While members of the media consistently prophesy its demise, social media hasn't jumped the shark. In truth, there's never been a better time to be on social media.
While Facebook and Twitter have been social media's standard-bearers for much of the past decade, they've lost some ground to the likes of TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. In particular, Instagram has experienced meteoric growth. Millions of new users join the platform every month, and it soared past 1 billion monthly users back in 2018.
According to information from Apple, Instagram was the second-most downloaded app on the Apple app store in 2019 — it held the same spot in 2018. Instagram continues to attract hordes of new audience members every single day, and the business world needs to take notice.
Facebook was once the go-to platform for companies that wanted to be active on social media. As consumers turn their attention to alternatives like Instagram, they expect their favorite brands to do the same. More than 200 million users visit at least one business profile every day on Instagram, which means business leaders would be wise to adjust their social strategies accordingly.
How exactly? By using Instagram to provide a more personal touch and behind-the-scenes glimpses to consumers. This is useful in all facets of business, but Instagram is particularly powerful when it comes to promoting events.
Generating buzz with the 'Gram
Instagram provides a more direct connection to potential attendees. The app's updated algorithm favors high-quality business content when it pulls in new images for users. A business account on the social network is free and easy to open, which means you can begin using Instagram to promote your events in a matter of minutes. By strategically using influencers, advertisements and Instagram stories, your brand can build buzz for upcoming events.
For starters, Instagram stories let you cobble together several videos and images into a narrative that disappears 24 hours later — a lot like Snapchat stories. Few small and midsize businesses have integrated the stories feature into their event promotions, but it can be incredibly useful. These stories can weave an ongoing tale for your event, building momentum with each installment.
In addition to creating your own content, Instagram influencers can boost your event via paid campaigns. While influencer marketing once required a massive budget – Nike shelled out millions in the '80s to partner with Michael Jordan – social media enables businesses to reach millions of passionate followers without much star power. This change has made it cheaper and easier for brands to work with influencers to promote their events.
Beyond influencers, you can also sink some budget into advertising your event on Instagram. Instagram ads are still relatively affordable, and they operate on the same platform as Facebook advertisements – so there's a small barrier to entry.
As you post about your event and gain exposure, followers are more likely to attend your event; when those same people post about attending your event, you should gain more exposure on social media and more followers. Lather, rinse, repeat.
How to effectively promote an event on Instagram
Instagram can be an incredibly useful tool for small and midsize businesses that operate in niches, as the power of Facebook's targeting algorithms is the backbone of Instagram ads – Facebook owns Instagram, after all. This means your team can home in on your specific target audiences and find users who have taken certain actions, such as following other industry events.
StartUp FASHION, an online community of independent fashion designers and brands, uses Instagram to promote its brand and events. Instead of spreading itself too thin by being a jack-of-all-trades, StartUp FASHION focuses on Instagram by posting images, videos and stories for its more than 15,000 followers.
Here are four ways to promote your events on Instagram in a way that publicizes your brand while providing a tangible return via ticket sales.
1. Offer a compelling narrative
While it's wonderful to have a profile flush with gorgeous images of your event, you want a strategy to guide your Instagram posts. Consistent publishing is important, but this particular social network is more about telling your followers a story.
For starters, switch how you view your posts. While they're a great way to show off your event and encourage followers to purchase tickets, they're equally effective at driving ongoing engagement, which eventually leads to ticket sales.
Add a little life to your posts by including geolocation tags and hashtags, which have driven 79% more engagement. You can also share videos of your event – or hyping your event – or post photo albums on various themes to tell visual stories. To get a little bit more juice from your event posts, tag related influencers such as vendors and sponsors.
2. Collaborate with influencers
While you want to create compelling posts, Instagram can be even more effective when influencers begin to talk about your event. These influencers can range from paid brand ambassadors who have a massive following to microinfluencers who cultivate small yet loyal fanbases.
Whether they've reached Kardashian status or are just getting started, influencers can give your event a jump-start with their dedicated followers. You'll want to work with any influencer whose followers match your target audience in terms of geographic locations, demographics or interests.
A great example is Wanderlust, which started as a small, yoga-focused festival. Now, it encompasses global wellness events, a streaming video service, and physical yoga centers in places like Montreal and Hollywood. Festival organizers use Instagram as a critical marketing tool, telling stories year-round that showcase it as a unified brand.
3. Use stories to their full potential
While traditional in-feed posts might focus more on event highlights, you can use stories to record events in real time. Piece together short – less than 10 seconds – videos and a collection of snapshots, and you'll create the sort of content that your followers crave.
As mentioned earlier, Instagram stories disappear 24 hours after posting. These temporary postings are the future of the platform, and they have strategic applications. For one, they can compel your followers to regularly check in to avoid missing out on behind-the-scenes content or insider information. They also give you a great avenue to test new types of content or strategies in a temporary environment or to tease announcements while keeping users hungry for more details.
And once you have at least 10,000 followers, you can add clickable links to your stories — something not possible with traditional Instagram posts. Use this opportunity to link followers to your ticketing page at least once a week, which should help you convert viewers into attendees.
4. Make the most of your bio.
While Instagram fame is terrific, you'll want to turn that buzz into event registrations. Save followers the hassle of combing your website for your ticketing or registration page by making it the URL of your Instagram profile.
This profile link is your best chance to drive sales through Instagram. If you're promoting multiple events at once, you might consider creating a landing page specifically for Instagram traffic to direct users to several offerings. In addition to a helpful URL, you can use your profile to offer users a custom hashtag to share event-related posts. Get creative with your bio and make the most of your limited space.
Instagram has never been more popular, and it shows no signs of slowing. With more than a billion monthly users scrolling through Instagram feeds, it makes a lot of business sense to use the social network to promote your event — and hopefully sell a few tickets. By being strategic about what you post, how you post, and who posts about you, you can help your event generate the kind of grassroots support any brand would love to have.