I always assumed that my youth (or quasi-youth) would guarantee me superstar status in connection with social media. I am not sure why I thought this, because my first foray into Facebook was a bit of a disaster. I was quite late to the party, joining years after I realized that everyone was doing it. To compensate, I went on a mad dash to accumulate as many friends as possible. I sent out friend requests to people that I had barely known, mistreated, been mistreated by and would not acknowledge if I saw them on the street. I would also accept anyone’s friend request. I recall that about a month after I joined, a man with no common friends sent me a request. His name was “Summertime,” he had no last name, and his picture was him without a shirt and holding what appeared to be an ax. I gladly accepted his request. Looking back, I shudder to think what a social media expert would have concluded was my personal brand based on viewing my profile.
Years later, when I became @ValerieLKatz, I forgot my Facebook failure and assumed that I would be a Twitter phenomenon. I believed, as with Facebook, that the only thing that mattered was to have a lot of tweeps.
So how do you get the tweeps, I wondered?
I still do not know. I mistakenly assumed that all followers of @DavidLat would follow me. And, I did not even ask if he would be the Lupe Fiasco to my Nikki Jean (although I did contemplate asking @JayShep for a swap). When that did not happen, I decided to follow the sage advice of Shoeless Joe and I built it. I added a snazzy photo and a captivating bio, but then I froze. I did not know what to tweet. I have continued to have tweeter’s block since that time, unless I am retweeting something someone else said. Whenever I attempt to write original material, it ends badly. For instance, I once attempted to compose a tweet to engage small-firm attorneys to discuss issues relevant to their practice. Despite my best efforts, the tweet looked like a ransom note.
The time has come for me to learn how to tweet. Why? Because the Wall Street Journal said so. In an article entitled Young Lawyers Building Buzz Tweet By Tweet, young Manhattan criminal defense attorneys were profiled for their effective use of Twitter. The article notes that “[i]n New York, where the criminal justice system often ensnares professional athletes, celebrities, mobsters and Wall Street titans, a lawyer’s media savvy sometimes can count almost as much as courtroom performance. The old tools of branding — snazzy ties, confident bluster and gimmicky ads — are being replaced by a prominent web presence.”
To develop their media presence, these attorneys tweet important updates about their firms, news about criminal law, and information about their media appearances. And the results have been positive. According to Zachary Johnson, a young lawyer with mad Twitter skills,
You gain a reputation based on what you do inside the courtroom. At some point you have to win big cases. No amount of blogging or tweeting is going to put you on that level. But can you get a big case using social media? Absolutely.
I need help to become like Johnson or @DavidLat. If you are a twitter pro, please email you with your advice on how I can also become a pro. The person with the best pitch will be featured in a column about best practices to brand yourself and benefit your tweeps using Twitter through valuable links and comments.
In short, #IneedallthehelpIcanget. And if you are reading this, “Summertime,” put down your ax and retweet me.
When not writing about small law firms for Above the Law, Valerie Katz (not her real name) works at a small firm in Chicago. You can reach her by email at Valerie.L.Katz@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter at @ValerieLKatz.