We recently posted a blog on the basics of Instagram. This follow-up post is all about Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories have been around for about three years but brands are just now beginning to discover how to use them effectively. These short videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours may seem like an unlikely marketing tool but Stories can be very impactful when done well. In addition, Instagram has made Stories much easier to enhance with stickers, hashtags, and even links in some cases which can increase engagement.
As we mentioned in our previous post, Stories are short-term engagements. They are only live on Instagram for 24 hours. Videos can be no more than 10 seconds long. Stories are best for building your customer base with compelling images and strong CTAs. Because of the brevity of the medium, it’s important to provide content that is exciting, new, and easy to digest. It’s all about the visual. Although 70% of Instagram Stories are watched with the sound on, there is still a good chance that your message will not be heard, only seen.
As always, before you deploy any marketing campaign, have a clear goal and objective in mind. Make sure that your prospective attendees use Instagram and can find your account easily. Use marketing messaging and visuals that will attract attention and include strong CTAs that will drive your prospects to take the actions that you need them to take. In the end, measure and analyze your efforts so that you can plan an even better campaign for your next event.
Here are some ideas on how to use Instagram Stories to promote events.
Behind the Scenes Stories
People love getting a glimpse behind the curtain. Give prospects a sneak peek on planning for your next event with a quick video of a planning meeting or a photo of your notes. Ask for input on your abstract review process with a quick poll on possible session titles or content. During event week, post photos of the event set up or deliveries of swag with a note that you can’t wait to see attendees soon. Once your event is underway, post photos of the speaker green room or your war room. Show attendees how you are making the event unforgettable. By opening the curtain, you create even more of an experience for your attendees.
Speakers and Sponsor Stories
In our recent post on using video to promote events, we mentioned deploying videos provided by speakers. The story is a great place to do this. Ask your speakers or sponsors to create short teaser videos inviting their followers to learn more about your event and to meet them there. Make sure to use relevant hashtags and to tag their Instagram accounts when posting the video. Ask them to share your Story in their Stories or to post related content. This is an excellent tool to build interest in your event and to drive traffic to your ticket sales site as well as build a solid social media follower base.
Many online influencers are using Stories as their main platform for publishing content. If you have an influencer marketing strategy, Instagram should be a part of it. Encourage your influencers to create and share a video of themselves in their Stories talking about your event, asking their fans to join them, and discussing highlights of the event. Again, make sure they tag your account so that you can share the Story. In the same vein as your speakers, also ask your influencers to submit short videos or images for you to post on your account. In all cases, the consistent CTA should be to register for the event.
The Instagram Stories app makes gathering feedback in real-time very easy and is an excellent way to engage both prospective attendees and fans of your event. We suggest using this technique throughout the event planning and marketing process to gauge brand awareness and event expectations among your critical marketing persona groups. For example, in the planning stages of your event, send out a poll asking for session content, venue, or swag suggestions. During ticket sales, ask for feedback on posting a group discount versus an early bird discount. During your event, use the Stories poll function to collect real-time feedback on sessions and activities as they occur. You could even send out “just for fun” photo polls like “who wore it better” branded lanyard or t-shirt contests. Remember that digital engagement increases loyalty to a brand and giving feedback is something all humans love to do.
Although temporary, Instagram Stories are inherently sharable. Before, during, and after your event, encourage attendees, speakers, sponsors, vendors, and staff to share their event experience through Instagram Stories and tag your account. The more interactive you can make your Stories account, the more reach and engagement you will achieve. Be very deliberate in your ask to share Stories. Include your Instagram account and relevant hashtags in all communications, both digital and traditional so that it is very easy for your partners to access it. Offer to share their Stories if they share yours. Digital engagement can happen organically but it’s better to push the process along so that you can optimize your efforts.
Instagram Stories are an effective marketing tactic that will not only build awareness for your event but also attract new audiences and deepen your relationship with current attendees. It is important to make Instagram Stories interactive, memorable, and inspiring. Be creative and have fun with it.