Marketers everywhere are harnessing Instagram, the social networking service that allows users to take pictures and instantly share them, to promote their products and services to a wide audience almost effortlessly. One of the most powerful ways to use Instagram is to build excitement for an upcoming event and bring in more and more attendees. By following these steps, your organization can use Instagram to help make your next event a big hit.
Like many other social networking services, Instagram makes extensive use of hashtags. The first step to taking advantage of this powerful marketing tool is creating a hashtag to promote your event. Just using your event’s title is fine, of course, but adding the name of your organization or a catchy slogan or subtitle may make the hashtag easier to remember and recognize. When in doubt, go for a shorter tag to make adding it to photos and posts as effortless as possible.
Coordinate With Other Sites
Instagram is a terrific marketing tool, but it works even better when it is used effectively in combination with other social networking sites. The use of a hashtag creates an obvious tie to Twitter, but it’s also a great idea to focus on visually friendly sites like Pinterest, Tumblr and Facebook. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words; a picture reposted in several different locations for maximum exposure is worth even more.
Give a Look Behind the Curtain
One of the best ways to build real interest in your upcoming event is to post some pictures of the setup process. In addition to pictures of promotional and advertising material such as sponsor’s business signs, give your prospective attendees a look at the people working hard to set up, plan and generally make the event happen. Doing so helps your attendees feel included in the entire process instead of just being consumers of the final product.
Get Your Employees Involved
Having your employees follow your company and your event on Instagram is fine and helps build interest. Having your employees actually shoot and upload their own pictures, contributing organically to the marketing campaign, is far better. Of course, you will need to set clear guidelines to make sure your workers stay professional and represent your organization well, but keep them relaxed enough to allow for plenty of natural creativity and cleverness.
Republish User-Created Content
People love to see their Instagram contributions republished for maximum exposure and attention. If you see particularly excellent user-contributed content, move it right along to your other social networking pages or even post it on your main company website or blog. Just be sure to give your users due credit for their submissions by marking each picture with their Instagram usernames.
People check Instagram all day and night long, of course, but some hours get more attention than others. The peak hour for Instagram usage is between five and six in the evening, so save your biggest and best contributions for that hour to get maximum exposure. That hour is also a great time to resubmit especially impressive user or employee submissions.
There’s no better way to encourage people to post pictures on Instagram and get them involved in your event than offering prizes for especially great contributions. Set up an Instagram contest with clearly defined rules and rewards for the top three, five or 10 submissions. Consider letting attenders vote on the winning submissions to build even more engagement with your customer base.
Instagram’s geo-tagging feature is helpful for any marketing campaign, but it suits event marketing especially well because any event is tied to a particular location. You can promote your participation in or hosting of an event by having attendees geo-tag their submissions and instantly share that location information with Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare and other social networking sites. The Instagram app even includes a map on users’ profiles that shows where they have been, so anyone who views your attendees’ profiles will instantly see the information on your event.
Photo Credit: Christopher Chan