I love Instagram and I guess you could say I am somewhat of a typical Instagrammer. Tasty dinners, glammed selfies, glasses of wine, my cute dog and the odd inspirational quote are scattered among those little squares on my account. I follow tons of fashion and beauty accounts and like pictures of salads and smoothies that, if I’m honest, I will never get around to making.
Something that never occurred to me was how I could incorporate Instagram in my work life. Like most folks, I guess I thought that my social media presence would never contribute anything to my career and it was something I should keep private and hidden. Because really, who at work would actually care about the new shoes I bought over the weekend or the fact I was out on town on Saturday night. Both seem far from professional.
Then I found the #LifeAtDell Instagram account and saw all the posts from my colleagues across the world. They had pictures of themselves taking part in cool Dell events, pictures of themselves with their workmates and basically, pictures that showed how great their #LifeAtDell was. Then I thought, I have a pretty good #LifeAtDell, too. Why am I not doing this? Being the social enthusiast I am, I then decided that this would be a great way to showcase my own #LifeAtDell and all the fantastic work being done on the Limerick campus. Little did I know at the time, it would also be a great way to get to know other Dell people from across the globe and enhance my own personal brand.
After sharing a couple of pictures, I got to know the lovely team that manage the #LifeAtDell Instagram account and they asked me to become involved in a really cool project – Dell’s first ever Employee Social Media Takeover. Participating meant I would manage the official LifeAtDell Instagram account for a whole week. WOW. As a marketing graduate, it was a big deal because this is the kind of thing I really love and while it isn’t part of my daily role, it is something I want to do more of. I jumped at the opportunity and while I was conscious that thousands of people would be looking at my face plastered all over Dell social media accounts for a whole week, I was also excited.
In the run up to my takeover, I had to post a short video online introducing myself and letting people know that I was going to be the face of #LifeAtDell for the coming week. That short video was ten seconds long, but it took about twenty minutes to record. I was nervous that so many people would see it and for the first fifteen takes, the sound of my own voice just made me cringe. After posting the video, I realised how silly it was for me to overthink this takeover so much. People I knew and people I had never met responded so well to my introduction and they became excited for my Instagram takeover, too. A few days before the takeover, a lady in the canteen at work looked at me while I was getting lunch and said, “You’re the girl from Instagram!”
As the week went on, I became more comfortable with posting my work life on Instagram (I even did another video!). I shared pictures of my real #LifeAtDell and people loved it. Little things like pictures of my morning coffee break and my desk were just as impactful as pictures of meetings with senior leaders and product demos. The fact of the matter is, people relate to people and before I knew it, I had developed a network of people that were following and liking my #LifeAtDell showcase because it reflected their own life in the company. Some of these people were folks scattered across the world that I work with who could now put a face to the name that they usually only see in their mailbox. Some of the folks were people I had never met or spoken to, but we are now following each other on Instagram and are connected on LinkedIn. One lady even said if I was ever in Austin, to let her know! Some of these people were even senior leaders at Dell who joined Instagram just to see what all the fuss was about.
Taking over the #LifeAtDell Instagram account was a wonderful opportunity and I am very grateful that I was chosen as the first ever employee to take over the LifeAtDell account. Not only that, it has also taught me how I can use the power of social media to my own advantage in my own career – even those outlets not typically considered as professional forums. Before social media, it was just called your reputation. It was about making and managing good relationships. Which is still true, but now Instagram gives us a more public platform, where we can build an authentic reputation right in front of a wide host of potential employers, customers and colleagues.
To those of you who are on Instagram, consider sharing your photos at #LifeAtDell and expand your online network. People want to see more of real people’s lives. For those of you who are not on Instagram yet, what are you waiting for? Even if you don’t want to post your own content right away, be sure to watch out for upcoming #LifeAtDell social media takeovers and interact with your colleagues from across the globe.
I promise Instagram is not all pictures of cute puppies and Americanos, but it can be a really useful tool for self-branding and networking.
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