I hadn’t taken Instagram seriously for professional services marketing in the past. I set up an account some time ago to experiment and to see what my (grown) kids were up to. But when I wrote a guide to social media for lawyers http://kimtasso.com/social-media-in-business-development-a-guide-for-lawyers/ at the end of 2018, I noted that there were a few professional service firms using Instagram – primarily for recruitment although some mentioned targeting wealthy Millennials as well. So I attended a short course for journalists on Instagram and influencer marketing. For those who are Getting to grips with Instagram marketing in professional services, here’s a summary of what I learned.
Instagram is very much like Twitter in that you aim to encourage followers and engagement. A slight difference is that, like Snapchat, you can create a story that contains one or a series of images or a video that only lasts for 24 hours. Stories appear as a circle at the top of your screen – a red circle shows that you have yet to watch them.
Create an account and a profile
Once you’ve downloaded the app, creating an account is simple. You provide an email address, your name, a username and a password and you’re done. Of course, you should add a photo, a brief bio (maximum of 150 characters) saying a little about who you are and a web site URL/link. People will check the first dozen or so images on your profile “grid” before deciding whether to follow you. So make sure that they are good quality photos or videos with interesting subject matter – take care with your curation.
You can have up to five accounts. You can set your account to private so that only those who follow you (that you have approved) can see your posts.
Find accounts to follow
You can search for individual accounts, use the discover option or accept Instagram’s suggestions. Perhaps more than other social media platforms, Instagram relies on reciprocity. People follow you, you follow them back. People like (♥) your photos, you like theirs. People comment on your images, you comment on theirs.
I like that in Instagram you can also follow popular hashtags like #dogsofinstagram #wetdogs #redthings
Sharing images and videos
Instagram is a visual platform focused on sharing images (photographs and videos) rather than copy. So those who are really good at photography or have highly visual goods and services to sell will do well on the platform.
You can share photos and videos (maximum of 60 seconds) from your library or you can take them live using your smartphone camera. Instagram provides numerous filters and editing tools for your photos. For example, there are 24 photo filter options and video options such as Boomerang which loops a short video.
The caption you apply is important – both in terms of people finding your images and in learning a little more about the image. Storytelling (and tweet techniques) are covered here: http://kimtasso.com/persuasive-writing-titles-tweets/ You can also indicate the location of the image for when people search on that basis. You can share your Instagram images to other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
You will see the images that are shared by those who you follow on your timeline. Your images will appear on the timelines of those who follow you.
These are even more important in Instagram than in Twitter – both in your profile and in the captions to your photos and videos. You can have up to 30 hashtags in a post. Hashtags are covered here: http://kimtasso.com/persuasive-writing-titles-tweets/
Instagram was launched in October 2010 with a mission to “capture the world’s moments”. It was acquired by Facebook in 2012. It has a billion users placing it third behind Facebook and YouTube. The UK is the eighth highest country with 23 million users (US, India and Brazil are the top three).
The leading brands (in terms of number of followers) include:
- National Geographic (83.4m)
- Nike (75.4m)
- Victoria’s Secret (58m)
- Real Madrid (54.1m)
- FC Barcelona (53.4)
- 9GAG: GO Fun the world (42.8m)
- Nike Football (30.8m)
- NASA (29.2m)
- NBA (25.8m)
- Chanel (25.3m)
With the focus on celebrities and lifestyles, it is tempting to think that Instagram is primarily for personal use but more than 80 percent of Instagram accounts follow a business account. So marketers need to consider whether Instagram should be a part of their digital and social media marketing strategy.
The general view is that the demographic of Instagram is young with a slight bias to female users, although stats from October 2018 show roughly equal numbers of male and female users.
- 59% are in the 18-29 years category and
- 33% are between 30-49 and
- 18% between 50 and 64.
Income groups are evenly represented with
- 37% earning more than $75K
- 32% between $50K and $75K
- 32% between £30K and £50K
- 38% less tan £30K
Professional services representation
I think it’s fair to say that adoption of Instagram within professional services is somewhat limited – but please let me know if there are accounts that you think are worthy of mention.
Due to the nature of the content, property firms are active on Instagram – particularly estate agents and valuers. Savills has a great account – with 40,000 followers. CBRE has 46,000 followers. Carter Jonas has 1,400 followers and Bidwells has 600 followers. There are great accounts from those concentrating on interior design too.
Some law firms focus on images of their location (see Forsters LLP – with 900 followers – in Mayfair). Others concentrate on the activities of their people as part of their recruitment, staff engagement, community and retention campaigns.
- DLA Piper has 3,700 followers
- Freshfields graduates has 1,705 followers
- Cliffordchance careers has 1,385 followers
- Blacks solicitors in Leeds has 1,548 followers
- Bird & Bird (twobirdslaw) has 1,000 followers (twobirdsgrads has 800)
- Slater & Gordon has 808 followers
- RHW solicitors in Guildford has 409 followers
- Stephensons in Wigan has 409 followers
- Bishops and Sewell in London has 446 followers
- Boodle Hatfield has 208 followers
- and Linklatersgraduates has 182 followers.
Shireen Smith (an intellectual property lawyer at Azrights) has an interesting account with 3,000 followers. She produces live events on Instagram and Facebook such as tips on brand, business and IP and also shares short videos explaining branding and design issues.
The Law Society has 2,273 followers. The Bar Council has 1,563 followers.
#lawyer has 1.7m posts whereas #uklawyer has only 247. #solicitor has 25,000 posts.
Some notable accountancy firm accounts include:
- Deloitte has 68,400 followers
- KPMG has 49,200 followers
- EY has 31,000 followers
- PwC has 5,683 followers
- Grant Thornton with 1,543 followers
#accountant has 310,000 posts
There are some aspects of professional services that are highly visual – and some firms focus on embedding themselves within their locality using local images.
As people like to learn, it would seem that knowledge sharing and practical advice would make suitable content – as long as it was presented in a concise and entertaining way. It seems to me that there is a missed opportunity to present photos and videos of client stories and testimonials. And also for short explainer videos or images from key events. Particularly since the launch of IGTV in 2018.
Conclusion – Getting to grips with instagram marketing in professional services
While there is value in learning about any social media platform such as Instagram, before significant resources are committed it needs to be part of an overall marketing communications strategy. You’ll need to have clear aims, detailed market analysis and segmentation and an integrated strategy. You’ll need to adapt your content management for the particular audiences you are targeting on Instagram and the visual content required.
Like other social media platforms, it helps if you have or can appeal to a niche – to make it easier for you to connect with the relevant users and for them to find you.
Most people concentrate on organic reach but there are advertising options for which you need a business account and a Facebook page. A number of celebrities (partly in response to concerns from the Competition and Markets Authority – CMA) recently agreed to be transparent where their Instagram posts are sponsored by commercial organisations.
Instagram analytics are available through a Facebook page,
At present it seems that serious B2B marketing for the professions is limited in Instgram.
Other social media in the professions posts: