Making Instagram work for corporate communications

Margot Fourcade. Margot is a young woman with dark curly hair and glasses. She is wearing a necklace and a dark shirt. Margot Fourcade | 09 Dec 2022

Instagram is now as established as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, but some corporate communications teams still struggle to see the value

If you are looking to launch on the platform or reinvigorate your existing presence, here are three success factors from Instagram leaders in the Bowen Craggs Index.

Success factor 1: Engaging your Instagram audience

This is where your company can really develop its very own approach and style. There is no finite set of guidelines to make your Instagram content engaging, but Eni, BP, Nike, Lego and Adobe all demonstrate different aspects of best practice for engagement.

Eni - Remember the fundamentals

It is important to remember that your audiences’ needs on Instagram are not entirely different than they are elsewhere on your digital estate – so keep quality and accessibility for all audiences in mind. Eni provides high quality images and videos, with manual closed captioning. It also caters both to its domestic and global audiences on its main corporate account: captions include both an Italian and an English version of the same text.

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Bilingual post on Eni's Instagram account


BP's Instagram feed

BP - Produce content specific to Instagram

BP provides a good combination of professional shots and candid photographs, which are rarely found elsewhere on the digital estate. While retaining cohesion and consistency, visually and narratively, this helps avoid over-duplication across sites and social channels.

Nike and Lego – Be creative…

Instagram users are used to seeing creative content on the platform without thinking it is trivial. Corporate and political communication often follows unwritten rules that it must not be creative, but Instagram’s users will embrace it, if you do it well. Nike’s frequent featuring of celebrities, and Lego’s captivating use of characters, stories and constructions are particularly compelling. 

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Creative content on Lego's Instagram page

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Adobe's Instagram post taps into meme culture for humorous content

Adobe – adopting memes and interacting with users

Memes and other comical content on social media can be hit-or-miss: so they need to be used as they are still trending, and respect often unspoken codes. This is risky and requires sophistication and experience with the channel.

In the example above, Adobe shows how it can work by appropriately adopting a trending meme. The meme in question satirises a person “type” by imagining them as a Halloween costume. The picture shows what stereotypical graphic designers look like, and the list of elements included in the costume is gently mocking about them. Adobe clearly understands the template (often called the ‘frame’ level) and they comically insert a message that is relevant to the company (often called the ‘slot’ level). Instagram users familiar with the meme will instantly decipher the humour and feel ‘in on the joke’, boosting engagement.

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Account admins reply to visitors commenting on Adobe's Instagram posts

Adobe also frequently interacts with visitors in the comments. Account admins often reply to questions, either directing the individual to information or offering to discuss further through private messaging on the platform – for the latter, they provide their initials to allow users to identify who they are talking to. Adobe also often replies to positive comments by thanking them for their support: the account and posts become places for discussion as well as information.

Success factor 2: Integrating Instagram with the corporate website

A strong Instagram presence will serve your visitors on the platform, but content you develop and post there can further be mobilized on your corporate website, contributing highly visual elements and making the site more dynamic. The most sophisticated companies manage it all together and coordinate content, but even if you have separate teams and are not necessarily well integrated from a governance point of view, there are more immediate things you can do.

AT&T and Texas Instruments have features on their corporate websites that tie in their Instagram presences.

AT&T - Social media walls give a good overview of the latest posts

Social media walls offer visual, dynamic, story-telling opportunities to your corporate site. They are great promotion for your social channels, and can showcase a great range of posts – the best of them allow and allow visitors to filter by channel or search by key words. Social media walls can also strengthen the credibility of Responsibility or Careers content, like the #LifeAtATT wall on AT&T’s Careers site, which is frequently updated with latest posts by employees.

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Social media wall on AT&T's Careers site

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The corporate site of Texas Instruments features Instagram posts of employees on 'Meet the people of TI'

Texas Instruments - Individual posts can be beneficial additions to sections and pages

Texas Instruments uses Instagram posts as employee profiles under ‘Meet the people of TI’. These profiles are presented as a photo gallery, and hovering over them show the post’s description - a short biography of the employee. Clicking the profile takes visitors to the original content on the platform. This is an engaging way of showcasing employees, and will helpfully direct jobseekers and employees to social channels dedicated to them.

Note: when integrating Instagram accounts to a corporate site, make sure their handle (@NameOfTheAccount) is visible. This is particularly important if you have several accounts: their names must be clear, so your visitors know what content is where. For instance, using conventional formulas such as @LifeAtCompany, @WeAreCompany or @CompanyWorld will ensure visitors can identify that their content will cover company culture, rather than strictly careers information.

Success factor 3: Taking advantage of Instagram’s features

Instagram has its own systems for highlighting and navigating content on and off the platform. Users expect a successful channel to make an informed use of these features, understanding and harnessing them in innovative ways.

AT&T - Using tags to increase engagement and visibility

On Instagram, using a hashtag or @tag in your descriptions, or tagging an account in the content itself can make your posts more visible. It can also facilitate navigation between the different accounts you wish to direct your visitors to.

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Corporate use of Instagram with AT&T's hashtag #LifeAtATT

A brilliant example of this is #LifeAtATT as mentioned earlier. A great tool for integration on the site, the hashtag is also powerful on Instagram - over 70.8k total posts, and new ones coming every day are proof that it successfully boosts employee engagement. The company’s corporate accounts (@att and @lifeatatt) can also use the hashtag to find employee posts and interact with them.

If your corporate Instagram presence is fragmented into different accounts, tagging them in your posts, bio and stories effectively signposts them to your visitors. Tagging an individual, who might be the source or topic of your content, also improves transparency – in the same way providing links to external parties can on your site.

Shell and Henkel - Using saved stories to highlight and structure content

On Instagram, content posted in stories only stays visible for 24 hours. After these 24 hours, stories can be saved into named collections which will remain at the top of your Instagram account. This is a good way to provide ‘sticky’ content: your most recent posts are the ones your audience will see first, so saved stories are where you can keep older content visible overtime, as you continue to post. In this way, they can act like your primary menu does on your website – signposting where to find key information you have shared. Good practice, as seen in the examples below from some of our Index leaders, is to make stories uniform, using brand colours and icons with clear titles.

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Rio Tinto - Using link(s) in bio to improve navigation across the digital estate

Using a link, or link-collection tool in an account’s bio facilitates  navigation across your digital estate. Some Instagram accounts use a single link to the a page on the main corporate site, others, like RioTinto’s  offer a Linktree page with  links to different relevant pages on the corporate site, often in the careers or sustainability sections, depending what the account focuses on.