Driving Instagram Engagement through Live Events

Driving Instagram Engagement through Live Events

Organically penetrating consumer Instagram feeds is the gold standard for marketers of all disciplines — especially event marketers

In 2016, the success of live event marketing programs will rely heavily — far more than ever before — on consumers sharing their experiences across multiple social platforms. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in particular are not only critical tools for measurement but allow us to amplify what we’re doing on the ground and extend the conversation with consumers beyond a short-lived activation.

Every social network is different of course — what we share, who we follow and what we consume all vary considerably by platform. But if we rank them by attention (because value is ultimately measured by attention), Instagram is top dog.

And it’s because the vast majority of who we follow on Instagram fall into one of only three buckets: 

(1) We know the person well.

(2) We’re fans.

(3) They put out really good content.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter we are hyper-selective about who gets our attention on Instagram and, in turn, we carefully curate what we ourselves post. Why? Because we see everything! Literally everything. If you’re under 40 and reading this I’m willing to bet you don’t miss a single thing on Instagram…ever. Can you say the same for Facebook, Twitter or even Snapchat? Probably not.

That’s especially relevant for marketers evaluating how to measure social engagement: we used to assume all social media impressions were created equal. They’re not.

I like to use this example of a brand activation I came across at the CMA Festival in Nashville last year that required you to “like” them on Facebook to participate (it was for a chance to win a t-shirt by throwing a ball at a target). You literally had to pull out your phone, open Facebook, find the brand, LIKE THEM and then show a brand ambassador that you had done so.

Were people doing it? Of course! People LOVE t-shirts! But more importantly these folks (1) either never cared about Facebook to begin with or (2) stopped using it 5 years ago when their mom joined. Social engagement? Hardly. Would they be lining up if it were Instagram instead of Facebook? My opinion is no. 

But what if it was for a chance to win something better than a t-shirt? A car! A house! A million bucks! I still believe the answer to be an emphatic no. We’re too protective of our Instagram identities and that’s why it’s so valuable.  

As marketers, organically popping up in Instagram feeds is no small feat, in fact, it’s extremely difficult. But the good news is that you’re ALSO a consumer with an Instagram account! You know as well as anyone else what makes compelling content that will ultimately rack up the likes from your attentive followers.

Here are 5 ways to ensure you’re setting yourself up for Insta-success at your next event:

  1. Make it Relevant: Trends don’t last long! Be sure you’re demonstrating an understanding of social culture today which is critical to creating shareable moments. Start by spending some time exploring your own Instagram community for insight, then ask the interns.
  2. Don’t Force It: Real social engagement is organic. Don't assume consumers will use your hashtag and be careful incentivizing them to do so. 
  3. Create Opportunities: Make it easy for participants to capture their experience by staging compelling photo ops or providing native content formatted for Instagram (ie: 15 second videos). Your activation might be a compelling experience but if there’s no easy way to capture it, it won’t be shared.
  4. Keep the Conversation Going: If your brand’s mentioned or tagged by a consumer, consider that an opening to begin a dialogue. Of course this is the KEY to social engagement across every platform — be prepared with what to say next: thank them, provide exclusive content or discounts, etc. Make them feel special and they’ll advocate for you, it’s as simple as that.
  5. Anything > Nothing: Realistically, not all activations make super compelling Instagram content on their own or are much less designed exclusively for generating consumer photos. That’s ok! You can still add something to your experience that promotes or encourages content capture. Even the simplest staged photo op shared by a few fans on Instagram can help to build social momentum for your brand.

Ultimately most of us are super cautious with our Instagram reputations and tend to only post content that we feel has the best chance of generating likes. So before you cut the ribbon to your next big event, ask yourself: would I share this on MY Instagram? Chances are if you wouldn’t, consumers probably won’t either.