Using Instagram as a Strategic Recruiting Tool

Written by Lauren Streba

With over 500 million daily active users, Instagram has dramatically increased in popularity within the social media niche. Instagram now boasts impressive statistics as the platform with the most highly engaged users, and recently, many employers have begun to realize its potential as a recruitment tool.

Instagram: The Basics

Instagram is an excellent platform to build and develop your company’s brand. One of the most important elements of your Instagram profile page should be the presence of your company’s website link in the biography section that tops every profile. This does not apply to only Instagram; all of your company’s social media pages should have a link to your company’s site. By including your company’s website link, it encourages anyone who stumbles across your page and is interested to easily learn more. A captivating tagline and useful website link can go a long way with driving traffic from your Instagram page to your website and beyond. Professionals encourage businesses to develop a presence on Instagram before focusing on posts dedicated specifically to talent acquisition. Doing this will gain an audience that will actually be interested in your messages, including strategic recruiting efforts as applicable. Instagram also easily incorporates with your current social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, expanding your company’s reach and letting you mass post with ease. Using a brand specific hashtag, including a location, and page tagging are ways to increase your company’s social media presence that will be discussed later in this article.

Encouraging and Developing Interaction on Instagram

The number one way to develop an audience is to be active on Instagram. Being the first “like” on your posted content, creating a brand-specific hashtag, running contests or competitions, and being on Instagram daily are great ways to cultivate a following. Your post content also is crucial to driving engagement and gaining followers. Posting photos of staff having fun, company events, community engagement, inspirational quotes, tips, and even relevant memes engage people who might not even know who your company is (yet at least). Instagram users want to see a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes. Photos like your company’s cool office features, employee achievements and stories, and company events or conferences allow potential candidates to get a feel for your company culture. Careerealism CEO J.T. O’Donnell believes that candidate involvement begins with showcasing the company, saying, “By telling stories that showcase how a company operates and what makes it special, brand awareness is created. When those stories focus on things potential candidates desire in an employer, it becomes Employment Branding.” For example, career satisfaction and a job where they can have fun and enjoy being at work are important desires for many members of today’s workforce. Showcasing your staff enjoying themselves, especially at the office, can encourage candidates to look deeper into your company without very much effort on your company’s behalf. Though companies are encouraged to have fun on Instagram, be sure and post some focused content to make sure candidates are clear that your page is a business page and not a personal account. Including your company’s logo on every post that you publish is a great way to display a focused element and drive further brand interaction.

Instagram also allows employers to engage passive talent with ease. Following, replying to and commenting on photos, and even direct messaging engages candidates who might not be actively seeking a change by getting them interested in your company culture. As with everything, there is a balance that must be achieved. Being too involved, obtrusive, or persistent with your followers or potential followers could come across as “spammy” and cause people to become disengaged. Creating competitions or contests as well as posts with relevant captions geared towards involvement (ex: “caption this!”, etc.) are easy engagement boosters.

Another great way to encourage involvement is utilizing hashtags. Just as with active follower engagement, you need to be smart about your hashtags. Instagram currently allows up to thirty hashtags per post, but this does not mean you should force them by tagging every little element of your photo or spamming the tag feed. A great way to see what relevant hashtags are gaining the most traffic is to simply do a hashtag search on Instagram. It will tell you how many posts contain that hashtag- the more posts have it, the more popular is it, and logically, the more traffic those posts see. You should also be sure and create a brand-specific hashtag. This creates another way for people to interact with your company and see all of your posts, driving interest and interaction with ease. Using Instagram’s location feature is another great tool. You have the option to add a location to your posts, which enables users to see your posts simply by searching the location, whether they were specifically looking for your company or not, just as with hashtags. This feature also helps to target a specific location, whether it is a city, state, or as particular as a city borough.

Posting to Instagram

Posting to Instagram is a little different that other social media sites because of the site’s own perimeters. Instagram’s physical website accessible through a laptop or desktop does not allow users to create posts like the mobile application, but you can do everything else, such as comment, message, and follow. While you can certainly post manually through your Instagram phone application, it is a lot of work to keep up with, especially if you are making multiple posts a day.

Free social media management tools such as Hootsuite allow you to schedule your posts ahead of time across many social media networks. If you are regularly posting at times that do not fit in with your scheduled work hours, such as weekends, automation tools can help keep you socially involved and ahead of the game during upcoming weeks. The actual automation posting process is a little convoluted with Instagram because of their own restrictions. In order to post using Hootsuite, there are a few steps- but don’t worry, they’re easy! In Hootsuite, you write your post, including hashtags, tagged users, and location, and then schedule your post as usual. At the scheduled time, a notification is sent to the registered mobile phone associated with the Hootsuite account; this phone must also have access to the company Instagram account. Hootsuite automatically copies your caption to your phone’s clipboard and takes you directly to Instagram and begins post of your scheduled photo. From there, you can apply filters and edit the photo just as if you had uploaded it from your phone, simply paste the caption, and post!

***Edit as of January 31, 2018: Hootsuite and Instagram just got better! Now, instead of the multi-step process involving your cell phone and the Hootsuite app, your scheduled post that you made on the desktop version can post directly to Instagram! This saves time and eliminates the possibility of forgetting to actually post if the Hootsuite app fails to deliver or you miss the mobile notification.

Hootsuite also has an automatic spell check feature, which, while not particularly useful for all hashtags, helps you catch potentially embarrassing spelling errors. Scheduling posts through Hootsuite is easier simply because you can type long posts on an actual keyboard rather than a phone screen.

Using Hootsuite or other automation tools also allow you to post the highest quality images and videos without worry of shrinkage or distortion that can come with mobile applications and file transfers. Instagram has recently increased the allotted upload image size to a maximum of 1080 x 1080 pixels, which is also Hootsuite compatible, allowing your company’s design and marketing teams to ensure your company is represented with the highest quality image possible. Since Instagram is all about the images, these tools are especially great.

Use Your Resources to Build Your Brand on Instagram!

Current employees can play a big role in cultivating your company’s Instagram presence. Adding your company’s hashtag and social media pages to material around the office or in an email blast to your staff will encourage use with an indirect approach. Encouraging employee social media involvement also comes with the need for a more direct approach; employees should be made aware of the brand values, guidelines, and hashtag(s). Regular tutorials will help ensure brand continuity and proper representation. Employees using the hashtag and tagging your company in posts is especially great when your company has events or outings. Employees properly using the brand-specific hashtag, tagging your company Instagram page, and using the location feature adds to the image of your company culture and expands your reach and potential candidate pool with ease.

Just as with Facebook and most other social media sites, Instagram offers targeted paid advertisements. These tools are especially effective once you’ve built up an engaged following and have established yourself on Instagram. Potential categories for targeting with these ads include location, job title, current or past employers, and education level, amongst others. Because Facebook owns Instagram, it runs on the same advertising platform, ensuring custom audiences based off of the information a candidate has on their Facebook and Instagram pages. Facebook Ads Manager also makes creating ads, setting your budget, selecting your audience, and tracking your ad success easy. While not necessarily vital to strategic recruiting success, targeted paid advertisements aid in your talent acquisition activities and goals by greatly expanding your post reach to social media users who may not have ever heard of or seen your company otherwise.

Is Instagram Right for Your Company?

It’s no surprise that Instagram is an effective tool for large companies because of their size, reach, and reputation. Just as with other social media, Instagram requires time and has the option for money to be invested into your posting efforts. Before you begin utilizing Instagram as a tool for your company, answer the following few questions to see if Instagram will truly be a talent acquisition asset for you and your company.

Is your company using other social media?

We know that Instagram is fundamentally different from other social media networks, but research has shown that is a more effective tool when paired with other social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. In fact, Facebook posts with Instagram images attached generate up to 53% more likes than the average post. As mentioned before, Instagram allows other social media platform accounts to be linked with it, which is a fantastic idea and tool for easy posting, reach, and brand continuity.

Think about your company’s dynamic: are you trying to attract a tech savvy demographic?

Generations older than millennials are becoming more tech savvy. Of internet users aged 18-29 and users aged 30-49, 59% and 33% respectively are on Instagram. Because of this, companies, especially creatives or marketing teams, now have more options if they are seeking that type of candidate. Proper use of social media is now a great introductory way to see if candidates are both tech savvy and up-to-date on trends without isolating age demographics.

Can your employees help to expand your company’s social reach?

As mentioned before, encouraging employees to post on their accounts utilizing a brand-specific hashtag and tagging the company page is a great way to build company awareness and presence. This can be a key part of driving traffic to your company’s site and aid in your strategic recruiting efforts because of the expanded audience.

Does your company already have a focus on marketing, especially through social media?

Social media is a vital marketing tool in today’s technology focused world. While Instagram is a great platform to build upon your company’s existing brand, it might not be the best place to begin. Before you go on a photo posting spree, consider your company’s current attitude towards social media marketing.

Instagram: Your New Recruiting Solution?

Instagram is a truly remarkable marketing platform in terms of reach and ease. It proudly displays what your company does and your culture, encouraging involvement and interest naturally. By reaching out to your followers and actively displaying what makes your company great, you are easily building interest that may lead to new employees. Though it might not be the solution for some companies, many find great success and have fun posting to Instagram. A strong focus on social media marketing is important, and once your company has recognized the need for network involvement, Instagram might become your next strategic recruiting and talent acquisition solution!