Master Instagram for your events

person using smartphone with Instagram logo screengrab bokeh photography

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”!

What is Instagram and is it right for my event?

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 worldwide, with an estimated 17 million 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. If you want to increase your entries, post about the great work your event is doing for a cause, or with other brands you have partnered with, then it can be a useful platform. If none 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!

On Instagram, where 200M Instagrammers visit business profiles every day, events have a prime opportunity to grow their audience. Here is how:

  1. Post content on Instagram that grabs users’ attention
  2. Make it easy for users to learn more and buy tickets
  3. Encourage Instagrammers to post at your event, using tags to drive more people to check out your content and your events

Engaging your audience

How often and what you post 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.

Here are 2 examples of good excitement building and informative posts: 

Convert your followers into ticket buyers 

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 wider 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.

Have a link to your event page in your Instagram profile, that links directly to your tickets and registration page. Don’t make users navigate from your event website homepage to try to find where they can buy tickets!

Encourage Instagram users to share their experience

Instagram users (otherwise known as ‘Grammers’...) love being able to share a good quality photo if their experiences. The hasthtag #MedalMonday for example is popular amongst athletes who post their medals after their weekend race. One person’s post from an event, could for instance, inspire five friends to learn more and start following that events Instagram account.

Millennials, in particular, enjoy finding ‘grammable’ backdrops to take photos in front of, getting professional photos they can share later and posting about their achievements. And when they share their experiences at your event, it repowers discovery for others. This is the flywheel effect — it creates its own momentum.

 

That said, there are proactive steps you can and should take to engage your Instagram following. Consider investing in:

  1. Instagram contests that invite users to post their pictures from your event and tag you (and a few friends) for a prize
  2. Agreements with partners like sponsors or vendors to post about your event, using marketing assets you provide
  3. Photogenic scenes at your event that Instagrammers can’t help themselves from capturing and posting- ‘grammable’ backdrops 
  4. Getting photographers for your events and redistributing the photos to your participants
  5. Custom hashtags Instagrammers can use when posting about your event eg #GreatNorthRun2018

I have multiple Events; do I need one for each Event?

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 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.

Examples:

  1. Run4Wales- Hosts to the Cardiff Half Marathon and other events
  2. Bath Half- Bath Half Marathon

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 if they message your page and don’t get answers.

 

 

On Hand To Help

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.

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