In reviewing the digital publishing work of state bar associations, I looked at their use of Twitter.

Every state bar association, except one, is using Twitter. Many bars make their Twitter communications prominent on the front page of their website. Most invite people to follow them on Twitter.

Bars, generally, tweet news and information, varying from CLE programs to awards and pro bono/charitable efforts. Some bars have genrerated a decent Twitter following doing this, others have a very small following. 

But what’s missing for most bar associations is the social networking and interaction part of Twitter, what I call engagement.

Twitter, by it’s very definition, is an online news and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as tweets. 

How to interact and engage?

  • Follow the Twitter accounts of member law firm and lawyers who are Tweeting information of help to the public. These members may be even sharing information from their blog posts.
  • Retweet those Tweets with a comment providing your take or giving a kudos to the firm or lawyer for their efforts.
  • Follow the Twitter accounts of state and local reporters who periodically cover social justice, business or legal matters. 
  • Retweet those Tweets with comments and you’ll be in effect be reporting news, giving an atta-girl or atta-boy to the reporters and building a following from reporters.
  • Follow relevant organizations and businesses. May be other state bar associations or metro bar associations. Large businesses such as state organizations or health organizations may have interesting and well followed Twitter feeds. Same for chamber of commerces or other civic groups.
  • Retweet items of interest, again with a comments. Maybe use “what makes me feel good and is likely to make others feel good” being the guide as to what you retweet. 
  • Put these Twitter accounts into a Twitter list so it’s easy to quickly scroll through the Tweets and do the retweeting. Use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to space out the five items you retweeted in 10 or 15 minutes. 
  • You’ll start to see these Twitter users follow you on Twitter and share your tweets with their followers, often a greater following than you have. 

In a short time, you as the State Bar will start to stick out as a shining star. Organizations, not just bar associations, don’t use Twitter much as a social networking and interaction medium. Those who do are welcomed warmly by those of us who do.

You’ll have turned your megaphone into something akin to a handshake where you’ll be received with a welcome and an offer to help you.

You’ll have positioned the brand of the state bar to represent an organization and membership that serves and helps the public. All in a real and authenticate way, a way that establishes trust. 

Many bars are struggling to make themselves relevant to their members and the public. Most are looking to demonstrate the relevance of lawyers to a public which is increasingly attracted to alternative legal services providers not involving lawyers.

Twitter is an excellent medium for bars to increase their relevance with members and the public – so long as Twitter is used for social networking and interaction, in addition to news.

Time and no staffing may be an excuse more than a reality. Bars are doing the engagement I reference.

Look at this item tweeted by a San Francisco lawyer retweeted by the Bar Association of San Francisco

The Florida Bar is well known for its social media efforts. Here’s a tweet where the bar highlighted the work of the Florida State University College of Law.

Some education, mostly by trial and error, will be required. Reprioritization of your communications work will be needed.

The public, especially those looking to learn and network, is using Twitter en masse.

Bars, looking to make themselves more relevant to members, to serve its members and to help the public have little choice other than to use Twitter for online news — and for social networking and interaction.