Can answering Twitter’s ambiguous question, “What are you doing?” actually be an effective marketing tool for attorneys?  You’re a law firm, after all, not a local yogurt shop tweeting the flavors of the day.  If used well, however, those 140 characters or less can be leveraged to boost both your professional growth as well as the expansion of your client base for no money and very little time.  

Twitter describes itself as “a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting.”  This means that your law firm is to “follow” accounts that match your interests and you are to “tweet” information that matches the interests of your followers.  Think of Twitter as a good friendship, with a healthy balance of give and take.

You listen and learn from your friends, and you should do the same with Twitter.  Start following other law firms and professional organizations that speak to your legal field.  Find out what others are doing and saying.  What articles, news reports, and conferences are they tweeting about?  Use Twitter as an opportunity to network with others in your field and dialogue with them.  Ask questions and answer theirs.  Use it as a professional development opportunity to deepen your knowledge of your legal field by learning from other professionals that you follow.

Tweet regularly, but don’t be – as comedian Brian Regan puts it – a “Me-Monster.”  No one enjoys being friends with someone who is self-absorbed, so why would anyone want to follow a Twitter feed for a firm that boasts only about itself?  While Twitter can certainly be a platform for promoting your firm’s achievements, news updates, and blog posts, don’t use it strictly for that purpose. Think about your clients, your followers, and what would be most interesting or helpful to them.  Maybe it’s an informative news report, an event they might want to attend, or even another firm’s blog post (gasp!).   By only tweeting about your own firm, you’re effectively limiting the scope of your audience, as well as the value of your firm to those who follow you.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson famously put it: “The only way to have a friend is to be a friend.”  The give and take of a friendship is what sustains and grows it.  Similarly, Twitter can sustain and grow your business relationships.  Social networking services like Twitter are simply a way of making connections with people faster and easier.  Don’t underestimate the value of social media and its potential to benefit your business.