Essential Guide to Instagram for Lawyers

If you’ve never considered Instagram for anything other than sharing pictures of your dog or your last brunch, you may want to reconsider how effective Instagram is for creating brand awareness and driving likes and followers directly to your law office website.

Granted, Instagram isn’t right for every practice area – only 20.6% of people over age 45 report using Instagram – but for many niche legal areas, Instagram is exactly where your ideal clients spend over an hour a day scrolling and researching local service providers.

Consider getting active and creating content

If you’re looking for another way to drive traffic to your law firm’s website through social media, it’s time to consider getting active on Instagram and creating some eye-catching content for your feed.

Getting Started on Instagram

If you already have a personal account on Instagram, keep it strictly personal. You may even consider strengthening your privacy settings.

To promote activities of your law firm on social media, you’re going to want to set up a new Instagram business account through your Facebook business page, firm email, or office phone number.

Social media isn't a ranking signal

When you do your account set up, remember to keep your name, address, and phone number consistent. Even small modifications of your business contact details can throw off Google and other search engines. Even though social media isn’t a ranking signal, confusing contact information can create problems for your law firm’s search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

Also, using your firm’s phone number will be a great way to connect with current clients as Instagram will use your contact information to promote your account and those current clients probably have your business number stored in their phones.

In order to seed your account with a few founding followers, Instagram will ask to connect to your Facebook and phone contacts. Wait until you’ve finished adding your professional firm photo, completed your profile’s new bio, and added a few high-quality posts to start making connection requests.

Once you’ve followed the steps to set up your new law firm Instagram account, go to settings > account > switch account type > switch to business account. Every Instagram account is personal until you make the switch to a professional account.

Writing a Great Instagram Bio

Trying to define what your law firm stands for and what you do for clients in 150 characters…well, it can be easy to overthink it. And it’s important to take more than a minute to get it right since it sets the tone for your firm’s brand on the Instagram platform.

When sitting down to write your bio, make sure you know what you want to accomplish with it. It’s perfectly fine to keep it simple, especially if you don’t expect to have the bandwidth to constantly update and refresh your bio.

Your Instagram profile builds brand awareness

Use emojis as appropriate and don’t shy away from a well-researched or branded hashtag. Your Instagram profile is a place to showcase your personality as a firm and to build brand awareness.

Need some inspiration? Check out these legal Instagram bios!

You want your bio to make a powerful first impression with visitors to your profile and encourage them to connect with you both on the platform and to visit your website.

To make the most of your 150 characters, consider using some of the tools available to professional Instagram accounts. You can select your category and create clickable call-to-action buttons to reserve as many characters as possible to make your bio stand out. Consumers have more choices than ever, so make it simple for them to connect to your firm.

Tip: You’re limited to one link in your Instagram bio. A great way to get the most of it is to use a “bio link tool” like LinkTree that allows you to drive traffic to the pages you want your Instagram audience to visit.

Make a Great First Impression

Now that your law firm’s Instagram profile is customized and optimized, don’t expect people to connect to an empty feed. Publish some compelling content before you start making connection requests. Creating three to four posts that give people a reason to follow you will get your law firm’s new account off to a great start.

As of this writing, static photos are still the most popular posts in the Instagram feed, but following Adam Mosseri’s post about upcoming changes at Instagram and it no longer being “just a square photo sharing app” expect video to take the lead.

Use existing video as content

For those “new profile” kick off posts, consider using some of your existing digital content assets like your firm’s intro video or your own personal bio video.

The key to winning on Instagram is to create visually appealing posts with engaging captions.

Compelling Captions That Get Clicks

A caption is the text that appears below your image or video in the Instagram feed. As of this writing, you have 2200 characters, but you have to sell the click to read more in the first 35-150 characters,

A compelling caption will encourage users to tap on the more link to view the rest of your caption as they scroll through their feed.

To get the most out of your caption within the character display limit, get right to the “hook” of your message. Share just enough that you spark sufficient curiosity to drive the click through.

What drives marketing messages

But don’t confuse a compelling hook with click bait. According to Brendan Kane, author of Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a 3-Second World, click bait “lacks substance’ but a good hook works because it is “attached to an authentic and compelling story that provides value and builds trust and credibility”. Building trust and establishing your expertise and credibility should drive your marketing messages.

In newspaper publishing, the advice was always “don’t bury the lead”. Save everything that won’t compel someone to click to read more until later in your caption. That includes your hashtags.

Get More than a Little Help From Hashtags

Hashtags are the # that powers several social media platforms, but especially Instagram. You can discover the best hashtags for your niche or practice area natively on Instagram or you can use hashtag search sites to get an idea of what hashtags could be used to drive traffic to your posts.

By searching for power hashtags you’ll know how often that hashtag is used, you’ll see related hashtags, plus and perhaps most importantly, you’ll be able to see other posts that use that hashtag. Checking out other people’s posts is a great way to get a sense for what works on Instagram and give you a head start figuring out how to fill your own feed. Use these posts for inspiration but be sure to put your own spin on them.

Why you should use hashtags

When you use hashtags, you have tapped into the potential to reach the followers of the hashtag as well as Instagram users who have visited the top post or most recent post using the hashtag.

General hashtags like #attorney and #personalinjurylawyer might have a lot of posts and followers, but your goal is also to get local eyes on your feed. Unless you are licensed in many different jurisdictions, you want the majority of your followers and traffic to come from your state or local region.

Don’t forget to boost your online visibility by making a branded hashtag for your law firm. It’s another way to connect with your audience. Ask them to follow your hashtag.

You can add up to 30 hashtags to a regular Instagram post.  Really think about selecting the most effective hashtags and don’t feel compelled to use the maximum allowed on every post.

Before You Hit the Share Button

After you’ve put together your caption and your hashtags, you can also take a couple of other traffic boosting steps before publishing your post.

  • You can tag other Instagram accounts in your post. Does an attorney with your firm have a big following? Are you doing a charity promotion? Take advantage of adjacent audiences to grab more traffic and build greater brand awareness.
  • Tag your post with your location to get geographically specific traffic to your posts. Attracting local attention can build your most relevant audience more rapidly.

If you’ve linked your Facebook and Twitter accounts, you can also have Instagram post directly to those platforms for you.

What works on Instagram doesn't work on Twitter

Pro tip: My advice is to always post natively on each platform. What works on Instagram isn’t what works on Twitter…and failing to demonstrate your knowledge of what is accepted on each platform can cause a disconnect between you and savvier social media users, who are most of your ideal clients – unless your ideal client is over 65.

You can also turn off commenting for a post. Social is social, meaning people want to engage and comment and have you respond. Turning off commenting can alienate people who have positive things to say about you or your post and having a “blocked” profile can frustrate potential followers. If you have a situation where turning off comments is necessary, you can always return to a post, hit the three dots in the upper right corner and turn off commenting on a post. When commenting is turned off, all comments are hidden from view.

Those three dots allow you to configure advanced settings for your post and they give you access to go back and edit settings by visiting the post on your app. You can edit the caption, change up your hashtags, or modify any other details like geographical information.

The one thing you can’t edit?

The picture or video.  If you need to make changes there, your only choice is to delete the entire post, so make sure your creative is what you want before you hit share to publish.

Do’s and Don’ts of Instagram for Attorneys

Don’t Be Spammy

Usernames should be easily recognizable

Sadly, Instagram struggles against fake accounts so your potential followers are more than a little wary when asked to follow a new account.  Make sure your username is one that is easily recognizable by past and current clients so they feel confident connecting with your profile.

Skip spammy account names like personalinjurylawyer2745.  You are restricted to 30 characters consisting of only letters, numbers, and underscores but you can still get a name that is easily associated with you or your firm.

And while hashtags can help people discover your profile and posts, using a bunch of overused or irrelevant hashtags can make your account feel spammy.

If something about your profile or bio or account doesn’t feel authentic, it’s going to hurt your growth and visibility on the platform.

Do Have Realistic Expectations Around Your Account Growth and Engagement

Engagement rate for Instagram

If you’re brand new to business Instagram, it takes time to develop and nurture an engaged following. After all, the engagement rate for Instagram hovers around .096%.

To put that in perspective, that’s 1 engagement per every 100 followers. But that shouldn’t discourage you from making Instagram a pillar of your online marketing strategy. A small but engaged audience always outperforms a big audience, so be curious about what resonates with your ideal clients when they’re scrolling through their feed and give them more of that content.

It can take several months of consistent posting to start seeing results but every time you back off on posting, you reset your success clock. Stick with it (and keep an eye on what’s working for other attorneys).

Do Share Some Behind the Scenes Stuff

Instagram is a great platform for having a little fun online. Consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to hiring professionals and, while it’s never recommended to be unprofessional on your social media accounts, it can be helpful to show your more human side so you can connect with potential clients.

Seeing you as a real person helps

Most people are feeling pretty stressed about needing a lawyer. Seeing you as a real person can help them make a decision about reaching out and scheduling a consultation with you.

Let potential clients know what tools and resources you use to make their experience as a client better than what they might get at a competing firm.

If you have recruiting needs, showing off your office culture can be a great tool for attracting new talent to the office. Highlight the support and paraprofessional staff. Share the day-to-day office activities or the charitable causes your law firm supports on the weekends.

Instagram is a great platform for giving people an insider’s view of your firm and that can be what sets you apart from your competition.

Do Create a Calendar

Why create a content calendar

There is nothing worse than sitting down to post and ending up staring at a blinking cursor. The best way to make sure you have a steady stream of good ideas at your fingertips is to create a calendar of evergreen legal topics you can use to share thoughtful, useful legal information with your followers.

And don’t be afraid to crack a few jokes or lean on “national days” to inject a little fun into your feed.

Pro tip: Be Kind to Lawyers Day is the second Tuesday in April. 

Don’t Risk Looking Unprofessional

Human, yes. Approachable, yes. But neither of those Instagram goals should ever put your professional reputation at risk. You want visitors to your feed to see you as warm and engaging. Someone who has the expertise and demonstrates trustworthiness.

You never want to appear amateurish

If you have even a split second of doubt about whether it is appropriate to post something, it probably isn’t. You never want to appear amateurish, crass, or obnoxious.

After all, the ultimate goal of your Instagram is to get the people who engage with your feed to hire you as their attorney.

Make sure everything you post meets these tips based on ethics opinions of the American Bar Association or the bar association of your state or local jurisdiction.

Do Consider Accessibility

With Instagram being a largely visual platform, it can be too easy to forget how many people who use and enjoy consuming content on Instagram are visually impaired and rely on assistive technology to “see” your posts.

Advanced options are behind three dots

Behind the three dot menu are advanced options. One of those options is to add alt text to your post. This alt text is a description of your image that makes it easier for visually impaired users to fully understand your content.

Do Share Your Original Videos

There is no better way to show off your professional knowledge and grab attention in a noisy feed than with a video. Every firm should have a library of essential marketing videos and reusing digital assets across multiple channels is just a good business practice.

Tease your content in your opening seconds of your video and in your caption as well. You don’t want to build a case to watch, you want to present a compelling 5 second to stick around.

Keep videos short for people

Keep videos around the 2-3 minute length and give people a reason to watch. You can go as long as 10 minutes, but to keep people watching your content will have to be very compelling. When you share engaging video content, you will be surprised to see how many visitors watch the video until the end.

As Instagram transitions away from being “just a photo sharing app” video content is being prioritized by the algorithm allowing you to capture more traffic to your profile.

Instagram is one of the best places online for law firms and attorneys to build their brand online since for most lawyers, their key client demographic spends over an hour a day scrolling the platform. With over half of Instagram users saying that they visit a website after being exposed to a brand or service in their feed, having an engaging Instagram account can help drive traffic to your website and capture new clients and cases.

Social media savvy firms are using Instagram to recruit top talent and to attract prospective clients. By having a smart posting strategy, Instagram is easily one of the smartest marketing channels to take advantage of to grow your firm.

Attorneys who share more than just information about the law and their services by sharing content their ideal clients can relate to find Instagram is a legitimate online marketing channel.

If you’d like to discuss how to get the most out of your Instagram account, schedule a call with one of our legal social media strategists right now.