According to research released earlier this year by the Pew Research Center, 16 percent of online adults in the U.S. say they are using Twitter. As a legal marketer, I can tell you that most law firms understand that Twitter is important for their marketing and business development efforts, but often they really don’t know why. The result: a number of law firms not using Twitter or using it ineffectively. This is unfortunate, because Twitter is one of the best platforms for social and professional development.

Twitter is one of the easiest and most cost-effective portals for attorneys to build their online reputations and connect with an extensive and relevant audience. The only barrier to entry is the quality of the content you create. The great ideas on Twitter are passed on, while the mediocre ones are quietly ignored.

Tweeting can also help expose attorneys and their firms to new clients, as well as to fellow attorneys for networking and referring cases. Twitter is an ideal way to get reach potential clients by sharing articles, commenting on content being shared or simply reaching out. Twitter is also a powerful tool for building deeper relationships with existing contacts.

Getting started on Twitter may seem a bit daunting, especially at first, since maximizing the benefits of Twitter requires a time commitment to get going. However, it’s important to emphasize that attorneys who understand and leverage Twitter will have an advantage over their competitors. If you haven’t signed up for Twitter, now’s the time to do so.