Instagram is incredibly successful and popular amongst all kind of demographics. It goes without saying that Instagram should be part of every organization’s social media portfolio for public communication and marketing, but what about internal comms? And what about clubs? NPOs? All the people out there that form teams and independent groups. This is not only interesting for companies.
I’ve come across a New Work method that I found very intriguing, and I was really keen on trying it out in an experiment. New Work itself is not a method. New Work is more like a box of interesting tools that might work for your company or might not. So one key aspect of New Work practices is definitely to be brave and try things out. Some will work, and others will not. But all are worth thinking about in my opinion.
Why should I set up an Instagram account only for staff?
There is internal comms, and there is external comms. A public, marketing-driven, Instagram account is not that interesting and motivating for your company’s own teams. They often know the posted information already, and they are usually not going to procure any of their own services and goods. They might follow the company’s Instagram account to “stay-in-the-loop” and support the brand with likes, but that is pretty much all there is to it.
An Instagram account that targets only internal folks can make a lot of sense in a few cases. May you be part of a fresh startup, a scaled-up company, or a big enterprise, it is more and more common that the staff is distributed and not all sitting together in the same physical office. One way of keeping people’s hearts and minds together in a “not-so-boring” way, and entirely free of cost, would be to leverage a social media platform that everybody, or at least the majority, is already familiar with anyway.
By making use of Instagram for your internal comms, you can tell stories in a visual, compelling, interesting, and compact way. Thinking about time-consumption, do you even want people to spend 15 minutes reading the weekly corporate newsletter? Does it add value to them? Do they enjoy that? Some do, and some do not, so it might be the right time to try communicating differently. You can, of course, keep sending the email newsletters and doing weekly conference calls regardless until you and everybody would agree that it’s time to make the full switch.
How do I set this all up best?
Based on my testing and experiments, I would like to share some practice tips with you. I hope that all are valuable for you, even though not all might be fully applicable for you. So where do you start and how do you best go about this?
You best start by creating a new account on Instagram. Avoid using company name and logos for the newly created profile. You don’t want your company’s official branding and marketing to be mistaken for your “insider” Instagram account. That being said, it’s also wise to set the profile to private, so every new follower needs to be manually verified and approved to make sure it’s only people who are actually working in your teams.
So, did you choose a funky account name? Did you design some curious profile image that doesn’t resemble your company in any way? Good stuff! So you can continue now with the next few bits. Depending on how you want to use the internal comms account, you now have to decide for one of two possible ways to manage content and access.
Access management and privacy
If you are dealing with not that many people and you still know everybody, you can think about sharing the private account with others. This way everybody of the team could both follow the account, but also contribute to it by sharing images, videos, and stories with the others. I’d agree that sharing access credentials like account name and login password isn’t a sophisticated way of doing access management, but you can consider it at this point in time.
If you are part of a larger organization, you might want to keep the role of the content poster to a single person or the team who is already in charge of internal comms any way. This is better for security, but it steals a bit of the agility and flow as people outside of the account-managing group would first need to send their content to this publishing group for review and editorial. A bit less funky than the first option, but sometimes it has to be like this. Perhaps you are able to find another way too. This is certainly not written in stone but a recommendation.
What to post?
So you started the account, the first people are already following, with your approval, and perhaps you are even following them back for verification and tracking sake. Your profile name might be “Splashy Funk Crew Unicorns,” and your profile image might be a glorious unicorn with sparkling rainbow colors – or it’s something completely different. So what’s next?
Now you have to start somewhere. In my experience, it’s good to bulk-post at least nine images or photos onto the profile, so it does not appear to be empty or forsaken to newly joining staff. You could post some snapshots of the new coffee machine, hit the office dog for a portrait, do a professional-esque selfie with a motivational quote, or something completely different that matches your company’s spirit and values. Help others by sharing useful information or just lift their spirits with a funny little piece of content.
Over the next days and weeks, you need to keep the pace and keep posting, so you are not losing the momentum of the tool. Let others also join the fun. Let them share what was important in their week. You can let a roadwarrior show what trouble they had to deal with. Let the office workers tell a story of how well they put together the latest presentation or let the engineers take quick videos of what they are currently working on. This whole experience is more on a watercooler level than anything else, but it can work out great if you are not abandoning it. If you got the leadership on board for this, they could also use the story function to broadcast essential updates to the workforce. It’s not all fun and games. After all, this is still about running a business.
What not to post?
Depending on your size and location in the world, there are specific laws and regulations you should comply to, even if it’s a rogue and secretly hidden Instagram account that now customer knows about. You should never post documents, or share any kind of sensitive data. Whenever you’re taking snapshots, make sure there’s nothing critical on the screens in the background, hanging on the walls, or lying on the desks.
Make sure that every person who appears in a picture is aware of the internal Instagram account and agrees to be posted there. You should take care not to load up any snapshots with people’s heads that never agreed to be photographed and uploaded into the Internet. If the shot is too awesome to be canned, at least put a sticker on them to censor them out in a way.
Also, it would be good to refrain from using marketing collateral, stock photos, and all the assets that you’d use in other types of communication. This sort of activity here requires a high degree of unique content and authenticity. Would you share a stock photo as part of your personal Instagram account? No, you wouldn’t. Because you weren’t there. Because you didn’t take it. And because it has nothing to do with you. Handle this company account for internal comms through Instagram the same way.
Make it official, even though it’s hidden
If you started this project as an experiment without the knowledge of your management, make sure to limit the testing timeframe to something around 4-6 weeks and then present the results to your higher-ups to either make it an officially backed endeavor or for it to be scrapped and deleted if they have a reason not to do that. In many cases, however, it would appear to be wiser first to get the approval and then start the experiment with management consent.
There is also the possibility of leveraging some of this account’s content into the public marketing campaigns and Instagram account, but this should be checked on a case-by-case basis. Most content will not be valuable for external communications. Of course, it’s interesting to show culture and atmosphere in a public space, but I would suggest you to keep the account apart from each other in general.
Even though the initial work effort of creating a new Instagram account and setting it up for your company may consume only minutes, you should plan for some more time to be invested in order to avoid it failing for idling and being inactive. Things such as this require recurring activity, input from others (hopefully a growing number of contributors), and the goodwill or at least approval from the management. There are some hard rewards for doing this, but the most significant ROI will be a soft one which cannot be measured. It’s consumed, lived, and enjoyed without a report at the end of the month.
Teams and people want to hear stories and want to be up-to-date. They want to know the struggle of someone if they can perhaps help. They want to show compassion and feel with their colleagues. Your staff consists of social human beings, but not everybody is equally connected to each other. This tool from the New Work toolbox might help you with the internal comms in a fun way, without paying a dime. Try it out and make sure you share your thoughts and findings with us. I am looking forward to hearing from you, so feel free to share your comments below. Thanks for reading!
Further reading into New Work methods
If you’re looking for further reading, you should also check into these books here on Amazon. Not all apply to everyone and 100% of the organizations out there, but you might find a gem or two. Enjoy!
Photo credit: The feature image “we are” has been done by Gian Cescon. The photo “people, human, person, and meeting” has been taken by Helena Lopes. The picture “apparel, clothing, human, and person” has been done by Meghan Schiereck. The picture “photographer” has been done by John Benson. The photo “me working at home” has been taken by Mark Turnauckas.
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