5 Ways Young Professionals Can Use Instagram to their Advantage

There’s no getting around it. Today, Instagram is one of the most popular social networks in the world — which means if your mom is on Instagram, your employer, professional peers, and dream company are probably on Instagram, too.

What’s more, for the young professional looking to give herself an edge in the workplace, social currency is no joke.  In 2015, Careerbuilder reported that off 2000 hiring managers surveyed, more than half reported looking to social media to vet their candidates —to positive results.

Nearly 29% of respondents found something impressive on a profile that inspired them to offer the candidate a job. About 15% of the employers surveyed indicated that a large following is always big bonus. In other words, your profile can help you stand out of the crowd (in a very good way).

So, how can you break through the noise on Instagram and share your voice with that audience?

1. Flaunt your Personality

Let’s say, you’re applying for a job or fellowship  — an opportunity in which the playing field is even. When every candidate is equally qualified, your personality is what will give you the edge.   

Hiring managers hunting around social media want to know that your image of yourself matches up to what you’ve told them. Your social media presence is also indicative of your communication skills. Instagram is a communication tool after all. It’s also an expression of creativity and most importantly, expertise.

2. Improve your engagement —by asking for engagement!

If you’re relatively new to the workforce, now is a good a time as ever to get in the habit of asking. Remember Lean In?  Written by Facebook’s [sic] COO, Sheryl Sandberg. At the time of its debut (2013), one of the most talked-about anecdotes to emerge from the book ended in Sandberg’s advice to “negotiate like a man.” Initially, Sandberg took Mark Zuckerberg’s initial offer but then her husband encouraged her to counter-offer. Afterwards, Zuckerberg came back to her with a much more lucrative proposal.

Great lesson; apply it to social media. Is your engagement not as high as you feel your posts merit? Ask for engagement! Tell your audience what you expect from them!

Use the first three lines of your Instagram caption  to tell your followers to engage with the post! It’s called adding a call-to-action. Ask them a question like, “what do you think?” If you’re sharing an experience, ask if they’ve had a similar experience.

Because Instagram engagement dropped for everybody, these days, engagement rarely occurs before you explicitly initiate it.

3. Don’t stress over hashtags. Focus on quality content.

Here’s the argument against agonizing over hashtags.  The ultimate method of discovery—the method that Instagram uses to deliver your content to potentially interested users— is other users’ behaviors, which is uncontrollable. What you can control is the quality of your work.

It’s not the hashtags you use that will get you discovered. It’s how similar your account is to the other accounts someone who has yet to encounter you follows.  Do your due diligence and know that there’s only so much you can do. The majority of your energy, on Instagram at least, should go into creating a beautifully original post. And yes, be strategic about the hashtags you include in your post. Go broad, go specific, go few, go up to the limit of thirty, and try not to repeat yourself too often.

4. Be real with your Instagram audience.

Today, follower accounts are inflated; engagement is difficult to measure. Just as your average user is bound to spot bots, brands, too, are catching on to fake followers and auto-engagement — and perhaps, next, potential employers.

Everyone wants to see access to real fans. Instagram in particular is going through an up-in-the-air phase right now where values are shifting and the metrics by which we used to determine those values are no longer effective. Forget the automated software and you do you.

5. Have fun with it!

If you want to go all out, you can always use your Instagram as a fully-professional profile and follow your professional idols. Mark Cuban, the famous owner of Dallas Mavericks and investor-panelist for ABC’s Shark Tank actually uses his Instagram to share behind-the-scenes photos of his business ventures and involvement with Shark Tank.

View this post on Instagram

And back to LA for Shark Tank

A post shared by Mark Cuban (@mcuban) on

Gary Vaynerchuk is another famously-good marketer whose Instagram displays quotes from his speaking engagements, and plenty of great tips for the up-and-coming marketing professional and entrepreneur.

Social media is all about connections and so is the working world. Use it to your advantage. Most job opportunities arise from proactive networking. So, don’t just focus on sprucing up your profiles and improving your own engagement. Get out there and engage, yourself!

Remember. If you work hard and stick it out, you’ll get it done.

Colleen Patterson.jpg
Written by Colleen. 

Colleen Patterson is the content marketing manager of Muses app, a digital growth app focused on building long­-term relationships. She’d love you to get involved!

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