Plane tickets, hotel rooms, goods – anything and everything is only a few clicks away on the world-wide-web. Even legal services can be enlisted with a text message, and a 4 AM email sent from a personal computer can wake up factories on the other side of the world.

As Bill Gates most succinctly put it: “The internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.”

And that tomorrow is coming sooner than we might think (if it’s not here already). Where once there was a healthy skepticism about the dangers of online shopping, now you’re the odd one out if you only shop locally. In the early days of social media, it was the purview of younger generations who wanted a more efficient way to keep up with friends. Today, it’s become a prerequisite to having a social life.

Most lawyers know the importance of one-on-one communication. To be a relevant practice, you need multiple avenues for communicating with clients. Emails, texts, and answering services can’t be ignored, but neither can social media.

Over two-thirds of American adults have an active subscription to Facebook and other social media services. With that kind of traffic, legal marketing strategists ignore building a social media identity at their own peril.

This isn’t exactly fresh news, but there’s still the question of how to engage on these platforms. Social media is new enough that there isn’t one best practice for every situation, and the rules change often and keep even experienced legal marketers on their toes.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to learn. As part of our Kick-ass Legal Writing series, we’d like to shed some light on what we feel is in an important area of social legal marketing.

While there are many social media outlets, Twitter has proven to be one of the most effective tools for legal professionals seeking to build a social identity. Did you know that Twitter has over 255 million active users? Combined, they generate over 500 million tweets per day. This is real traffic that you can’t afford to ignore.

But how can you get their attention? Social media is a notoriously fast-paced environment, and only the most carefully crafted tweets will break through the noise. You need to be engaging, helpful, brand-conscious, and casual all at once if you’re going to make an impact.

So today, on the Filevine Blog, we’re going to talk about how to write a kick-ass tweet.

Is it really worth my time?

The modern law firm is a demanding business, and we understand that social media presence might not be at the top of your to-do list. Maybe you feel like you don’t have time to learn how to write better tweets. But you should know the stakes before you decide to sit out the game.

According to Twitter’s own research, over 60% of survey respondents stated that they had made a purchase from a small to mid-sized business based on something they saw in a tweet. That’s a strong majority of users and represents a significant number of leads that you can’t afford to pass by.

Even better, over 86% of respondents to the same survey said they planned to make a purchase from businesses in the future, and 43% state that they plan on making multiple purchases.

This tells us that Twitter – and social media in general – isn’t just a chance to score some bonus points before the end of the quarter. It’s a living, breathing marketplace. There’s real potential there to build a brand following and a loyal customer base, which can be a very powerful tool in today’s connected world.

This doesn’t undermine the importance of running tight SEO on your website, but it is fast becoming a major component of digital legal marketing.

Preparing to tweet

Now that we understand the importance of social media, let’s get down to brass tacks: How do I get my brand ready for Twitter?

For starters, it’s important to remember that you’re not exactly doing anything new. You talk to your customers every day; we’re simply moving those conversations online.

There are a few differences of course, but it’s important to keep that mindset fundamentally close to your overall legal marketing strategy. Your law firm already has a voice. You’ve used it to sign your current clients, and you’ll use it again on social media to garner a following.

But how you say something is only half the battle. You have to think about what you’re saying as well.

Users of social media are generally after the same thing: good, compelling content. While it’s 100% possible to only use Twitter as a place to have conversations with people interested in your product, you’ll be missing out on attracting a huge number of potential clients if you only use it in this way.

People don’t take to Twitter to find their personal injury lawyer, but they might click-through to read an article about how to avoid car accidents in the first place. This is why brand-generated content is so important: by becoming a trusted source of useful information, you can gain the familiarity needed to easily convert clients down the road.

Spend some time researching what your target customers consume on Twitter, and generate content that fits their specific needs. This is a chance to make your brand synonymous with good content and can lead to real growth in your social media channels.

How to write a kick-ass tweet

I think we’re ready for the main event now: How do you write better tweets?

In case we haven’t stated it clearly enough yet, there aren’t many rules to social media. We can only tell you what works well for us and for other legal marketers in general. It will take time and experimentation to find the perfect recipe for selling your own brand, but these 4 rules should get you off to a strong start.

1. Mind your Voice and Tone

You need to know the difference. Voice is “the distinctive tone or style of a literary work or author,” and tone is “the general character or attitude of a place, piece of writing, situation, etc.”

Why are voice and tone important? Because they are unavoidably linked to how your brand is perceived on Twitter.

For example: let’s say a follower tags you in a tweet about how great working with your law firm has been. You write back, “The pleasure was ours, mate! Hit us up if there’s anything you need!”

The same day, a follower tags you in a tweet about how awful working with your law firm has been. You need to reply in the same voice, but with a different tone. Something like:

“We’re so sorry to hear about your poor experience, mate. Hit us up if there’s anything we can do to help you.”

That might be a poor off-the-cuff example, but it highlights what we’re talking about with voice and tone. Keep voice consistent, and use tone to accommodate different situational needs.

2. Stay Conversational

Twitter isn’t a place the average user goes to find new products or services to buy. Users are there to find interesting content and to participate in conversations and discussions. So, keep things conversational!

Stay professional, but be careful not to come off as overly formal. This is a casual setting, and making people feel like it’s too much work to keep up the conversation can ruin the appeal.

Avoid using jargon and legalese! The most important takeaway here is that simplicity is almost always the best course. You don’t want to scare off potential clientele with complications before you’ve earned their trust.

3. Use Action Words

A call to action is an important component of any effective tweet. You’re not just asking them to read your post and scroll on – you’re asking them to click a link, retweet a blog post, like a joke, and engage.

So use action words! Studies show that tweets favoring verbs and adverbs have a clear advantage in engagement over using lots of nouns or adjectives. Get followers “off their feet” by inviting them to do something.

4. Don’t Drone On

Twitter is infamous for its space limit per tweet. If you’ve got something to say, you better say it in under 140 characters! But the sweet spot is actually a little lower.

It’s important to remember that Twitter happens in real time, so things move pretty fast. By being too verbose, or not verbose enough, you risk losing engagement.

So what’s the sweet spot? Most research suggests that 90-100 characters is the perfect length for a tweet. Any longer and users begin to skip forward through your tweet, skipping important details; any shorter, and the tweet might not stand out against the background.

This has been an instalment of the Filevine Writing Series. To learn about writing kick-ass emails, look here.

Why a writing series? While we might fantasize about the rousing Atticus Finch (or Matlock) oral argument before the judge and jury, the truth is law is a profession of writers. Our biggest moves come when our mouth is shut and our fingers are typing.

Whether you’re a new lawyer trying to impress your new colleagues and clients, or a seasoned lawyer looking to up your game, we hope the Filevine Writing Series brings you something helpful.