This article is by Erin Osterhaus and originally appeared on Software Advice.
According to our 2013 Recruiting Channels survey, social media is on the rise when it comes to sourcing candidates. But all social media isn’t created equal. After all, LinkedIn’s primary user base—working professionals—is not the same as Facebook’s or Twitter’s. And recently, yet another social media tool has been increasing in popularity among recruiters: Instagram.
Instagram, a photo-hosting site, recently surpassed 150 million active users (and counting)—70 percent of whom log in to the site at least once a day. That’s a large audience of potential employees. But should you use Instagram to recruit?
To explore Instagram’s usefulness in hiring, I interviewed Vocus’ Employer Brand Manager, Veronica Segovia. I also spoke with the Senior Director of Talent at digital marketing agency HelloWorld, Mark Schell, and his recruiting colleague, Sarah Sheffer. As it turns out, there are certain companies for which Instagram is a more effective recruiting tool than others. Here are four questions to help you decide if you should use Instagram for recruiting.
Are You Already Using Other Social Media Networks to Recruit?
Instagram can be a great hiring tool, but it’s most effective if your company is already using other social media sites. Images posted on Instagram can be repurposed on your other corporate social profiles—such as Facebook and Twitter—helping extend their reach.
“From a recruiting standpoint, you really have to explore a number of different channels,” Sheffer says. “Because not everyone uses Instagram—but someone might be on Facebook and see an Instagram post because it’s tied to a friend’s Facebook account.”
According to a recent study by Buffer (whose app allows companies to organize their social sharing schedules), Tweets with images received 150 percent more re-Tweets and 89 percent more favorites. Meanwhile, Hubspot found Facebook posts with images generate 53 percent more likes than the average post.
Thus, your company can use Instagram to curate visually-focused posts that generate more shares and expose your brand to a wider array of Internet users who may potentially want to work for you.
Are You Trying to Attract a Young, Tech-Savvy Demographic?
As you might imagine, Instagram tends to be best as a recruiting tool for a specific demographic: college students and recent grads. In fact, a recent study by the Pew Research Center found that the largest group using Instagram is adults between 18-29 years of age with some college education.
These research findings have been substantiated by HelloWorld’s recruiting experience. As Sheffer says, Instagram generally “attracts more of our entry-level candidate base.” Over at Vocus, Segovia’s experience has been similar. When I asked her where she’s had the most success with Instagram, she was quick to note that it is “a little bit age-specific.” As such, she recommends using the platform if you’re trying to reach a candidate base of individuals between the ages of 21 and 33.
Aside from the age demographics, Instagram may also be more effective at attracting candidates for specific types of jobs. Sheffer notes that Instagram has been especially useful when recruiting people for HelloWorld’s creative and marketing teams because creative types tend to be very tuned-in to social media.
Last year, for instance, HelloWorld made its first hire off of Instagram. The position: marketing coordinator. The new hire, Samantha Bankey, had been an intern in the marketing department while attending Ferris State University in Michigan. Like many college students interested in the marketing world, Bankey was extremely active on social media, and followed all of HelloWorld’s social accounts (the company was then known as “ePrize”). Upon her graduation, Bankey’s supervisors offered her a full-time position—via Instagram. She saw the offer and accepted within minutes.
HelloWorld Extends a Job Offer for a Marketing Coordinator Position via Instagram
Can Socially-Active Employees Help You Cast a Wider Net?
If you’re going to use Instagram effectively for recruiting, look to younger, tech-savvy members of your existing team to help out. They may already be active on the site themselves—and if not, can likely adopt the platform easily.
At Vocus, Segovia has been sure to take advantage of current employees’ passion for social media. She encourages the recruiting team to post work-related content on a regular basis in order to maximize the amount of traffic Vocus receives to its careers page through social sites such as Instagram. As she says, “One of the best ways to get referrals [to our careers site] is by sharing photos of team dinners or company trips.”
VocusCareers Highlights a Company Trip to Military Bowl 2013
When employees share photos via Instagram, those photos are more easily dispersed through other social media sites, too. This can boost your recruiting efforts by exposing your company to several of employees’ social networks at once—potentially attracting candidates who see the photos and think the workplace would be a good fit.
Knowing this, Segovia hosts training sessions where she instructs and encourages current employees to start tagging pictures of those company outings with the @vocuscareers profile. This allows her to see comments made on those photos. So if someone writes a comment along the lines of, “I’d love to work with you! Your job looks amazing,” under one of these photos, Segovia will receive an alert. She can then respond back to the commentator, pointing them toward Vocus’ careers page.
Is Your Company Marketing-Focused?
Another consideration before embarking on an Instagram photo spree: Is social media an important part of your business? For Vocus, Segovia says, Instagram is a great choice “because we sell marketing software, and we want the folks we bring in to have passion for social media.”
Having an active Instagram account is a good indicator of that passion. Only 17 percent of all adults online use Instagram—as compared to 71 percent using Facebook. Those on Instagram are the avid elite of social media users.
HelloWorld likes Instagram for similar reasons. As a marketing company that creates consumer engagement platforms for clients, HelloWorld exists, Sheffer says, “exclusively in the digital, mobile and social space.” As Instagram tends to be used by hipper, more web-savvy Internet users, the recruiting team has to be on the cutting edge of social recruiting techniques in order to score these type of candidates.
As you can see, Instagram may not be the best choice for every company. However, for some the platform may be just the boost they need to stay competitive in the war for talent. If your company is seeking young professionals who are social-media savvy, you already employ a social media recruiting strategy and you happen to be in an industry that uses social media as a business tool, Instagram could very well help you find your next crop of new hires.