A new scandal has rocked the blogosphere, Tracy Coenen, long time blogger and Twitter user has quit Twitter forever. She has decreed that Twitter is no good for business development in her recent post “Why I’m quitting Twitter (and you should too)”. The facts are these: over the last two years she has sent over 2,154 tweets, has 2,154 followers and although she brings in substantial business from her blog, she has yet to land a single client directly from Twitter. What’s more, everyone she knows (except for one lawyer) hasn’t brought in much business through Twitter.
In response, Samantha Collier shares her insights at “In Response To: Twitter is a Failure for Law Firm Marketing” where she shares her experience that has been much different. Â Her firm has brought in clients through Twitter and has been able to build strategic relationships as a result. Her firm focuses on IP law, and frankly it may be a much better fit for Twitter than Tracy’s practice. I’m not sure, but one thing is clear- Twitter is not for everyone, in fact in a couple of years we may realize it has far better uses than for marketing (most of us already realize this.)
The two uses of Twitter that strike me are (1) Twitter’s utility to connect people that would never have met otherwise, and (2) the insights that anybody can gain by listening on Twitter and paying attention to the metrics. Â Twitter users realize very quickly that any post that is self-promotional falls flat. Â The information that really gets passed on is information that is true worthwhile. It may be funny, interesting, insightful or just helpful- but good information gets passed along through re-tweets.
A similar pattern is true about email and blogging and any number of forms of electronic communication- but none of them are as transparent as Twitter. Â I don’t Tweet nearly as much as I used to (although I do have over 21,000 tweets), partly because I have discovered that good articles get passed around because they resonate- not because they are shared on Twitter. Tweeting the same article multiple times during the day will effect total click-throughs in a measurable way, but it pales in comparison to what happens when you simply create great content. Â Mark Herrmann demonstrates this far better than I can.
In his recent piece “Empirical Proof that Twitter Doesn’t Work,” Mark shares metrics from his most successful articles. Those articles that had 12,000, 13,000 and 14,000 unique visitors had no measurable help from Twitter. Â While those most “re-tweeted” had far less traffic with around 4,000 hits each. Mark’s conclusion from this is that Twitter is not the engine that drives posts going viral. Â The argument however is faulty logic. Â If you read between the lines, what Mark’s article really proves is that posts that really go viral don’t need the help of Twitter. Â They get passed on the old fashioned way, through email. This makes sense though, doesn’t it? Â Don’t far more lawyers use email than Twitter? (Let’s be honest, 99.9% of lawyers use email) This is evidence of the power of networks to share information, but doesn’t clearly show that Twitter (a tool that by some estimates is used by less than 5% of US lawyers) is not good for generating traffic. Â That’s not to say that Twitter can’t help things along and help very influential people read about it, but email is still the most powerful tool there is in the social media world. (Annoying isn’t it? Like hearing that radio is still the most popular way to listen to music.)
I’m not suggesting lawyers abandon Twitter for email. Lawyers can lean a lot from Twitter. Â Lessons that can really help them with their clients. Â 1. Listen first. 2. Its more important to be interested than interesting (I learned that one yesterday at the CMO Conference from Tara Weintritt) 3. Nobody cares what you had for lunch. 4. Nobody reads boring content 5. The only way to receive on Twitter is by giving and 6. Criminal defense lawyers are much more friendly in real life.
In some ways Twitter has failed to live up to my expectations for it. Â There is no clear formula for success. Twitter requires more than just mechanics, it also requires personality, a sense of humor and the willingness to put yourself out there and start conversations. Â These are not behaviors that come naturally for lawyers. Â Twitter has been a powerful tool for me because I am a natural marketer but also because I am extremely extroverted. I thoroughly enjoy meeting new people, and those of you that have met me at conferences see that I sincerely love networking. Â Twitter has just been an amplifier for me of who I am. Rowdy Roddy Piper was once asked if in real life he would break cans on his head and act like his WWF character to which he replied with something along the lines of, I’m still myself, but with the volume turned up. Twitter helps me turn the volume up, if people don’t like it, they can simply un-follow. In my experience it has been an unbelievable tool.
As for Tracy’s experience, I’m not sure she will ever be able to quantify the effect that Twitter has had on her career. Â Her blog has been named one of the Best Accounting Blogs and she is rankedÂ highly in the Google searches. I don’t think she can discount the effect Twitter has had on either of those accomplishments. In addition, she’s been around long enough to know that her headline “Why I’m Quitting Twitter” would be sensational and would be re-tweeted all over the Internet. She may have also predicted that multiple influential bloggers linking to her blog post would raise her blog in the search result rankings. Search engine traffic is something she claims is responsible for 30% of her business, so Twitter may be suddenly having a measurable impact for Tracy. It’s ironic that she may get more traffic from her “Anti-Twitter” post than any other post in recent memory. Why so much attention? Useless old Twitter. Tracy’s breakthrough moment on Twitter, the time when it really pays off for her is just as she shares her last and final post.
Adrian Dayton is the author of the book, Social Media for Lawyers: Twitter Edition and although he is a big fan of Twitter, he will be the first to admit that it’s not for everyone. Â If you decide to stick it out on Twitter, you can find him there @adriandayton