Just for fun, let’s envision a universe where you have to attract job candidates with nothing but pictures. You can place want ads in the newspaper, or you post a job on Craigslist, and these postings can contain a phone number or an e-mail address, but no other text. How would you let potential candidates know what job was being offered? More than that, how would you convey to potential applicants the value that your company is able to provide them? How many individual pictures do you think it would take to give the prospective candidate a real sense of your EVP and attract the right candidates to apply?
This is, obviously, a very exaggerated version of what recruiters are working with on Instagram. Obviously, you do have the option of using text (to say nothing of hashtags) to better define your employer brand, but that doesn’t entirely change the fact that, as a primarily visual medium, Instagram has been and may continue to be somewhat uncharted territory for recruiters. Thus, many of the most significant hurdles faced in modern recruitment (finding passive job candidates, defining a strong employer brand, etc.) are amplified and transformed on Instagram. But with 1 billion monthly active users, it’s almost certainly worth working to overcome these challenges to turn Instagram into powerful tool in your employer branding toolkit.
1. Creating a Robust Visual Brand
So, as you might have gleaned from the opening, the biggest challenge that recruiters on Instagram have to overcome is creating a robust, compelling, and engaging visual employer brand. Instagram presents its users with an unending stream of images, and it can be difficult to stand out. Even if you do manage to stand out, it can be difficult to do so in such a way as to leave your audience with a defined and lasting impression of your company and its core mission and values. This problem is partly visual, but it’s also partly about your employer branding tactics more broadly. Are you showcasing the things that are unique to your company, whether that’s particular products, spaces, or activities? Are you using your team as a way of connecting viewers more concretely to your EVP? Doing so can provide solid building blocks on which to start refining a visual employer brand story.
2. Providing Value for Followers
This challenge is closely related to the one above, but it bears its own quick discussion. Just because you’re using your Instagram account to try and attract potential job candidates doesn't mean that you can treat the platform like a job board. Sure, listings for particular jobs might be useful to you, but users aren’t likely to engage with your brand if they don’t see you as directly providing any value to them. For most Instagram accounts, this value comes in the form of something visually delighting, or funny, or warm-fuzzy inducing—and there’s no reason you can’t provide those things! At the same time, value can also take other forms. Specifically, you can add value for your future applicants by giving them a clear account of what you’re looking for in a candidate and an even clearer account of your EVP. This content won’t necessary appeal to those who are encountering your brand for the first time, but anyone who is even beginning to consider an application will thank you for any actionable, forthright information that helps them to either make a decision or apply more easily.
3. Choosing the Right Formats
People think of Instagram as being just images, but it’s increasingly providing users (and companies) the ability to post in wider variety of formats, including videos, stories, and boomerangs (short, looping videos). This presents recruiters with a lot of freedom, but it also causes a dilemma. How do you choose the right format for your content? More than that, how do you best select the format that will best help you achieve your particular recruitment goals and strengthen your employer brand? On some level, you really can’t go wrong with pictures. But in the age of Snapchat, stories have emerged as a good way to present longer, more involved brand-centric narratives (think images from a particular event that your team participated in, or party in your swanky office space), and those can be an appealing choice in some situations, especially if you’re trying to convert candidates who are already familiar with your brand and boost short-term applications. Conversely, if you’re trying to convey a sense of whimsy (in accordance with your employer brand), you might occasionally post boomerangs; though these might not be ideal for maximizing immediate conversion.
4. Maximizing Conversion Real Estate
Speaking of maximizing conversions: Instagram doesn’t give companies too many opportunities to direct potential applicants to their website or other outside landing pages. You get one link in your bio, and if you run ads you can embed them with CTAs that link to relevant pages on your website. Don’t waste this space! Rather than linking directly to your website from your bio, consider using that space to direct people to a landing page for a recruitment newsletter signup or for a particular job posting that you’re trying to attract applicants to. This way, you increase the likelihood that an interested candidate will take an action that keeps them in contact and in your recruitment funnel. Because you’re largely going to be targeting passive job candidates on this platform, it’s crucial that the transition from passive to active job-seeking (in response to your delightful visual content!) is as easy and as low-effort as possible.
5. Using Data Effectively
Finally, we get to the challenge that attends all other challenges. As you’re getting more and more adept at growing your visual brand and converting potential job candidates, you’re going to want to track your success as scientifically as possible. For ads, you can use Facebook’s metrics and KPIs, but make sure you’re aligning those metrics with your actual recruitment goals. If you’re trying to grow your employer brand in a general way, you might pay a lot of attention to impressions and interactions; for specific positions, you’ll want to track the number of applies that originate on Instagram. For normal posting, the built-in analytics options are slightly less robust, but there are ways around that.