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Does a Twitter Follow Require Due Diligence?

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on March 29, 2013 10:26 AM

Does Twitter really help a lawyer snag new clients?

Some people claim that Twitter is a great way to connect with prospective clients. Others suggest that using Twitter as a lawyer marketing tool is a bunch of hooey.

The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. Whether you’re using social media or traditional marketing (think billboards and bus stop ads), you have to be smart about how you market yourself. If you’re using Twitter as a marketing tool, that means a little due diligence before you follow another Twitter feed.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams found himself in an embarrassing position last week amid media reports that, for at least two weeks, his Twitter account (@DASethWilliams) was following @RateMyLatin and @RateMyEbony, which "regularly dished out nude and seminude photos of women," according to Philly.com.

Williams' spokesperson, Tasha Jamerson, told the Philadelphia Daily News that Williams had "no idea" how the feeds ended up among the accounts that he follows, and that he never saw the pornographic images in his feed. Apparently, Williams wasn't even aware that his account was following @RateMyLatin and @RateMyEbony. Jamerson explained, "A lot of people follow Seth and then will ask that he follow them, and then he'll just follow them" without investigating whom he's following."

Whether or not Williams intentionally followed these accounts doesn't really matter to people outside of Philadelphia, but the situation highlights the need for discretion in selecting followers from a professional Twitter account. If Jamerson is correct, and Williams (or one of his staff) followed these feeds in response to a follow request, then the haphazard follow cause Williams unnecessary embarrassment.

How can lawyers who use Twitter as a marketing tool avoid a similar gaffe? By checking a Twitter user's profile before following that user. Look at a user's profile photo, description, and recent tweets before clicking the "follow" button. Keep in mind that anyone can view the list of users you follow when your account is public.

Before following a tweeter with your professional Twitter feed, consider the impact that follow could have on your business. Think before you follow.

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