Instagram just rolled out a new feature that may look familiar to you if you’ve ever used Snapchat. In fact, the feature is almost identical to Snapchat’s existing “Stories.” It even has a near-identical name: Instagram Stories.
How does it work?
If you know how Snapchat Stories work, then you need no introduction to Instagram Stories. The feature functions essentially the same way, appearing as circular icons containing images of your friends. You click on the icon to see the story your friend compiled about themselves, which may include photos in a slideshow format and/or videos up to 10 seconds long — just like Snapchat. Unlike regular Instagram posts, viewers aren’t able to like or post comments.
The story also self-destructs within 24 hours of being uploaded — another feature taken straight from Snapchat’s playbook.
Creating a story on Instagram Stories is simple. The site will now show a “+” icon in the upper left-hand corner of your home screen. Click it to create a new story. It will be available privately (just to your followers) or publicly, depending on your privacy setting. You’ll also be able to make your story only viewable by select individuals.
Instagram vs Snapchat
With the introduction of Instagram Stories, Snapchat has lost an element that made it unique. It remains to be seen how – if at all – this will affect Snapchat in terms of daily active users. Instagram currently takes the lead with roughly 300 million registered users, double that of Snapchat’s 150 million.
The two sites also share roughly the same user demographic: young millennials 18 to 25 years of age, which comprise a little over half of the user base. Many of those users are active on both sites and dart back and forth between the two.
It’s also worth noting that Instagram has a bit of edge over Snapchat since it’s owned by Facebook, which is releasing its own new features such as Facebook Live.
The implications for event organizers
So what does this mean for event organizers? Is it just another tool in the toolbox, or does it represent a major game changer? And more importantly, how exactly can Instagram Stories be used?
Here are a few ways to use Instagram Stories for event promotion. It’s worth noting that these methods are already currently used by many event organizers who use Snapchat for marketing.
1. Give a sneak peak of a product
Does your event include a product launch? If so, then using Instagram Stories is a great way to hype the product. Create a slideshow made up of product photos taken from different angles.
This will get followers talking as they begin hypothesizing about the product. The fact that the story can only be viewed once also means viewers will have to rely on memory as they discuss the look of the product, which adds to the fun and mystique.
2. Film “behind-the-scenes” content
There are always interesting moments that happen during your planning process that attendees don’t see. Giving them a “behind-the-scenes” look at your event can help you raise excitement among attendees and make them feel more involved in your event.
This type of content can include photos of the venue being set up, planning meetings, equipment testing, and so on. You can even incorporate a bit of humor by filming a quick 10-second blooper.
3. Encourage Attendees to Use Instagram Stories
If you decide to use Instagram Stories, you should encourage your attendees to follow suit. Once your event starts, ask guests to take pictures and film footage to for their own Instagram stories.
When guests do this, they help you promote your event by sharing with their followers; and people who didn’t make this year ‘s event may be inspired to attend the next one. Aside from attendees, you should also encourage staff members, sponsors, and speakers to share on social media.
4. Respond to individual inquiries
Customer service has changed. Thanks to the instant gratification provided by social media, people expect answers to their questions right away.
Instagram Stories gives you one way to delight your attendees by responding to them directly. With a 10-second video, you can quickly address an attendee by name, state the question that was asked, and provide an answer.
If you do this often, people may be more inclined to view your story to see if they were featured.
5. Tease your guests
Don’t reveal everything to your attendees at once — slowly leak it to them instead to drum up excitement.
If you have a high-profile speaker, for example, why not tease their identity and make your attendees guess who it is? Your Instagram Stories’ photos can reveal hints, such as the speaker’s initials, or a blurred picture that your followers have to decipher.
Whether Instagram is guilty of copycatting or not is beside the point. What’s relevant is that event organizers now have an additional social media tool to use to reach a bigger audience.
Not sure which social media channels are right for your event? Take this quiz to find out!