Headed to a conference, convention, or other event? Here’s how to use this opportunity to get more followers.

(Caveat: the point is not just to get followers for the sake of followers, but actually find people who you can have meaningful relationships with. These relationships could be coaching, being mentored, sharing business opportunities, or working together in some capacity.)

Before the Event:

First, find the hashtag for the event and follow it. Instagram recently added the ability to follow hashtags as a feature, and this is what it’s for! Search for the hashtag, then press the “Follow” button to start following it.

Next, start looking through that hashtag, and like and comment on every picture you see in that hashtag before the event. Write something insightful, ask a question, or find a way to create a connection. For instance, before the event, once you’re following the hashtag, and when you see someone posting that they’re heading to the conference, take a couple of minutes to look at their most recent posts to see who they are and what they’re about. Are they a speaker or an attendee? Are they an entrepreneur or a small business owner or an employee? Once you have a composite of who they are, reply to their picture and write something like: “I’m headed there too! Looking forward to meeting you! What sessions are you definitely going to?” The goal is to start an engaging conversation online that transitions Direct Messages and continues in a real-world introduction and discussion.

During the event:

Posts: 3 Pictures per day

Post 3 pictures per day with event speakers, event staff, or other people you’ve met at the conference. Ensure you add a location of the event in the “Location” field, and tag the people you met in the pictures, so they can re-post those pictures – this saves them the time and effort of composing a great post because you’ve already done it for them. The bonus part is that it opens up their audience to you and your thoughts.

In the caption of the pictures you’re posting in your feed, write some of the key takeaways you’ve learned at the conference. Plenty of people want to be able to attend the conference, but can’t for various reasons, including challenging work schedules, lack of vacation time, or funding. Those who wanted to attend but couldn’t will start following you to get the inside track on what they’re missing. They may ask questions of what they wanted to learn at the event, or who they wanted to meet – try to help out and do those activities!

During the event:

Going Live: Once or twice per day.

SMMW 2018 with Daniel Hill!

Got Social Media Marketing World 2018 FOMO? Me too! Thankfully my friend, Daniel Hill, is here to fill us in on his biggest takeaways. (You can find his podcast, The Instagram Stories, here > https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-instagram-stories/id1301584763?mt=2 and his IG link is https://www.instagram.com/danielhillmedia/.)

Posted by Smartphone Marketing School on Friday, March 2, 2018

Once or twice per day, go live briefly (less than 2 minutes) with your key takeaways. If you can stand in front of a banner from the conference or some other large visual marketing material, this would be a great way to show your audience where you are and what you’re doing. When you do Go Live, just start talking right away – don’t wait for people to join. More people will see you talking on the replay than when during those 2 minutes you’re actually live. When you’re doing Going Live, make sure you publish the video to your story so people can watch it for the next 24 hours.

During the event:

Stories: 6 – 10 per day (3 – 4 video, 4 – 6 photos)

Each morning before the conference, post a video of yourself getting ready, talking to your followers about where you are, what sessions you plan to attend, and who you’re hoping to connect with that day. Add the event hashtag to your stories, and tag the people you’re hoping to meet in the stories where you mention them.

During the event, use your story to film small clips of the sessions and take photographs of the best slides. When you take a picture of a great slide, tag the presenter, add the hashtag for the event, and write in small letters why this is relevant or important.

Typically, the keynote speaker is someone who has a great following. Take a look at the comments on their recent Instagram posts, and see what questions they often get that go unanswered. Reply to those people and say “I’m at a conference and this person is speaking, I’ll try to get that question answered!” Also, be sure to sit in the front during any keynotes or other important sessions, as that will give you the best opportunity for pictures and video .

Direct Messages:

The best thing about Direct Messages is that you don’t need anyone’s email address or phone number to contact them. It eliminates the need for any other contact info.

Use Direct Messages to arrange in-person “quick meetups” based on people who’s pictures you’ve seen and commented on. Something like “I’m going to be at the Starbucks at 8:30AM if you’re around, we can grab coffee?” These can lead to great conversations and excellent relationships.

After the Event:

Once the event is over, take some time to look back at all the content you created and posted. (Hopefully you have everything set to automatically save in Google Photos! If not, download it ASAP!) Think about what stood out as the most important things you learned over the course of the event? If someone asked you about your favorite session, what would you say? This is your chance to make some longer-form content using the shorter-form content you’ve made over the past few days. This will be extremely valuable to those that couldn’t make the event, or weren’t in the sessions that you were in. Those people will appreciate you taking the time to curate the most important things you learned and saw.

Once you’re home, take all the pictures and video you’ve taken, order it in a way that makes sense, and post it as a blog post or do a video review of the event. Use all the content you’ve captured over the past few days to make the blog post or video really engaging. The people who wanted to go to the event will appreciate the overview to help them make up their minds about going next year, and will consider you as an expert with the latest knowledge based on what you learned from your trip. Those people will be likely to follow you because they recognize you as someone who can provide them valuable information.

What’s been your experience using Instagram at events? Share in the comments below!