How to Use Instagram for Marketing Your Event
Did you know that Instagram is the fastest growing social network? 26% of the adult population is already using it. That's a huge audience of potential ticket buyers.
Instagram is the perfect marketing channel for events. The reason being that events are told best through pictures. Just take a look at your Instagram feed. Scrolling through photos you see friends at concerts, bars, holiday parties...you name it. It's now second nature for people to post about their experiences. Instagram just happens to be the best place to do it.
In this post, I'll walk through the steps on how to use Instagram for marketing your event. I'll go over how to get started, what kind of content to create, and how to build your audience. Let's get rocking.
So the first thing you'll want to do is create a new account. Be smart about this. Creating an account for a large festival or conference makes sense. If that isn't you, create an Instagram account for your organization. This avoids pigeonholing yourself in building your audience from just one small event.
After creating your account, Instagram asks you to connect to Facebook. Go ahead and connect if you already have a large Facebook fanbase. By connecting, all your Facebook followers will get notified that you joined Instagram. It's an easy way to build your initial audience.
Now let's dress up your profile page. Think of your profile as a landing page for potential ticket buyers. This is where your event either makes a great first impression or fades away from memory. You want to show off your event both through the copy and your images. Let's take a look at the example below:
BLINK Conference does a pretty solid job here. I know exactly what the conference is, when it happens, and how to find more info. Their bio link goes to a Facebook community page which works fine. If your tickets are on sale, do link to your ticketing page. Use an aggressive call to action like "Grab early bird tickets before they run out" to get the point across. The profile also has some photos that make me want to explore the account. This is key. If your account doesn't have any activity, visitor won't follow you back.
Before using Instagram for marketing, you need to get in the flow of publishing awesome photos. Luckily it's pretty easy to do. That's why people use Instagram in the first place.
Before diving into what to publish, let's look at 2 apps that will help you create high quality photos.
Canva: This is my go-to tool for graphic design. I'm not a designer myself so Canva is a godsend. You don't need to know Photoshop. Just click and drag to edit photos and overlay text.
PicLab: Similar to Canva but designed for the smartphone. So for event planners on the go, PicLab makes it possible to quickly snap a pic and drop some text over it.
OK so you got your apps. Now what do you post? Here's a list that should give you some ideas:
- Announcements: No-brainer here. No matter what type of event you're planning, there's always something new to announce. Below, a conference highlights a new speaker:
- Countdowns: Is your event 100 days away? Post about it. How about 20? Post about it again. Don't hesitate and think that your audience will get annoyed. People scroll through their feeds so quickly that unless you are doing a countdown by the hour, you'll be fine. This builds up excitement for your event.
- Trendjacking: This one takes a little more creativity. Trendjacking is capitalizing on an existing trend to promote your brand. Not all your photos need to be directly tied to your event. You can get great engagement by publishing an image tied to a current event. Just make sure it's relevant to your audience.
- Flyer Promos: Think of this as a direct ad for your event. Use it sparingly as no one likes to follow a self-promoting Instagram handle.
- Event photos: A no-brainer. You can use these before, during, and after your event. This is the definition of social proof. What better way to attract new attendees then by showing off pictures of the event itself?
- Inspirational quotes: I've seen these type of photos get a ton of engagement. Just make sure the quotes are relevant to the audience you're targeting.
Along with creating some beautiful imagery, also take advantage of the post description. Write compelling and engaging text. Ask questions and get followers to tag their friends. A neat trick is to include a CTA that asks your followers to Double Tap. By double tapping, they'll like the photo.
After you've come up with some ideas, the next question is how often should you post? To make headway, I recommend posting 1-2 times per day. This makes it manageable and avoids being too spammy. This article recommends posting between 5-6pm on weekdays. Our infographic on social media for events is also a solid resource for when and what to post.
Let's move to the most exciting part: growing your audience!
Building Your Audience
To use Instagram for marketing, you need to identify your event's target audience. Easiest place to start is location.
Let's say we're planning a bacon festival in Austin, Texas. I'll head over to Instagram's and search #atx under the tags column. #atx is a pretty popular hashtag used by Austinites.
When I search the hashtag, Instagram shows the most popular ones. The 4th one down is #atxeats. That looks promising! While there's a couple other hashtags, lets dive into this one as it's a bit more targeted to our festival.
After tapping on the hashtag, I see a ton of foodie posts. I can make an assumption that people using that hashtag might be interested in attending my bacon festival. How do I engage with them?
Start by using the Follow, Like, Like, Like strategy. This link talks about the process in more detail. What you want to do is find the top pictures under the #atxeats hashtag and follow those accounts. Then, like 3 of their photos. The account will then get a stream of notifications from you following and liking their stuff. If they're interested in what they see, there's a good chance they'll follow you back.
Now this process is a bit manual but you can use a tool called Instagress to automate it. Instagress allows you to put your follows and likes on autopilot. It'll save you a lot of time in the long run.
Along with this strategy, you can start using these targeted hashtags in your own photos. By doing this, your account will start showing up in these searches as well. An important note is that if you're going to load up an image with hashtags, do so in the comments. This way your photo description won't look spammy.
Contests work especially well for marketing on Instagram. A solid tactic is organizing contests where the winner gets a couple free tickets. I recommend using Gleam.io for running your contest. It makes contests super easy to run.
Instagram's photo mentioning is what makes contests work. A photo mention is when someone comments on your photo by mentioning a friend as seen below:
When this happens, Instagram notifies the friend of the mention. The friend will then typically click on the photo to check it out.
For contests, direct people to tag their friend on one of your photos to enter. This is where the network effects come into play. As your photo mentions build up, your exposure increases. You can also create entries that have people follow your account or like a post.
What makes ticket giveaway contests awesome is that you're capturing buyer's intent. All your contest entries are showing interest in attending your event. Click here to view our slideshare about contests and other social media tactics.
Our last growth tactic for how to use Instagram for marketing your event comes in the form of a shoutout. A shoutout is a post on another Instagram account that encourages that account’s followers to
For an event, I recommend researching influencers in your city. City influencers can be publications, restaurants, or just ordinary people. Going back to the bacon festival example, I'll search for something like "Austin Magazine":
Now I have a couple local publications I can reach out to for a shoutout. You'll want the account to share an image and caption that you curate yourself. At least get them to mention your event in one of their photos.
To help sweeten the deal, communicate to them that you'll return the favor by giving them a shoutout. This way they can get exposure to your audience as well. The shoutout tactic also works for influencers that are relevant to your event type.
As you build your audience, it's also important to create your own hashtag for the event. The power of having an event hashtag is that attendees can tag their own photos with your hashtag. This not only helps increase your reach but gives you more photos to publish into your feed.
It's a no brainer to try marketing on Instagram for your event. The platform is still young so there's a lot of untapped opportunity. Try testing out these tactics and see what works best for you. Every event is different. Be creative in your Instagram marketing to stand out from the rest of the pack.