Every night before I got to bed, I like to take a minute and scroll through my Instagram feed to see what’s going on in the world around me. I like to keep up with what my friends and family are doing, as well as admire beautiful pictures some of my favorite bloggers and brands post on their accounts. But I can’t tell you how often I come across Instagram posts that would be better suited for flyers left on car windshields. Instagram is meant for visually appealing images, not for sending out lots of information about products and events. If you want to belong on Instagram and fit in, here is a crash course on how to use Instagram effectively.
Let's take a quick look at what we'll cover in the Instagram Crash Course for Event Makers:
- Post photos
- Limit text
- Provide a link in profile
- Post consistently
Before we begin, let’s take a look at the guidelines Instagram has set out for us to get us on the right foot.
Here is Instagram’s self-description from their website:
Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever. We're building Instagram to allow you to experience moments in your friends' lives through pictures as they happen. We imagine a world more connected through photos.
From the description, photo is the word that jumps out the most. Instagram is for photos and pictures. It is a place where you can experience moments from other’s lives through pictures. Instagram is best used when you share pictures (and now video) as opposed to text and traditional ads. Now that we know photos are the content of choice on Instagram, let's see how to use them correctly.
1. Post Photos
As people scroll through Instagram they expect to see photos that connect them to something - not advertisements that continuously blast them. It’s a place to escape from the business world into your own personal social bubble.
So give people what they want. Give them interesting pictures to look at. Instagram isn’t about interruption marketing and making people look at it, but about posting what your audience wants to look at. Always make sure to keep your audience in mind as you are posting your Instagram photos.
Often, event planners feel the urge to post the critical event information on all their Instagram posts and the result is an overcrowded flyer. It is so tempting to share the five W’s (who, what, where, when, why) about your event, but it is not very effective - not in your photo at least.
Here is an example of an Instagram post that needs a makeover:
First, you’ll notice how this post doesn’t fit in on Instagram. It is not going to get much positive attention. The image is loaded with text, and it is not very visually appealing. As a paper flyer, this works great. As an Instagram post it doesn’t fit the bill for what Instagram is designed for. If somebody comes across this on their Instagram stream, you can be sure it will be skipped over with a single thumb swipe.
Instagram is a place to show interesting pictures, and as an event, you have some of the easiest and most engaging content to capture. Your event is a live thing, constantly in motion, and provides itself to great photo opportunities. Take advantage of them and share them on your Instagram. A quality photo will draw much more attention than a flyer. If people really want to know more about your event, they will be able to check it out online.
Coachella is an example of an event that does Instagram well. The pictures they post are captivating and exciting to look at. Notice how their images would pop out on your instagram feed in a positive way.
2. Limit Text
Another common mistake on Instagram is when people post novels about what is happening in their picture. The trick to Instagram is to keep it simple. The less text you use, the better your post will be. A short caption about your photo and a detail about your event should be used. If your event is coming up soon, tell people the date in your caption.
Instagram is different from Facebook in that Instagram is made for photo and video - not text. If it were made for text, Instagram would have a much better desktop version of their site. Instead, they want you to use your phone because they want to keep it simple. If you have more to say about your event, share the details on your Facebook post. But when it comes to Instagram, a caption under 140 characters tends to do best.
Again, resist the temptation to splurge all the information about your event into one post. If you do, you will simply be wasting time because people will fail to read too much about your Instagram post. It may seem harsh, but that’s how Instagram works. If you want to successfully advertise your event on Instagram, you have to play by the rules of the game.
3. Update Bio
On Instagram, your bio is where people go to learn more about you or your cause. There are a variety of things you can do here, but some basic advice is to include the name of your event, when it is happening, where it is happening, and how much it costs to attend. Instagram even provides a place where you can add a link to your site, Facebook Page, or any other destination you want to send people to learn more about your event.
Take a look at our bio on Instagram. You’ll notice it is short, shares what we do, and encourages people to share their photos with us. There isn’t much room for confusion about what the SpinGo Instagram account is for.
Make sure that this information is current and that the link leads to the right place. Instagram limits how many characters you can use in your bio to 150, so make sure you keep things concise and to the point. And that is 50 characters, not words. So spaces, periods, hashtags, symbols, and letters all count as a character.
You may notice, as you update your bio that all of your words are grouped into one single paragraph. Instagram doesn’t make formatting your bio easy, so if you want to clean up your bio and put separate sentences on different lines, you can write out your bio in your Notes app on a program on your desktop, and copy and paste the bio on Instagram.
4. Post Consistently
A final tip for advertising your event correctly on Instagram is to make sure you post consistently. If you have enough content to post daily, try and aim for that, but there is no shame in posting two or three times a week.
As you first start out, you may soon realize that you don’t have many followers. It can seem discouraging and difficult to stay committed to posting on Instagram when your followers are so sparse. Make sure to invite your friends and family to follow you and encourage them to invite their friends as well. If you have a following on other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, invite them to follow you on Instagram.
If you have an email list, don’t hesitate to send out an email inviting them to follow your Instagram as well.
Once you have followers, your consistent posts will help keep them engaged and encourage them to share your photos with others on Instagram. If you stop posting, people will stop following you.
When you post a picture on Instagram, make sure to include relevant hashtags as well. Each hashtag leads to a database of images that have the same hashtag associated with them. As you do this, people will be able to discover your photo in more places in Instagram and you will grow your following. Just make sure not to overuse them.