Snapchat and Instagram are two visual social media platforms with big user bases.
Between 150 and 166 million people use Snapchat every day, while Instagram pulls in numbers north of 500 million.
With so many users, should law firms be marketing on Snapchat and Instagram?
We’re diving into these platforms and explaining how they work, what they do, who uses them, and if they’re worth your firm’s time and money.
Instagram for Lawyers: #WorthIt?
The Basics of Instagram
Instagram is primarily an image-based platform. Users post photos or short videos accompanied by captions or hashtags.
Users follow other users (individuals, businesses, or brands) or specific hashtags related to a specific topic.
A user’s feed is populated by various images and videos uploaded by the people they follow. They scroll through the feed, liking images (by double-tapping the image or tapping the heart immediately below it) and occasionally leaving comments.
Like its parent company Facebook, Instagram uses an algorithm to determine which images make it into the newsfeed.
Generally speaking, users are more likely to see the more popular and relevant posts. Instagram inserts sponsored or recommended posts into users’ feeds.
Instagram’s cost per click (CPC) for ads can be higher than Facebook or AdWords, due to the smaller number of impression opportunities.
Instagram Stories are different than Instagram posts. Stories are accessible through bubble images at the top of a user’s feed. They’re visible for 24 hours and then disappear.
Anyone can create a story, and they usually consist of real-time images or video of whatever the user is doing that day. However, it’s also possible to include promotional or sponsored content inside Instagram Stories.
User Demographics & Behavior
Instagram’s user base is too large to pinpoint exactly, but the demographic does skew female and young.
- 31 percent of women use Instagram regularly
- 24 percent of men use Instagram regularly
- 55 percent of all active online users aged 18 to 29 are using Instagram regularly
- Only 4 percent of adults over 65 use Instagram regularly
- Instagram is used equally (26 to 30 percent) across nearly all income brackets
- Instagram is most popular in urban areas where regular usage is at 32 percent among adults. The suburbs aren’t far behind (28 percent). It’s less popular in rural areas (18 percent).
The single most active Instagram demographic: female millennials who live in big cities and earn between $50,000 and $75,000 a year.
The most effective Instagram content is:
- Highly visual
- High-quality images (e.g., shot with higher-end consumer-grade camera equipment, professionally edited in Photoshop, or created by a graphic designer)
- Authentic (i.e., reflects a person’s experiences, as opposed to slick “corporate” content)
- Posted regularly (once a day, for example)
- Clever caption copy and emoji usage
- Includes a call to action in the caption
- Includes related hashtags
- Highly relevant to the targeted demographic or hashtag
Who’s Spending Money?
Instagram marketing makes a lot of sense if:
- You’re engaged in e-commerce (e.g., products sold online)
- You sell an app or sell products or services through an app
- Your customer base is youthful or primarily female
- You’re located in a big city or the suburb of a big city
- Your brand or service lends itself to visual content
The Verdict on Instagram
But as popular as Instagram is, its demographics and user behavior don’t represent the best investment opportunity for most law firms.
Exceptions might include law firms that focus on millennials (that’s something your law firm absolutely should be doing, a case we’ve made again and again and again); those competing against other firms that are very active on Instagram in big cities; or those who happen to have access to excellent photographers or graphic designers.
If you operate a sister company related to your legal services (something along the lines of LegalZoom), you might get more mileage out of Instagram, especially if your site or service is app-based. Most Instagram users are on mobile devices.
Of course, top law firms with big budgets and a determination to dominate their market should not hesitate to invest in an ambitious Instagram marketing plan. It will pay off when executed strategically. But for law firms that have the budget for just one or two social platforms, then you might want to experiment with Instagram later.
Snapchat for Lawyers: #WorthIt?
The Basics of Snapchat
Snapchat’s calling card is its instant messaging. Each message is accessible for a short time and disappears almost immediately after being viewed. That makes it somewhat lifelike — our face-to-face conversations aren’t preserved either.
Snapchat messages are called “snaps.” Snaps are always images or videos, but replies might be pure text. Users can send their snaps directly to other users, or they can publish them publicly as part of their “story.” This latter feature is very similar to Instagram’s stories.
User Demographics & Behavior
Like Instagram, Snapchat skews female and young, but the skew is significantly more pronounced.
- 23 percent of Snapchat users haven’t graduated high school yet
- 37 percent of Snapchat users are between ages 18 and 24
- 26 percent of Snapchat users are between ages 25 and 34
- 12 percent of Snapchat users are between ages 35 and 54
- Just 2 percent of Snapchat users are over age 55
- Overall, 60 percent of Snapchat users are younger than 25
As recently as 2015, a Harvard study found that among millennials, 42 percent of women use Snapchat compared to 31 percent of men.
Snapchat is most effective when the content is highly visual. Videos fare better on Snapchat than on Instagram.
Succinctness matters. Snaps are fast and fleeting by design. The culture of Snapchat also lends itself to being sillier, more intimate, and less formal. But brands must be careful not to cross the line into intrusive or offensive content.
Here again, authenticity is key. Millennials are wary of traditional marketing, and they associate credibility with “realness.” If your law firm is going to engage on Snapchat, it should do so in a personable and relatable way.
Snapchat allows advertisers to create customized filters for their brands and tie them to geographic locations or special events. Filters appear on top of users’ snaps and are very popular.
For example, when a big concert comes to town, you could have a graphics team create a relevant filter that includes your firm’s logo in it as a sponsor. It can get a lot of local attention for any brand, but the people who see it will be very young.
Who’s Spending Money?
Snapchat is a trendy social media platform. It plays very well for a young audience, especially to young women. Any business targeting this age/gender demographic would be smart to consider allocating funds for Snapchat marketing.
The Verdict on Snapchat
It’s hard to make a case for Snapchat marketing for attorneys, with the possible exception of the biggest law firms in the top U.S. markets.
We aren’t saying you should write off Snapchat altogether. Make an account for your firm and carve out a little time to engage with your community.
But when it comes to setting a social media budget for the year, Snapchat’s most active users are rarely the ones making hiring decisions for legal services.
More Social Media Questions?
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