The Secrets to Using Instagram Stories for Events

Instagram made major waves this week with the announcement of a new way to share photos and video. The latest feature, controversially dubbed “Instagram Stories” gives users the ability to share timely updates over the course of the day.As you add photos to your “story” Instagram will stitch them together into a quickly digestible (and shareable) slideshow. Just be sure to catch them quick, Instagram Story posts expire after 24-hours.

Sound familiar? That’s because the same features that Instagram announced this week have been available in Snapchat since late 2013. It’s no secret that Instagram parent company, Facebook, had offered to buy Snapchat and failed. By creating its own version of Snapchat Stories inside of Instagram, it opens that platform to new kinds of engagement. Instagram now has the potential to be a part of the event experience and not just an afterthought. Here are just a few reasons Instagram Stories finally make the social network more viable for meetings and events.

Discover Why Instagram Stories Are Great to Use for Event Planning

1. Event planners now have a new way to reach an existing community

In the past, we’ve shared a few ways to use Snapchat to engage with attendees at meetings and events. The challenge is that Snapchat started as a network for private messaging. Although brands are leveraging the network today, it’s still not easy to discover or search for the content that most relevant to you. Snapchat holds an important place on our smartphone home screens, but it can take time before your Snapchat following is large enough to make it worth your while. That’s why meeting and event professionals have traditionally shied away from the app.  

Instagram, on the other hand, has been around for much longer. It’s likely that you already have an audience on Instagram, one that’s been engaging with you for years. At the end of the day, #eventprofs are going to focus on the social platforms where they’re the most comfortable – and more importantly where they have the most reach. Instagram stories bring the timeliness of ephemeral content to your existing community.

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2. Event planners can use Instagram stories to create a serious case of FOMO

What makes Instagram Stories fundamentally different from what we’re used to on IG, is that they’re ephemeral. Every photo and video added to an Instagram story will disappear in just 24 hours. It means that your content will be consumed much closer to the time that it’s published.

Event professionals often turn to social media as a promotional channel leading up to events, or as a platform to share photos and recaps following the event itself. The problem is that planners are missing the opportunity to share the event experience as it’s happening. When your followers see timely content like this, it creates a fear of missing out (FOMO). Instagram Stories can create more opportunity for potential attendees to think about your next event, as they’re experiencing the current event.

3. Event planners can take advantage of self-destructing messages to create urgency

Another fascinating thing happens when you put an expiration date on content. Audiences will look for new stories more frequently to make sure they’ve caught everything (sounds like more FOMO if you ask me). Part of Instagram’s strategy with stories is to encourage more daily usage and more engagement as a result. On Instagram today, the average user sees only about 30% of the photos that are actually in their feed. Compare that to Snapchat, where 45% of Snapchat stories are actively opened.

As a result, users will start opening Instagram more often, which boosts the likelihood that they’ll come across your content. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats. Naturally, ephemeral content creates urgency. The walls between social networks today are paper thin. A Snapchat will make its way to Facebook, a Facebook posts spark conversations on Twitter, and Tweets get republished on the web. Think about how you can leverage existing social channels to drive traffic towards ephemeral content like Instagram Stories.

4. Event planners can use Instagram stories to surface more behind-the-scenes footage

Traditionally, Instagram has been about taking great photos and putting extra time into choosing the filters and settings to make your photography truly beautiful. Instagram Stories however, shift the focus from the photos and videos themselves to the experience that’s being shared within them. And that’s great news when the content is coming from live events. For event coordinators, it means that you can publish photos and video faster. You and your team are busy enough at the event as it is. You don’t always have time stop and edit photos. Instagram stories make it faster to just hit record, and share.

It makes a difference for attendees too. Many of the photos we see on IG today come along with the #latergram hashtag, which means that users don’t always think to use the app as the name would suggest… instantly. When attendees aren’t worried about making every detail about their photos perfect, they’re more likely to share a part of their experience right away.

30 Social Media Tips to Drive Engagement

Here Are the 5 Best Ways to Use Instagram Stories as an Event Planner

One way to start is by looking at the ways brands already approach Snapchat. Consider how you might give your followers a behind-the-scenes sneak peek into your event. Or promote the fact that your next event will have a corresponding Instagram Story.

Event planners can also create a sense of urgency through the “fear of missing out” to reach their entire Instagram following. For so long organizations and events have struggled to convert users from their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter into Snapchat ‘friends’. However now that Instagram is offering a similar set of features, planners are able to create this same exclusive, immediate, and captivating content on a more established user platform. Below we will explore 5 ways event professionals can use this new feature in order to make a more interactive and engaging experience for your event’s attendees.

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1. Use Instagram stories to empower your speakers

Allow keynote speakers access to your Instagram account leading up to the event, so they can introduce themselves to the potential audience. This will also give attending audience insight/background information about the speaker, while generating buzz about the event and attracting more last second attendees. By providing a platform for the speaker to push some of their own content, you’ll also be able to leverage the speaker’s own audience and marketing power, to drive impressions for your event.

2. Create more guest interaction through stories

Create a contest between attendees, on who can publish the most inspiring or captivating Instagram story during the event. They will be entered into the contest if they post to their feeds and include the hashtag/handle of the event. This will garner interaction with the attendees but also be free advertising to everyone who follows them! The contest could be set up in the form of a scavenger hunt. Have guests move about the event and post stories of certain clues left behind. This offers an extremely interactive experience for guests while also publishing multiple aspects of your event.

3. Promote exclusive event content on Instagram

Release exclusive content through your Instagram story – you will draw people to you hashtag/handle and keep them interested in your visual content. A good piece of exclusive content would be offering registration coupons through your story. This will keep you users engaged in your content and give them a reason to keep up to date with stories you post down the road for other events. Using other social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to let your audience know you’re releasing exclusive content to Instagram Stories, will help drive more followers to IG.

4. Promote more event transparency on Instagram

Backstage content is an incredible way to drive viewership and keep an audience interested. Filming the behind scenes of the event will give users a sense of involvement/understanding of how the event really works. Instagram stories are an awesome way to give attendees up to date updates of the going ons of the event both before and during.

5. Gather event guest feedback on Instagram

Another great way to have attendees get involved in an event in the months leading up is to post a promo story of the event. Request your followers to respond to the post with ideas for hashtags or catchphrases for the event. Use the clever and creative responses to name different sections at the event. A good and easy example is to create a story about the post-event happy hour, and allow followers a chance to post ideas for what the happy hour will be called! This idea will also work for post-event recap videos and guest feedback.

Use these tips to help you reach a broader base and make a more engaging experience for your attendees. Of course, customize these tips to make them the most practical and engaging for your specific event!

Now you’re ready to create better Instagram stories for events!

Up next, discover helpful social media wall tools for events, and get great ideas for effective event advertising.

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