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How to Use Instagram to Attract & Engage Campus Talent

How to Use Instagram to Attract & Engage Campus Talent
Profile photo of Lisa Kramer
Written by Lisa Kramer

BMO has successfully utilized Instagram as a talent attraction tool for campus and entry-level recruiting. Lisa Kramer shares more about BMO’s approach to Instagram.

How to Use Instagram to Attract & Engage Campus Talent
5 (100%) 2 votes
Lisa Kramer

Lisa Kramer is the Director of Enterprise Campus Recruitment & Early Talent Programs at BMO.

Hi Rally community, my name is Lisa Kramer and I’m the Director of Enterprise Campus Recruitment & Early Talent Programs at BMO.

Over the past 2 years, my team and I have been focused on transforming the enterprise campus recruitment and early talent programs for our organization. Historically, the program was focused on recruiting summer students but we’ve evolved to a year-round program with an emphasis on co-op, intern and full-time new grad hires.

Our campus program goals and the move to virtual campus attraction

One of the goals of our revamped campus program is to recruit once and hire twice. In other words, our aim is to recruit co-op and intern students, and have them come back to join as full-time hires once they’ve completed their studies. To make this happen, we focus on getting to know each of our student hires, build strong pipelines and provide our interns with a fantastic experience so that they want to come back.

However, as you can imagine, COVID-19 has changed our approach to achieving our campus objectives. For instance, campus recruitment typically involves a significant amount of travel to visit various universities and colleges. However, since moving to a primarily virtual model, we’re now placing more of an emphasis on our digital recruiting channels.

One of the talent attraction tools we’ve found great success with here is Instagram. So, in this blog post, I’d like to share how we’ve leveraged the platform as part of our campus talent attraction strategy. But first, let’s go over why we chose Instagram in the first place.

Why Instagram?

Corporate lingo doesn’t resonate with students today; instead, they value authenticity. They want to hear what the employee experience is like directly from other students using relatable language and visuals. Instagram checks the box on this for us because it provides the ability for us to provide a “behind the scenes” look, as shown by our employees.

While we also rely on professional networking sites like LinkedIn, we felt that Instagram allowed us more flexibility to bring to life the day-to-day, casual and fun parts of working at BMO!

How to use Instagram to attract and engage campus talent

Content strategy

Our content strategy on Instagram is all about communicating authentically with students. To do this, we leverage features like stories and live streaming where we have our campus recruitment team and campus influencers (current BMO students) answer questions in real time and share their experiences.

What we love about this approach is that it has allowed us to be more available and conversational with our target audience — which is exactly the type of content our prospective talent is looking for.


Picture of a social media post about A Day in the Life of a BMO intern

BMO encourages interns to post about their experiences on social media.

Rally note: want to learn more about attracting and engaging student talent? Check out this Rally blog: How to Build a Talent Community on LinkedIn.

Content planning and execution

To execute on this content strategy, we created a campus influencer program composed of our social media savvy interns and co-ops.

While we do give our campus influencers guidelines to follow, we keep the guidelines as flexible as we can because we want our content to be authentic. We like to give our interns as much creative freedom as we can because they know what type of information other students want to hear and have a good understanding of the pulse on campus.

Example of social media content from campus influencer program

BMO uses a campus influencer program to create social content to help attract interns and entry-level talent.

Outside of the real-time, influencer-created content, we have a student experience team that creates a lot of informational content too. And fun fact: our team actually creates our own visuals using Canva (a free web-based and easy-to-use design application) and Instagram’s native design features. Overall, our approach to Instagram is a combination of event promotions, social media theme days (like #FeelGoodFriday) and company updates.

To figure out our scheduled content, we start by mapping out all of our upcoming campus events and identifying what content we need to support those initiatives. For example, this past fall, we had a very rigorous schedule that was filled with virtual “on campus” events (we attended 64 campuses virtually!). On event days, we try to capture live content of our team giving a virtual presentation and interacting with students.

From there, we layer in social media theme days. These posts are a fantastic way to showcase our company culture, current initiatives and employee spotlights. We stick with theme days to make it easier on our team to plan and come up with content ideas. Some of the ones we frequently use include #MotivationalMonday and #FeelGoodFriday.

example of BMO themed social post

BMO utilizes themed social media posts days (like Feel Good Friday) to help with creating a large amount of content for their channels.

Finally, we try to include any BMO-specific corporate content or news that we think is important for students to know. For example, this year, BMO was recognized with 4 Brandon Hall Group Excellence Awards. While not campus-specific, this is great content to share as workplace awards provide a level of credibility and prestige that is attractive to student talent.

BMO award

In addition to sharing content that is relevant for students specifically, BMO also shares company updates that would be good for students to know – like when the company wins an award.

In general, we produce a lot of the content in real time, but that doesn’t mean we don’t plan ahead. If you want to take a similar approach, ensure that before any events or live streams, you identify who from your team will be present and responsible for capturing content for social. And make sure your representatives have a clear understanding of your social media guidelines and policies before giving them account access!

The results

Since implementing our Instagram strategy, we’ve seen an increase in the number of students participating in our outreach events, a boost in intern and new grad applications and we’re seeing much higher levels of engagement with our content across all social platforms.

One of the major trends we’re seeing is how engaged our students are! They love to show off how proud they are to work for BMO. More and more students are approaching us wanting to share their stories, participate in our social media takeovers and share our content.

Ultimately, our interns and new grads are our best asset when it comes to driving our message forward — they frequently amplify our content with their personal networks which has increased our reach and brand awareness with new students.

Implementing Instagram for your campus attraction strategy

If you’re thinking about implementing Instagram as part of your campus talent attraction strategy, my biggest piece of advice is this: don’t be scared to engage your existing student talent as part of the process.

For us, it’s been a really important component — our campus influencers know what type of content will resonate with the student audience. They represent their peers, so the more you can engage them in the content creation process, the more your content will be relevant to your target audience.

Instagram has been a really successful talent attraction tool for us, but it’s just one piece of a multi-layered strategy. At the end of the day, external channels like Instagram work for us because we’ve been successful at delivering an outstanding intern and new grad employee experience. It’s easy to have great content to share when you have a strong employee experience, as it brings out great stories and can turn your employees into brand champions.

I hope learning about our approach to Instagram has been helpful and that you have a few takeaways to implement in your own campus recruiting strategy. If you want to chat more, don’t hesitate to connect with me on LinkedIn.

How to Use Instagram to Attract & Engage Campus Talent
5 (100%) 2 votes

About the Author

Profile photo of Lisa Kramer

Lisa Kramer

With 20+ years’ experience in innovative program development, early-talent acquisition, student experience and event execution, Lisa is using her skills to transform the Enterprise Campus Recruitment and Early Talent Program at BMO.

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