(Reuters) – Sometimes being behind the curve makes for a smoother ride.
Take big law firms and Twitter.
While my Reuters colleagues report that major corporations including General Motors and General Mills have pulled their ads from the social media platform due to concerns about content moderation under new owner Elon Musk, top law firms don’t seem to share their dilemma.
That’s because most firms weren’t very active on Twitter to begin with.
Twitter represents “so much noise and very little return on investment” to large, full-service law firms, Guy Alvarez, founder and CEO of legal industry digital marketing agency Good2BSocial, told me. “Even before Musk took over, a lot of firms had begun to question what they were getting” out of the platform.
Elizabeth Lampert, president of legal media and crisis communications firm ELPR, agrees.
“There is a fundamental mismatch between the rough-and-tumble world of Twitter and the conservative, cautious ethos of Big Law,” she said. “Lawyers and law firms must struggle to stay visible, posting regularly, getting followers, and tweeting regularly. One must ask what it is all for? Does this result in new clients?”
It seems unlikely.
In reviewing the Twitter accounts of the 100 largest firms by revenue, according to The American Lawyer, I found most had a few thousand followers — but I dozed off reading their feeds featuring links to publications on their websites and announcements about winning obscure legal industry awards.
Viral content it is not.
Tesla boss Musk on Oct. 27 took ownership of Twitter, prompting concerns from advertisers about the direction of content moderation policies that limit misinformation and hate speech.
Musk and Twitter did not respond to requests for comment, but the company’s head of trust and safety Yoel Roth last week tweeted, “Our team’s mission of enforcing our policies and protecting the conversations happening on Twitter remains unchanged.”
Musk last week in a tweet also threatened to launch a “thermonuclear name & shame” campaign against advertisers that leave the platform.
Law firms, however, seem safely removed from the tempest.
Alvarez told me he’s had two clients – a small firm based in New York and a mid-sized one in Miami – delete their Twitter accounts since Musk took over.
Three or four others have called him to talk about whether they should remain active on the site, he said.
But no firms have contacted him about pausing their Twitter advertising for a simple reason: They have no ads to pause.
Good2BSocial compiles an annual index tracking the social media presence of the 200 largest firms, and Alvarez told me he’s not aware of any that advertise on Twitter.
True, a handful of smaller firms have “sporadically” paid for promotions intended to increase their follower counts (and therefore, their reach), he said — but that’s about it.
“Big firms are not using Twitter for advertising,” he said. “They use LinkedIn.”
Ah LinkedIn. Safe, well-mannered LinkedIn, where it’s not weird to wish someone a happy work anniversary.
LinkedIn offers a way to scout for talent and connect with job-seekers. For law firms, that’s vital.
Consider, for example, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which has 1,587 Twitter followers – among the fewest of Am Law 100 firms. (White & Case has the most, with 64,100, followed by followed by DLA Piper with 42,700 and Latham & Watkins with 38,100. Spokespeople at all three firms declined comment.)
I asked a Quinn Emanuel spokesman about the firm’s modest Twitter presence, seeing as Musk is a high-profile client and partner Alex Spiro has been a key player in the Twitter acquisition.
“To date, the firm’s social media efforts have focused on platforms that are most aligned with recruiting — LinkedIn and Instagram,” the spokesman said via email. “We view Twitter as an ideal platform for thought leadership like that of founder and Chairman John Quinn, who has more than 40,000 Twitter followers.”
Indeed, legal marketing consultant and coach Jay Harrington said Twitter can be an effective way for “individual lawyers with an individual focus” to network and promote themselves (and maybe even have some fun). “But big, full-service law firms have to be more conservative.”
Musk speaking Wednesday on Twitter’s “Spaces” feature discussed plans to begin charging $8 a month for a “Twitter Blue” premium subscription.
Until now, certain users including companies, brands and organizations could apply for a free blue check verifying their identity. Of the top 100 firms, only 16 have such checks, though presumably all would have been eligible for the badge if they had applied.
Will law firms pony up $8 a month for the blue check now?
“I don’t think they’ll rush out and do it,” Harrington said. “Instead, I think they’ll wait and see what others do, and if there’s any negative blowback.”
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