for a deadline, or missing one because you don’t have anything in the hopper. Make sure you have three or four “anchor” posts from your editorial calendar queued up at all times. That way if you’re traveling, ill or just too busy to write, you don’t get in the weeds.
  4. Keyword performance monitoring. SEO hygiene warrants its own full discussion, but for the purposes of this post suffice it to say that regular checkups on your keyword performance, then adding, deleting and modifying accordingly, helps keep your SEO humming in the background while you focus on content development.
  5. Brevity. Confining your posts to a few key ideas makes them easier to write and easier to read. If you have a complex topic, or a lot to say on the subject, break it into a series.

Healthy blogs are happy blogs.

Party Ideas for Social Media Geeks

Forget game night. Forget LAN parties. And certainly forget paintball and laser tag.

As the content marketing tsunami builds in size and force, there’s not enough time in the work day to stay on top of what you need to — never mind the silly c**p that keeps you sane.

If you want to put a new spin on training, team building — or even event marketing — try organizing a “Webinar Night” for friends, colleagues and Tweeps. Of course, you’ll want to name it something more fun and inviting than that — maybe something with “Lounge” in it — but the premise is simple. Curate a playlist of webinars and videos you’ve seen/liked or have been “meaning to” watch (e.g. TechShow Ignite and  TED Conference presentations on YouTube) then have them play while you socialize, converse or create your own version of internet meme karaoke.

Note to lawyers: If you play your cards right, you might even be able to work a CLE angle into the evening.

Blogs on the Back Burner

There’s a very interesting article this week on the Wisconsin Law Journal site exploring why some longtime legal bloggers are posting less frequently — sometimes going weeks or months between posts.

Are they lazy? Lousy? Quitters? Or worst of all, apostates?

To me they seem like smart marketers attuned with the best channels for their time and financial resources.

There are several very sound reasons to cut back or otherwise shift gears on your blogging output:

  • The blog has plateaued or hit a point of diminishing returns for business development purposes.
  • Business development objectives have been met and can be leveraged through other means/platforms with less effort.
  • Subscriptions, pageview stats and other performance metrics can be sustained with fewer posts.
  • The blogger has more than one blog to maintain.
  • It’s not performing optimally and needs retooling/reconcepting.
  • It’s become a vampire, draining precious time and money.
  • Other social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook groups) are more productive/interesting/engaging.
  • It’s not fun anymore.

The net takeaway here is that the tapering off of post output by people who’ve been at it a long time, some with notable success, does not mean that blogging as a business development tactic is in trouble or that the bloggers themselves have lost their mojo. By design or default, their social media habits/mix have evolved.

And that’s…OK 🙂

Grammar Griefers Make Headlines with NYT Piece on “Twetiquette”

Yesterday I saw several tweets about a New York Times piece by a John Metcalfe on Twitter’s spelling, usage and grammar vigilantes, “The Self-Appointed Twitter Scolds.”

“A small but vocal subculture has emerged on Twitter of grammar and taste vigilantes who spend their time policing other people’s tweets — celebrities and nobodies alike. These are people who build their own algorithms to sniff out Twitter messages that are distasteful to them — tweets with typos or flawed grammar, or written in ALLCAPS — and then send scolding notes to the offenders. They see themselves as the guardians of an emerging behavior code: Twetiquette.”

One blawgger I follow on Twitter called it “douchiquette.”

Notwithstanding, to borrow a phrase from the “fellow traveler” handbook, while I don’t agree with their methods, they do have a point.

Back in March I wrote a post inspired by National Grammar Day (March 4th).

“Yes, there was some adolescent know-it-all-ism in there too, but over time I came to realize that grammar — like manners — is ultimately about making people feel comfortable. So even now, in the age of 140-character, thumb-typed communication, attention to spelling, usage and grammar are valuable because they make for clear, easy and enjoyable reading, and they inform the way others perceive your personal and professional brand.

  1. Sloppy writing conveys inattention to detail. What does that say about the quality of the product or service you’re selling?
  2. Glaring mistakes trip the reader or listener, and distract them from your message. A few days ago I was reading a post by a relatively well-known law marketing blogger and encountered the phrase “for all intensive purposes” — and that’s all I remember about it.
  3. Tolerances vary widely. Even if some — or even most — friends and business associates don’t care about spelling, punctuation and the occasional mangled sentence, some will. Is irritating or alienating even a small fraction of your clients due to lazy communication an acceptable loss?

For the record, I don’t profess to be a grammar expert or master prose stylist, and I am certain that martinets in the gotcha brigade could pick this post to pieces. Rather, for very concrete business reasons I am advocating vigilance and continual improvement in written and oral communication. Presentations and writing are products. Regardless of the power of your ideas, the color, fit and finish also matter, because they differentiate and distinguish your brand.”

And as the Twetiquette griefers have demonstrated, there’s an app for that.