By Scott MacMullan
Dolan Media Newswires
Let’s break down the phrase “social media.”
Social. “Seeking or enjoying the companionship of others.”
Media. This word has two relevant meanings to me. First, media refers to various types of information, as well as the various digital means that let you take in that information. Second, it’s the news media.
So, the essential thing to remember about social media is that it lets you seek or enjoy the companionship of others using means that also let you consume information and that are shared by the news media.
But you can’t just be on a website. You have to make it a point to engage others. Otherwise, it’s like going to a networking happy hour and, rather than talking to anyone, just sipping a drink against the wall and twiddling your thumbs.
You have to insert yourself into conversations. You have to look around the room and find people you want to talk to. Have you ever been solicited on social media by a salesperson? That salesperson probably did his or her homework on you using Twitter and decided that it would be wise to approach you. As an attorney, you can do the same thing.
On Twitter the power is in listening, not speaking. (I know this is hard for many of you legal eagles out there.)
There are a few ways to listen on Twitter: First, use a Twitter search. People put a lot of stock in the ways that hashtags can be used to find people and to be found on social media. The fact is, though, that a Twitter search will find any word whether it’s hash-tagged or not. The value of the hashtag is that it signals to others in the conversation to use the same hashtag. This provides for some uniformity and offers a way of tracking the conversation.
A Twitter search is powerful because you can tailor it to produce results that are pertinent to places within a specific distance of your current location or law practice. In other words, if I’m interested in learning about everything that is discussed in my field of law at any given time within say 20 miles of me, I can satisfy my curiosity easily.
When I’m listening on Twitter, I like to try to learn what others near me are doing. I practice in Annapolis, so I simply search for the term “Annapolis.” This allows me to keep abreast of the news and share information with others in my local network. I also make sure to comment on postings that I enjoy. Since I live near these people, these Twitter conversations have led to meetings over coffee, the referral of sources and friendships.
Another way to listen on Twitter is to create lists. Doing this makes it easier to keep up with people in different groups. So, for example, when I’m interested in learning what’s the latest with my “ABA Peeps,” I just go to that list. The same goes for my “Annapolis” group or my “criminal defense” group.
My new favorite thing to do on Twitter is to use Twitter video to respond to tweets sent to me. This helps makes the message personal. New video live-streaming apps such as Periscope and Blab link to Twitter and can greatly help you build your network.
Scott MacMullan is the owner and founder of Scott MacMullan Law LLC in Annapolis, Md. He focuses his practice on personal injury and criminal defense matters.