Instagram is the ultimate real-time photo album. It’s an interactive way to share fun photos and videos and engage with event attendees at the moment. With Instagram, you can create an even more stimulating shared experience for your attendees as well as promote your event during the event day. But how can you use it to sell tickets and build awareness for your event in the days, weeks and months leading up to your event?
According to Hootsuite, Instagram boasts an estimated 1 billion global active users per month. 60% use Instagram to discover new products to try and 75% take action to learn more. This powerful visual platform is becoming a very effective place to build awareness and brand loyalty for any product. And that includes events.
Before we dive into some event marketing tactics, let’s review some Instagram basics.
Posts versus Stories
In the beginning, there were only posts. But now you have the option to create a post that shows up in followers’ regular news feed or you can create a story that shows up in their stories feed. Both are relevant methods for sharing information but should not be used interchangeably. There are no definitive rules around where and how to use Instagram but here are some basic guidelines to help you decide.
Your Instagram feed is evergreen. Posts are never deleted or disappear unless you do so. Because of that, standard posts are best for branding strategies with curated content. Posting on your feed is best if you want to maximize your reach and elevate your brand.
Stories are short-term engagements. Stories will only be live on Instagram for 24 hours. This is best used for engagement activities such as event day video or posting in-the-moment engagements such as challenges or CTAs to share. Stories are best for grasping interest and building your follower base.
Using hashtags as a part of your Instagram posts is important but only if you use hashtags that are compelling to your target audience. Hashtags are a great way to get discovered by new audiences and build your follower counts. They can also increase your online engagement.
Instagram will let you include up to 30 hashtags in a post and up to 10 hashtags in a story, although the conventional wisdom is that “less is more”. In other words, don’t go hashtag-crazy but feel free to test and try new hashtags until you find the ones that work for you.
There are many strategies for finding the best hashtags to use. Here are a few:
- If you have a business Instagram account, check your Insights page to see how many impressions you are receiving from certain hashtags. Keep using the ones that are delivering.
- Review the hashtags your competitors are using. If you want to be competitive, use the same hashtags. If you’d rather set yourself apart from the crowd, use slightly different hashtags.
- Test hashtags that industry leaders or influencers are using.
- Try hashtags that your headliners and keynote speakers are using.
- The city or community where your event will be held will most likely have a set of localized hashtags that will garner attention from a wide group of people located right where you need them to be.
Instagram does not support hyperlinks in standard posts, which can make it difficult to drive prospective attendees to your ticket sales site. However, there are a couple of workarounds that you can use.
Any Instagram account can post a hyperlink in the profile. Post the URL to your ticketing page so that prospective attendees don’t need to search for it on your website. Make sure to include a clear and compelling call-to-action such as “Buy tickets here” or “Tickets on sale now” along with the link. Also, make sure to always note in your posts that followers can find the ticket sales link in your bio.
If you have a verified Instagram account, you can also include links in your stories. The link will appear as a “See More prompt” at the bottom of the image or video. This is a more targeted way to drive followers to your ticketing page. If you have the ability to include links in your stories, you should absolutely do so.
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of using Instagram, let’s discuss a couple of ways to use this platform to promote your event.
Updates and Announcements: During the event planning and marketing cycle, there are often new details to announce. When paired with an eye-catching or engaging video, these announcements can make a big splash on your page. Here are just a few update ideas:
- Tickets go on sale TODAY
- Time is running out! Early Bird ticket deadline is coming up
- Breaking news! Keynote speakers or headliners are confirmed
Countdowns: Build excitement and engagement by using this simple marketing trick to count down the days, hours and minutes to your event. You could also use countdowns for certain deadlines like Early Bird ticket sales or registration for VIP programs.
Contests: Offer ticket giveaways or other incentives to attend your event by hosting contests for your followers. You can also drive engagement by making the contest contingent on user-generated content or reviews. Just make sure you follow Instagram contest rules. But make it fun too!
Trendjacking: Trendjacking is a new promotional tactic in which companies take advantage of a current news story, movement, or trend to promote their brand. It takes a very delicate touch and some strategic thought to pull this off successfully. Be careful to connect your event only to trends that are aligned with your brand and relevant to your audience.
Day of Event Posts: This is an absolute given. Instagram should be your go-to social media platform for posts on the event day. This is your opportunity to create a real-time photo album. Post exciting photos and videos of happy attendees living their best lives and encourage attendees to do the same. Don’t forget to also post photos of speakers and entertainers to engage their social media followers. Make sure to use relevant and impactful hashtags so that you can track engagement. Instagram is the best social media platform for telling a story through images and for crucial online event engagement. It can be critical to your ultimate success. Get started today!