A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about my experience with Twitter, encouraging lawyers, accountants, and auditors to abandon the tool unless they had seen any specific business-related return on their time investment. Of course, for those who enjoy twitter as a social outlet, they should certainly tweet to their heart’s content. But for those attorneys and accountants who are interested in the business benefits of Twitter, I am encouraging them to stop wasting their time on Twitter if they haven’t seen benefits. (And unfortunately, the vast majority have not seen tangible business-building benefits, yet are holding on because they don’t know when to hang on just a little longer for the big payoff, or when to cut their losses and stop wasting time.)
The bottom line for me is that Twitter is ineffective in developing business for lawyer and auditor types. I understand Twitter well, and I know how to use it the “right way.” It’s just that even when doing so, there have been no measurable results for me. As I’ve stated previously, I wasn’t all that picky about what type of result needed to occur…. any sort of additional business from an existing or new customer, or a connection that led to some business…. any old result would do. And there were no results.
The marketing types (who coincidentally sell their services to lawyers and accountants, often including “social media consulting”) keep telling attorneys and bean counters that they HAVE to be on Twitter. It’s fabulouswonderful and they have got to do it if they want to keep up with the times and reach their audience.
Yes, Twitter has proven to be a great tool for those marketers who are trying to get business from the lawyers and accountants. Other industries and certain businesses have been very successful with Twitter too.
But the lawyers and accountants have had virtually ZERO business results from their use of Twitter.
The “you’re not doing right” argument doesn’t hold water. I see lawyers and auditors “doing” Twitter perfectly right. I see them making connections, engaging with others, sharing links to valuable materials, adding commentary about relevant topics, and generally being social. But again, these things aren’t enhancing the business in any measurable way for almost every lawyer and accountant that I’ve talked to (and that’s been hundreds, literally).
I’m leaving the social benefits out of this discussion. If anyone wants to be on Twitter to meet cool people and chat with them, that’s fine. But we’re not going to pretend that this is a measurable business result. Here, we’re talking about some sort of increase in business.
In contrast to Twittering, I have found blogging to be a highly effective tool in developing my business. (See this article for some of my tips on blogging for business.) Why such different results for Twitter and blogging? Quite simply, they are different tools all together. That’s obvious. But here are the specific reasons why I think blogging has been a much better tool for accountants and lawyers:
Long life of material – On Twitter, you’re only as good as your last tweet. And no one is going to spend much time looking back through hundreds or thousands of tweets to see what brilliant things you have said in the past. In contrast, the life of your material on a blog is much more accessible and therefore relevant in the long term.
It is typically easy to search a blog for terms of interest, or to browse back through categories. Because of this, your writings can be meaningful for months or years into the future. The usefulness of your work is much, much longer on a blog, so your efforts are more worthwhile. (Yes, I understand that blog posts take more time than multiple tweets, but I think the usefulness of the material justifies the greater time investment.)
Google loves it – Thanks to my blogging efforts, I have attained high rankings for search terms and phrases that are relevant to my business. I can focus on a particular topic for one or more posts, and have a good chance of great positioning in Google for that topic.
Although the majority of the readers of my blog aren’t potential clients, they do use many of the same search terms as clients, so the activity from the readers helped bring clients to my site. I get about 30% of my business via Google, and that is far more than I ever thought possible. We know Google loves blogs, loves good content, and heavily rewards both.
More in-depth analysis allowed – As a professional service provider, I have found that blog posts and articles in professional journals are the best way to demonstrate my expertise to strangers. They can immediately see if I know what I’m talking about. They can get a feel for my style and my character. My style is very common sense, and that comes through in my writing, which is done in plain English and for non-accountants. This works well with judges and juries, so it’s attractive to my clients. My character is one of integrity and consistency, and I think that comes through in my writings as well. Potential clients can read multiple articles and see that I stand firm on my beliefs.
The ability to develop topics and thoroughly discuss them seems to work well for lawyers and accountants who often require a trusting relationship to be developed with clients. In contrast, the 140 character limit of Twitter doesn’t allow for meaningful discussion. I suppose you could talk more if you strung together several tweets in a row, but then it sort of defeats the whole purpose of “micro-blogging.”
Encourages engagement of readers over long-term – Most bloggers leave the comment section on their articles open indefinitely. That means that someone can find an article months or years after it was first published and still leave a comment. This may encourage other readers to look at the article and/or leave their own comments. Readers can come back days later, and see if there is further discussion to read or respond to.
Because of the nature of Twitter (the sheer volume of tweets over a short period of time), it is much more difficult to find such conversations days later and re-engage. I understand that this is part of the appeal of Twitter for some… real-time discussions rather than drawn out comments back and forth. It’s just that for lawyers and accountants, I think engaging people over the long-term is better for their business prospects.
I think Twitter could develop in a way that is more useful for lawyers and auditors, and I would welcome those changes. But for now, this is not a good use of time for those interested in developing their practices.
Feel free to add your own ideas about what makes blogging or Twitter better than the other! We had lots of great comments on the last article about quitting Twitter, and I’d love to do that again here!