The Pros and Cons of Using Instagram Event Marketing

If you’ve been in the event industry for the past few years, then using Instagram marketing for your event has probably come up, a lot.

Since its inception in 2010, Instagram has become a powerhouse in the marketing world, bringing with it a host of strategies to sell all types products and services to the masses.

And the event industry wasn’t going to be left out!

With Instagram’s entirely visual platform, using it to promote images from your event may be a no-brainer. Click To Tweet

Here are just a few reasons:

  • Instagram allows your audiences to see and feel what your event will be like — before they get there. Which not only helps followers make the decision to come but can help generate a lot of excitement beforehand.
  • Likewise, Instagram users are incentivized to share photos when they’re having a good time. This user-generated content is great for expanding your brand’s social proof to new audiences.
  • Instagram is also one of the most active social media platforms, with 800 million monthly and 500 million daily active users, as of September 2017.

But, while people continue to talk like it’s the best thing since flyers for event promotion, using it for every type of event can be tricky.

Is Instagram really the end-all-be-all for event marketing?

Find out as we break down the ins and outs of using Instagram for event marketing, so you can stop wondering and start succeeding.

Let’s dive in!

What Makes Instagram Good for Events?

When done correctly, Instagram and events can be like two peas in a pod.

As we pointed out above, since Instagram’s platform relies almost entirely on images, organizers can easily share the look and feel of their event’s experience — before, during, and after it.

For example:

  • Photos can show behind the scenes or sneak peeks into getting your event together.
  • Insta-stories can help show your followers the real-time action at your event.
  • The link in your bio on the day of can point to your speakers’ livestreams.
  • Repurposed photos from last year or post-conference can share attendees’ experiences all year long.

Which means that posting organic content can be a great way of not only expanding your reach to new audiences, but getting attendees excited to come, as well.

And when your attendees are excited, they’ll show it!

If your attendees already use Instagram, then the chances are they’ll post about your event, unprompted. And, nothing helps build momentum or validate your event more than user-generated content straight from your attendees enjoying themselves.

To get the most out of any content published by your attendees, it’s vital that you create an event hashtag and use it across all social media platforms. Hashtags are powerful because they allow new audiences to find the pictures you and your attendees share. Start sharing pictures that can do some of the heavy lifting for you.

Not sure which hashtags to use to market your event? Download this list of the 51 Best Instagram Hashtags!

Another great way to capitalize on user-generated content is to organize contests or challenges where the winners get prizes, like free tickets to next year’s event, VIP access to a speaker’s lunch, or a sponsored gift.

Attendees can post photos of themselves day of using your hashtag, and tag friends who might be interested in attending in future years. Jack Meredith writes “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.” This is a great way to continue to build your audience year after year.

Event Marketing

What’s the Catch?

While Instagram is a great asset for events in general, it can be less applicable for corporate events or conferences. Click To Tweet

Like any marketing strategy, in order for Instagram to be effective for your event, you have to first ask yourself, “Does my target market hang out on here?” And for many professional event or conference attendees, the answer could very well be ‘no’ or at least, ‘not frequently.’

According to SproutSocial, “Instagram demographics have veered toward younger generations since its inception. However, new statistics from the Pew social media report show older generations are starting to embrace the app a bit more.”

  • 59% of 18–29-year-olds use Instagram.
  • 33% of 30–49-year-olds use Instagram.
  • 18% of 50–64-year-olds use Instagram.
  • 8% of people 65+ use Instagram.

So, it may be worth testing it out, but if the people you’re hoping to reach don’t use the platform you’re advertising on, you’re wasting your time. Simple as that.

Likewise, if this is your event’s first year — Instagram may not be right for you.

Because of Instagram’s reliance on visual content, if you don’t have many high-quality images for your event, your profile may go unnoticed.

Likewise, sharing clickable links within any caption copy isn’t allowed. This means that you have to rely on cold audiences clicking from the image to the link in your bio and then over to your website from there. Getting cold followers to do so can be tricker than you make think, lowering your conversion rate. However, it’s much easier once they know, like, and trust you.

If you’re willing to put in the time to build an established audience on the platform well before your first event — do it! Otherwise, it’s better to skip Instagram altogether and choose another platform which fosters easier conversions.

Event Marketing

What About Paid Ads on Instagram?

Moving over to paid ads on Instagram is quite simple. If you’re already using Facebook ads as a part of your marketing, then it’s practically seamless to use them on Instagram too. It’s the same tool within the Ads Manager of Facebook and it pulls the same creative — so all you’d need to do is modify the picture size and copy.

More importantly, the people who use Facebook may not be the same as those who use Instagram, but they will be similar. Instagram allows you to use the same targeting, which makes reaching an entirely different audience super easy.

However, there are some downsides to doing Instagram marketing for any event. For example, Instagram is exclusively mobile, so if your site isn’t mobile-optimized, or doesn’t convert well — then Instagram ads may not have an effective ROI for you. Your budget might be better spent on a social media platform where have you can specify desktop placement for your ads.

In Other Words…

Deciding if Instagram is right for you can be trickier than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but there are a few simple questions you can ask yourself to get the ball rolling:

  • Does your event audience already have a presence on Instagram?
  • Is your site, or event landing page, going to be mobile-optimized?
  • Will you have to build your Instagram following from scratch?
  • Will you be using Facebook ads to promote your event?

Use these questions as a compass to help direct you. If you feel like your event could have a good presence on Instagram then it would be silly to ignore it in your marketing strategy.

Using instagram to market your next event? Download our list of the 51 Best Instagram Hashtags to get noticed, faster!

However, if you don’t feel like your event attendees are using Instagram, or your site isn’t up to snuff, then it could be worth investigating other platforms, like Twitter — which has more of a reputation for attracting businesses, professionals, and thought leaders alike.

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