To Tweet or not to Tweet? That is NOT the question – I hope

As a result of a Twitter-based conversation at the end of last week, I had a sudden crisis of confidence: should I, as a solicitor, be Tweeting?

This arose because one of my followers felt it inappropriate for a solicitor to be Tweeting about (in this case) pub quizzes. I had thought doing this showed that I was not just a solicitor, but had a life outside work – albeit, if that life is merely taking part in pub quizzes, a very limited life outside work! I felt this was a Good Thing: solicitors generally tend to be perceived as aloof and stuffy, and I want to show that I, at least, am not.

My challenger modified her comment to, “If I already had a solicitor, I’d think it was cool but if I was looking for one, I’d think it was tacky”

Horror! I don’t want to seem aloof or stuffy, but to appear tacky would be even worse!  Also, bearing in mind that the marketing purpose of my Tweets is to reach out to new potential clients and engage in conversations with them, this seemed disastrous: far from drawing in potential clients, was I repelling them by being “tacky”?

To be fair, the suggested solution was to have two Twitter accounts: one for work and one for play; but that gets us back to being stuffy on the work account – and, worse, being perceived as constantly selling – while the social account risks being lightweight and pointless. I had hoped to achieve a balance between work and play in one Twitter account, showing me as a (reasonably) rounded human who happens also to be a good lawyer and an approachable one.

I genuinely believe that it is not wrong to Tweet the way I do – that the question is not “To Tweet or not”, but only whether I should split by Tweets (which I would prefer not to do) – but that may just be wishful thinking.

What do you think? Is it a forlorn effort? Should I have separate work and social Twitter streams? Is it “tacky” for a lawyer (qua lawyer) to Tweet about non-lawyerly things – or to Tweet at all? Let me know in the comments – or by Tweeting me, if you prefer: twitter.com/JustinNelson_


3 Comments

  1. This raises an interesting issue on the extent to which social media mixes the professional and the personal. To a certain extent, I think a twitter stream reveals the authentic and three-dimensional nature of a person so a range of subject matters can be interesting. I agree that a balance between work and play, appearing ’rounded’ and ‘approachable’, is part of the service.

    I suppose there is the risk of tweets not matching one’s own expectations or seeming ‘tacky’. For example, I unfollowed one person, who I had met in person, for tweeting a racist ‘joke’. And I let them know why.

    The recent tweets appearing on the website does allow them to appear out of context. I suppose the f2f analogy is walking in on a conversation. However, I do look at the timeline before deciding to follow or block someone new.

    The GTC professional code of conduct has a clause expecting high standards of behaviour inside and outside work, which obviously includes social networking, so there is no point in having an alternative twitter account (or using FaceBook) for indiscretions! Statements that people are tweeting/blogging in a personal capacity and not for their organisation suggest they are on a tricky path if they refer to their work at all.

    On balance, we are all still learning how to use these new forms of communication effectively and it’s unsurprising that we stumble across some unintended consequences.

    • Thanks for this comment, Angus. Contrary to my own reply to Cathy, above, I (now) think the dilemna is not so much whether one should Tweet about all (or nearly all) aspects of one’s life, but whether the latest Tweets should be prominently displayed to website visitors who reach the website by a route other than Twitter.

      Someone who Googles “commercial solicitor” might be put off by seeing Tweets about winning or losing a pub quiz. Someone who follows my Tweets and visits the site as a result will probably not – but wouldn’t need to see the Tweets on the website anyway

      All comments welcome before I make any changes!

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