In today’s article, we have a look at Instagram and at how it can be useful for lawyers and law firms. Surprisingly, only 25% of lawyers use Instagram for marketing purposes, even though for most young adults, it is the most important social media network.
Let us start by explaining what it is, for those of you who are not familiar with it. Instagram is social network service for sharing photos and short videos (of up to 60 seconds). It was launched as an app for smart phones in 2010. What made the app stand out, was that it allowed users to easily apply predefined filters to photos they had taken, and then share them either publicly or with their followers. It works with hashtags and locations, and users can browse other users’ public content via these hashtags and locations. Just as is the case with Twitter, hashtag topics can be trending. Users can like photos and videos, and they can comment on them. The app quickly became very popular and was bought by Facebook in 2012.
Why would a law firm consider having an Instagram account? The main reason is for marketing purposes. Instagram is the world’s third most used social media network, with over one billion monthly active users. (Only Facebook and YouTube have more, with 2.8 billion and 2 billion respectively). To put things in perspective, LinkedIn only has 260 million monthly active users, while Twitter has 187 million. More importantly, Instagram is the most used social media platform for consumers between the ages of 18 and 35. And with geolocation tagging, it is an easy way to reach local target audiences.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which are text-based social media, Instagram is primarily a visual medium. And that is one of the main reasons for its popularity: visuals are more appealing than text. And they also tend to evoke more responses: Instagram posts get more engagement than any other social media platforms. Furthermore, it is possible to link your Instagram account to your Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Facebook account, so photos on Instagram are shared on those platforms as well.
Also worth mentioning, is that Instagram can effectively be used as a recruitment tool, as well. (As mentioned above, young adults are far more likely to be on Instagram than on LinkedIn).
So, what services does Instagram offer? It started as a service to share photos and short videos, and that still is what it is mainly used for. But it offers other services as well. Let us start with Instagram Stories. In his article for rankings.io, Chris Dryer explains that “Instagram Stories are photos and videos that you can share throughout the day in a vertical, slideshow format. Unlike regular photo and video posts, these do not appear in the regular Instagram newsfeed or in the grid on your Instagram profile. Instead, they appear at the top of the newsfeed for those who follow your Instagram account.” Important to know is that stories remain available for only 24 hours.
Next, we have Instagram Live. Instagram Live is technically a part of Instagram Stories, and allows you to broadcast a live stream from your phone. These livestreams can last up to one hour. Mind you, as they are a part of the Instagram Stories, they are by default only available for 24 hours after the livestream. It is however possible to save a livestream as a ‘highlight‘, which means it will be added to your user profile.
Another video service Instagram offers, is Instagram TV, usually shortened to IGTV. Whereas Instagram Live videos do not appear in a newsfeed and do automatically disappear, Instagram TV videos are posted to your newsfeed, where a copy of them – with its own URL – remains available. Videos of up to one hour can be uploaded if done so from a web browser. If directly uploaded as a video recorded on your phone, the length is limited to 15 minutes of video.
Instagram also offers Business Pages / Business Profiles. For these, a professional account is needed, but that is as simple as activating the account as a professional one in the settings. Once that is done, the option to fill out a business profile becomes available. Now, if your law firm already has a page on Facebook, it is possible to link your Instagram Business and Facebook pages. This has to be done from within Facebook and will make the information you have on your Facebook page available in Instagram too. It is also possible for the two to automatically share posts, meaning if something is posted on one, it appears on the other as well. So, this is the place to add all the local business details of your law firm. Especially if you know that more than 200 million Instagram users visit an Instagram Business Profile at least once a day.
An additional benefit of setting your Instagram account up as a professional account, is that you get access to Instagram Insights, which provide you with detailed engagement analytics. That makes it easy to follow up on Key Performance Indicators.
As is the case with other social media networks, Instagram also offers the ability to publish Ads. And just like in Facebook and LinkedIn, it is possible to very narrowly define the parameters to identify your target audience.
How do you get started? Setting up an account is easy, and can be done from a smart phone where you first have to download the app. Or you can just sign up using a browser. If you have a Facebook account, you can use your Facebook account to sign up and subsequently sign in. Keep in mind, however, that while signing up can be done from a PC with a browser, uploading photos and videos typically must be done through the app on your smart phone.
Then you start sharing photos. The aim here is to attract leads and to do that, you use your photos to build credibility, trust, and brand awareness among your followers. In her article for Law Firm Ambition, Becky Simms gives the following advice.
- Build a persona, show your personality and the personality of your law firm. While doing this, focus on approachability.
- Show the people in your firm, and make sure to post some “life behind the scenes” photographs.
- Demonstrate community involvement.
- Look for opportunities to illustrate your expertise, without giving legal advice. Post pictures of articles you have written, webinars you have given, conferences you spoke at or attended, etc.
- Check whether your colleagues can provide content.
- Avoid direct self-promotion.
- Use the Instagram app on your mobile phone to take photos.
- Aim for a relevant image with every social networking post.
- Use hashtags on Instagram to make your images more visible / easier to find. Don’t be shy to use many hashtags.
- Check what other lawyers are doing for inspiration.
- Keep a watching brief to see how the Instagram platform develops.
In an article in Forbes Magazine, Jenna Gross recommends using the following marketing tactics:
- Create a plan of action.
- Elicit emotions.
- Build a visual narrative.
- Create conversations.
- Simplify the path for potential clients to become clients.
Two more practical tips: there are third-party programs like Buffer and Hootsuite that allow you to schedule posts in advance. They both offer free and paying plans. You can start with the free version and upgrade if need be.
As mentioned above, uploading videos and photos must be done from a smart phone. There are mainly two solutions if you want to use your PC or laptop instead. The first one is to install Bluestack which will allow you to run Android Apps on your PC or laptop. Once Bluestack is installed, you install the Instagram for Android app, and you are ready to go. Alternatively, you can use the Vivaldi browser, which allows Instagram to run as a desktop application in a web panel from where photos can also be uploaded. (See https://vivaldi.com/blog/instagram-post-from-computer/ for an explanation).
So, go ahead, and give it your best shot.
- https://www.therainmakerblog.com/2017/07/articles/social-media-marketing-for-law-firms/using-instagram-to-get-leads-for-your-law-firm/ offers a very useful infographic.