Leveraging images and connectivity with Instagram by Marius Meyer

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The 6thAnnual HR Standards Summit of SABPP focused on the future world of work, in particular taking leaders, HR and employees into the 2020 workplace.   As artificial intelligence, augmented reality, robotics and machine learning take centre stage in the new world of work, HR as a profession also needs to step up in the digital space. There are so many opportunities for HR professionals to utilise technology and social media as instruments for creating better employee and stakeholder experiences, in addition to the opportunity for instant feedback.

One of the biggest successes in terms of the value and visibility strategic thrust of the SABPP HR Voice strategy over the last seven years, has been the establishment and growth of our social media platforms.  Since we opened a Facebook account in 2011, it has become a popular platform for updates, photos and other key areas of interaction for HR professionals, learning providers and students.  Furthermore, our linked-in discussion forum has grown to 6000 users where more detailed discussions about complicated HR issues are held.  However, the highlight of our social media strategy has been the successes achieved with Twitter, now exceeding 16 700 followers and more than 42 000 tweets. This means that a SABPP follower on Twitter receives at least one posting every hour. The power of twitter lies in its instant sharing of articles, photos, announcements, job and internship opportunities and other bits and pieces of communication.

Building on the successes achieved with the above three social media platforms over the last few years, we have also made good progress on the newest platform, Instagram.  According to Webopedia, Instagram is the name of an online photo sharing web service that lets you share your life with others through a series of pictures captured with a mobile device. Thus, as a photo sharing application, users can share photos and other images as well as videos through a mobile app.  Followers are then able to comment on these postings, or to ask questions if they need more information or clarity about the content that was shared.

Recently, as reported in the Sundays Times, the South African Social Media Landscape 2019 study released by World Wide Worx and media monitoring company Ornico, the Instagram user base grew 73% in South Africa over the last year, to reach 6.6 million users.  The study also showed that Instagram is the fastest growing social network in South Africa in terms of the platforms used by major brands, it is now used by 78% of brands, up from 72% the year before.  This takes it to third place in brand use of social platforms, behind Facebook (96%) and Twitter (88%).   Arthur Goldstuck of World Wide Worx predicts that Instagram is likely to reach 90% soon, thereby overtaking Twitter. Goldstuck says that the heavy engagement of users with Instagram makes it very popular, despite the perpetuation of high data costs in South Africa.  The functionality of Instagram is improving, and the increased use of video content and sharing of photos and other images makes it attractive and user-friendly. Also, given the fact that a picture speaks a thousand words, it is not necessary for users to write long pieces of content, thereby promoting the instant and fast distribution of images and supporting content.

The benefits of Instagram for SABPP members, learning providers, academics and students are as follows:

  • You receive regular updates and photos about activities of SABPP staff and events;
  • You are connected directly to SABPP management and office on a daily basis;
  • You receive regular updated from accredited SABPP learning providers and universities;
  • SABPP publications such as HR Voice magazine and HR Fact sheets are shared;
  • We updated you on the work and notices received from other key HR stakeholders such as the Department of Labour, and the Department of Higher Education and Training;
  • You get access to announcements and images from HR graduates at their graduations all over the country;
  • You are updated on the work of the student chapters at different campuses (the University of Free State Bloemfontein Campus Student Chapter produced a video clip within hours of their launch);
  • You can see some successes and milestones achieved by HR professionals and students;
  • You can comment on SABPP work using the “Add a comment” icon and therefore interact directly with SABPP.

We realise that it is not possible for members to attend all events in person, therefore highlights are posted on Instagram for members to be informed of the latest developments. For instance, the key highlights of the 6thAnnual HR Standards Conference held on 1 November in Johannesburg, including the awards function were distributed on Instagram minutes after being released.  Photos of the new SABPP Board members are also available on Instagram, as well as the recent student chapter launched at the University of Free State and University of Limpopo.

I want to thank HR and other leaders as early adopters and active change agents for their engagement on the SABPP Instagram platform.  I include their location for you to show the power of daily connectivity irrespective of the physical distance between us:

  • James Ramakau (Roodepoort)
  • Tobie Engelbrecht (Cape Town)
  • Ashwell Glasson (Cape Town)
  • Rhodrick Musakuro (Cape Town)
  • Tania La Fleur (Cape Town)
  • Xolani Mawande (Roodepoort)
  • Ricardo Joseph (Cape Town)
  • Anton Stegmann (Roodepoort)
  • Sandra Schlebusch (Johannesburg)
  • Fathima Mahomed (Vanderbijlpark)
  • Elsie Pule (Johannesburg)
  • Trevor Dale (Bloemfontein)
  • Stan Horwitz (Cape Town)
  • Nic Rossouw (Pretoria)
  • Esther Palmer (Bloemfontein)
  • Andani West Nethavhani (Polokwane)
  • Neel Dhanpat (Johannesburg)
  • BradleyMotsamai (Mahikeng)
  • Goodnews Cadogan (Pretoria)
  • Sheremone Lottering (Cape Town)
  • Renjini Joseph (Johannesburg)
  • Leoni van der Vaart (Vanderbijlpark)
  • Lynette Naidoo (Pretoria)
  • Fumani Kubayi (Polokwane)
  • Charnte Marthinus (Vanderbijlpark)
  • Coen Welsh (Windhoek)
  • Rica Viljoen (Johannesburg)
  • Mercia Mcshane (Cape Town)
  • Marieta van Niekerk (Bloemfontein)
  • Roslyn De Braine (Johannesburg)
  • Louise Beretta (Cape Town)
  • Jaco du Plessis (Heidelberg)


Thank you to the above instagrammers for the connectivity. We like your photos and we enjoy sharing ours with you.  Likewise, we are also glad to see that some of the SABPP accredited training providers have embraced Instagram as another communication and engagement tool with their learners and the broader market, in particular we salute the following training providers for their leadership on Instagram:

  • JvR Africa Group
  • BMT College
  • Cape Town Business College
  • Maccauvlei Learning Academy
  • Damelin College
  • Da Vinci Institute

In view of the above benefits of tapping into the SABPP Instagram platform, now is the time to connect with us on @sabpp_1  We look forward to be connected with you on Instagram and to share our daily  updates with you. We have now posted almost 1 500 Instagram images, and we are encouraged by the interactions from students, learning providers and HR professionals.  SABPP now has just over 900 followers on Instagram and our target is to reach a 1000 before the end of the year. Over the next three months you will see several announcements about increased initiatives around digital HR, or as SABPP Board member, Dr Pierre Joubert calls it – HR 4.0.  The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here, and we need to ensure that HR responds effectively in embracing the new digital business world and social world out there.  Let us share our images and use the instant connections offered by Instagram to leverage our instant connectivity for increased relevance, visibility and impact.


Marius Meyer is Chairperson of SABPP and lectures in HR Management at Stellenbosch University. You can follow him on Instagram @mariusmeyerza and SABPP on @sabpp_1