Whenever people ask me, “What is Twitter?” my automatic response is “Twitter is the proverbial water cooler.”
…all too often, I’ve noticed, this (semi-coy) answer leads to more confusion.
Though this may seem like a generalization, I’ve realized that people who ask me this question – namely, “what is twitter?” – have never visited the website or given Twitter a try. Whereas I’m trying to be coy or philosophical (but probably sounding like a cliched ass), this answer skips too many steps ahead for all of those Twitter virgins. How can you get an inside joke if you’ve never been on the inside?
Therefore, for anybody in the legal industry who is a complete novice when it comes to Twitter, I’d like to start from the beginning.
“What is Twitter?”
Twitter is a website that users join to connect with people. It allows users to broadcast status updates to the world – or to the user’s network – in real time.
The catch? Users must limit their status updates to 140 characters. (That is about the size of a text message.)
For an explanation of the BigLaw Tech Score, see this post.
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And, status updates? What are these? “Hi World, I’m brushing my teeth.” Is this a status update?
This could be a status update. It’s less than 140 characters. That’s the only rule. Users share any type of information in 140 characters.
Thinking of status updates in literal terms – like telling the world you are brushing your teeth – is a bit confining and unoriginal. It’s like thinking of a weblog as a frivolous log or personal journal. Nowadays, many people run serious businesses on blogging software.
Twitter, like a blog, can be a means to distribute professional content.
Similar to a professional blog, Twitter has much more potential than telling the world you brushed your teeth.
The only difference between Twitter and an actual blog is the bit-sized bits of information users share on Twitter. For this reason, Twitter is called a “microblogging” service.
Examples of Professional Status Updates
Instead of “Hello World, I’m brushing my teeth” how about a status update that includes:
- a new firm alert?
- a new blog post?
- a headline quoting firm lawyers?
Even if we forget about the other potential uses of Twitter (specifically, NETWORKING with attorneys and/or industry leaders), for most firms (big, small, mid-sized), these are ready-made resources. Twitter is merely another means of broadcasting already-made content to (more) potential clients and/or (more) potential colleagues.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are many informative posts out there describing how lawyers can use Twitter. I’m not going to go over them here. In fact, this is not even a post about how lawyers can benefit from using Twitter. I’m going to assume that it’s true. For the effort it takes to create a Twitter account, a free service, I’m going to assume that lawyers, law firms, and legal professionals will benefit.
My goal is much more elementary. In this next series of posts, I am going to walk through the process of setting up a Twitter account step-by-step and getting started with Twitter. While this series of posts is targeted for legal professionals, I hope that it entices more professionals to utilize Twitter in their careers.