Using the Twitter List Feature

Twitter released a new feature that I think has some use for lawyers promoting their firms online. The feature, called “lists,” lets you create lists of other users. So…why is this helpful?

1. There may be particular users you really like to read, but if they are mixed in with lots of other users, then it will be much more difficult to track their updates. If you move those users into their own lists, then you have a way to just read the updates of those users you really like.

2. It is possible to follow someone else’s list. So…if there is another user you really respect and he creates a list of high quality users, then you can follow that list. Also, if there are other users (or more of your own accounts) you would like to help spread around, then you can stick those users into your own lists, which help spread them around.

To create a list, click on the Create a New List button. Then give your list a name and add users to it. You can search for users using the search text box or you can add existing users you follow to the list. To do that, you just have to visit those users’ Twitter pages, then click the Lists button at the top. Your newly created list will appear as an option. Click on the list name to add that particular user to the list.

If you use Twitter for marketing your law firm, then you should definitely begin using the lists feature.

Building the Ultimate Social Media Tool for Lawyers

We are working on development of a proprietary Twitter management application that will combine many of the best features of the applications we use now to manage our Twitter accounts. This program will also become the basis of another version created specifically for the legal industry. It seems many lawyers are having a hard time with this social media stuff, and they need a tool to guide them, tell them exactly what to do, and take much of the work off their shoulders. That is exactly what our program will do.

If you are in charge of marketing for a law firm, we would love to hear from you about what kind of tool you need to take advantage of social media. Do you want something to update Facebook? Do you just want something that makes it easy to find groups on social media sites? What would be your ultimate tool?

Email me at jwork@workmedia.net.

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. I’ve spent most of my blogging time (of which I have very little) maintaining our newest blog, www.theTwitterMarketingBlog.com, so every other blog we manage, including our main Internet marketing blog at WorkMedia.net, has gotten the shaft. Actually, most of my spare time (is there really such a thing?) has been soaked up on the Twitter development mentioned above, so even the Twitter blog has not gotten too much love.

Using TweetDeck to Organize Your Twitter Account Using Groups

Some people’s approach to Twitter marketing is to just get all the Twitter followers you can. Some people are much more selective, and only follow those who belong to a very narrow niche. I’m in the middle. I have not done the things to generate tens of thousands of users, but I have also used some automation to build up a follower list, while concentrating on those who deal with marketing, especially legal marketing.

But even taking the middle ground and only dealing with a couple thousand followers, it can be difficult to manage. Most of us can’t really sit around all day and do nothing but read peoples’ tweets. But if you never read the tweets of those you follow, you are going to miss some opportunities.

One tool for keeping up with those you follow is TweetDeck. TweetDeck is a client side program (meaning you install it on your computer, versus running it from a web site) that presents your Twitter information in a nicely laid out, organized way using columns. By default, the tweets from all of your friends are listed in a column on the left-hand side of the screen (although columns can be moved around however you want). The next column lists tweets that mention your user name. The third column lists direct messages. The last column, by default, shows TweetDeck recommendations, which I found to be a waste of space. I use that column to build out groups.

The ability to lump those you follow into groups is an extremely useful function. The fact is, if you take the steps to build up a large list of people you follow (and who follow you), there are going to be a lot of people that you’re really not that interested in reading. Likewise, there are going to be some people who you really want to keep up with. The way to account for this is to place those you really want to read into groups. For instance, in my account, I have a group called “Legal Marketing” that contains users who discuss, well, legal marketing. If I did not have these people grouped, their tweets would just be mixed in with all the other tweets of people I follow and I would not see nearly as many of them.

An attorney might group other users by practice area, state, or any other criteria that makes sense. Or maybe you just do what I do, which is group based on marketing function. There are probably quite a few people on Twitter, like me, who blog and tweet on subjects related to Internet marketing. No book, magazine or even web site will ever be as cutting edge as information being posted in real time by practicing Internet marketers.

You may choose to use groups differently, instead just grouping anyone you find interesting regardless of their line of work or the nature of their tweets. That is fine. But however you do it, you should find a way to organize your Twitter account so that you don’t drown in a sea of random tweets.

Quick tip: After you have set up your groups, as you scroll through tweets from various users, if there is a user you would like to place into a particular group, you will see a small “+” sign icon that you can click to add the user to one of your groups. As you watch your account and notice users that belong in one of your groups, go ahead and move them. Over time, this process will result in a number of groups that are highly focused.

An Important Lesson from the Twitter Meltdown

Yesterday Twitter blew up. From what I understand, there was a “spamcloud” (whatever that means), and in response, Twitter suspended many thousands of accounts of innocent users (including mine).

It goes without saying that this is very poor policy on Twitter’s part, and the kind of thing that could kill the app. I think Twitter needs to keep in mind that there will be competitors come along to try and knock it down, and this kind of policy is the kind of thing that will hasten its demise.

Here is an important rule of Internet marketing that this episode highlights:

You should spend your time and resources promoting properties that you control.

Twitter owns your Twitter account. Do you own your Facebook account? Nope. Your LinkedIn account is not yours. You are at the mercy of those sites to stay in business and keep your account live.

A simple solution is to point your own custom domain names to your social media pages. For instance, if you have a Facebook Pages page, then you could register a domain name that point to that page. If Facebook goes down or just decides that it doesn’t like you any more, then you can just repoint the domain name somewhere else. If you have promoted a particular domain, rather than the default page name, then you have control. Facebook owns you if you have spent all of your time promoting the default Facebook URL.

So be proactive. Do not let yourself be a victim to the whims of whatever social media sites you like to use. Spend your time optimizing and promoting your own web site, and use custom domains for promoting your social media pages. Then maybe you can avoid the next meltdown such as what happened with Twitter this weekend.

As always, get in touch with me if you need some help implementing an aggressive Internet marketing campaign for your law firm. Contact 888-299-4837 or www.WorkMedia.net.

And I invite you to check out my favorite Twitter management tool for free at www.TryTweetLater.com.

Official Product Recommendation: Tweet Later

I have been searching hard for the best tools for managing a Twitter account, and the single best one I have found is Tweet Later. I started using the free version a while ago, and I just upgraded to the professional (paid) version, and I love it!

With the free version, you can automatically follow back anyone who follows you and send the person a direct message. Just doing those two things help tremendously in building up a Twitter following.

If you are serious about using Twitter as a marketing tool, then it is well worth the money to upgrade to the professional version of Tweet Later. With the paid version, you can pre-configure a bunch of spinnable tweets to be posted at regular intervals. If you set it up right, this can save you a TON of time managing your account.

If you already have a lot of content to link to in your tweets, then this strategy is a little easier to implement. For instance, if you have been publishing a blog for a while, or doing article marketing, then you can set up a bunch of tweets that link to various blog posts or articles.

If you don’t have any existing material to set up lots of tweets for, you can still make good use of the system. It just might take more work to come up with material for all of your pre-configured tweets.

I do VERY little affiliate marketing because most affiliate products are junk (not that stops me from buying many of them in the pursuit of new tools for my toolbox). But I am impressed enough by this product that I am officially promoting it to my readers. I officially recommend the professional version of Tweet Later. To learn more, visit this link:

http://www.tweetlater.com/86969.html

There is a one week free trial (no credit card required!), so I definitely recommend you try it out with all of its features.

Integrating Twitter into Your Law Firm Web Site

In a blog post I recently wrote, I talked about how important it is to integrate your legal marketing efforts; blog to web site, offline to online, etc. Everything should fit together. I think one important strategy is using RSS to stream your blog content into the static pages of your web site. Sometimes it can be tricky to work out the code to make it happen, but it’s a beautiful effect when your entire web site gets updated every time you make a new blog post. This can be especially helpful for law firms, since the business lends itself to content creation and blogging.

While Twitter is a fairly new concept to me personally, I am warming up to it and am exploring the idea of using streaming Twitter content to update web pages as you would blog content. While the code for streaming blog content can be tricky, Twitter makes it fairly simple. The first step is to log onto Twitter and then look at the bottom menu, where you will click the Apps link. Then click the Widgets link and select the type appropriate for your site. From here you can create an HTML widget or a Flash-based widget. Since the goal of this experiment is to have the text streamed to your web site, I feel like the HTML widget makes more sense. When using the Flash widget, you also have a greater chance of excluding some users from seeing the content if they do not have the correct version of Flash.

Next, you can just copy and past the supplied code into the pages of your web site. If your site uses include files, then you can easily stream your Twitter data throughout your site by including the widget code in an include file. On www.law-firm-internet-marketing.net, for example, the following include file wraps up the side menu:

#include virtual=”leftside.asp”

By doing this, it enables you to change one file to update your entire site, instead of having to manually update every single page.

You may need to do some in-line CSS styling if the widget does not look quite right. As an example, I was not happy with the look of the bulleted lists of posts after I installed the widget, so I used the following style to depress the bullet point: style=”list-style-type:none;”.

There are other Twitter apps that I will talk about in later blog posts, but I advise you to take a look at the Twitter widget for the purpose of integrating Twitter content into your mainstream law firm Web content.

Need some help with integrating your social networking with your other online marketing? Contact Work Media at 888-299-4837 or email Info@WorkMedia.net.

Twitter: Keep it Interesting!

After many months, I have updated my Twitter profile and uploaded an image of myself. I am no longer a brown squiggly. I will now post a minimum of one Twitter post a day (hopefully more if I can find the discipline). I feel good about this new initiative, although I’m going to have to give myself some visual reminders to post.

Are you on the Twitter yet? You may feel like sitting around typing little snippets about your life is a waste of time. And justifiably so. But here’s the lowdown. Twitter really can help you build up an online network of people who are interested in what you have to say; who can influence events in your life. It has a real world business purpose.

So start today. Sign up for an account. Add a custom background. Modify your profile. Replace the bland brown icon with a picture of yourself. Give people something to look at.

Your Twitter posts should: contain relevant keywords; be industry specific; and be interesting to read. Being funny sometimes ain’t a bad idea either. People need to enjoy reading your posts.

I’m a professional search engine marketer, but I’m a newbie at using Twitter. As I learn things, I will share them with you here. But I guess one thing I do know at this point is that you’ve got to make things interesting!

If you would like to check out my Twitter profile, my URL is: http://twitter.com/jwork

Also check out The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book, available on Amazon.com, to learn how to build and execute an aggressive online marketing campaign for your law firm’s web site.