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Social Media just won’t go away. Love it or hate it, a good social media strategy can make a significant difference to client relationships and instruction generation… not to mention brand reputation and recruitment. The legal sector is catching up. Lawyers love text-based marketing, which is probably why so many thrive on Twitter and LinkedIn. But, in reviewing our popular Tweeter of the Week ranking, we have started to see how firms perform at all areas of social media… and unfortunately, Instagram (and other forms of image-based marketing) are lagging behind.

We know what you’re probably thinking: ‘Instagram is just for teenagers to share pictures of their lunch, right?’ Wrong. According to an article by Hootsuite, almost 50% of businesses were on Instagram in 2016, with the percentage expected to rise to over 70% by the end of 2017. More crucially, 75% of Instagram users take action, such as visiting a website, after looking at an Instagram advertising post. When you consider how many law firms work with start-ups (which thrive on Instagram), we’re wondering why the legal sector still hasn’t got with the programme.



After naming global, magic-circle law firm Allen & Overy as our Legal Tweeter of the Week recently, we noticed that they are one of the few firms using Instagram. Big tick in that box! Allen & Overy is bang on the mark with its Twitter presence – it’s got its engagement nailed, with a real mastery of visual marketing and a sleek, consistent aesthetic. With all that we’d expect them to be leading the way for the legal sector’s emergence onto Instagram… so we took a closer look.  But it seemed that even though they are most certainly one of the better firms at Instagram, it’s very much early days.

    1. There isn’t a main profile. When we tried to find an Instagram profile for Allen & Overy, we were offered five different profiles – its Luxembourg office, its New York office, an account for the Netherlands and two others for alumni and careers (based in Germany). Having multiple profiles isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially for a global law firm – it can be a great way to engage directly with a specific location and project a more personal presence – it can allow you to involve lawyers based in the same city with networking events, for example. But the problem is this can present a rather fragmented impression of how the firm works. Unlike A&O’s Twitter, which has a strong central presence and a variety of associated accounts, there’s nothing to hold it all together on Instagram. We aren’t offered the chance to see the bigger picture before choosing where to zoom in – and it leaves us feeling adrift.
    2. Where’s London? Carrying on from the last point, one thing that struck us, above everything else, was that there wasn’t a profile for Allen & Overy’s London office. But this was particularly interesting when we looked at the location tags being used when you search for the firm. In short, there’s an awful lot of activity on Instagram from a London location, with lawyers and alumni posting frequently about what they’re up to. So why isn’t there a profile?  It’s brilliant to see the lawyers getting on board with Instagram and showcasing the locations in which they work. But there’s an important branding message being missed, here. London, as a corporate location, is facing a challenge with the ongoing Brexit process. With clients in A&O’s core markets considering taking their business to mainland Europe and away from London now is the time to remind them that London remains as active and important as ever. With so much activity clearly going on already in Instagram you can’t argue that the audience isn’t there… we felt the firm was rather throwing gold away by not having a London-based account.
    3. What’s the plan? We noticed, with Instagram, an interesting role reversal. Normally, marketing decides there is a strategic need to introduce a media channel and then educates the lawyers in how to use it. With A&O’s Instagram, however, it seems like the lawyers are driving things forward themselves and, unfortunately, it’s not clear exactly what the strategic purpose behind it is. If we were only to look at what each account is posting, we’d be really impressed. The aesthetic is fresh and fun, with lawyers posting about the events they’re at and what they’re excited about. It really feels like a collaborative effort and not a faceless firm trying to be interesting. There are real opportunities here for PR, CSR, brand awareness, demonstrating expertise, client care and more… But when you see that the profiles don’t follow a single other user, have a cohesive sense of message… or interact with each other in any way… we think there’s a major problem. It’s nice to see what Allen & Overy’s lawyers are up to, but there is so much more that could (and should) be done to actually use this activity and content to meet strategic objectives.

Law firms often struggle to appear approachable and human, and this is the perfect way to smash through that stereotype. Still think that Instagram isn’t for the professionals? All we’ve got to say is ignore it at your own peril.