Drum roll, please... The Alexander Group is now on Instagram! (Follow us @The.Alexander.Group)
Now that we have that out of the way, we wanted to share some of the facts, benefits, and realities of Instagram-use that we considered as we jumped on board, and why your firm might want to consider it as well. We've been on Facebook and Twitter since 2009, and LinkedIn since 2011, but like many of our brethren in professional services, we held off on entering the Instagram fray. With its image-centric format; youth-skewing user base; and heavy population of cats, sunsets, and selfies, Instagram doesn't lend itself, at first blush, to a firm wanting to connect with business leaders of today and tomorrow. But that's changing, and quickly.
- According to Sprout Social, an estimated 71 percent of businesses are on Instagram as of 2017. You could dismiss that statistic by considering that many of those are consumer-products oriented, or very small businesses with no marketing budget who think "what do we have to lose?" But that 71 percent figure gets a bit more interesting when you learn that, in 2016, just 48.8 percent of all businesses were using Instagram. Businesses of all kinds are catching on that Instagram can be a powerful marketing tool. That isn't to say that these businesses have yet figured out how to harness that power, but they are actively figuring it out and will be ahead of the game when the late-adapters come straggling in.
- A 2018 My Case study found that 90 percent of law firms maintain a presence on LinkedIn as a way to connect and market, 40 percent utilize Facebook, and 26 percent are on Twitter. Instagram wasn't even mentioned, and we are not surprised. Professional services firms in general are reluctant users of social media. In our own very unofficial survey of top law firms, only five of the top 10 US law firms have an Instagram presence (and one of those, impressively, has 417 followers with zero posts.) The law firm with the greatest number of followers is currently at 2,508 and counting. Compare that to the top 10 accounting firms in the US: the top six have an active presence on Instagram, the most popular of these boasting 51,700 followers. And all 10 of the top management consulting firms are posting away on Instagram.
- There are as many ways to use a corporate Instagram account as there are corporate Instagram accounts, and it's a good idea to determine a content strategy before you start posting. Some firms use the medium primarily as a recruiting tool for new grads-posting event images that give one a sense of their culture and linking to blog posts by associates on the experience of working at the firm. Some firms focus their accounts on promoting Website content; others use infographics, photos and videos to tell customer stories; still others focus on communicating the firm's global reach with images of offices from around the world and notable landmarks. The most effective accounts seem to combine two, three, or four different types of content and have a regular posting schedule.
- Of the 800 million monthly active users on Instagram (as of September 2017, and up from 700 million in April 2017, double the numbers reported by Twitter), 68 percent of those are under 35. The decision-makers at potential client companies are more often than not well over 35, and thus Instagram is not firmly on a professional services firm's marketing radar. However, these millennials are quickly working their way into leadership roles, and a firm has nothing to lose and everything to gain by building a brand and community with those future leaders.
Professional services firms live and die by their talent. There are no widgets to sell. The product is your people, and the firms with the best and brightest have the greatest competitive edge. To that end, a professional services firm should always consider ways to expand their reach and engagement in communities with the best talent, and Instagram can be used as a tool to build that connection. Of those 700 million (and counting) active users, 80 percent follow a business on Instagram. We expect that, as the platform grows, the available tools expand, and the user base grows more sophisticated, this percentage will increase and the types of businesses marketing on Instagram will only broaden.
We hope this article has emboldened you to enter the Instagram fray. If it has, give our account a follow, and we'll follow you right back!
Related links: Happy Birthday Instagram: Stress Reliever, Learning Tool and, Oh Yes, a Photo Sharing App
About the Author: Sarah Mitchell has more than 15 years of recruiting experience, 12 of which have been with The Alexander Group in both the Houston and San Francisco offices. She has also worked in house as a recruiter for Amazon.com in Seattle, Washington, partnering with executives in finance, legal, and human resources to select and attract world class talent.