What marketing team hasn’t been tasked with coming up with something that “goes viral”? Unfortunately, in trying to catch lighting in a bottle, most of those attempts at creating viral content have either fallen flat or backfired.
Although there’s no guaranteed recipe for creating viral content, when a blog post, meme or hashtag captures a certain zeitgeist, there are proven ways for marketing professionals and business developers to capitalize on it.
That’s what‘s happening now with the #appellatetwitter hashtag, which Houston attorney Raffi Melkonian (@RMFifthCircuit) of Wright & Close LLP coined in June 2016. Although the hashtag was created as something of an inside joke between Melkonian and other appellate lawyers in his circle, it has become an excellent case study for legal marketing done right.
#AppellateTwitter Encompasses a Niche
There’s an old saying in our industry: “If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one.” The great thing about #appellatetwitter is that it speaks to a very specific group of attorneys. Whether on the job hunt, searching for advice, or just looking for a few laughs, appellate attorneys use the hashtag to collect feedback or share information about what’s important to them, which raises their visibility and helps build support for their personal brands.
It Establishes a Community
Similar to encompassing a particular niche, the #appellatetwitter hashtag creates a community – a place for appellate attorneys to share personal and professional triumphs, find mentors and support each other. Attorney tweeter Emily Dodds Powell of Calfo Eakes & Ostrovsky (@emilydpowell) recently shared her thoughts on her first day back at the office after maternity leave. Another attorney, Sean Marotta of Hogan Lovells, offered to take appellate interns or summer associates out for coffee.
The hashtag’s popularity has even given rise to its own merchandise. In an interview with Bloomberg BNA, Dallas attorney Jason P. Steed of Bell Nunnally (@5thCircAppeals), noted his work with other appellate lawyers to design #appellatetwitter coffee mugs, which he says have been delivered across the U.S. and overseas.
The best viral campaigns tend to appear when we least expect them. Remember the “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet that the geniuses at Oreo developed when the lights went out at Super Bowl? It was a quick and witty response to an unusual situation that developed naturally. The same goes for #appellatetwitter, which was not the result of years of research and development, but a choice tweet at an opportune moment that luckily captured the interests of a relevant audience.
It Has Staying Power
Thanks to various legal issues coming out of the White House these days, #appellatetwitter has picked up momentum and does not seem to be slowing down.
According to a Law.com article about the Trump Administration’s much-debated travel ban: “When people across the country listened to the Ninth Circuit arguments live Feb. 7, and again last Thursday, with the decision, #appellatetwitter had its moment.”
The article notes that #appellatetwitter has been cited almost 600 times on Twitter, with spikes during the Ninth Circuit arguments.
While it’s not that easy to create a viral post, these examples show that it’s easy to take advantage when it happens. Would you have heard of Emily Dodds Powell, for example, if she hadn’t leveraged the power of #appellatetwitter? Did you click on the Bloomberg article to see a picture of the coffee mug? Viral posts such as #appellatetwitter provide marketing value to scores of professionals – not just the ones who create the original content.
Christina DiPinto is a copywriter and content strategist who has always wanted to make lawyers happy (“always” isn’t an understatement – her mother and uncle are both attorneys). When she’s not focused on developing marketing communications for the lawyers in her life, Christina can be found practicing yoga, playing pub trivia, and planning trips to the #WestCoastBestCoast. Say “hi” at firstname.lastname@example.org.