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by Amadeus Finlay

Instagram may be the forgotten stepchild of the tradeshow and event industry, lagging behind Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as the fourth most popular social platform among event professionals, but the two should really consider having a drink. And that is because Instagram and the world of conventions and events share the same essential premise for their existence; to convey beautiful visuals to a world that is all about being moved by striking visuals… and with one billion users now surfing the Insta waves, where better than an image-centric social platform to showcase your company’s finest builds?

Sound like a silver bullet? It should, for in the simplicity of Instagram lies its success. Humans have regressed to an average attention span of just eight  seconds, and that intolerance is being spearheaded by those aged 30 and below. Which means that brand experts need to get smart with their marketing dollars. But with a simple message to convey and almost no thinking required, Instagram is encapsulating the marketing strategies of the future with its stripped-down, user-centric approach. And it gets better. 64 percent of the platform’s users are aged 18-29, with 42 percent holding a college qualification or higher. Sound familiar? This group is getting ever closer to the largest demographic in the event industry—college educated females aged 25-35—and that is a correlation to which everyone should pay attention. Not only will this trend continue as their careers keep growing, but by engaging loyalty in your Insta marketing today, your brand will be locked in the consciousness of the industry leaders of tomorrow.

How to use Instagram? It’s rather simple, really. Take a compelling photograph or 20-second video, make eye-catching edits within the platform’s intuitive design center and upload to the waiting world. And worry not if you aren’t the planet’s strongest wordsmith. Instagram doesn’t require much in the way of writing, just four or five words that give the image context; in fact, it actively encourages short messaging. What the user should remember to do is use a plethora of hashtags. Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, Instagram welcomes endless lists of hashtags, and there are plenty out there. Handily, Instagram auto-populates each individual hashtag with the number of times it has been used, indicating how much impact your choice will have. Again, user-friendliness is key to those at Instagram towers.

There’s more. Specific events almost always have hashtags of their own. Accordingly, Instagram users can show off their clout during a show by coupling compelling visuals with the event’s hashtag. Support those beautiful images from the floor with relatable photographs of your team, and you’ve got a live Instagram recipe for success. As ever with Instagram, users can aspire for a cherry on top, too, by meeting fellow Instagrammers on the show floor and cross-pollinating content; nothing supports an Instagram account like working with another influencer. Need a lexicon refresh? An influencer is an Instagram user at the top of their game; they are usually widely followed and highly active both online and in real life. They are community-focused individuals eager to connect with other users and accounts. In short, they will want to support your brand (if it makes sense to theirs).

Instagram also taps into the new trend of “stories.” This feature allows users to upload content that is only viewable for 24 hours before disappearing. What does this mean in practice? Dedicated followers of an account are likely to actively seek the unique content, giving the visuals a desirable edge on standard posts. But that’s not all. Users can also employ stories to host competitions, especially popular if the 24-hour window contains a particularly desirable giveaway.

So, get snapping (or gramming, if you want to be cool). There is a whole new world out there waiting to be explored, and with something as welcoming as Instagram serving as the digital destination, a simple X really will mark the spot.

Having worked with Groupon, IBM, Nordea, and others, Amadeus Finlay is a global connector of people and brands. He has extensive experience in professional copywriting, social media and script-to-screen video production, including on-camera hosting. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, he holds a Master’s degree in American History. Connect with him at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amadeusfinlay/

This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Exhibit City News, p. 16. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_julyaugust_2019_web

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