Most financial and professional services companies have been slow to embrace Instagram as a marketing tool. However, this visual social media channel can be a powerful way for them to market their products and services and enhance their company images.

Here are nine ways you can leverage Instagram to market your financial or professional firm.

1. Company image
Use your Instagram "home" or "tile" screen as a way to present a simple, easy-to-understand image of your company's brand to prospects and clients. As you post images to Instagram, make sure they come together coherently on this page so they tell your company's story in a compelling way. Remember, each image does not need to stand alone. You can post a series of images that come together as one to tell a short story within your broader Instagram narrative. Consider these chapters in the life of your company.

2. Unique vision
Share images with your followers that are unique and offer a different perspective. It's a great way to cut through Instagram clutter and differentiate your firm. The good news is that in the Instagram universe, financial and professional services firms are competing against many more design and art-based entities. This alone provides an opportunity to be different.

3. It's not a scrapbook, it's a conversation
Instagram isn't just a way for you to push images out to your followers (sort of like the way your parents or grandparents made their friends sit through slide shows of their latest vacations.) instead, it's  a way to engage in conversations about them. Use smart hash-tagging strategies to reach and engage with new audiences. Also, ensure you have a social monitoring plan in place to respond to comments and engage in online dialogue.

4. Reach new audiences
Financial products are designed to help users achieve goals such as going to college, buying a home, starting a family, protecting valuable things or retiring comfortably. Financial and professional services companies can share aspirational images related to these goals using smart hash-tagging and promotional strategies to reach and attract new people interested in these topics.

5. Infographic distribution
Financial and professional services products and service offerings are often complicated and difficult to understand. Infographics -- including charts and graphs, process flows, cartoons and diagrams -- are ideal for explaining them in a simple way. Instagram is a great social media channel to distribute Infographics because it's THE place for people who respond to visual information.

6. Employee and corporate giving
Does your company support employee networks and charitable giving activities? Instagram is a good way for employees to share photos of the things they're doing among themselves and with the broader world. This is a powerful way to demonstrate your company's values to prospects and clients.

7. Client success stories
Does your firm help clients achieve retirement or other investment goals? Maybe your company supports customers through crisis situations. Why not ask clients to share pictures of their success stories via Instagram? This can be an organic and authentic way to demonstrate the value of your product and service offerings and the benefits of working with your firm. Think of it as a visual endorsement or review.

8. Employee recruiting and retention
Instagram is one of the most powerful social media channels for employee recruitment and retention. It allows you to show your company culture and demonstrate its values. Share images of everyday work life, employee affinity group activities, workplace celebrations, honors and more. It's a good way to open up the doors of your firm to people who may want to work there. Plus, it reminds your current workers what a great employer you are.

9. It's not just for pictures anymore
Even though a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words, sometimes a photo just isn't enough to tell a story. In those cases, share a video instead. A short film clip can be the ideal way to explain complex concepts. Make sure the videos you share through Instagram integrate effectively with your photos and other images.

What's next?

Instagram and other social media channels aren't something financial firms and professional services companies should be afraid of. They're creative marketing opportunities that must be embraced!

If you're finding it difficult to come up with effective ways to market your products and services on Instagram and other social media outlets, then contact Carpenter Group. We can help you build and execute smart social media strategies that connect your firm with prospects and clients to improve your brand image, keep it top of mind and drive sales.