How big brands use Instagram for employee recognition

From latte-mixing baristas to airlines’ on-the-ground personnel, front-line workers are the public face for most organizations. Here’s how to boost morale and raise your company’s profile.

Company execs are often leery of having internal communication go external.

There are articles that talk about how stay ahead of this “problem.” There are a few examples of internal messages going external that have caused headaches for corporate communicators. Take for example the situation that happened with Sainsbury’s in the U.K.

Much of what companies communicate internally their customers wouldn’t be interested in, anyway. There are times, though, when things typically classified as internal should be allowed to escape a company’s walls; one is employee recognition.

Great employee recognition must be timely, authentic, appropriate and tied to the organization’s values.

Instagram’s role

I’ve noticed that communicators—for both B2B and B2C organizations—are featuring employees more and more in their Instagram images. This is great, assuming those employees are comfortable with have their likeness used in promotions.

If your employees are proud of who they work for and the organization is proud to showcase them, recognition wins all around—and it’s great content for your customers.

As of December, Instagram has grown bigger than Twitter in terms of active users worldwide. What better place to showcase a global organization than on a growing platform like Instagram?

Here are a few examples (far from a comprehensive list) that show a variety of organizations featuring employees in different ways to drive employee recognition, both inside the company and externally to customers.

Starbucks Canada

In this one, Starbucks Canada is thanking all their baristas for the company’s listing as one of the Best Places to Work in Canada. This image cleverly features employees without showing their faces.

American Airlines

American Airlines proves that you don’t have to be a “hip” brand to be on Instagram. This great image includes a quote from an “on-the-ground” employee (not the CEO), along with a quote and location.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest always does a great job of featuring employees. Here’s an example of showcasing an employee along with a unique company philanthropy project without naming the employee.


It’s OK to let the world know that your company likes to have fun. Many places allow or even encourage employees to dress up on Halloween, so why not let your customers and the world see it, as LinkedIn has done?


Those who aren’t Instagram users might not know that it’s possible to tag employees in photos if they are also on Instagram. This is what Mashable has done, while promoting its social book club.


Instagram is not limited to pictures; you can also show short videos. This is how Walmart promoted a “Today” show appearance with employees giving back to their local communities. It combines employee recognition and corporate philanthropy.

The above examples all come from big brands, and this is hardly a complete list, but they might spur content ideas for your organization’s Instagram account. If these big brands can do it, so can you.

A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn. You can reach Chuck Gose on Twitter @chuckgose.

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