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Should Collaborative Professionals “Do it For the Gram?”

By Joryn Jenkins

Do you know how to “Do it for the Gram”? No? Well, you should! It’s quite easy to do. Just photograph your Instagram-worthy experience and post about it. Remember when you used to spend hours getting dressed to impress your date? Now, people do that virtually by updating their profile pictures. I recently started my own Instagram account, and let me tell you, getting accustomed to this digital life is exhausting! Did you know that some Instagram users earn thousands of dollars per post? Yes, you read that correctly.

So how does social media play a role in your personal life absent face-to-face interaction?

We “Baby Boomers” don’t realize that an entire generation has begun entering the workforce and having children but has no concept of their lives without social media. Picture Allison, a college senior who has a crush on her lab partner. She has no desire to approach him face-to-face. Why should she? She’s able to creep on his Facebook, discover that he loves Nirvana, and send him a direct message about the same.

Social media has disregarded the traditional communication approach, and us “oldies” need to keep up. There is more information on the internet then ever before. We now have access to personal trainers, career coaches, and artists at the touch of our fingertips. This vast knowledge forces us to consider alternative approaches to face-to-face interaction. For example, before her job interview, Nancy can research her prospective employer, his/her interests, awards, accomplishments, etc., to prepare for possible questions her interviewer may ask.

While it may be uncomfortable speaking to people who know us without really knowing us, you can use social media as preparation for those conversations. I never attend trial without first researching all the information I can on my witnesses (and on theirs), so why would I walk into a conversation unprepared?

What If I Don’t Want Everyone To Have Access To Me?

Instagram has one billion users. 120 million of them live in the United States. That’s a billion potential client referrals. If you promote your business address on Instagram, this also means that a billion people could find you, message you, etc. Sometimes, it’s hard to trust friends, even colleagues with that kind of personal information. Do we really want to open ourselves up to people we don’t know?

And what about people we do know? There is no way of knowing what they could say about us. Do we want to give critics a platform to use against us? They may share an experience they interpreted as negative without sharing the context. Folks sometimes leave negative restaurant reviews without being aware that the café had been understaffed the night they were there. If people who go to a restaurant every week can leave nasty reviews, what does that say about people who know us? Would people who don’t know us be more ruthless?

Thankfully, Instagram allows its users to delete unwanted comments and even block users who post negative comments. Can you imagine if we had that in real life?

Why Would Users Follow Me?

What if I create an Instagram account that no one follows? Wouldn’t that be like throwing a party that no one attends? There are collaborative professionals across the world; why would anyone follow me?

Professionally, I have information that people need to know. People hire me for a reason. I get results. But, personally, why would they care if I’m baking cookies or attending a Zoom happy hour?

By sharing my personal life, potential clients can relate to me. I have a case in which a new mom is struggling to agree to a timesharing schedule because she’s uncomfortable with her child being out of her sight. When I researched possible mediators, I focused on those who had just become mothers. This way, the young mother could relate to the mediator, who was also a new mother, about their infants, opening the door for strategies that may help the young mother adjust not only to parenting, but to co-parenting life.

Not only does Instagram help you connect with potential and current clients, it also helps connect you with other professionals. I am friends with many of the people with whom I work professionally, on a more personal level. I regularly meet with former interns and clerks, collaborative lawyers, and marketing experts. If we receive a referral for work that is not our specialty, we’re more likely to refer people we know on a personal level than someone else.

Is the Instagram Generation Seeking Divorce?

I already market on Facebook and on LinkedIn; do I want to add another social networking platform to the list? Isn’t Instagram just college students doing some strange viral dance? Not so. Pew Research reports that Instagram is the second most used social media platform. But are there enough people in the market for legal advice? Here is what I found:

  • 72% of people 13-17 years old have an Instagram.
  • 67% of people 18-29 years old have an Instagram.
  • 47% of people 30-49 years old have an Instagram.
  • 23% of people 50-64 years old have an Instagram.
  • 8% of people 65+ have an Instagram.

Yes, people are on Instagram, but can the folks who are there afford a lawyer? After all, you’re investing your valuable time. But the better question might be, “Is there another currency more valuable that we know they can afford?”

You will be paid for your time, not with money, but with followers. Your account becomes a referral service that is in your control. There is no need to wait on a service to send you leads. Generate your own leads by increasing the number of people who see your posts. Just like traditional referral networking groups like BNI and PIN, you never know who may have a friend in need of legal advice!

Don’t just invest in people getting divorced today; invest in all those people who will divorce tomorrow. As a collaborative professional, my mission is to change the way the world gets divorced. Part of that mission is to educate future generations about the different options they will have to divorce if they ever go there.

Creating Your Instagram Account

First, download the app and create your account. The app has built in analytics for you to analyze your audience and track how many views your post receives. It even has features that allows you to promote your post(s) to increase view counts. After you’ve created your profile, be sure to link it to other social media accounts. By diversifying your online profile, you extend your reach to people who have a preference for one social networking site over another.

Remember, you are one in a million search results, so make your profile stand out. When potential clients search for your name, you should appear within the first few profiles that come up. Ensure that your profile name matches your business name. How else will people know that it’s you?

The more unique your name, the easier this will be. (Little did my parents know, 63 years ago, how grateful I would be for the outstanding name they gave me!)

However, if you are cursed with a common name, you don’t have to have a run-of-the-mill profile. Make your business outstanding instead.

How? If a potential client looks for professional services, he is more likely to click on a profile with a professional headshot. He may check how far your office is from his house so he knows how far he must drive to meet with you. The more information you provide, the more users are likely to choose you. If users cannot easily find you, they’ll just move on to another professional.

You Control What Others See

Social media gives you control over what information you want to share. What makes your practice different? Do you have two interns who are both 21, both rising college seniors, who share the same last name, but who are not related? (Like I do?) Do you offer free legal services to qualified collaborative divorce clients? Do you offer discounted services to veterans? Make the information you want others to know visible at first glance.

I’m still learning the ropes of Instagram, just as I imagine you are. Follow me on Instagram at Joryn Jenkins. Help me build my network of collaborative professionals. In time, we can change the way the world gets divorced, one Instagram user at a time.

Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, 2 of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.

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