photo-1469013078550-305e63b7c8f7Back in February, we talked about how lawyers can use Instagram to get noticed. Instagram still continues to dominate when it comes to social media, and whether you’re using it yourself, or you just want to have a better understanding of how it works because your clients are using it, it’s a great tool. That being said, I still stand by what I said at the end of my last post:

In summary, while I doubt that Instagram is going to bring lawyers new business, it’s another tool to have in your arsenal, and one you should know how to use, especially with the staggering usage statistics that we see, and the new account-switching feature that will make it immensely easier for brands to use.”

Instagram continues to roll out new features to stay competitive with other social media tools, and one of those features is what we’re focused on today!

Embracing Instagram “Stories”

On August 2nd, Instagram rolled out what it calls “Stories,” which are, according to TechCrunch “24-hour ephemeral photo and video slideshows that disappear.” If you’re a Snapchat user, you’ll be familiar with this idea, because it’s very similar to Snapchat Stories. (If at any time during this post, I’m talking about tool-specific language or social media tools you’ve never heard of, feel free to reach out to me, and I’ll go through it with you). TechCrunch further tells us:

Stories creates a place for content that’s not ‘good enough’ for the Instagram feed, or at least is too silly to fit in amongst the art. Because everything disappears, you don’t have to be ashamed of that awkward face or stupid joke forever the way things posted to your real Instagram profile reflect on you forever.”

Because Instagram is usually treated as a highly curated view into your life, Stories can help to round out that view a little bit, and offer a fuller picture into who you are.

Before we get into the how, let’s talk about the why – why should lawyers care about this?

Why Should Lawyers Care About Instagram Stories?

Aside from the obvious, that your clients are using it and potentially getting themselves into trouble (think revealing proprietary information accidentally – the stories may only be there for 24 hours, but the ability to screen shot something lasts forever), there are some great reasons to dabble in this yourself. Instagram Stories, like the rest of your Instagram feed, allows you to offer your followers a “peek” into your everyday life as a lawyer. It provides a more well-rounded view of who you are as a person, and can underscore someone’s reasons for hiring you. How might you want to use Stories?

  • The fun side: One of our firms has been using the hashtag “#AdventurousAttorneys” over on Twitter to share stories of the cool things their lawyers get up to when they’re not advocating for their clients – things such as hiking, car racing, obstacle races and more are all shared through this hashtag, with photos. Why not expand on something like that with Instagram Stories? (These might also be fun to keep on your profile, so make sure to download the videos and post them with hashtags). If you have a hobby or extracurricular activity that would be fun to share, record or photograph a couple of stories to talk about it. Whenever you’re engaged in this hobby – let’s say you’re a cyclist or a rower – add a story or two to share with your followers. For example, cyclists and rowers can (using safety first) shoot a few seconds of their morning ride or row to share with people. Show them your favorite spot to run or where you hike with your family on the weekends. You get the idea.
  • The behind-the-scenes side: I follow a user on Instagram who takes beautiful photos, and she’s using her stories to share more about her life in Paris (where she moved after falling in love with the city from Sweden). As a lover of travel (and Paris!), it’s fun to see a behind-the-scenes story of her day – the places she visits, some of the amazing shots she takes, and some highlights of the city. Why not give a glimpse into your life in your city? Share shots from the courthouse, what you see on your walk to the office, and even the office itself. It may seem mundane to you, but it may prove fascinating to the people you engage with.
  • The inspirational side: Share with your followers things that inspire you in your work – like a great book you’re reading on leadership, or the newest blog you found, or a colleague that brightened your day. It doesn’t have to be anything huge (remember, these stories disappear after 24-hours!), but it’s another way of both sharing yourself and connecting with your followers.
  • The people side: Don’t forget to share Stories of the people around you. Record a few seconds of celebrating a colleague’s birthday, share a photo of your long-suffering assistant, record your favorite barista making your coffee – in general, give people an idea of the community that you’re a part of and interact with every day.

When Stories first debuted, I wasn’t sure I liked them. I thought that they would take up more time to watch than when I usually choose to scroll past someone’s videos (and they do), and I wasn’t sure what they would add to the Instagram experience outside of what it already offered. But one of the things I’ve come to learn is that Stories, if done well, can really help you to like a person, to get to know them better, and to feel like you know them personally, even when you don’t. They’re snapshots of your day offered in a way that makes people feel accessible to you, and that’s a great thing to want to share with your followers.

So how do you make a Story?

If you’re not already, it’s probably a good idea to be following Instagram’s official account – they provide tips and how to’s for Stories since the roll-out, in addition to featuring some great Instagram users. TechCrunch also offers a great slideshow on how you can view and create your own Stories, so I suggest checking that out first.

Two things that they don’t cover in their tutorial, the first of which I find really helpful, are:

  • Uploading media: You don’t have to record into Stories directly – if there’s something that you have saved in the album on your phone, it’s possible to upload that. This is really helpful for fun things like Boomerang. To add a photo or video from your library, just start a story by clicking on the + in the broken circle in the upper left-hand corner of your Instagram home page (you can also swipe to the right in Apple iOS). Then, swipe down, and the photos and videos you’ve saved to your phone in the last 24 hours will pop up. Click on the one you want, and you can edit it as if you recorded it directly.
  • Zooming in: If you’re recording something, and you want to zoom in, just swipe your finger from the record button up and down to zoom in and out (give it a try, you’ll see what I mean). Very helpful if you need to showcase something in your video, or add some drama.

One more fun fact – once you have your Story uploaded and running, you can swipe up to see who has viewed it. That may be very handy! You’ll want to read through TechCrunch’s full list of what’s the same and different between Instagram Stories and Snapchat, which will also give you some important information on things you’ll want to keep in mind when creating your own Stories.

Still not convinced about Instagram? Let’s close with a few statistics from HubSpot, posted in June.

  • Instagram has over 400 million active users (that’s up from 300 million at the end of 2014)
  • That puts it ahead of Twitter (310 million), Snapchat (200 million) and Pinterest (100 million) for usage.
  • Instagram itself grows faster than social networking on average – it’s expected to grow 15.1% this year, as compared to 3.1% for the industry.
  • Adult use is growing – 28% of adults use Instagram, which is up from 26% in 2014.
  • For international lawyers, more than 75% of Instagram users come from outside the US.

Take a look through the rest of their statistics to help inform your Instagram strategy, and see how you stack up against other companies and individuals who are posting.

Have you started using Instagram stories yet? Add your comments below, and let me know how Instagram is working for you in other ways!