Pictures Are So Passé

Volume 39 Number 6


About the Author

Joyce Brafford is the assistant director of the Center for Practice Management at the North Carolina Bar Association. She helps members of the association choose and use the right technological tools for their firms. 

Law Practice Magazine | November/December 2013 | The Marketing Issue

If pictures are worth a thousand words, videos are worth a million.

With the advent of Vine and Instagram’s video features, pictures have become passé. In their place, we’re seeing the rise of microvideos. These extremely short films are gaining popularity with individual users as well as organizations such as Cisco Systems, Lululemon and the city of Copenhagen.

Microvideos are short, 6-to-15-second videos that are posted on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook as well as their own app or website. They can be made in a single take or you can create mini stop-motion films. Approaches range from instructional to humorous to absurd.

More than just another way to overshare, Vine and Instagram give users the opportunity to put their perspective into perspective. Instead of another picture of latté art under a 1965 filter, users now have the ability to share how that art was made, or a satisfied customer appreciating their café mocha.


While both Vine and Instagram have their loyal followers, several differences may encourage you to use one over the other.

Time. Neither video feature requires you to use all the time allotted, but Instagram does give you an additional nine seconds. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need the whole time. A good microvideo isn’t determined by how long it is, but rather how well its message is delivered.

Editing. Instagram lets you cut and delete segments. Vine, on the other hand, requires that you keep your video in its entirety or erase it.

Filters. What would Instagram be without filters? Just like the classic Instagram app, the updated app with a video feature allows you to make your microvideo look like it was shot using a Polaroid camera, however absurd that may be. Vine doesn’t offer any filters.

Audience. Vine has a loyal following, but it’s only 40 million users strong. Instagram has more than 130 million users and it is where you’re more likely to find an audience.

Cover image. Again, Instagram is the winner. You can scroll through your video to select the image you’d like to use as a cover. This gives you the opportunity to choose a better image than the mouth-hanging-open, mid-blink face that we all hate to see on our video preview screens.


Microvideos give you the opportunity to affect and interact with your community in a way that pictures struggle to do. For lawyers interested in using video to market their practice, Instagram and Vine provide a way to get started with only a little skin in the game (read: they’re free). There are many ways to utilize microvideos, from shaping your brand to educating the public.

Use microvideos to humanize your firm. Despite our near ubiquity and obviously flawed human nature, many people are still scared of attorneys. Microvideos can help you bridge the gap between a potential client who isn’t sure he or she wants to involve a lawyer and a client who thinks of your firm as part of his or her neighborhood. Use Vine or Instagram to showcase charity events in which your office participates, retirement or holiday parties (no drunken storeroom posts, please) or even a tour of your office space. Allow users to get to know who you are as an organization without all the pomp of a traditional commercial.

For most of us, there is a set of about 10 questions that we are frequently asked. Use your microvideos to answer those questions in a succinct and meaningful way. Giving potential clients information via video reduces the time you spend answering those questions, builds your credibility with clients and gives your practice a face.

You should increase engagement on the social media platforms you already use. Give your followers a reason to connect with you. Ask them to send in their own questions or engage them in funny or interesting activities. Try asking them to reenact famous trials in 10 seconds or less, with your firm posting the first example or two. Give them a reason to talk about you, your business and what you do. Videos will almost always create more comments, shares and other forms of engagement than text alone.

Let these new, free tools help you communicate with your social media community by sharing your stories and ideas in a better medium.


Learning to use yet another social media tool may be intimidating. It’s always nerve-racking to put something in the public eye that may cause personal or professional embarrassment. But I promise that your posts will likely be far superior to most of the selfies, mash-ups and reenactments out there. Both Vine and Instagram are free apps. If you already have Instagram, you have the ability to create a video without downloading anything new. Both apps easily sync to social media, making it simple to share your work.

Try a couple of videos and see how you do. The more you make, the easier it is.

Putting microvideos on your social media profiles is simply the wave of the future. There’s just too much to communicate to limit yourself to pictures. All that you and your firm are doing to support your clients and community can’t possibly be summed up in a picture alone. Share more than a thousand words. Share a million. 



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