Instagram is an excellent tool to promote events before, during and after they take place. Being a big Instagram fan I often use it at events and based on my experience, I would like to share with you why event planners should use it more actively and frequently. Here are some tips on how to better use it to interact with current and future event stakeholders.
Update your Instagram feed weekly
I follow Instagram accounts of events I annually go to and I noticed similar patterns among them. Firstly, the accounts stay dormant until one-two weeks prior to the event when they then become very busy and try to engage the audience with competitions and promotions. While it is very important to interact with attendees during the event, it is recommended to manage the Instagram account throughout the year and interact with past and future attendees, customers, sponsors and other stakeholders. Ideally content should be posted daily, but I realise that it can be very challenging so a weekly update throughout the year is enough.
Have a strategy
Before promoting your event on Instagram, decide what you want to achieve by promoting your event on this platform. Do you want to increase ticket sales and registrations, inform, educate or inspire? It is recommended that you decided upon a strategy within your organisation and assign a person or a team to manage this account. It is important to have a clear strategy so in case this person leaves the company or changes the department, the next person who takes over the account is informed what he has to do.
Call to action on Instagram
While the event takes place only over 2-3 days, throughout the year you can interact with your audience and increase awareness of your event. In comparison to other social networks, you can’t include links in the posts and have the possibility to do it only in your bio. Depending on your strategy, it is wise to add a link to your bio that fulfils it (e.g.- link to registration page). When posting your photo, you can mention that your audience can learn more via the link in your bio. Try to avoid including the link into the post as it has no value to the attendees.
Hashtags are important on Instagram and will help attendees to find your event and connect with other attendees. It is advised that you create and use your own event hashtag. It is very individual how you would like to use them, but in my preference is to use up to max. three in the post and the rest in the comment section. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags, so why not to make the full use of them? You can include related hashtags to your event that will make it easier for others to find you, such as the city where the event takes place, the industry, the speakers etc.
How frequent to post?
It is show-time and now you want to use Instagram to communicate what is happening at your event. If you haven’t used it for the whole year, don’t start posting a photo with every quote from speakers or every booth on the exhibition floor. Try to spread your content throughout the day, posting in the morning, lunch/ afternoon and evening. Don’t overload the feed of your readers by publishing photos every few minutes, as it will get lower interaction. Good thing to do is to follow all the exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and others stakeholders on Instagram and mention them in your posts by giving them full credit.
Follow – up
After the event, first of all thank everyone who attended your event and communicate the follow up process. If you want everybody to know about the date of the next event, mention it in the post and don’t forget to update your bio with the new date and other important information.
Be ready to invest money
At the moment of writing, Instagram does not have the possibility to switch between accounts easily as with Twitter and Facebook and if you have a dedicated account to your event you will need to log-in/out between your personal and corporate accounts. When you assign an external person to manage your Instagram account, it is advised that you will provide them with a smartphone and don’t expect them to do it from their personal device.
To conclude, Instagram is not only about the filter and it requires that you invest thought, creativity, time and effort in it. Different attendees access information from different social platforms and because Instagram is one of the most fast growing ones, by using it you have the chance to reach out to new audience and increase engagement with your existent stakeholders. And, as the old adage says “a picture is worth a thousand words”, so make it memorable!
What are your best practices to promote events on Instagram?