You may have heard or read about Twitter recently. Some companies and professionals include a request in their advertisements to “follow us on Twitter”. You may have seen the Twitter logo on print advertisements and on companies’ and firms’ websites. Twitter is a microblog with thousands of users who post short messages called “tweets”. The tweets must contain no more than 140 characters. Oftentimes, the messages contain links to other websites that contain interesting stories or other information. You can follow other Twitter users. If you do, their tweets will appear on your screen when you are logged in to your Twitter account.
The first several times I used Twitter, I frankly could not understand what people were saying or why anyone would be interested in reading the messages. The messages contain symbols such as # and @, which I found confusing. The posts also contain things that look like this: su.pr/1CQvk8. After playing around with Twitter, I started to get the hang of it. I found you only need to understand a handful of Twitter basics to make use of this simple yet powerful tool.
The # symbol in the world of Twitter is called a hashtag. The # symbol before a word tags the message. For example, if I post or “tweet” the
following message, it will be seen not only by my followers but by everyone who has set the parameters of their Twitter account to search and show them #Delaware tweets: Zero verdict in UIM case in #Delaware is hard to attack grounds that injury was not controverted: http://courts.delaware.gov/opinions/download.aspx?ID=161910
The @ sign
The @ sign followed by text designates a user’s name. I am using a Twitter account for my firm, Schwartz & Schwartz. Our Twitter handle is @schwartzlawyers and you can see our public profile at http://twitter.com/SchwartzLawyers. We follow Francis Pileggi, Esq., who writes about Delaware business and corporate law. He is @fpileggi on Twitter. His public profile can be viewed at http://twitter.com/fpileggi.
Strange looking links
Tweets often contain links to other websites. The links can be shortened so they take up fewer characters. This helps the tweet to stay within the 140-character limit. When you see something like bit.ly/vjV5qF, click on it to learn more about what the Twitter user is saying.
There are a number of other functions available to Twitter users such as direct messaging and re-tweeting. Direct messaging is the ability to send another Twitter user a message directly. When that other user logs in to Twitter, they will see your message in their “messages” folder and they can message you back. Retweeting is simply reposting another user’s message. It’s not plagiarism because it is clear from the message text that you are re-tweeting another’s post.
Why Twitter matters
There is a lot of interesting information on Twitter. You can find things to read. I learned that John Grisham just published a new book –
The Litigators (I’ll download it to my iPad as soon as I’m done with my current book). You can find a place to eat. I follow TGI Friday’s in Dover and I know when the Buffalo Wings are complimentary, or when you can take your kids there to eat for free. I have found a lot of interesting people, things to do, and things to learn. Finally, Twitter is important to me because I post articles on my law firm’s blog at SchwartzandSchwartz.com. By tweeting about the blog post, I can push that content out to people who may not have otherwise clicked on my blog and read my article.
Why Delaware lawyers should get on Twitter
All Delaware lawyers should be on Twitter. The Delaware Bar is a community. It consists of judges and lawyers who have a professional interest in subjects dealing with Delaware law and practice. Twitter lets members of communities connect and learn more about each other. It provides an efficient, inexpensive and completely scalable communication platform. If we were all on Twitter if we followed one another and reciprocated one another’ “follows”, and if we included a tag such as #DElaw in our law-related posts, then we would have quite the cohesive Twitter community.
How to get started
To get started with Twitter, go to www.twitter.com. You can set up your Twitter account from Twitter’s homepage. Once you do, search for @schwartzlawyers. Find us and follow us. When you do, I will get a message that you are following us, and I’ll make sure we follow you back. When you find other users with similar interests, check out who they follow and who follows them, and find more people and companies to follow. Post your thoughts, events, likes, and dislikes, and before long you’ll find you are part of an online community!