• A group of event photographers

Instagram for events: using Instagram for event planning

With close to 1.5 billion active monthly users, Instagram is one of the world’s most popular social media platforms. Designed to share images and short videos, it’s an invaluable tool for event planners.

Its visual style can be highly effective at drawing in potential event attendees, and it can also be used during and after the event to share instant updates and retain engagement. But knowing how, when and what to post can be difficult. Read our guide for ideas, tips and advice that will help you use Instagram to make your event stand out. If you’re looking for a specific section, then click on one of the following links:

What makes Instagram a good event marketing tool?

While there isn’t the functionality to create a dedicated event on Instagram like on other social media platforms, such as Facebook, there are plenty of reasons why you should use Instagram to promote your event:

  • It’s one of the top five largest social media platforms in terms of users, offering access to a huge number of potential attendees.
  • Instagram’s visual content is ideally suited to sharing the look and feel of an event.
  • Easily shareable content means that your posts can be discovered by a large number of people.
  • Users can search by interest and location, meaning your target audience can easily find your event.
  • Instagram can be used for free organically, but you can also leverage paid advertising, depending on the budget you have available.

How to promote an event on Instagram

Before you begin actively promoting your event, there are a few things that you need to consider. We’ve outlined some fundamental points to think about when planning your Instagram promotion strategy.

  • The first step is setting up an Instagram account. For large events, such as festivals or conventions, creating a dedicated Instagram account is a good idea. But for smaller events, especially if you’re working for a business, creating or using an existing organisational account means that you can reach existing followers while also retaining new followers gained through your event promotion.
  • You’ll also need to ensure that you have a ‘Professional account’ so you can access the full range of promotional features. These include Instagram Insights that show post reach, impressions and data about your audience and the ability to add a Contact button to your profile with a phone number, email address and directions. You can easily change your account type in your Instagram account settings.
  • Your event promotion on Instagram should tie into your wider marketing strategies. Although content needs to be tailored to suit each social platform, your event should have a coherent identity and be recognisable wherever it’s being promoted.
  • Another important thing to remember is that promotion doesn’t stop when your event starts. You should also use Instagram to share live information, updates and to connect with attendees during and after the event.
  • As we mentioned above, you can opt for paid promotion as well as organic – all depending on what your budget allows. If you’re unsure whether to integrate paid media into your Instagram strategy, we’ve provided a few tips for both organic and paid Instagram event marketing below.

Organic event promotion on Instagram

Depending on whether you’ve created a new account as well as the size of your audience, you’ll notice different levels of engagement on your initial posts. But if you follow these simple tips you’ll quickly see your audience and engagement increase.

Hashtags: Without using hashtags, your posts may only be discovered by your existing followers. You should create a dedicated, unique hashtag for your event which you can add to your bio and use in all your posts. Additionally, it’s also a good idea to use popular, relevant hashtags in your posts to help new people find you. See our section on choosing and using a hashtag for more information.

Location tagging: You can tag your location when sharing a post. This allows local users to see what’s happening in their area, and, depending on the scope and scale of your event, this can be a valuable audience.

If you have a Facebook account, you can also create a custom location for your event so attendees can tag themselves. To add a custom location on Facebook, create a post, tap ‘Check In’, in the search bar, type in your custom location and tap ‘Add new location’, fill in the requested details and tap save. You can then use this location on Instagram.

Event reminders: Professional accounts can create Instagram posts with reminders for upcoming events. When creating a new post, simply tap ‘Add reminder’, add a start time and the name of your event, and then share your post. People that choose to be reminded will receive three notifications twenty-four hours and fifteen minutes before the event starts, and an activity feed at the time of the event. Once you’ve created one reminder post, you can then add more by selecting your existing event from the list at the ‘Add reminder’ stage.

Countdown: You can also post a countdown to your Instagram Stories. This allows you to enter a countdown name, pick a colour and set an end date and time. Users can then tap an arrow to be notified when the countdown ends or add the countdown to their story to ensure they don’t miss your event.

Consistent, quality posting and engagement: To ensure engagement, you need to make sure that you’re posting a mix of high-quality images and short, entertaining videos and reels. Part of the trick is posting consistently at times when your audience is active (you can find the best posting times through your Instagram Insights, in the ‘Audience’ section). Don’t forget to add a call to action, such as following a link in your bio, to prompt your audience to take action.

Instagram Live and polls: Instagram Live is an opportunity to interact directly with your audience and can be used to answer questions or give a sneak peek behind the scenes of the event. This can also be a chance to sell the features of your event and drive ticket sales.

Polls and questions, such as ‘Which lecture are you most looking forward to?’, are another way to open a two-way dialogue with your audience. This will boost engagement while also giving you some useful feedback on different aspects of your event.

Boosting posts and advertising on Instagram

Boosting posts involves Instagram taking an organic post and using it as an ad, promoting the post to a chosen audience and increasing the number of people that will see it. When boosting a post, you can choose the audience, goal, daily budget and duration of the promotion. It will then appear in your target audience’s feed as a sponsored post.

Boosting can be particularly effective with posts that are already performing well organically. This is an indication that the post resonates well with your audience, and boosting it means capitalising on the momentum with a larger audience.

Advertising offers you more flexibility in what you promote and allows you to post several different types of content, including short videos, images and carousel posts. Adverts will also be shown across the Facebook Audience Network, rather than just your target audience’s feed. This also means you can tailor content to different audiences and track success using real-time analytics data, which you can then use to optimise your advert.

Boosting a post is much quicker than placing an advert and can be enough to get an engaging post in front of a large audience, but adverts help you better target a niche, adapt your content and track your success.

Interacting with other social channels for event promotion

Instagram and Facebook are both owned by Meta, so it makes sense that they can be integrated to work together.

Content can be shared across both channels and, although mirroring content on Instagram and Facebook isn’t normally recommended, you can adapt or replicate posts that perform particularly well.

Ads can be posted across both channels simultaneously through Facebook’s Business Manager. This provides you with greater control over audience segmentation and other variables, as well as much better campaign performance data.

Read our guide about Facebook events here.

Creating an event Instagram post

Many of your Instagram posts will be unique to your event, but there are also plenty of standard posts that you’ll be able to use at key points throughout.

These may include:

  • Lineup: Depending on your event, the lineup is likely to be the key draw for your attendees. You can release the lineup in a couple of stages to maintain tension, but make sure that you announce each stage early enough to ensure people have time to buy tickets.
  • Countdown: Adding a countdown timer to your Instagram Stories is a great way to build excitement, and it also allows users to add a reminder for your event.
  • Venue: The event venue can make an event, and you’ll want to share posts that show off your chosen event venue. It’s also a good opportunity to showcase the venue’s transformation in the run-up to your event for some fun behind-the-scenes content.
  • Ticket reminder: The goal of paid events is to sell tickets, and you want to provide users with plenty of opportunities to easily purchase tickets.
  • Sold out: Hopefully, you’ll sell out before the start of the event. It’s a nice, celebratory post, and you can also provide details of how anyone that missed out can join a waiting list.
  • Arrival information: You must provide information for people coming to your event. You might want to include a map showing entrances, when the gates open and any extra information attendees might need to find the venue.
  • Thank you posts: It’s always nice to say thank you, and this is an opportunity to give a shout-out to the people that helped to make your event a reality.

How to create a hashtag on Instagram

Hashtags allow users to easily find and tag content relating to your event, so choosing the right one is important. Follow our guidance below and your event planner hashtag will be trending in no time.

  • Unique: You want your hashtag to be unique to your event. It’s not the end of the world if it’s been used before, as long as it’s not synonymous with something else or frequently used for a different purpose. You can verify if a hashtag is suitable by using Check My Hashtag.
  • Short and sweet: You also want to make sure typing out your hashtag isn’t a chore, so make it short and as memorable as possible.
  • Relevant: Your hashtag should be relevant to your event, generally this involves the name of the event but it can also include the type of event.
  • Other hashtags: Using other hashtags alongside your event hashtag is a useful way to find potential attendees based on interest or location. If your venue has an existing hashtag, for example, #20bedfordway or #LoganHall, you should also use these. Depending on what kind of event you’re planning, interest-based hashtags like #bookevent or #festival are useful to ensure you’re visible to people searching for these specific topics.

Event planner captions for Instagram

Writing event planner captions doesn’t have to be hard work. At its very simplest, you want to convey the name of the event, when it’s happening and how to attend/purchase a ticket, but ideally you want to share some of your personality, too. To get you started, here are a couple of examples:

  • ‘Join us on 31/1 at the Event Planner Expo for a day of networking and fun! To register, follow the link in our bio.’
  • ‘An event for event planners? Eventception. Join us at our Event Planner Expo at #20bedfordway on 31/1. For more information, click the link in our bio.’

Make sure that you keep to a regular posting schedule, sharing a post a day, to maintain visibility and ensure that your followers remain engaged. Above all, remember to have fun. This will be felt by your audience and make your posts, and the process of posting, more enjoyable.

Using stories and reels for your event

With video becoming an increasingly important part of all social media platforms, Instagram’s two video-sharing tools, Stories and Reels, are features that you’ll definitely want to use as part of your promotion. But before you start recording viral clips, let’s explore the difference between them and how each should be used as part of your event marketing strategy.

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram stories are short 15-second videos or image slideshows that users can view by tapping the coloured ring around your profile picture. Stories disappear after 24 hours, making them ideal to use for information, updates or content that you don’t want to include as a permanent post on your profile. They’re also great for sharing interactive content like polls, questions and countdowns. You can also share user-generated content – whether that’s posts or stories you’re tagged in – as a way of interacting with users.

Stories can only be viewed by your followers or a user that clicks on your profile, making them a great way to engage your audience. You can also add link stickers to stories which are ideal for boosting ticket sales or registrations.

What are Instagram Reels?

Reels are videos that can be slightly longer than stories (generally 60 seconds) and sit permanently on your profile. This means that they’re less suited to the off-the-cuff style of stories and should be a little more polished.

Reels are potentially discoverable by anyone and can be viewed by users that don’t follow you and haven’t visited your profile. This makes them a great way to earn new followers and potentially go viral.

Instagram event promotion – a timeline

Instagram can be used at every stage of your event. Before an event, the aim is to build excitement and drive ticket sales. During an event, you can share updates and highlights, and once the event has finished, you can use the momentum to start working towards your next one.

Before the event

Setting up/early stages
At this stage, you’ll be laying the groundwork for future promotion. The more preparation you do at this point, the easier it will be when your campaign is in full swing.

  • Create a custom location on Facebook so people can tag themselves when posting on Instagram.
  • Research and choose your event hashtag.
  • Make sure you have a content plan for the run-up to your event. Consistency is key, so it’s important to have a bank of ideas that will allow you to keep to a regular schedule.
  • Add a countdown to your story.
  • Add event reminders to your posts.
  • Start to build excitement by giving your followers a taste of what’s to come. Tease event details and offer any early-bird sign-up codes.
  • Share details about standout aspects of the event, for example, key speakers or the venue.

Selling the event
This is the crucial stage when you want to start building sales and registrations for your event. Remember to make the process of purchasing as easy as possible for your audience.

  • Make registration links easy to find by adding them to your bio, and add sticker links to your stories. If you want to add multiple links, consider using a Linktree.
  • Use Instagram’s strengths (photos and videos) to your advantage when sharing what’s great about your event. This can be a behind-the-scenes preview of the event or sharing reels of bands that will be playing, for example.
  • Remind your audience when tickets are close to selling out, as well as informing them of any additions to the programme.

During the event

Your event is underway and you’re likely to be rushed off your feet, but don’t forget to keep sharing your event on social media as the day progresses, maintaining any momentum built.

  • Share the excitement of the start of your event and trigger FOMO on those debating whether to attend.
  • You can use Instagram Live to stream the event for those that can’t attend in person.
  • Use Instagram Stories to provide instant updates.
  • Instagram posts can also provide a visual cue for arrivals, e.g. Your journey begins here! Our amazing ticketing team are looking forward to welcoming you…’
  • Use Reels to share snippets of the event with your followers
  • Exactly what you share ultimately depends on the type of your event.

After the event

The event may be over, but now is the time to capitalise on your engagement. This is your chance to gather feedback and start thinking about your next event.

  • Gather testimonials from attendees, these can be video snippets or you can create attractive review cards using Canva.
  • Search your hashtag and share user content from your event. Engage with the content on their page too, as this makes you visible to a wider pool of people.
  • Write a thank you post to attendees and those that made the event possible.
  • Share some of the best bits of the event by pinning them to your Story Highlights. Stories disappear within 24 hours, but Highlights stay on your profile until you delete them.
  • Give a taste of your next event and, if the presale opens straight away, you can update the ticket link in your bio. You can also consider offering a discount to previous attendees.

Event planning with 20 Bedford Way

Your marketing strategy plays an important role in your event’s success, and if you’re using Instagram as part of your strategy, our tips should help. But, regardless of how much promotion you do, it’s vital that your event takes place in the right venue.

20 Bedford Way is a unique, Brutalist venue located in the Bloomsbury district of central London. We have a range of spaces available to suit events of all types and sizes, from business and charity events to theatre and comedy shows. Arrange to come and see our state-of-the-art facilities and find out how we can help to make your event stand out. We are affordable, flexible and easily reached with excellent transport links. Call us today on 020 7612 6143.

Further reading:

Header image from the State Library of Queensland via Flickr.

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