As a social media strategist who attends conferences on a regular basis, you can always tell if the organizers are social media savvy. It’s been reported that nearly 84% of meeting planners now use Facebook to market events and why not – with 1.5 billion users it’s fertile ground for engaging potential attendees?
But the social media site that’s really sparking more engagement is Instagram! According to Forrester Research Inc. studies starting back in 2014, it still out ranked its social media cousins. Its numbers for 2016 are expected to be even higher!
Start With An Instagram Business Account
So now that you see the potential, don’t you want to harness the power of using Instagram for your next event? To get started, create an Instagram business account for the event. Here’s a quick video to help you get it done. If you already have an Instagram account and want to convert it to a business account here’s a great “how-to” article on how to convert and how to use the new features available from my friend and social media influencer Kristi Hines. Make sure to add links to Like2Buy or Have2HaveIt in your profile bio which will allow followers to register directly from your Instagram account. Also, link your Instagram to your Facebook account to capitalize on cross promotion.
Brand Your Event with Hashtags
Hashtags are not only connected with Twitter. They are the biggest driver of engagement on Instagram. Using your event’s official hashtag plus 6 more on a post can boost your likes by 23%. Create hashtags that are relevant to your event and audience. Here are some examples:
- Use your sponsors’ brand names in posts. This kind of brand recognition drives engagement for the event and to exhibitors’ booths.
- Combine the conference acronym with the venue’s city or year. Take a page from the Olympics: #Rio2016, #PyeongChang2018 and #Tokyo2020. Say the event is called PIP and it will be in Los Angeles the formula looks like this [your conference official acronym + City] = #PIPLA, #PIPLosAngeles or #PIPNLA – got it?
- Words considered as jargon for the industry or attendees. For example, if the conference is for teachers: #CommonCoreStandards; the tech industry: #IOT; or health care: #IG. If you are not sure of the buzzwords for an industry – Google it! BuzzSumo is a great hashtag resource.
- Inserting trending hashtags are a great way to spark engagement and to make it easy here are the top 100 for 2016 to help you pick a few that you can use to create a series of posts.
- Conference keywords: Speaker’s Names, Session Titles, Track Themes, Party Plans, or Sights2See.
- Show off accommodations at Host Hotels
- #BehindtheScenes – show your team planning meetings in pictures, record a 60 second tour of the venue, share design decision or even menu choices.
Design An Engagement Strategy
One of my clients plans to market their annual conference, so we laid out a plan that will capitalize on the popular #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) hashtag by posting pictures from past years’ conferences every Thursday. This is a project that can be done in a day by gathering the pictures, uploading them, create posts and then schedule them using a tool like schedugram or Hootsuite.
Other ways to design posts that generate engagement include linking your event to unofficial observances like National Popcorn Day or National Travel Day. Find more of these on nationaldaycalendar.com and design posts around them. Use the above list and connect it to a day of the week or month to post about the hashtag topic.
Or let’s say you have 15 speakers. Create a post for each one and schedule them in advance on your calendar. Got it! Plan your posts in advance so that when the conference begins most of the work will have been done ahead of time. Another good ideas is to create a social media team to engage attendees during the conference; they could be interns or volunteers that you vet.
Run an Instagram Contest
Building on the use of hashtags, another way to attract followers and boost engagement is to run a contest. There are 8 things that you should consider when creating an Instagram contest:
If this seems overwhelming you might want to use an app. My pick is sponsored by Wishpond. They also have a cool SlideShare presentation that breaks down 10 great contest ideas. I’m sure one will work for you.
Use Ads to Drive Registrations
Tap the 500-million active users on Instagram to market your event – using their four ad types to design posts that promote your events:
Photo: Use still images, with or without text included.
Video: Now that the Instagram video recording limit has been increased to 60 seconds, you have more time to share what attendees will experience at your event.
Carousel: This format allows you to add 3–5 images or video. Viewers can swipe left to reveal more information about the event.
Dynamic: Use this to target people who have shown interest in something they’ve seen on your website. They will get a nudge from you when they log into Instagram.
Each one of these types of Instagram ads can also include a call-to-action button — Book Now, Sign-Up, Apply Now, Watch More, Contact Us, Download, Learn More, or Shop Now — to drive registrations.
How to Set Up and Manage Multiple Instagram Accounts
It’s been about seven months since Instagram added the flexibility of toggling between up to 5 accounts when using the Instagram app. The flexibility allows busy meeting professionals the ability to manage social posting and monitoring on the go for multiple events.
Here’s the easy 3-Step-Process:
- Launch the app, go to your profile and select the gear — or the three dots — in the upper-right corner of the screen. Then, scroll down, select “Add account,” and enter the desired username and password for the account you would like to add. If you’ve created several Instagram accounts, you will now receive push notifications from all accounts that have notifications activated. To see the notifications for each individual account, go to your profile page and select the desired username from the list.
- Now you need to know how to toggle between the various accounts. Once you’ve launched the app, go to your profile page and tap your username at the top of the screen. You’ll then have the option to select from a list of accounts associated with your specific app. Select the account you’re attempting to manage.
- The event is now over and you want to delete or remove the account – it’s easy from your Instagram profile, select the gear icon — or the three dots — in the upper-right of the screen. Now, simply scroll down and select the “Log out” option for the account you desire to remove. Logging out of an account will delete the account. To delete all of your accounts, you can also select “Log Out of All Accounts” to do so.
So that’s it! Hopefully these tips, tools and techniques will inspire you to venture into a new frontier of social media marketing for your next event.