When Facebook couldn’t acquire Snapchat, they copied it instead. Instagram Stories is just one of the results. And while it may not be good news for Snapchat which has a much smaller customer base than Instagram, it’s great news for you and your event.

What is Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories allow the user to send photos from a location or event. They can add photos from their personal account to the location, which is curated by Instagram to crowd-source a Story. You can see that this is a great way for event planners to utilise social media to crowd source attendees’ photos and videos, and therefore end up with a large pool of people who will share the Story because they feature in it. These can be searched via location or hashtag.

So, what about Snapchat?

Well this crowd sourcing is exactly what Snapchat became famous for. But Instagram Stories has now reached over 200 million daily users, which is more than Snapchat’s entire user database. And Instagram also has the power of Facebook behind it. If you were late to the game building a following on Snapchat you’re unlikely to bother now, rather sticking with your already established Instagram following. Influencers have also said that engagement is up to 5 times higher on Instagram Stories than Snapchat, but Snapchat is not dead yet! While most of Instagram’s users are over 24, most of Snapchat’s are under that age. And 60% of users, according to Business Insider, create content on the app.

Which is best for event marketing?

As is usually the case in questions like this, it depends. If you have a very young audience, or you’re creating an after-event Story, Snapchat might be the favourite to utilise all those crowd-sourced creations with the great tools and filters they have to use. Otherwise, Instagram’s 600 million monthly users might swing the balance in its favour, along with the fact that the audience can be switched to public rather than as on Snapchat being kept to just those you are friends with.

How does Instagram Stories work?

Just like Snapchat Stories, the circular icons at the top of the screen showing your friends are how you reach Stories. If the circle has a red outline, there is a new Story to view. The Stories will be a collection of photos or videos which can last up to 10 seconds, and they will disappear after 24 hours.

How can I create a Story?

It’s simple. In the top left of the screen, click on the circle which says Your Story with a + sign. You can change the privacy settings to make it public or private, and also hide it from individual followers (a feature which differs from Snapchat Stories). You’ll be taken to your camera screen where you can start creating your story – photo, live or Boomerang (video clips like GIFs that loop round).

Top tip – make sure your Story actually tells a story, and isn’t just a collection of photos!

Tip that’s almost at the top – most people will be viewing on a mobile device, and they will be holding their phone vertically. It makes sense to film in this format for Instagram Stories.

Different Ways to Use Instagram Stories for Events

1) Give your viewers a peek behind the scenes. If you’ve got lots of work to do prepping the venue, testing, planning, put this in the story along with teaser glances at any booklets or goodie bags.

2) Give your viewers a sneak peek of the product/film/track if the event is a launch. The Story can only be viewed once so teasing glances will only build up the hype.

3) If you’re going to be using Instagram Stories, make sure your attendees know. They can put all their pictures in their own Story, using the event hashtag, and it may get more people interested in the event for the following year. Make sure you also try to get your staff and speakers involved.

4) Use Instagram Stories well before the event too as a teaser to reveal important product details or keynote speakers. Remember, unlike Snapchat you can use as much text as you want.

5) You can use Instagram Stories as a membership perk by making advance information/teasers private and only available to your membership group for a certain amount of time – a kind of early bird viewing. You can use this time to set up special competitions for this group also.

6) You can build engagement by rewarding your most engaged followers – Stories are sorted by interaction rather than chronology. It’s a great opportunity for you to engage heavily with your audience too, build a relationship with them and they will be happy to see you in their DM box later (see our blog on Messenger bot marketing!).

7) Plan your Story in advance and create a storyboard for each day of the event. Plan your theme and any filters, text, stickers or emojis. Vary the types of images to create some variety. Instagram Stories will only allow you to use content from within the previous 24 hours, so if you have created content in advance you aren’t going to be able to store it on your phone until you’re within the allocated time period. If you’re just using images rather than videos a hack to get around this is to store the images and screenshot them.

8) If you have well-known speakers/performers in your sphere, consider asking them to do a takeover of your Instagram Stories, or at least feature in yours.

9) Like all marketing, make sure you have a strategy and plan your call to action. If it’s time-significant, lead up to it in plenty of time. There’s a great example of a call to action in Stories from The North Face here.

10) Plan who is going to keep track of all the interaction, as you only have 24 hours to create your report before the Story disappears.

If you’re planning to use Instagram Stories at your next event, we hope it goes well and we’d love to hear about it! Drop us a line and tell us what worked best for you.