Instagram marketing

The Complete Guide to Event Marketing on Instagram

  • 23 Minutes
Want your next event marketing campaign to feel like the most unmissable event of the year? Use Instagram - here's how.

If you were promoting an event and looking to attract the largest crowd possible, how would you do it? It would make perfect sense to choose a platform that already has approximately 1 billion monthly active users, right? Event marketing on Instagram makes all the sense in the world; Instagram users are active, engaged, and keen to hear all the latest news and events that are relevant to them.

Plus, if you’ve already garnered a substantial audience on the platform, why not utilize it? If not, but your target audience is already using the platform, why not use it to connect with them, especially when you have something important to say?

Many event marketing teams find that events are actually a great way to build their social media audiences, as attendees who aren’t yet following them often flock to the host’s social platforms to check-in or see what they may have missed. So, even if you don’t already have a substantial following on Instagram, this could be the way to start engaging with fans who are already on the platform.

When done well, event planning on Instagram will help you gain brand awareness, reel in registrations, and boost event attendance! That said, event promotion on social media isn’t as easy as throwing a few posts in your social media schedule and hoping for the best. There’s a whole lot of research and strategic planning that goes into making event marketing on Instagram go off without a hitch.

Luckily, we know the score and can help you unlock the secrets to social media marketing success before your upcoming event.

Ready? Let’s dive into the world of Instagram marketing.

What are the Advantages of Using Instagram for Event Promotion?

Instagram marketing is all about capturing user attention, coaxing users into engaging with you, and then transforming that interest into conversions and ticket sales. But is Instagram really an effective way to drive ticket sales?

In a word… yes! The “instant” nature of Instagram and the sharing of Instagram Stories or Instagram Live videos lends itself spectacularly to the world of event marketing.

These content formats mean you can share content in real-time and connect with your target audience far more easily. Instagram also shares the same back-end advertising platform like Facebook, giving advertisers powerful targeting capabilities when it comes time to reach new users and drive ticket sales with your specific target audiences.

Yet, while Instagram marketing is rather simpler (not to mention more cost-effective) than creating an expensive television ad, it still requires strategy, planning, and creativity.

Unlike many other advertising and marketing channels, Instagram is mostly free, unless you want to allocate a small amount towards paid advertising. However, if you choose not to do any paid advertising on social media, you can still make a solid impact with a hyper-targeted and creative Instagram marketing strategy.

Here’s how you can build your audience on Instagram, engage with fans and then coax them down the path to purchase so you can sell more tickets and pack your event to capacity!

Instagram Marketing Pre-Promotion for Events

Unlike Instagram marketing for, say, a clothing brand, event promotion is all about timing.

Your event promotion calendar for Instagram should run on a similar schedule to your other marketing activity, with three distinct phases:

  • Pre-event promotion, where you build anticipation, generate hype and “FOMO” and focus heavily on brand awareness and the promotion of ticket sales. At all times, you want to drive urgency. Even if you’re running a longer event, having tiered ticket types (for instance, VIP tickets or early bird tickets) should ensure a faster sell-through
  • Event promotion during the event. Depending on how long your upcoming event runs for, you should aim to maintain the hype around your event, ramp up advertising, and continue to focus on tickets. Once your event starts, you’ll want to complement your advertising with live coverage or snippets. If you only have a short event, you’ll want to focus primarily on event coverage and you may also consider lead generation at the event or try to encourage social media engagement with attendees using a range of strategies
  • Post-event coverage, where you collect and curate any remaining content and testimonials from users to be used to sell products or to promote your next upcoming event. In this phase, you should also analyze what has worked well during the first two phases – and what hasn’t!

If you’re new to Instagram, first off, begin by ensuring that you have a business account. Once your business profile is set up, create a clear Instagram username, upload a compelling display image and create an Instagram bio with a hashtag related to your event. If you feel like you could update any of these aspects of your Instagram profile, then you probably should. Give it a shot or, better still, get someone else’s opinion.

Prior to your event, you want to ensure that you’re posting Instagram feed posts and Instagram Stories regularly – ideally at least two-three times per week. You should also be using hashtags (more on this later) and be saving your best content as Story Highlights on your Instagram profile.

For example, The Sydney Writer’s Festival has included a clear description of what the event is all about in its Instagram bio. The bio also includes a hashtag so people can easily share and search for related posts about the festival – and this means that content will be easy for event organizers to find.

SWF Instagram profile

Once your Instagram profile is set up correctly, what comes next? Well, your Instagram needs to do some of the heavy lifting early on. You need to build an engaging profile that will attract (and hold) the attention of your target audience, and eventually, hype them up to buy tickets as soon as they are released!

Supercharge Your Instagram Feed

Your Instagram feed is a visual representation of who your brand is and what it stands for. If you’re not quite sure what that is yet, you need to go back to the drawing board and figure it out!

Your Instagram feed shouldn’t be a haphazard collection of posts uploaded at random. Save those more “random” posts for your Instagram Stories if you can – as long as they are relevant to your audience! Your feed should (ideally) be laid out using a cohesive color palette and consistent editing styles, which should also align with your brand.

Take Wimbledon’s Instagram profile, for instance. It utilizes a mixture of earthy colors, such as greens, brown tones, and rusty red colors in its Instagram feed that is entirely on-brand.

Wimbledon Instagram feed

Similarly, if we look at the Instagram profile of the British Museum, its feed is full of dark yet highly contrasted images to showcase the detail of the items on display at the museum. This gives the audience an in-depth, hyper-real look into the museum’s exhibits.

British Museum Instagram feed

More important even than your Instagram feed colors, however, is the content itself. After all, this is what will keep your followers coming back for more time after time! Fantastic content means higher engagement levels, which gives you better rankings in the Instagram algorithm, which leads to a higher reach, and so the cycle continues.

Creating a steady (and high-performing) stream of content on Instagram all comes down to relevance and consistency. Think about your favorite brands on various social media platforms. Many of the best-performing brands on Instagram do the following:

  1. They understand their audience
  2. They serve them the content they want – while ensuring it also suits the brand’s business objectives, which is usually, ultimately, selling products, tickets, or generating leads
  3. They then continue serving relevant content on an ongoing basis, while reporting and refining their approach

At the heart of it, Instagram marketing really is that simple.

Once you have a consistent social media marketing calendar, you can start to dabble in the more “fun” stuff; things like influencer marketing, Instagram takeovers, Instagram ads, live content, and competitions.

We recommend creating large batches of content by planning your content well in advance. You can build out your content calendar with post ideas such as:

  • A countdown to the start of your event
  • A teaser trailer of what visitors can expect to see and do
  • Video snippets or photos of last year’s event
  • Behind-the-scenes videos of the event set up
  • Exclusive images showing glimpses into the event set up or exhibitions
  • User-generated content from last year’s event. This could include written reviews, video testimonials, or just photos
  • Giveaways to boost your page engagement and reach new users prior to the event commencing
  • Interesting facts about the event or speakers
  • Previewing or “teasing” speakers using quotes, interview snippets, or facts
  • Interactive content, such as Polls or Questions on Instagram Stories

Planning content in advance can be difficult in the event space, as timing can often be tight and you might be trying to source content from high-profile guest speakers or busy musicians. This is why it is so important not to neglect the content creation process before, during, or after your event.

If you want to run future events, all of these phases are key in gaining engaging content such as video snippets, interviews, or you can use Instagram Stories to capture and publish behind-the-scenes content.

Our tip: Always use CTAs and use a link tool in your Instagram bio so it is incredibly easy for your audience to find out more or purchase tickets.

Sked Social users can use Sked Link, a custom linking tool that will take your Instagram followers to a customizable menu. Here, you can add direct links to your event page, ticket sales page, or any other pages you need to link out to.

Insta-fy Your Event Space

We told you that you don’t need to re-build your entire venue just for social media, and that is true. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt to create opportunities for social-friendly moments in your event space. In fact, more and more exhibitions and art galleries are catering to Instagram-obsessed visitors, with interactive exhibitions made for photos.

Take the Museum of Ice Cream in New York, for instance. Less of a museum and more of an Instagram photo booth, the space is full of brightly lit, candy-colored rooms just waiting to be photographed.

As well as offering “Insta-worthy” food and live music, this museum has plenty of interactive spaces designed for guests’ own personal photoshoots, like a pink “sprinkle pool” and a wall that can be personalized with the visitor’s name.

All of these features make photos of the museum infinitely shareable, making it easy for the Museum to generate user-generated content (or UGC). In a nutshell, UGC is essentially any content derived from users.

Sound extreme? Perhaps, but this “Instagram first” strategy has clearly been successful for some events. And it makes perfect sense – everyone who uploads a photo and uses your hashtag or location tag is expanding the reach of your marketing campaign.

If you can build even one or two social media spots into your event space with opportunities for photos and selfies, you’ll encourage social media sharing (UGC). Soon enough, you’ll amplify your awareness and perhaps even boost ticket sales! What could be better?

Discover our ultimate guide to UGC marketing here and launch your campaign today!

Drive Engagement with an Instagram Hashtag

The Instagram hashtag is essential in the event marketing world. It’s become crucial to create an event hashtag as a central way for people to share content about your event. An event hashtag is the perfect tool for discoverability – people can browse through the event photos and land on the brand page for more information.

That way, you’ll be able to collect and curate user-generated content so you can find and share it easily! But it’s also important for the event or brand page to use its event hashtag, too. This way, you can “own” the hashtag and control what your event looks like on Instagram.

Your event hashtag should be catchy and very easy to remember. If you remember the example we used above – Sydney Writer’s Festival – their hashtag is simply #sydneywritersfestival. Sure, it’s basic, but it’s also super-easy to remember!

On the other hand, New York Comedy Festival’s hashtag is #makeNYlaugh which is easy to remember yet has some personality – which is definitely on-brand for the festival.

That’s not all, though. Your event hashtag should be complemented by other hashtags. Ideally, you want to use:

  • A branded hashtag and an event hashtag
  • 10-15 hashtags related to your specific event category
  • A few location-based hashtags and use a location tag when you post
  • Any other specific hashtags related to the theme of your post

Struggling to find relevant hashtags? Sked Social’s Hashtag Recommendation Tool automatically suggests related hashtags for your posts. Simply add a hashtag when you’re scheduling your post, and the system will provide suggestions. The more hashtags you add, the more targeted the suggestions become.

The best part? The tool is FREE for Sked Social users and is integrated into our scheduling tool, which makes posting and choosing hashtags super seamless.

Check out Sked Social’s other capabilities here and start automating your social media marketing tasks.

Use Instagram Ads

Once you’ve set up your business profile on Instagram and nailed your social content, why not dip your toe in the wonderful world of Instagram advertising? As we mentioned earlier, Instagram uses Facebook’s back-end advertising system, meaning that it gives you access to some powerful targeting capabilities.

This can allow you greater access to new potential attendees for your event – people that you may never have been able to reach just by using purely organic content. Instagram ads are also particularly good if you’re trying to target niche audiences.

In a nutshell, Instagram Ads are run via Facebook Ads Manager, and give you the same targeting options. You can choose to target your audience via:

  • Core audience selections, where you can use top-line demographics like age and location to narrow down your potential audience. You can also add interest-based selections into your targeting, such as people who are interested in country music or digital marketing, if you’re running events based around those themes
  • Custom audiences, where you can retarget people like your Facebook fans, people visiting your site, or your existing email list
  • Lookalike audiences, where you can target groups that “look like” your other audiences. For instance, say you wanted to target groups similar to, say, your loyal list of email subscribers. You would create a Lookalike of this audience group and test the results

A few tips for creating Instagram ads for event promotions:

  • Your ad creative – i.e., the image or video you’re using in your ad – is one of the most crucial elements of your ad and affects the cost of your ads significantly. Therefore, you need to ensure that your creative is clear, bright, eye-catching, and doesn’t look too salesy
  • Try A/B testing. A/B testing is simply breaking your ad sets into two groups and only changing ONE aspect of your ads, such as the audience, the ad creative, or the ad placement. It’s important to keep testing different things to get the lowest cost possible
  • Remember you can also exclude certain groups from your ad sets. This will ensure you’re not wasting impressions or clicks on people who aren’t interested or who have already converted
  • Start your advertising early. We cannot stress this enough! You’ll need time to adjust your ads, refine your targeting, and improve your ads sets as you gather new learnings
  • Short on content? Use your best-performing feed posts or Stories as ads where relevant – you already know they will perform well!

Above all, remember to plan your Instagram paid advertising strategy early on. Instagram ads aren’t too difficult once you know what to do but they can be fiddly, so it pays to create a strategy beforehand and have your creatives and a range of copy options ready to roll.

Your ads will also need to be adjusted with different messages to drive urgency at various phases of your pre-promotion campaign, such as:

  • Early bird or pre-sale phase
  • On sale or general release
  • VIP tickets
  • Second release
  • Third release, if you’re having one
  • Final release or last chance tickets

Instagram Event Promotion During Your Event

So, you’ve promoted your event in every way you can, you’re almost to capacity, and you’ve got attendees streaming in. Well done, you! But the fun doesn’t stop here.

Even if your event is completely sold out and it’s only running for one day, there are still plenty of ways you can capture content and interact with attendees.

Why? Well, maybe you’re looking to:

  • Grow your leads and your social media following
  • Capture content to promote future events
  • Sell products to attendees after the event has wrapped
  • Sell photos or video coverage of the event or provide attendees with exclusive access to other content

After all, if someone is interested enough to attend your event, they’re probably willing to engage with you even further in one way or another.

This part of your event marketing strategy using Instagram still has to remain strategic. It’s essential that you have clear ideas about which of the above objectives you’d like to achieve in this phase, and which metrics you’ll use to assess your marketing campaign. For instance, perhaps you’re looking to grow your social media following and generate leads at the event? That way, you’ll be able to re-engage these fans the following year for your next event. Either way, get crystal clear on your objective before you start.

Post Consistent Content and Leverage Instagram Stories

When you’re promoting an event, especially over a long period, it can sometimes be difficult to keep the momentum going and keep the hype train rolling! The key to keeping things interesting is to mix up your content and connect with Instagram users in a relevant way.

If you want to use Instagram as one of your key marketing channels, the secret to success is consistency – if people don’t hear from you for a while, they’ll switch off, and the Instagram algorithm may also eventually penalize your content, ranking you lower in the algorithm.

Use a mixture of consistently relevant and thumb-stopping, eye-catching content, and mix these posts in with more ad-hoc posts. You can use a scheduler like Sked Social to ensure your regular feed posts are covered, then you can always add new posts and Instagram Stories to mix things up.

Try these ideas for engaging Instagram Stories:

  • Mini-interviews or vox pops with event speakers, performers, event organizers, or even attendees
  • Behind-the-scenes content of the event set up, the crowds, or of activities to do at the event
  • Repost user-generated content or videos
  • Encourage participation by making your Instagram Stories as engaging as possible! Use Polls, Stickers, and Questions to engage and involve audiences

But remember – just because Instagram Stories are supposed to be filmed on the fly doesn’t mean that you don’t need to have a plan! Make sure you pre-plan any interview questions, have a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve, and ensure any live content is filmed in a tightly controlled environment. Sometimes in large crowds, you have no idea what is going to happen!

Use Event Speakers or Influencers to Cover the Event or Host a Takeover

To mix things up a little more, why not utilize some of the talent or experts from your event and use their voice, for a change, instead of yours? The best kind of hosts for an Instagram takeover are comedians, musicians, reality TV stars, or anyone related to the event that your target audience is likely to respect.

Alternatively, you could use Instagram influencers who are attending the event to host a takeover and showcase it from the point of view of an attendee. If you’re running a multi-day event and are still trying to sell some final tickets, this is a great way to push for last-minute sales. Influencers can take your audience through the event and highlight the best parts.

Just ensure that whoever you choose for your takeover can be trusted to capture great content and showcase your event in a positive light. Any influencers should also be influential within your event industry and have a keen interest in whatever your event is about.

And don’t worry – you don’t necessarily need to hand the logins of your Instagram account to a total stranger. You can always get your chosen host to send photos and videos for you to approve and post.

Post-Event Recaps and Coverage

Repurpose Your Event Content in a Variety of Ways

If you really want your event to continue year after year, you already need to be thinking about how to promote it next year – in more ways than one! Before you think about your event coverage, you’ll need to consider:

  • What you’ll need to use it for. If you’re just using it for social media, you won’t need an enormous budget. On the other hand, if you want high-quality coverage fit for television ads for next year, you’ll need to engage a professional team
  • How you’ll capture it. Will you have adequate time to access talent and production staff? Do you need to restructure your event schedule or set aside an area for production teams to capture footage?
  • What you’ll be capturing. Will you be capturing events on a particular stage, or roaming around capturing what is happening at different stalls or sections of your event? Or will you be capturing behind-the-scenes content? Or all three? Either way, have a clear vision so you can ensure you’re adequately resourced with

You don’t necessarily need a huge budget for content creation if you’re just using the content for social media, but you do need enough people to capture it. You’ll also need to have adequate equipment, even if that just means purchasing a ring light and an iPhone tripod.

Consider all your needs prior to your event and be prepared with content briefs outlining your key objectives and the key shots you want to capture. In many cases, you only get one shot at capturing event coverage!

Key things you might want to capture for event promotion for future events are:

  • Coverage of the “main event”; which is typically your speakers or performers on the main stage amongst all the action. You can turn this content into videos, Stories, quote posts, or even memes
  • Coverage of the event location, if it’s set in a beautiful place. Events like Coachella use the event location and atmosphere as a major drawcard to the event itself
  • The attendee experience; capture footage of the crowds having fun, do short interviews, or utilize user-generated content. This content can be turned into posts, Stories, or quote posts

Coachella Instagram image

All of this post-event content should be collated and should form part of your ongoing strategy. After your event, we recommend not switching your social media off completely – although you can enjoy a small, well-deserved break! Keep your social media calendar on “maintenance mode” and try and keep adding at least one post per week. If you’re not getting much engagement yet you can use a social media scheduler to “set and forget” this content, checking back every now and then.

Then, six months out from your next pre-sale (or whenever you choose), you can start to ramp things up again in readiness for your next event.

Collate User-Generated Content from Your Event

Hopefully, if you set up your event hashtag correctly and you included some “Insta-worthy” installations within your event, you should have plenty of user-generated content to share with your Instagram followers. Check your event hashtag and your tagged posts and save your best content.

Always request permission from users before sharing their content on your page – it’s the polite thing to do. You don’t necessarily need to share all the UGC you can find – only share the posts that truly showcase the best your event has to offer.

Not seeing much UGC after your event? To encourage UGC during or after your event, try the following:

  • Add your event hashtag in the Instagram bio of your account, on your website, on promotional gear, and on any other marketing materials
  • Create a giveaway and reward attendees for uploading UGC
  • Create posts reminding attendees to share their event pics
  • Use influencers to share photos from your event using the event hashtag – this can often push attendees to do the same

Below, we can see how the event organizers of the Mind Body Spirit Festival have enticed users to post UGC – they created a purpose-built branded photo wall to encourage social media sharing.

MBS Instagram image

Mastering Event Marketing on Instagram

Ready to conquer the world of event promotion? Instagram marketing should be a key tool in your marketing strategy and will allow you to keep the hype train running, boost ticket sales and engage meaningfully with your event attendees. Best of all, it will help you continue the momentum, year after year.

The “instant” nature of Instagram is an ideal platform for marketers trying to master event marketing, but pre-planning is crucial. The key to “winning” when it comes to Instagram marketing is to do what you can and automate the rest. That’s where Sked Social comes in.

Instead of spending hours each week painstakingly planning and posting your Instagram content, Sked Social is a social media scheduling tool that allows you to automate your Instagram post scheduling and execute a consistent social media marketing calendar that will keep Instagram users hooked.

This will allow you to free up your time to refine that all-important marketing strategy, capture live content for the promotion of future events, or expand your reach through paid Instagram ads.

Discover how to use our intuitive scheduling tool so you can automate your social media marketing and work on creating unique content that will help you stand out as a top restaurant in your area.

Ready to watch ticket sales skyrocket? Try out some of our foolproof tips, refine your event marketing strategy, and let us know how you go!

Photo of Photo of Meg Andrew

Megan is a seasoned writer and social media nerd who loves to create content marketing magic. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her geeking out over a new book, watching terrible reality TV, or forcing her unwilling dog to participate in photoshoots. Find her on Twitter at @meganjaneandrew.

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