NZ lawyers: It’s time to start tweeting

by Hannah Norton08 Jul 2015
Auckland divorce lawyer Jeremy Sutton first started a Twitter account in June 2009.

Since then he’s tweeted over 4000 times – with messages and links to articles about a mix of international family law trends and his personal interest, sport.

“It was a quick, cheap and easy way to communicate worldwide,” Sutton told NZLawyer.

“Like having a website, you cannot ignore the value of such a presence in social media.”

While he believes the use of social media to promote firms and lawyers has yet to take off in New Zealand – that could possibly change.

“There are few lawyers here on Twitter, compared to say the USA or the UK.

“Most lawyers in NZ have joined Linkedin in the last few years [and] I can see Twitter becoming attractive to lawyers as well.

“It is very easy to send a message on your smartphone, for example. It has a small limit of 140 characters and can integrate easily with many web applications.”

However, he conceded, none of the social media platforms he was on - Linkedin, Facebook, Contactually and Sprout Social - beat face-to-face contact.

DLA Piper trailblazer firm for social media marketing

DLA Piper New Zealand has had a Twitter account since May 2011.

“As a law firm, social media allows us to communicate our own messages directly to our audiences, bypassing the more traditional route of working with journalists,” the firm’s national marketing manager Joanna Simon said.

“While the latter is still very important, more and more professional services firms are self-publishing content on their websites and sharing this through social media.”

DLA Piper New Zealand shares links to content on their website, as well as updates from other DLA Piper practices, such as Australia.

“Professional services firms both in New Zealand and globally were slower than a lot of industries to adopt social media, but in the last four to five years have seen the benefits to their audience engagement,” Simon said.

“DLA Piper has taken a very active approach. We set up Linkedin and Twitter accounts over four years ago and Facebook and Google+, nearly three years ago and more recently Instagram. We are currently utilising all platforms as ways of engaging with our clients and increasing our online visibility. Each has a different target audience and content strategy.”

Twitter is used to raise DLA Piper’s online visibility in New Zealand and allows the firm to actively engage with key influencers and thought leaders in law, media and clients, Simon said.

“Facebook and Instagram is predominantly used as a graduate recruitment tool and we share human interest stories, for example photos from charity events, staff achievements and summer clerk experiences.

“The content shared includes technical updates and news releases and other information we feel may be of interest to our clients and stakeholders.  We post on all our platforms every couple of days and often, depending on what's topical, we will post several times a day.”

The marketing team is responsible for posting to social media channels, and there are procedures in place, she said.

“This is to ensure the information we are sharing is both relevant, up-to-date and conflict free. 

It is important that firms have a robust social media policy and that staff engaging in social media understand the importance of not damaging the firms' reputation, commercial interests and/or bringing DLA Piper New Zealand into disrepute, Simon said.

“Whilst it's true that social media still poses risks, where used properly, the rewards can be great.”