The Event Organizer’s Guide to Instagram

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Instagram_Birds-EventOrganizersWhen it comes to Instagram, event organizers have it easy. By nature, events are interesting and photogenic—ideal subjects for this visual platform. The creativity is endless: focus your phone camera on the stage or the crowd, feature dressed-to-kill festival attendees, publish short videos of a rehearsal or head backstage for pics of performers getting all glammed up.

Who Uses Instagram
Millennial users are flocking to Instagram (90% of users are under 35).  This generation responds to authenticity and prefers to spend money on experiences rather than material goods.

In other words, Instagram is a useful marketing tool for reaching an event-going audience. So yes, if you’re an event organizer, Instagram is worth investing time in. And it’s growing fast. According to Brandwatch.com, use has doubled in the last two years.

What to Post
Whatever you do, be real. While it’s OK to post your event flyer once in awhile, to gain followers, keep most of your content non-promotional.

corn-peppers-grillUpdate no more than once a day, no less than once a month. If you update too often, you’ll clog your followers’ feeds. Think of social media as one big party—if you talk too much, people will back away slowly. If you don’t talk enough, you’re the awkward, forgotten-about one in the corner (been there).

According to BufferSocial, “Major brands post an average of 1.5 times per day to Instagram. There’s no drop-off in engagement for posting more, provided you can keep up the rate of posting.” That said, once-to-twice a week is a good, manageable posting schedule. Monday and Thursday are the days with the most user engagement.

If you don’t have “enough” going on to post regularly, show off your personality. Create a #throwbackthursday once in awhile, or post your crew in zany holiday costumes. Or give a behind-the-scenes tour of your sponsor’s facilities.

To encourage engagement, make visual contests—if you’re hosting a pop-up dinner at a mystery locale for example, zoom in on one detail of the venue and have attendees guess where it is. Or have a caption contest, where you ask your followers to caption your pics.

Always ask your attendees’ permission before you take/use their photo.

Instagram’s new “Story” feature works similar to Snapchat – share stories with your followers using images that disappear after 24 hours. Use Story to capture your event’s “essence” on the day-of or to give a sneak preview of your event.

Make Every Shot Count

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Did you know we’re on Instagram? Follow us, we’re goofballs.

Don’t settle for bad lighting or grainy pics from far away. Consider getting a DLSR to create high-quality images.

But phone photography doesn’t mean bad photography. For the love of Leibovitz: Get close. Fill the frame. Change your perspective. Strive for a clean, uncluttered background. Remember the composition rule of thirds (don’t place your subject directly in the center).

If you’re shooting outdoors, target “magic” hour, (aka nature’s photoshop)–the hour before sunset or sunrise, when light is soft.

Instagram isn’t just photography; it’s design. Consult a designer about using filters, collages or creating graphics. Start with an overall vision of what you want your account to express and the type of pictures you want to feature. All black and white? All with the same, super-flattering “Valencia” filter?

Consistency goes a long way in attracting followers.

Instagram Ads
Instagram allows sponsored ads—photo ads, short video ads and swipe-through image carousels. Consider an ad to boost event registration—the cost varies if you’re paying per impression (CPM) (view, likes, comments) or click (CPC). Instagram ads can be useful if you’re trying to lead potential attendees to your event registration page. Just like with Facebook ad targeting, you can target by location, demographics, interests or actions.

Photo credit: photo of birds, Amanda Halm; photo of grilled corn and peppers @FoodInField