Optimizing Your Events for Instagram

May 02, 2018 | B2C Consumer Activations


Optimizing events for Instagram has marketers completely reimagining how they approach their events. There was a time not too long ago when marketers designed their event spaces to reflect a certain theme or message, and left it at that. The venue’s lighting, textures and color scheme were secondary thoughts, if they were thought of at all. When attendees shared the live experience socially it was a perk, but not an objective for the brand.

As user-generated content becomes an increasingly crucial event amplification channel, event marketers are designing experiences specifically for social media platforms like Instagram, which has a brand engagement rate 10 times higher than that of Facebook, and 84 times higher than Twitter. Here’s a look at how to make the strategy work for your brand.

Encourage Self-Expression

Most attendees have a natural desire to express themselves—that’s what social media was designed for, after all—so make it easy for them. Creating displays, swag or props that allow attendees to fill in the blank with their opinions is pretty much guaranteed to inspire some thought provoking, or at the very least humorous, Instagram posts. In other words, the more customized the engagement, the more likely attendees are to share the experience with their followers.

In August 2014, “selfie” was officially accepted for use in the word game Scrabble, after being adopted into the Oxford Dictionary a year prior. Instagrammable moments are becoming a need for every event with social media’s popularity. At the Hey Google CES experience designed and produced by Sparks, attendees stood in front a larger-than-life mouth that would take a selfie of them when asked "Hey Google, take a selfie". Attendees could then share their posts to their personal social media accounts. Social media saturation of an event is cost-effective advertising and brand promotion.

Make it Interactive

Giving attendees an opportunity to engage with your brand hands-on offers them a stake in the experience—and a reason to post about it. At Syfy’s Hall of Magicians activation, designed to promote the second season of its popular series “The Magicians,” the brand encouraged hands-on discovery at every turn. There were 12 rooms to explore, each with its own interactive engagement built for sharing on Instagram. Attendees could do things like control constellations and “flip” items in rooms, activities that turned them into magicians themselves—and each unique enough to warrant a share.

Ensure Good Lighting

Anyone who’s ever taken an event photo, only to revisit it at home and find that the image is dark and unflattering, understands just how crucial it is to provide good lighting at live events. Sure, most Instagram users are going to add a filter to the images they share, but if the picture quality is dark and grainy to begin with, they won’t even consider posting it. If you’re hosting a daytime event, consider leveraging skylights and large windows. For evening experiences, implement interior light fixtures specifically designed to optimize the space’s lighting for photos.

Make it Personal

We all know personalization is the name of the game for optimizing events for Instagram, so take it a step further by creating ultra visual personalized experiences that beg to be shared. One way to do it? Take traditional badges or place cards to the next level by finding a way to personalize them. As fashion and celebrity party planner Bronson van Wyck put it, “When Saks Fifth Avenue fashion director Roopal Patel had her birthday down in Tulum, she used Mexican lotería cards as place cards. She gave me El Apache—a shirtless, fit Native American hunk. You bet I posted it.”

Details, Details, Details

If optimizing events for Instagram has one requirement, it’s that event marketers must consider every nitty gritty detail about the event space in terms of how it would look in a photograph. That means everything, from the texture of the furniture to the color of the tablecloths, has to be strategically planned for. These details may not particularly affect the attendee experience (or they might), but when their Instagram followers view images from your event, it’s critical that everything look cohesive, attractive and well thought out.

The rise of social media platforms like Instagram hasn’t always been easy for companies that execute live experiences. When it comes to user-generated content, brands lose a certain level of control over how their events are portrayed, and the messaging attendees take away from them. But by optimizing events for Instagram and creating spaces that are designed to be shared socially, event marketers are regaining a little control—and earning their brands some serious street cred along the way.

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experiential work designed and produced by Sparks.

Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. Chief Marketing Officer, Doodle owner and lover of all things chocolate.