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Event Marketing
25 February 2016 

Instagram For Events: How Event Planners Can Engage Millennials

David Epstein
Instagram For Events: How Event Planners Can Engage Millennials

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can be a great way to promote events and engage attendees. It’s especially handy for reaching the demographic known as Millennials – those who were born between the early 1980s and 2004. According to the American Press Institute, about 26% of this age group uses Instagram daily.

Unlike its new owner Facebook (still the social media frontrunner, but not growing as quickly as Instagram), Instagram’s interface is simple and uncluttered, with a real focus on the power of pictures. Once a strictly personal platform, many brands are now favoring Instagram for organic and paid advertising spots.

One reason for this is because engagement rates among organic posts from company Instagram accounts is about three times better than posts on other platforms.

In order to help event organizers better engage Millennials, Instagram is a fantastic platform to start using. Below are a few best practices that will help organizers understand how to use Instagram for events.

Lesson 1: Share, Don’t Promote

Millennials are known to favour experience over objects. According to Salesforce,

“Creatives on Instagram need to match the eclectic nature of users’ personal accounts; a hard balance when following rigorous brand guidelines and briefs.  Millennial users, the largest generation on Instagram, associate the following terms with content that they follow:  ‘amusing,’ ‘creative,’ ‘beautiful,’ and ‘inspiring.’ To be a successful event brand on Instagram, you need to make sure that you are fulfilling that brief, even if you are targeting outside of the millennial bracket.”

So, even though Instagram now features sponsored or paid advertising, this is not the place to advertise your event or product in an overtly promotional way.

Rather, share your brand narratives, with images or videos that depict the event production process, provide insight into event speakers, or industry influencers, or provide rich narratives about notable event attendees.

For example, Instagram could be an excellent way to announce your event’s keynote speakers (especially if they are also Instagram users) with artful portraits, selfies or images from their work. That’s exactly what Collision Conf did, by showcasing a few of their speakers from last year’s event to create excitement among their followers.

Above: Collision Conference shares an image of two keynote speakers talking tech.

Creating a collage of photos of an event of various happy attendees is another great way to show Instagram users that your event can provide a truly valuable networking experience. Below, Startup Socials has a robust Instagram account that regularly shares photos of smiling attendees.

Above: Startup Socials attendees having fun at a San Francisco networking event.

In addition to sharing images of speakers and happy attendees, Instagram can also be used to share informational content that’s relevant to potential attendees. One recent trend on the the social media network is to share inspirational quotes. Typically these quotes can be quickly made on a platform like Canva, and if you’re searching for a great and relevant quote to share, we have a few you can check out here.

Above: Social Media Examiner shares an inspirational quote from founder, Michael Stelzner.

If you’re an event organizer hoping to engage Millennial attendees, then Instagram might be the best platform to turn to. Using Instagram for events is a great way to engage Millennials since they make up a large percentage of the platforms 400+ million users. But in order to share compelling organic (meaning non-paid) content on Instagram, you must focus on sharing images that are compelling.

Lesson 2: Master Instagram Ads

Using Instagram for events involves more than simply posting organically. If you hope to quickly reach your target audience, investing in paid Instagram ads might be the best way to go.

To make things simple, Instagram offers three different ad types, a photo ad, a 30 seconds or less video ad and something called a “carousel,” which allows users to swipe between a few different photo ads in a single post.

In the image above, readers can see the three different ad types available to them. The left-most image is an example of an Instagram photo ad. It includes a “learn more” button in the bottom right of the post directing users to the business’s website.

The example in the middle shows a video ad, as indicated by the video icon in the top right of the post. While the example on the right is of a carousel ad, as indicated by the multi-dot slider in the bottom middle of the post.

Note that the “sponsored” tag in the top right corner of each post indicates to users that the post is indeed an ad.

Instagram ads can be used to simply generate awareness among Instagram users, or they can be used to drive visitors to an event website, or to an event registration page.

You might be wondering how much it costs to run an Instagram ad campaign for an event. Instagram ads vary in cost depending on the desired outcome. If for example you are simply hoping to raise brand awareness, then you’re most likely interested in paying for impressions (CPM), meaning the number of people who actually engaged with your post by viewing it, liking it or commenting on it.

Currently, multiple sources report that they are paying about $3 per 1,000 impressions.

If you’re an event organizer more interested in driving event registrations or event website visits directly from instagram to an event website – then you should expect to spend more. Some sources report cost per click (CPC) to be around $10, while others report paying as much as $23 for one registration.

It might seem like a challenge to create a cost effective, but stunning Instagram ad campaign.

But Collision Conference shows that it can be done. In the example below, Collision Conference uses a compelling visual to show attendees in the tech industry that by going to their event, attendees will be surrounding themselves with influencers from major tech companies – a compelling reason to attend an event that claims to provide amazing networking opportunities.

Lesson 3: Give Sponsors The Exposure They Crave

Your event sponsors already know how valuable Millennials are, it seems like every week a new study comes out highlighting the power and future influence Millennials will have in the world economy.

As an event organizer, if you are able to offer meaningful exposure to Millennials, you’ll find it easier to attract valuable sponsors craving this exposure. Since Instagram is a platform loved by Millennials, building an engaged audience on Instagram is not only a good way to market your event, it means your event will be able to offer sponsors unique exposure to a valuable audience.

Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference was able to to engage their Millennial followers by promoting their sponsor Virgin Airlines on Instagram. Through an Instagram campaign, Dreamforce generated buzz surrounding the free flight giveaway that would soon happen at their 2015 conference.

In another example, Dreamforce turned a live sponsorship display created by Coca Cola into a an online digital campaign as well, as seen in the post below.

By being able to provide an audience of engaged Millennials to sponsors, forward thinking event organizers will be able to provide a unique and valuable offering to companies hoping to engage a valuable potential customer base.

Conclusion: Instagram For Events – What Planners Should Do Next

Millennials represent about $200 billion in buying power and they are itching to spend that money on unique experiences instead of on material goods.

Since Instagram is used by about 136 million Millennials, it makes sense that sophisticated event planners are turning to this social media platform to engage valuable potential event attendees.

In order to successfully use Instagram for events, organizers must first learn to create compelling organic content. Sharing images of speakers, attendees, or well designed quotes are good examples of good event related content to share.

For organizers hoping to quickly boost brand awareness or even event registrations, turning to Instagram ads might be a good option as well. Remember that the cost of an ad will vary depending if you are paying for an impression (CPM) or a click (CPC). Generally the cost of an Instagram ad will be between $3 – $23+ depending on your specific goals.

Lastly, don’t forget to use Instagram as a way of helping your sponsors reach Millennials as well. The examples from Dreamforce highlight just how much added value savvy organizers can create.

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