Instagram is still a largely unused social media platform for law firms and that gives it a lot of potential for those firms that decide to incorporate it into their social strategy if they use it wisely. (Remember, for most law firms and B2B companies, LinkedIn is still the most important social channel and the one that will help you generate the most leads, so it should be at the cornerstone of your social media marketing efforts).
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Instagram best practices, so I wanted to dedicate an article to answer them. The most common question I’ve received, “Is it worth the time and resources to creating and maintaining an Instagram presence?” Read on to learn the answer to this question and many more.
Q: Does my company need an Instagram presence?
This isn’t a yes or no answer – it really depends on the size of your company/firm and its goals. Instagram is a great place to showcase the “softer side” of companies – such as culture, diversity and inclusion, community service and pro bono activities – and it can be a powerful recruiting tool.
However, you should only dedicate time and effort to those social platforms regularly used by your target audiences, otherwise your social strategy can lose its focus and your internal team, which could be dedicating their time to more strategic and fruitful marketing efforts, may wind up unfocused. Take the time to conduct research to find out whether Instagram is worth the investment and also look at your competitors to see if they have an Instagram presence and a strong following. All of these factors can help you decide if Instagram is right for your organization.
Q: How do I get started creating an Instagram presence for my company?
First thing’s first, you need to set up a business account. This way, followers can click on your ‘contact’ button to get in contact with you directly from your Instagram page. You can also access Instagram’s analytics tools to obtain important statistics about the impressions and reach of your posts.
Before you post anything to Instagram, I recommend that you outline your goals and how you will utilize the platform in conjunction with the other social platforms you are currently using to engage with audiences. Understanding your end goals will help you plan out your strategy and tailor your posts to fit that strategy. Remember one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to the social platforms and your content needs to be adjusted and maximized for each.
Think about asking yourself and your team the following questions:
- What are our brand attributes that we want to convey on this platform?
- Who are we trying to ultimately reach and are they on Instagram?
- Are we trying to build awareness? Generate leads? Promote the brand?
- How do our competitors use Instagram and are they finding success on the platform?
- What social media marketing strategies have worked well for our organization in the past?
Q: How do I create visually arresting images for Instagram if I don’t have access to a graphic designer?
Images are very important on Instagram to help your content to be noticed. My answer to this question is always to use the free online graphic design tool for non-designers, canva.com. You can upload your logo and easily create custom images that are perfectly sized for each social platform, including Instagram. I love taking headshots of people repurposing them with a quote in bold typeface. The site has tons of preexisting templates do you don’t have to create images from scratch.
Q: Can I hide a post from a certain follower/organization on Instagram?
While there’s not currently a way to hide your posts from certain followers, there are settings you can change to hide your Instagram story from certain followers, help limit the posts you see, and control whether just friends or the public can see the posts you make. You can however, make your Instagram stories private to certain individuals (note that the default is public).
Q: Should I have a private or public Instagram profile?
My take on this is that for individuals, your profile should be private if you’re using Instagram for personal use since there is no audience selector to limit who can see your posts as there is with Facebook (again, you can only limit the views on your Instagram stories to certain followers). Limit your followers to only your friends, family and a select number of others who you truly want to allow to peek into your personal life (remember anything can be screenshotted leaving a permanent record even after you delete something).
If you use Instagram for building your professional brand, by all means, make that profile public but only post content that supports your professional goals. I would limit the amount of personal things you post on that account and instead have a private separate account for posts about your family and friends.
When in doubt change your profile to private for maximum security – this way you approve your followers. Also note that you can switch a public profile to private and vice versa at any time.
Q: How do I block someone on Instagram and what happens when I do?
To block someone, go to their profile, click on the three dots on the top right hand side of the page and choose “block.” Once you block someone their comments and likes on your posts will disappear as will any photos of theirs or yours in which you were tagged. You can easily unblock someone but it may take Instagram a few days to restore their likes/comments, I have found this to be a bit buggy.
Q: Should I be using hashtags on Instagram?
Instagram hashtags are truly your best friend in building a strong presence on the platform. Hashtags help your brand get discovered, categorize posts, increase your engagement, attract followers and strengthen the exposure of your brand by helping you reach out to your target audience. According to recent Instagram statistics, there is an advantage to using hashtags. Posts that have at least one hashtag have higher engagement levels than those that have none.
Some individuals create public profiles to build their professional brand and hashtags will help you do that, but only if you use the right hashtags. The best way to find the best Instagram hashtags is to do research yourself by looking at other Instagram accounts and typing in certain hashtags to see how many followers they have. Include geographical tags in your photos to attract local attention and increase location-specific marketing. A word to the wise – skip a line before you include the hashtags and don’t overuse hashtags or your content can look spammy. Keep in mind that hashtags won’t work if your profile is private. Only your followers can see them and sort your content by them.
Also add relevant tags on each post and clickable hashtags in as many of your Instagram Stories as possible. All company pages should be public and effectively use hashtags.
Q: What kind of content should I post to Instagram if I’m a business or trying to build my brand?
I would advise to keep content light on Instagram. So don’t post the same things you would post on LinkedIn, which is for more business oriented content. The platform is all about photos so you must have visually arresting, high quality and correctly sized photos to capture the attention of your audience. Instagram is a great place to feature content about your people and the good works of your company as well as a look at the company culture, community service activities and anything else that can bring your company to life and differentiate it. It’s a great place to feature recruiting content that will appeal to potential new hires.
You can also provide glimpses of firm life and your contributions to the community on Instagram, for example, showcase your CSR, pro bono, diversity or charitable contributions and always show, don’t tell through imagery.
Instagram is a great way to humanize your brand with behind-the-scenes snapshots into company life. Your Instagram followers want to know more about the people behind the brand. You can also elevate your thought leadership position by sharing snippets from thought leadership pieces, quotes from company leaders that were excerpted from interviews as well as industry statistics to drive home points using compelling visuals. If you don’t have access to a graphic designer, make canva.com your best friend. It’s an online (mostly free) graphic design tool for non-graphic designers.
Try posting informational content. These can function as mini blog posts that are actually promotional marketing copy, where you can give bulleted/key points about a main idea in an easily digestible way. Some ideas include showcasing the work/life balance benefits of your company and evergreen content (think of posts such as “why you need a will” or “five ways to protect your startup”).
Seek inspiration from your competitors and follow their Instagram accounts to get a better sense of what they’re posting so you can create more engaging content.
Q: When is the best time to post to Instagram? And how often should a company post an update?
Posting content regularly to Instagram keep your audience engaged and help you build followers, but you also must be active when your followers are most active. Here’s why: Instagram posts have a fairly short lifespan because of the platform’s algorithm. If your followers don’t see them within the first few hours, they likely won’t see them at all. Think about how you personally use Instagram – after awhile you stop scrolling down your feed. To be successful at using Instagram post updates when your audience is online to maximize your reach and post updates often.
Q: Should I utilize the Instagram Stories option?
Absolutely! Instagram gives you the unique opportunity to tell great stories through visual content. Its stories and videos are highly effective at telling your brand’s story. In fact storytelling should be your guiding content principle on Instagram.
Q: Any best practices for Instagram captions and descriptions?
Research has shown that longer captions are more common, but shorter descriptions see more engagement. Also remember that you have quite a bit of space to tell your story with each post – you have more than 2,000 characters to use up in your Instagram captions, so use your words wisely.
Q: How can a company effectively engage with followers on Instagram?
Here are some ways to boost engagement and encourage interaction with your followers. Ask questions in your captions of interest to your followers. Use polls in your Stories and get people to cast their vote. Ask them to write in answers to questions and publish the responses in another post. Encourage followers to submit photos or offer a contest and then include their contributions in your feed tagging them. Most law firms aren’t doing this yet so stand out from the pack and be the innovator!
Q: How do you measure the success of your efforts on Instagram?
Just like with the investment in other social media platforms, it often takes some time to see the ROI of your efforts. So be patient and stay the course. With a business account you can use analytics to track which posts are resonating most with your followers and then adjust your Instagram strategy to create additional content like that.