Twitter’s direct impact on search engine rankings could draw more businesses, lawyers and law firms to social media
By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.
Last week a friend who runs a trial consulting business sent me an e-mail, looking for tips to help him get started on Twitter. His first question: “What the *@*@* does the # mean?”
If you’re new to Twitter, you’ve probably seen the # sign and wondered the same thing — or, if you haven’t yet ventured onto Twitter but you’re considering adding it to your law firm’s 2011 to-do list, you soon will.
You’ll likely be in good company: Google and Bing recently revealed that links shared through Facebook and Twitter have a direct impact on search engine rankings, meaning more business, lawyer and law firm tweets.
In a Dec. 1 interview with Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of Search Engine Land, representatives of Google and Bing discussed the impact of Facebook and Twitter. Sullivan writes:
“Both Google and Bing tell me that who you are as a person on Twitter can impact how well a page does in regular web search. Authoritative people on Twitter lend their authority to pages they tweet.”
Even as experts seek to get a better handle on the algorithms used by Google and Bing, the takeaway is this: If search engine rankings are important to you, don’t dismiss Twitter.
I’ve compiled four tips to help you quick start your tweets (including the answer to my friend’s question).
1. Selecting people to follow.
Social media is about relationships. When choosing whom to follow, consider your interests and objectives. Think of it as an opportunity to learn from others and to be a resource. It shouldn’t be a stream of 140-character commercials.
As a publicist and content writer, I like to follow reporters, lawyers, law firms, tech consultants, photographers, business consultants, media outlets, prominent bloggers and other public relations professionals. Because I’m based in St. Louis, I’m particularly interested in local news, writers and businesses.
2. Monitor the ratio of the number of people you follow to the number of your followers.
Very few of us can establish 1,000 instant friendships — and in the real world, if we were to approach every stranger in a room and ask him or her to be our best friend, we’d come across as desperate, needy or fake.
Similarly, when you are building Twitter connections, don’t follow 3,000 people in the hopes that 1,000 will follow you back. It comes across as less than authentic or spammy.
TFF Ratio breaks down the ratio of the number of people you are following to the number of your followers:
- If your ratio is less than 1, you are following more people than are following you. This is the least desirable position, although when you’re starting out it’s almost inevitable, unless you’re a celebrity. The trick is to not let the ratio get too low.
- A ratio of 1 means that you are listening and being listened to. As TFF Ratio notes, some experts see this as the ideal.
- A ratio of 2 or higher typically indicates a thought leader.
- A ratio of 10 or higher usually means that you’re a celebrity.
3. Use your tweets to share information and build relationships; minimize broadcasts.
Have you ever been at a cocktail party and found yourself trapped in a conversation with someone who only wants to talk about himself? Your new “friend” doesn’t seem to realize that you’ve tuned out and are plotting your escape.
That same is true when it comes to tweeting. If all of your tweets are self-promotional, followers will either stop listening or simply click the Unfollow button. To help prevent this problem, try an 80/20 approach, in which only 20 percent of your tweets are self-promotional. Followers do expect some promotional tweets, just as a good party guest expects to hear some information about his or her conversation partner. Just don’t overdo it.
4. Use # hashtags.
Words preceded by pound signs are called hashtags. Hashtags are useful when you’re searching Twitter for information, and they provide an easy way to sort information by topic. Hashtags.org is a great resource for looking up hashtags.
Some of the popular hashtags for lawyers: #law, #court, #legal, #marriage, #divorce, #personal, #injury, #dwi, #legalnews, #lawnews.
These are just four quick tips to help you get started. For tips on getting retweeted, read “Retweet Tips for Lawyers.”
Already on Twitter? Let me know what tips you’d add to this list.
Still have questions about Twitter? At Legal Media Matters we can provide consulting advice to help you figure out how Twitter might fit into your public relations strategy. We can also help you get your account up and running and even design a custom Twitter background. You can reach us by filling out our contact form, emailing email@example.com or calling 314.520.3897.