With its heavy celebrity, food and lifestyle focus, Instagram is often overlooked as a platform for business influencers.
However, there is an effort underway within Instagram to increase such usage among employees and executives. Further, given the network’s scale (500M users, 300M active daily) and an algorithm switch that appears to favor individuals over institutions, it’s an opportune time for CEOs and executives to use the platform to provide a more human face to their followers.
To date, usage among this group is nascent and mixed. Currently, many business influencers are not actively trying to grow their audience and their use is purely personal. Others are taking an approach that is too formulaic, over-relying on quotes and other tactics.
Here are five ways business influencers can use Instagram:
Share your passion
Sharing images around passions with the community — like art or architecture — have a broad appeal and can be easily discovered through smart use (but not overuse) of hashtags. It can help establish an audience. GE executive Beth Comstock shares her reading list and vignettes from her day, making her even more relatable.
Share your corporate culture
Find ways to tie in your corporate culture in an organic way. Consider highlighting culture, purpose, products and employees vs. any kind of sell. Instagram is the platform most used by Walmart associates. Walmart CEO Doug Mcmillon, for example, uses the platform to share employee stories in a similar fashion to “Humans of a New York“. From a recruitment standpoint, you can attract the best talent by highlighting your company’s mission, culture, and social impact.
Focus on societal issues
A third group of images should focus on issues of social importance to the individual and the company. Mark Zuckerberg provides a short caption and image to discuss Facebook’s Connectivity Lab team’s mission to provide internet access to people in third world countries using alternative energy sources. Candid photos with good captions and stories behind them work well.
Share industry news. People value your perspective about what’s happening in your company, industry, and community. Share news with a concise update revealing why it matters to you and your audience. Meika Hollender of Sustain uses her Instagram to advocate for female reproductive rights and share relevant industry events and thought leadership platforms. Consider opportunities to break news and share insights with your followers first. Doing so allows you to shape the media narrative and provide context and interpretation to your supporters.
Engage with your audience in real-time
Build credibility with people by giving them access through Instagram to moments they might not otherwise experience. Instagram Stories is a space to share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile. As you share multiple photos and videos, they appear together in a slideshow format: your story. NASA uses Instagram Stories to share more about what their employees are doing behind the scenes, allowing people to have access to scientists involved in the research.