As a social media platform, Twitter is circling the drain and the only people who would disagree are those who are pulling it down. With half of its top advertisers no longer spending money on the platform, an estimated 30 million to 32 million users – as well as some big name celebrities with large followings – expected to flee the site over the next couple of years, hate speech flowing at “unprecedented levels” and misinformation-spreading accounts getting unbanned, journalists getting kicked off the site for reporting information that ran against Elon Musk’s interests, the Great Blue Check Mark Saga, mass layoffs that left the communication company without a communications department, Musk’s insistence that Twitter was rife with bots but then using polls to make huge decisions, the ban on links to other social media companies, the choice to stop paying rent for offices, new service interruptions, and so on and so forth, it is worth asking the question: Is it worth it from a marketing perspective anymore?
The answer should depend on several factors. However, we think that most law firms are going to realize that the answer is “no.”
But First: There are Several Possible Courses to Take
If you have an individual attorney account or if your firm has an official account on Twitter, this does not have to be an all or nothing decision. You can end up deciding to:
- Maintain your current presence,
- Reduce your presence,
- Stop logging on but leaving your account dormant (like we did way back in May), and
- Deleting your account entirely.
This is important because, in the past, we have generally recommended at least maintaining a presence on major social media sites in order to prevent fake accounts from impersonating your firm and damaging its reputation.
What to Consider When Deciding Whether to Jump Ship from Twitter
We think that there are five factors to consider in making this decision. None of them are dispositive, and some won’t matter too much – or at all – to some users.
1. Your Following
The most important factor to consider is your following. If you have a large and devoted list of followers, then abandoning the platform is going to be painful and inconvenient. You will lose at least some of them – possibly even most of them if you do not conduct a well-organized withdrawal.
If you don’t have more than a few dozen followers, you won’t have that pain of leaving.
2. Your Activity
Occasionally, lawyers will accumulate lots of followers from a brief period of well-timed and informative posts. Imagine, for example, a divorce attorney who tweeted about last year’s celebrity breakup, went viral, but is not very active on the platform other than that. While relatively rare – most people with large followings have them because they tweet relentlessly, or at least every day – legal accounts like this do exist out there.
If this describes your account, your large list of followers should not serve as much of a deterrence from leaving for two reasons:
- You’ve seen how you can leverage your expertise into getting a following before, and
- Your lack of activity means that most of your followers have probably forgotten about you.
The second reason is not one to feel bad about. You still have the ability to appear in thousands of feeds at the click of a button – a power that most accounts don’t have. You just haven’t spent the time it takes to make them stop to read your tweet because they recognize its author and want to read it.
3. Whether You Have Ever Gotten Clients from Twitter
This one is pretty straightforward: If you have never gotten clients through Twitter, or your clients have never mentioned your Twitter activity as a reason why they hired you through other means, then its marketing clout for you or your firm has been limited. This is actually a sign that whatever time you have been spending on the platform has not been worthwhile – especially if you have spent multiple years of steady activity on the site.
Keep your eyes on the prize: Twitter is a way to market yourself and your law firm. If it doesn’t work – if your paid advertisements aren’t delivering and your time tweeting isn’t leading to returns – you’re better off going elsewhere.
4. The Strength of Your Professional Network on the Platform
For many lawyers, this is going to be the factor that is most likely to keep them on Twitter – at least for a while longer. Even attorneys with only a few connections on the platform may have gotten involved in a small but vocal group of other legal professionals that provide insightful comments to ongoing legal developments. Some attorneys even consider these contacts, most of whom they have never actually met, as legitimate friends.
Twitter has been one of the best social media platforms for creating these connections, and losing them can be devastating.
The good thing is that, depending on the size of the group, it can be moved in one piece. You’re already having discussions with these people. Asking them what plans they have, if any, for a post-Twitter universe is something that you should be doing, and the sooner the better. We’ve already seen Twitter ban the use of links to other social media companies in an attempt to stymie the flow of accounts off-platform. Send personal messages to your closest contacts to get a feel for their attitude. Use Twitter’s poll feature to list different options for moving forward and then mention the other usernames in the group. There’s nothing saying that you have to pull the trigger after the outcome of the poll – it can just be an acknowledged backup plan for the crew.
But take these steps soon. Twitter has been making huge changes with no notice lately. If you don’t figure out your little group’s post-Twitter plans you might get broken apart by the demise of the platform, itself, like if Musk decides to saddle Twitter with the debt of his other companies and then declare bankruptcy.
5. Your Willingness to Associate With the New Twitter Brand
Finally, some attorneys and law firms may not see the need to make a change in their social media presence by the new, Musk-driven Twitter brand. This isn’t inconceivable – the legal side of Twitter tends to be one of the most rational, coherent arenas on the site, not immune but at least less prone to the “you can’t put me behind bars for saying it, so I choose to subject you to it” mantra of Free Speech-absolutism that Musk favors (unless you tweet his jet’s location. Or bad mouth Tesla. Or criticize his handling of Twitter. Or…)
At the moment, simply having an account on Twitter does not seem to be seen as enough of a tarnish to deter potential legal clientele or to make existing ones question you about it. After all, lots of people still have accounts on the social media site, so the association is less of one with a brand known to be toxic and more one with a brand shifting under the feet of millions of customers in a scandal.
However, given the trends in content on the site and the huge layoffs that have decimated not just content moderation but also legal compliance departments at Twitter, we predict that the Twitter Brand is going to get worse in the months ahead, not better.
For firms that are hanging onto their Twitter accounts and activity for this sole reason – that it isn’t that bad yet – it may be wise to come up with at least a vague sense of a red line that, once crossed, is enough to pull the plug.