Just when you thought there were enough social media platforms to manage when promoting your event, along came Instagram!
Just when you thought there were enough social media platforms to manage when promoting your event, along came Instagram! Whether you are already familiar with Instagram or brand new to the platform it is good to know how you can make the most of this marketing channel to help you decide whether you should be putting any time behind it at all.
For event organisers having a social media platform that is completely image and experience led can be a very powerful channel driving new entries and increasing your exposure. It is up to you to decide whether it is something well suited to your race but visuals are powerful - “seeing is believing”!
A word of caution here. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon without knowing what you are getting yourself into! To reap the benefits you need to find out what Instagram is all about and discover how to make the most of it. I’m someone who has grown an Instagram account for a fast growing 10k race www.instagram.com/weybridge10k so I hope this blog will help you too. Take timeout to read this and you could be soon be increasing your entries and reaching new audiences within minutes.
Instagram is predominately a photo sharing app used by individuals and businesses to share and promote images or videos. It is among the most powerful social media tools alongside Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat and has been reported to have grown to over 1 billion monthly active users world-wide, with an estimated 17 million[i] of them here in the UK. Although mostly popular with individuals, to share content with friends and families, or a way for them to follow their favourite celebrities there is also a massive market for businesses to increase their exposure and display their brand by using the platform.
What you must do is decide what you want to use Instagram for and whether it is right for your size of event. Do you want to use it to increase your entries? (commercial approach) or “SHOUT” about the great work your event is doing for a cause, to your current participants? (brand recognition approach). If neither of these are applicable then its down to you to decide whether it is worth using at all. If your race achieves a reasonable 50-500 entrants and sells out and you have no plans to grow your entries, then giving yourself more work in the form of another platform to manage is probably not worthwhile. Don’t forget with every new platform comes a customer service element so you need time to resource that.
If you are at the stage where you want to increase your entries or improve your brand presence and have plenty of visual content in the form of images and videos then you have a head start and Instagram could be for you - look to get started right away!
This is completely down to you but there are some very clear DO’s and DON’Ts that will help you along your way. It comes down to what your event is about and what content is relevant to your audience. For example, photographs taken at your race is a great starting place so DO use them. If your photography team can provide you with a gallery of images from your events, then posting these images on a regular basis is a useful way to establish easy and consistent content.
A very clear DON’T is that you should never post a blurry or bad quality image, no matter how good you might think it is. A poor quality photo could devalue, or counter, the modern business image you are trying to portray.
DO begin to think about the key selling points for your race and then find and post content around this. In the sports industry common posts include things such as revealing the medal, promoting sponsors and brands, images of the route, promoting other local events, shouting about things such as your race being advertised in a magazine, counting down to race day with some text-based posts and even posting fitness related motivation quotes. DO have a clear plan of what you want to post in the lead up to your race. That will mean you are never stumped for what to put up, and when, and avoids leaving big gaps between posts.
There are many suggestions on the best times to post and the frequency to do this and you may want to read up more on this to get better insight/precise guidelines. If you are tracking engagement the first rule is to be consistent. Posting 3+ times a day isn’t going to get you 3 times more response to your posts or 3 times as many entries. If anything it is going to alienate your audience and be considered as spam. DO post clear and engaging imagery with captions that prompt some kind of reaction, in this case, a like or comment. Remember too always analyse your effort versus success and build on what you find. You will be continually learning.
Just like Facebook or Twitter, Instagram is a social media platform with its own audience and with its own method of getting content in front of them. By having a presence on Instagram you, at the very least, may be reaching a new audience that you wouldn’t have attracted otherwise. This widen reach could then translate into potential new entries. Remember: Instagram is a photo and video based social networking site, so your customers are more likely to be driven to your entry platform if you become good at posting content that “sells” your event. For Event Organisers this kind of social media is ideal. You have free reign on which event images to post, and if you have a lot of varied imagery you will always have something to post that shows your event in a new light.
When choosing images think about the emotions they portray (happiness, laughter, sense of achievement) and pick images that clearly display this to your audience. Take them behind the scenes, build anticipation and create a winning profile. Make sure you harness the spontaneity that the image may prompt by ensuring you add a link to enter your event in the Instagram bio section. Mention this in relevant captions on your posts too but note ‘Enter through the link in our bio’ links in Instagram captions aren’t clickable, so this is the best way to get a direct clickthrough to your website. You should also expand your reach with #hashtags and collaborate and @mention others to tap into other local businesses and events using Instagram to tag them. Consider making it a win-win by promoting other linked businesses so that hopefully they can return the favour which will help to grow your own following.
You must make this choice early on, to save you both time and to present the best possible image for your events. Having multiple accounts will create you more work, both in posting on them and growing the following whereas one account will accumulate all the followers and grow faster and allow you to post less often. The advantage of having an account per event is that you can fully brand that account up as that event giving you the best possible chance of attracting interest and pushing each individual event to its each individual audience.
It depends on what your events are of course, but if they are all similar type or all in the same location then there is no harm in creating an account that displays your company or business name and logo and promotes everything you do as a business and the events you organise in one place. If you have a variety of different themed events or they are in very different places having an account for each one will help you create an Instagram feed that best interacts with that audience and builds the profile for that event.
Aside from all of this you have to work out if you have the time to manage all of your accounts. That’s a judgment call. There is nothing worse than creating an account then leaving it stale with no activity, this will portray unprofessionalism and at worse, will deter people from entering your events.
You may be able to find a volunteer willing to give up their spare time to support your event and manage your Instagram account or perhaps this can either develop into or start off as a paid role. For an event, entries and sponsorship will be the two biggest revenue streams. Instagram can help with both so there is every reason to invest time and money into this to give a return.
If Instagram is done right it should help you increase your entries and cover any additional cost. Unless your event is into the 1000s having someone dedicated to giving anything more than on a part time basis isn’t cost effective or worthwhile, you may find it better learning the skills yourself or asking a freelancer to assist you.
We’re here to help
There are some top tips to grow your Instagram account quickly and correctly and I would be happy to advise or offer training. Quite a few of the event organisers, like me, who have their events listed on www.eventrac.co.uk are taking advantage of this.
If you have any questions, or would like some help setting up an event Instagram, or are seeking to make the most of your current post please contact Matt at email@example.com
[i] Statistic source: https://napoleoncat.com/blog/en/instagram-user-demographics-in-united-kingdom-march-2017
The team at eventrac are on hand to assist with all components of your event. From advice on promoting your event through low cost channels such as social media, to a guided tutorial on a specific feature of eventrac. We are here to help.