You’ve heard the expression: a picture is worth a thousand words.

When you’re trying to connect with Gen Y, that picture is priceless.

Instagram is the fastest growing social media site, with 200 million active monthly users worldwide (90% of whom are under the age of 35). With 15 times the interaction rate of Facebook and 38 times the interaction rate of Twitter, the mobile image-sharing app is quickly becoming the essential social platform for reaching and engaging Gen Y.

As the visual voice of your employer brand, your Instagram account depicts the who, what, when, where and why of your workplace. Its job is to tell a compelling employer story and help students and grads better understand how they fit into the picture.

Learning how to leverage Instagram as part of your campus recruitment strategy can increase brand awareness, build employer trust and better engage prospective candidates. Here are five themes to help you get started:

1. Around the office

Students and grads want to learn about the things that make your employer brand unique. Your TalentEgg profile, campus careers site and Twitter feed do a great job communicating these factors out to interested talent, but visual cues can communicate other important details that may be missing from your official messaging.

An organization’s physical work environment has a great deal of influence over the productivity, job satisfaction and morale of the people working within it. Prospective hires want to know what it looks like, too.

Recruiting for a multinational corporation? Feature photos from different office locations across the country. Recruiting for a small business or startup? Shots of your HQ and surrounding neighbourhood give Gen Y an insiders look at your locale. No matter your size, focus on the elements that make your space special.

2. #ThrowbackThursday

The social media phenomenon of sharing old personal photographs on Thursday is thought to have started on Instagram in 2011. It has since become a weekly staple on many social channels. Capitalizing on the feeling of nostalgia, the world’s most popular hashtag drives a significant amount of sharing activity –over 66 million throwback photos have been tagged on Instagram, from baby photos to awkward family portraits.

So, how does the meme fit into your recruitment strategy? #TBT is an organic way to communicate company history, humanize your employer brand and encourage Gen Y to connect with you in a more meaningful way.

Get in on the fun by sharing work-related nostalgia. This might include photos of your employees or executives from when they were younger, photos of vintage company properties or past recruitment events you’ve organized.

3. Employee activities

Students and grads are looking for immersive career experiences and are interested in the social elements of your workplace. They take team building, networking and volunteer opportunities into account when exploring their employment options–factors that are often the difference between choosing your organization over the competition.

Group photos are a great way to capture the excitement of a workplace activity on Instagram. Not only do they showcase aspects of your workplace culture, they also celebrate your current staff.

To take a great group photo, look for photo locations that embody the essence of the event you’re attending: the starting line of a race, the goalie net on an intramural soccer field or the banner outside a local non-profit. Illustrative backdrops provide your Instagram followers with context, without the need for a long explanation (while comments can be up to 2200 characters, longer comments are cut from your main feed at 240).

Next, arrange your subjects. If you are photographing a larger group of people, try to set them up at different levels so they aren’t all standing in a row (tallest in the back, shortest in the front). If you’re working with a smaller group, row formation is fine.

Once positions are set, frame the photo in a way that leaves a person’s width of empty space on either side of the group. Instagram only accepts 1×1 square photos, so the extra space ensures you won’t have to awkwardly crop anyone out of the shot. Portrait orientation–rather than landscape–can also help to prevent any cropping mishaps.

4. Egg-citing events

From major sporting events to international holidays, events are perfect to document on Instagram. Students and grads are tuned in to the world around them–they appreciate employers who are too. Did your office host a World Cup viewing party? Do you celebrate World Pride? Showing support for local, national or global events on Instagram can communicate workplace culture and reflect your corporate vision and values.

If your company actively sponsors an event, share your excitement by letting your followers know you’ll be participating in the festivities. Not directly involved, but still want to show your support? Post images that relate to the occasion with captions sharing your well wishes.

Industry events are another way to show Gen Y talent how involved you are within your respective community. Professional conferences, conventions and awards ceremonies (like the TalentEgg National Campus Recruitment Excellence Awards) make for great material, as do on-campus recruiting events like career fairs and networking functions.

5. Related content

Quotes, product shots or professional photographs add variety to your feed. Curating related content is most effective when the images align with attitude and interests of your organization and target audience. Think about the broad themes that relate to your industry and find content that embodies those qualities: a healthcare organization might post images relating to general health and wellness, a travel-based company might post vacation hotspots or travel quotes.

You can easily upload the related content you find to Instagram from your computer.

  • Save the image you want to use to your smartphone. You can email the file to yourself as an attachment or save it directly from your mobile browser.
  • Open Instagram and click the camera button.
  • Tap the preview button to open your phone’s photo album.
  • Select the picture you saved and tap next to choose your filter.
  • Don’t forget to credit the original photo source if it’s not your own!

Discussion: Is your employer brand on Instagram? How do you engage your followers?