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The Recruitment Marketer's Guide to Instagram

SmartDreamers Team
4 min. read

If we told you that we were going to spend this post talking about a global social network with more than 400 million daily active users, 1 billion monthly active users, and one of the most sophisticated advertising platforms across all social media networks, which platform would you guess we were talking about? If you said Instagram, congratulations! You’ve got a real handle on one of the most intriguing platforms on the web right now. Though it sometimes flies under the radar compared to behemoths like Twitter and Facebook (which now actually owns Instagram), Instagram has been showing rapid growth since its 2011 founding. Not only that, but it boasts an audience that’s 90% users under 35, making it one of the best platforms available for reaching a younger demographic.


In all likelihood, a good number of recruiters’ ears perked up at that last sentence—and with good reason. Instagram represents an exciting new frontier in recruitment marketing, offering the chance to reach niche communities that might be hard to engage with on other sites. The question now is, how do recruiters dive into the world of candidate attraction and employer branding on Instagram? 

What Is Instagram?


To begin with, let’s take a quick look at what Instagram actually is and how it functions as a platform. Unlike other social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, both of which at least initially put their focus on text updates, Instagram was centered around visual content from the outset. As such, it remains a place where users can post and engage with images, either by following friends, acquaintances, celebrities, etc. or by searching for photos marked with a particular hashtag. Part of the network’s allure is that it gives users a variety of filter options for their photos, which can make their images look more attractive and professional.


Right now, the platform doesn’t have the same level of saturation with regard to corporate posts and advertisement seen on, say, Facebook. Likewise, because its content is so image-driven, it hasn’t become politically fraught in the same that Facebook and Twitter are for some users. As a result, it remains a destination venue for the kind of low-key, lifestyle-oriented posts that don’t always rise to the top of other social media feeds.

How Do I Promote My Employer Brand There?


Instagram’s focus on visual content makes it an ideal place for promoting your employer brand and conveying your EVP to potential future applicants. By consistently posting high-quality, valuable content, you can develop a strong following for your corporate page that can then be translated into increased job applications and a stronger talent pipeline. That said, it’s important to remember that unlike, say, LinkedIn, Instagram isn’t a professional network, and users won’t engage with companies that treat it like one. To fit in on your employee personas’ feeds, you’ll need to play by the platform’s unwritten rules—this means providing attractive visual content that passive job seekers will be excited to interact with. While many passive job seekers (a group that comprises 80% of the work force) would consider switching jobs if the right offer came around, many of them don’t want to be targeted for overt recruitment pitches right away.


Speaking of employee personas: these semi-fictionalized versions of your ideal hires are the first things you should consider as you develop your Instagram strategy. Specifically, you should identify which personas in particular you’re likely to reach on Instagram. Because it’s a younger crowd overall, you may not want to rely on it for hiring more senior positions. So, let’s say you’re a small tech startup: you’ve determined that the persona you’re most likely to reach on this platform is a relatively junior UX designer, whom you expect to be motivated by the opportunity to learn in a fast-paced work environment and experiment with new things. Your visual content should reflect the character of that persona in meaningful ways. For instance, you might post photos of employees brainstorming in front of a whiteboard In your office. Conversely, if your persona is more focused on making an impact in the lives of others, you might show off some tangible good that your company provides—a product that’s designed to help people, for instance, or part of your team out on a charity trip. Remember, the goal here is authenticity, so you shouldn’t worry about professional quality photography. Sometimes, a simple cell phone picture can speak volumes about your work environment and your team.  


What Are Instagram Ads?


A strong employer brand on Instagram can be a powerful thing. To really maximize the impact of your efforts, however, you’re likely going to want to do a little paid advertising, either for particular job openings with your company or just for general brand awareness. This way, you can supplement your organic reach with paid impressions that lead more directly into your recruitment funnel.


In keeping with Instagram’s general principles, your ads will be largely visual, generally consisting of an image, a caption, and a call-to-action. If your first thought is that these ads sound almost identical to normal Instagram posts, you’re exactly right—and that’s exactly what makes them so valuable. Except for the call-to-action (more on that in a second), these ads aren’t designed to stand out from Instagram’s overall feel and tone. On many social media platforms, paid ads stick out like a sore thumb, and users have learned to ignore them. By integrating the look and feel of these ads into the look and feel of the platform more broadly, Instagram mitigates this issue, offering you the chance to more effectively keep your audience engaged.


So, when it comes time to construct your ad, think back to your target personas. Pick an image and a caption that will appeal to them, and then include a call-to-action that leads to a landing page for the particular job you’re hiring for. Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, you’ll actually place the ad via Facebook, which means that you can use the extremely granular targeting options available for Facebook ads (which let you narrow down your audience by region, likes, previous social interactions with your company, etc.; and which you can read more about here). In this way, you can further spread your employer brand and set yourself up for continued recruiting success on this unique platform.

Download the Recruiting with Instagram eBook

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