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  • Writer's pictureSusan Dosier

How to Incorporate Events and Promotions into Instagram

Did you notice puzzling, low responses to organic holiday Instagram posts? Here's how to incorporate events and promotions into your Instagram feed without taking a hit.

First, Facebook and Instagram are determined to make you pay to have gift guides or special event posts seen. I noticed fewer people see posts that look familiar to pieces being used for ads. So, budget for paid ads or boosts for holiday-themed and event posts throughout the year. Avoid relying on organic traction to carry you here.

Second, visual users come to your Instagram for the unique, emotional journey your brand offers. As I looked at my feed over the holidays, I realized my holiday posts were a bit of a “jolt” compared to the visual color palate and tone my followers are accustomed to seeing. What to do? For answers, I researched Instagram content offered by beloved brands during the holidays this year.

Below, you'll see examples of how Coca Cola and Southern Living incorporated "holiday" news into their feeds. They chose to stay in the same color palette, tone and mood as the rest of their feed. And they “celebrated” sparingly.

Above: @CocaCola kept the same red-paired-with-neutrals palette consistent through the holidays. Their ONE festive post used a Coke bottle atop the tree.

Above: @SouthernLivingMag offered these images during Christmas week and still stayed tastefully within its home/gardens/food/lifestyle focus…and IG color palate.

Whether it’s a holiday, a big announcement or an event, think specifically about how you'll promote in Instagram versus other platforms. Instagram is a visual medium, designed to evoke emotion. Take a quick look at the posts earning the most likes and engagement. You'll see a pattern. Build your following by providing more of that content your users like. That's tough when it's time to talk about an event or festival, however. Photos of crowds, quiz nights, games, and parades rarely fare well here. Instagram stories can be helpful with "in the moment" posts—but that story audience is almost entirely separate from those who see your permanent posts.  

What to do? When you’re out shooting an event or making a shot list for your photographer, talk through what might be shot specifically for your Instagram feeds or advertising spreads. Try these tips:

a. SHOOT TIGHT, i.e. a single ornament at a Christmas tree benefit or single food item at a festival. For concerts, a photo of one musician playing will translate better than the whole band and stage backdrop. Photograph a group of three willing attendees or a small family facing you and laughing together versus the backs of the crowd. Zero in on one person enjoying a taco or tamale versus the crowds lined up at food truck row.

b. Nothing to use except last year’s images? CROP existing images to focus on one feature or element.

c. Resort to stock imagery in dire situations. Vow to get the right photography this year.

d. You can also boost a post that is not in sync with the rest of your Instagram feed—and omit it as a permanent post. Even when you're boosting or placing a paid ad, however, make sure the look of the boosted image stays in step with your brand.

e. If you’re designing a Facebook poster, it likely won't work on Instgram. Find a simpler, cleaner Instagram image. Both platforms prefer one striking image over a jumbled collection of words and pictures.

f. Finally, aim your paid posts at the right audience for your event. Dig into the target demographics and interests offered when you create your ad—even if you own a restaurant or gift shop. An event with wine attracts a different guest than a dinner built around beer. A clearance sale invites a different shopper mindset than a trunk sale. Think about the attributes of the audience you want, and build the profile into your paid ad.

Here’s to your gorgeous--and functional--Instagram feed.

—Susan Dosier, President, DK Communications Group

Interested in more social and event strategies?

* Learn how to grow your Instagram feed with hashtags.

* Planning an event? Find tips on how to make it memorable.

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