A picture can tell a thousand words has never looked more real than when you open up the Instagram application on your phone.
Instagram is THE social network to tell your stories through images.
And while you might already be using lots of different social networks, like Facebook and Twitter for your event marketing, you might easily forget the social app that makes it possible to showcase your event to a whole different audience.
Here are some reasons why you should consider Instagram.
#1 INSTAGRAM HAS THE HIGHEST ENGAGEMENT RATE
If you look at a study done by Forrester Research, Instagram has the highest engagement rate for brands among all social networks. Instagram sees the engagement of around 4.21%. That is 58 times higher per follower than Facebook and 120 times higher than Twitter.
Not yet convinced? Stay tuned, there’s more!
The engagement rate on Instagram with brands globally is a lot higher compared to Facebook and Twitter. But let’s have a look closer to home. Imec shows in their Digimeter study that the monthly usage on Instagram by age group up until 29 years old is still above 60% in Flanders.
Instagram is the third most used social network by monthly use in general, and that number is growing year over year. And it gets even more interesting if you look at the details of the research and see that 11.3% of Flemish Facebook users claim to spend over three hours a day on the social network.
Instagram seems to be the only social network that can fight back Facebook usage and frequency. 32.4% of Flemish Instagram users are using the social network for at least one hour per day, and 9.4% is even spending more than three hours on the social network.
When the attention of people is moving in one direction. It would be counterproductive as a brand not to go in that same direction. Great marketing is all about attention, not impressions. You want your target audience to consume your content, and what better way to have them consume your content than on a network that they’re attention is already drawn towards.
And just like on all other social networks, creating an account and using it is free (although there are paid options to get even more eyes on your content), so you would be foolish to pass up this opportunity for your event.
#2 INSTAGRAM IS EASY TO START
If you haven’t got an account on Instagram yet, the first step will be to create one. You’ve got to think what the best naming would be for your account. If you only hold a conference or event once a year as part of your organisation’s yearly marketing efforts, for example, it might make more sense to create an account on behalf of your company, not just the event.
Creating an account for the entire organisation makes sure that there will be continuity throughout the year. Nothing worse than having an account dead in the water for 99% of the time. Like anything in life, you’re aiming for a long-term relationship with your audience, right?
#3 SHARE YOUR IDENTITY
Next up, after you’ve created your account is to make it your own. Think of your profile as a potential landing page. When people see your profile for the first time you want to make sure that your event (or your company throughout the rest of the year) is shown in both the pictures and the copy.
For example, our own Instagram account (left) and the account of TEDxBrussels (right).
You can sense straight away what the accounts are about, where they are located, where you can find more information. And in the case of TEDxBrussels, even the date of the event is readily available. At the moment both the accounts link through to their main website, but of course whenever ticket sales go live, definitely make that link go straight to the page where you can buy your tickets (make sure that page is designed mobile first). Maybe even include a more direct Call-To-Action (CTA) when you’re early bird tickets go on sale.
Finally, make sure that there are already some pictures on your profile before you start reaching out. Nothing worse than finding a profile that is completely empty.
#4 CREATE YOUR OWN STORY
Before you can start to do any promotion to get followers, you first need to have some content. What type of content might you be wondering?
- The human side of your event; who are the people creating the experience? What kind of work are they doing in preparation for your event? What do they do when they are not working on the event? Showcasing the human side of your organisation makes you more approachable and as a result more interesting for people to follow.
- Special dates and announcements; no matter what type of event you’re organising, there is always something to announce, from getting new speakers to securing a new venue, to the approaching deadline of the early bird tickets. Maybe even ask the speakers to create a short video clip announcing themselves and explaining why they are excited to speak at your event!
- Fun; nobody likes a dull business or event. This means that you should highlight the fun things related to your event as well. There is always some special day happening somewhere in Belgium or the rest of the world that you could hook into. Have a look at this Top Topical Calendar created by the “Vlaamse Community Managers”. What about international beer and pizza day, or international compliment day?
- Participation and collaboration; maybe you can invite fans to send in pictures of themselves during the event, or hold a co-creation contest on Instagram having people design the signs or the logo of your event.
- Surprise and delight; how about a giveaway with free tickets? Birthday wishes towards your speakers or your staff?
- Inspirational quotes; when you’ve seen Instagram, you’ve probably seen inspirational quotes getting tonnes of engagement. Don’t just use random quotes though, tie them to the theme of the event, or maybe use quotes from previous talks held by your speakers?
- Event pictures (during the event); be sure to share any images you have during the event (or use photos from a previous event), and of course tag the people you know in the pictures to have it pop-up in their notifications.
Of course, you don’t have to do all the creation of these images on the tiny screen of your phone.
Or even when you want more than just a filter option to make your pictures emotionally more appealing, there are a couple of great tools out there that will help you step up your image creation process. Tools like Canva (available on the web and smartphone) with their pre-made templates, it makes creating content for Instagram a breeze. Or Pablo by Buffer, comparable to Canva with the added advantage that it has a tight integration into Buffer which now supports scheduling your posts in advance to your business Instagram account.
#5 ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE
After you’re getting the first images up and running on your Instagram account, it is time to start thinking of growing your audience. The two easiest ways, next to announcing your Instagram account on your other social channels and websites, are by using the location feature inside Instagram and #hashtags. Next, to that, you can use special photo booths and contests to grow your audience too.
Using hashtags to market your event (or business) on social media is one of the quickest and easiest ways to expand your influence beyond your current pool of followers and attract new ones. By using hashtags before, during and after your event, you make it easier for people to find all images related to your event. Do a quick search before to make sure your hashtag isn’t used for other events as well. Next, to the hashtag unique to your event, try using hashtags related to the topic of the event.
Tools like Hashtagify.me make it easy to find trending topics in your industry. It shows you the top ten hashtags related to a particular keyword. Or you could use the search on Instagram. When you search for a particular hashtag it also shows you related hashtags.
People sharing images with these hashtags already are the ideal candidates to attend your event. Find these hashtags on Instagram, sort the pictures by top posts and start engaging with these accounts. Follow them, like their posts, leave relevant comments on their posts. The account will soon get some notifications from you following, liking and commenting on their pictures. When they then look at your account and see you posting relevant content to them, there will be a high chance that they’ll follow you back.
Start using these hashtags with your pictures as well; this helps you to get found by other accounts too. Instagram allows for a maximum of 30 hashtags per post so you can use quite a lot of them. Don’t use all 30 hashtags with just your post, only use a couple and add the rest in the comments. This way your photo description won’t look as spammy.
The second way to engage with potential followers is to make use of the Instagram Geotag. Most people share the place of the pictures they took. And since events are mostly tied to a location you can use this feature to engage with local users.
The process is almost the same as trying to identify users who are posting pictures with a specific hashtag, but now you use the places tab in search (combining it with the hashtags you’re looking for makes it even more powerful).
Go to the places tab, enter a location (or if you’re already at the venue where your event is being held, use “current location”) and you will see the “Top Posts” section around your location.
Using Instagram to find people in your vicinity
From here you would just look at the pictures that are most relevant to your brand or event. You can respond to these pictures in the comment section of these pictures, or – even more powerful – send a DM, to ask if they are interested in working together.
An “influencer” isn’t always the same thing as a big-time celebrity. A person that has a few thousand (or lower depending on the market your event is in) engaged followers, and is locally known could make a great influencer for your event. So why not reach out to them, to let them know about your event and invite them to come by?
A third way to get more followers (during the event) is the usage of an Instagram ready Photo Booth. The Oval Office sometimes uses special photo booths that search for the event hashtag on Instagram, display all the pictures and print them on the spot. This tangible memory of your event is something people want to have, so they start sharing more content with your hashtag, getting more exposure at the same time, delivering more followers to your account.
Hosting an Instagram contest
The final way to grow your Instagram following is the use of an Instagram contest. Asking your followers to share specific content in exchange for maybe free tickets or backstage passes to your event, can help to reach a new audience, by tapping into the existing followers of your brand.
As you can see, as long as you’re creative and think beyond just the scope of your event, there are lots of different ways to increase your follower base and make people aware of your event.
#6 PROMOTE BY USING ADS
Organic traffic is the holy grail of all marketing efforts, but sometimes you just need to boost your presence a little bit to help get the attention you seek. If you’re using Instagram for your event, it will need a little bit more than merely posting organically.
If you want increased results in a fast way, investing in paid Instagram ads might be a good way to go. There are a couple of different ways to advertise on Instagram:
- Photo Ads
- Video Ads (60 seconds or less)
- Carousel Ads
- Stories Ads
Depending on your goals, from sparking inspiration to driving action. Each different format can help you get the results you need.
For example, in the early stages of your event, you might only want people to be aware that something is coming, while at a later stage you want to drive more website visitors to your event registration page.
#7 TRACK YOUR SUCCESS
When you’ve set up an Instagram Business Account, Instagram already gives you some great insights straight into your profile. To view the insights of your account, start by visiting your account, then at the top, click the icon of a bar chart, that will take you straight to your overall insights.
From there, you will get a first overview of how many new followers you gained in the last week and how your reach increased in the previous week.
Below that are more specific profile insights you can explore:
- Profile visits; the number of people that viewed your profile.
- Emails; how many people pressed the email CTA button on your profile to open their email client and send an email?
- Get Directions; how many people clicked the directions CTA on your profile to find the directions to your event?
- Calls; how many people clicked the CTA to call your office?
- Reach; the number of unique people that have seen any of your Instagram posts.
- Impressions; the number of times your ads appeared on people’s screens.
- Gender; the gender and age distribution of your follower.
- Age range; what is the age group to which your followers mostly belong.
- Location; where your followers are located.
- Followers – hours and days; the average time that your followers are on Instagram on a typical day and the days that they are most active.
Media and promotions:
Allows you to view insights into a specific Instagram post. By clicking the “See more >” button you get an overview of all your posts. Tap on the post you’d like to look into, then click “View Insights” below the image.
Stories: will show you the insights of all the stories that have not expired.
Here you can see:
- Impressions; how many times your Story has been seen.
- Reach; the number of unique people that have seen your Story.
- Taps Forward; how many times did a person tap your Story photo or video to skip to the next piece of media?
- Taps Back; how many times did a person tap your Story photo or video to skip to the previous piece of media?
- Replies; how many times did people use the “Send message” text box on your story to send you a message?
- Swipe Away; how many times people swiped away to the next account’s Story (not the next piece of media in your story, but away to the next account).
- Exits; how many times someone leaves the Stories section altogether to return to the home feed?
Promotions: here you can create an Instagram promotion and view your active promotions:
- Visits to profile
- Number of people who viewed your promotion
- Number of Impressions
- Number of engagements
- Audience Demographics
- Amount of money spent
As you can see, one of the biggest reasons to transform your profile into a business profile is the number of statistics you can get (next to the ability to run promotions of course). Use these insights to your advantage, review them regularly, see what is working and what not for your event, learn from them and improve your chances of success.
To successfully use Instagram for your event, you must first learn to create compelling content and get a following. Sharing images of speakers, attendees, quotes from the talks are all good examples to get you started.
As you can see Instagram even marketing is a must for any business to find success. The platform is still relatively young for these type of uses in Belgium, so there are still lots of untapped opportunities. Start by testing any of the above tactics and see what works best for you.
In the end, every event is different and unique. Be creative in your Instagram marketing and stand out from the crowd.
Or do you want your Instagram event marketing to really stand out, drop me a line.