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Social media marketing has changed the way consumers communicate with brands. With over 255 million users, Twitter allows firms to create and execute effective growth strategies. The main business purpose of the site is to target an existing customer base and to get word-of-mouth going through engagement and outreach.

Among the most helpful tools is the recently created Twitter Card. Twitter has launched this tool to enhance the media released within the borders of what Twitter likes to call the "Twitterverse."

Businesses can use Twitter Cards to see a return on the time they invest within this social networking platform. Word-of-mouth has always been the most powerful from of advertising, and the implementation of these Cards could not have come at a better time.

Millennials who grew up in the information and technological age are moving from search toward social. More and more often, people are finding out about your firm and website through recommendations from friends, not from keywords in search engines. It’s only a matter of time until shared links become the most popular channel for sharing information.

How will Twitter Cards help your firm?
A normal Twitter post allows for 140 characters, but a Twitter Card allows you to exceed that character limit. Through a Twitter Card, users can see your original tweet, plus an additional summary and an attached photo or video. Studies created by Google prove that photos have a higher click-through rate, which you’ll want to take advantage of when building exposure.

Twitter offers nine different types of Cards, some of which can be very helpful for driving traffic or even collecting contact information from potential clients. Card options include: Summary Cards, Summary Cards with Large Image, Photo Cards, Gallery Cards, App Cards, Player Cards, Product Cards, Lead Generation Cards and Website Cards.

Unless your firm has developed an app you would like to encourage people to download, the App Card is likely irrelevant. Product Cards are also unlikely to be helpful, since few attorneys sell actual products. In the absence of a tangible product, like a book or an app, the best way to use Twitter Cards is to drive traffic to targeted pages. Here is a summary of how Cards can best be used:

Summary Cards
Summary Cards are designed to give a preview of web-based content, most commonly blog posts or articles. A Summary Card allows you to post a brief description of the content along with a link and thumbnail image. Summary Cards provide you with up to an additional 200 characters with which to describe the Tweet.

Your firm could use Summary Cards to drive traffic to a helpful post or current news piece. Once the user is on your site, you can try to convert him or her to a subscriber to your blog or newsletters. You can also use Google Analytics data to determine how successful your Cards are at driving traffic and whether visitors stay to browse other pages once they have clicked. Such data gives you valuable insight into the types of content in which your target audience is interested.

Summary Cards with Large Image
The second type of Summary Card allows you to post an article preview with a large image, which is more likely to grab a user's attention from within a busy Twitter feed.

Remember, you’re developing a one-on-one relationship with your customers. What you post will be seen by their circle of friends, who will hopefully like what you’re posting and share it with their circle or follow you themselves — which will in turn pop up in the newsfeeds of their friends and family. Through all these interactions, you’re developing a social relationship.

Relationships require a variety of different types of information — not just broadcasts about yourself. Post summaries and links to content you think your audience will find interesting across the web. Followers will quickly get bored if you stick to posts about yourself. Do keep in mind that as you write in the voice of your brand, what you post is public; be mindful of what you say.

Photo and Gallery Cards
Photo cards put a large picture at the top of the tweet with text and optional link beneath. Gallery cards are similar to photo cards, but they display a montage of four images. You can use photo and gallery cards to showcase events or community involvement, or you can use them similarly to summary cards, taking advantage of a striking image to drive people to content on your own website.

4. Player cards: Player cards support the display of video and audio. Promote podcasts from within your twitter feed. Generate clips of longer videos or seminar content and encourage users to click through to the original content to see more. Or, simply post video you find helpful, like how-to's and informative videos about a practice niche. Again, the videos do not always have to feature you, but they should be relevant to the audience you most want to reach.

Twitter mainly targets your existing customer base, at least at the beginning. There is though, a much higher conversion rate with regards to how many people you’re reaching, versus dealing with traditional marketing. Offline, people may feel farther away from your brand. More often than not, people want to be talking to another person — one whom they trust. You should want to be that person for them.

5. Lead generation cards: Lead Generation Cards are only available to advertisers. However, once you have an advertising account, Lead Generation Cards are free. They can be used in conjunction with a promoted Tweet to maximize exposure, or they can be created as an organic (free) post. Lead Generation Cards collect a user's name, Twitter handle and email address.

Lead Generation Cards allow you to present an offer and collect an email address in exchange for access. For example, your firm may want to give away a free download of an ebook you have produced. Create a graphic for the promotion to be used in the Card, a summary of the offer (up to 50 characters) and language for the large call to action button presented within the Card.

You can tie Lead Generation Cards to a list management system like Mailchimp or to your CRM software. Alternately, you can download a .csv file containing a list of leads per Tweet.

Website Cards
Website Cards help drive traffic to specific pages of your site. They include an image, summary, page title and call to action. They are different from Summary Cards in that they have an actual call to action button (rather than just a link). With a Website Card, your firm could drive traffic to a specific practice area page or to a page containing a how-to, glossary or other helpful information.

Find ways to integrate what’s current on Twitter into what you post so that viewers can see that your firm is actively involved in the Twitterverse. If they Tweet something really good, let people know about it. That will spark the curiosity of viewers and increase the chances they will follow you to stay on top of trends.

Twitter Cards open up an opportunity for your firm to save a large amount of time. Take full control of the Twitter Card capabilities and stay in touch with those who have engaged, posted and shared with you. Like any good Rolodex, Twitter tracks all the information you need. You can compile data, followers and even names into an email list.

Twitter Cards should become an important element of your marketing efforts. In them, there is solid potential to find clients and an even greater opportunity for clients to find you. If you Tweet strategically and help your current customer base, you’ll draw the attention of more clients who will seek your help with their own needs.

If you would like to become more proactive in finding clients, make use of the search bar in the top right hand corner of Twitter’s interface. It will give you a library of people matching the keywords you've entered.

Twitter is underutilized as a competitive intelligence tool. By studying already established Twitter feeds of the people creating movement and change within your field, you can learn information that would otherwise take months to acquire. Twitter feeds are refreshed every couple of seconds, so use that constant stream of intelligence to your advantage.

This is not to say you should throw out traditional marketing completely. Social media works in conjunction with traditional methods quite well. Your goal should be to develop a variety of channels that not only creates exposure for your firm but also opens lines of communication with followers.

Advantages to Using Twitter Cards

1. Calls to action embedded within Tweets

Twitter cards allow you to promote your website and content with highly visual links to encourage click-throughs.

2. Additional space for text beyond 140 characters

Cards allow you to summarize content and include its entire title when Tweeting blog posts and articles, giving the user a better preview and more reason to continue reading.

3. Higher click-through rates with pictures and rich media

Twitter is a busy place, and cards with large graphics or video are more likely to create engagement and drive traffic.

4. Lead generation

Twitter now allows you to collect email information, and it integrates with popular list management and CRM tools.

About Author

Laura Donnell is a staff contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine and designer at Custom Legal Marketing.

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