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Using instagram to promote your venue and events

You'll Discover:

  • Why Instagram is a powerful tool to promote your events.
  • Basic setup.
  • How to improve the visibility of your posts.
  • Tips that experienced users may have missed.

Instagram is the third most actively used social media platform in Australia (Social Media Australia, 2018 report).

Instagram’s user-friendly app and its inherently visual nature makes it the perfect tool to promote events, performers, and venue products and services.

This article covers practical tips for new Instagram users, and hidden gems that longtime users may have missed.


Optimise your Instagram business account

Once you have signed up for Instagram, navigate to the settings in your Instagram account by selecting the 3-line menu option in the top-right corner of your profile page. Then select ‘Settings’.

Screenshot of Instagram app - showing how to get to the settings menu at the bottom of the screen.

Navigate down through the ‘Options’ menu until you reach ‘Switch to Business Profile’. Then follow the prompts until you complete this process.

Screenshot of Instagram options menu, with the option 'switch to business profile' circled towards the bottom of the window.

Once you have done this, you will have the ability to track insights and reaches of your posts, interact with your audience, and create your own business promotions.

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Creating posts for events

While there are options to post sponsored content on Instagram, there are plenty of ways that you can promote events at your venue without spending money.

A good way to do this is to put a link to your event’s webpage or ticketing page into your Instagram Bio:

  • Get the web link for your event: Ideally your venue’s website has a single page for each event so potential patrons can easily find event details and buy tickets (if available) Copy that weblink.
  • Use a URL (web link) shortening service like Bitly so that the link doesn’t take up too much text.
  • Go to Instagram and select ‘Edit Profile’. In Bio section paste your shortened web link with a message, for example “Event Details: [Weblink]”.

Once you have this in place, you can go ahead and create posts.

Here are some of the things you should keep in mind when creating a post:

1. Image/Video Quality:

According to marketing influencer Neil Patel, “avoid an awkward crop or blurred image that loses you professionalism points.” That being said, these two things can also add an artistic edge to your post content - so feel free to utilise these things on a case-by-case basis.

2. Tagging performers in a post:

You can notify performers that you are posting about them by tagging each act on a select bill in an Instagram post. Doing so will  also drive your followers to their profiles to further entice them to attend your event.

As the Instagram app doesn’t have a function yet for you to re-share posts, there are a range of external apps that can help you do this. Some of the more popular ones are “Repost For Instagram”, “InstaRepost” or “DownloadGram” which are available to both Android and iOS users.

3. Use of Hashtags:

Digital marketing company Wishpond reinforces that Instagram-users use hashtags to seek out the content that they want, so neglecting to put them in your post means that you will not appear in these searches. Use a combination of popular hashtags (e.g. #tbt, #sydneylivemusic etc) and unique hashtags that might be applicable to you or the artist/event/genres that will be heard during your event.

Check out the examples below for ideas on what kind of hashtags you could use!

Image of Sydney venue Low302's Instagram post. It's a video promoting Sunday jazz night  using the hashtags sydney bars, sydney live music, sydney jazz and keep sydney open.
Image shows an Instagram post from Sydney venue CafeLounge promoting the regular event Folkswagon. It shows the use of many hashtags including small bars, Sydney bars, performance venue, Bondi Beach, folk music and more.

4. Consider using ‘user-generated content’:

This could be highlighting a punter who took a great picture or video of an artist that has played at your venue before. Make sure you ask permission before you do this and credit the content creator and link back to them or use their social handles whenever you can!

5. Create an Instagram competition for followers to win tickets:

Competitions are a great way to gain interaction with your followers. By asking people to do things like follow your profile, like the post, post with a specific hashtag or tag a friend in the comments, you can up your presence and interactions.

Check out this example below from the Hordern Pavillion:

Image shows an Instagram post from Sydney venue Hordern Pavillion. It promotes a competition where their followers could have won a double pass to one of two upcoming gigs. To enter the competition, they had to follow Hordern Pavillion on Instagram, Like the post and tag a friend in a comment that also states which gig they would like to go to.

6. Geotags in posts:

Previous statistics have shown that geotagged posts can increase engagement. It also lets your followers know exactly where you are located at any time, rather than them having to search online for your address.

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Create Instagram Stories for events

Image shows Instagram homepage on a mobile phone. It shows how the buttons to view an individual users Instagram Stories are at the top of the screen.

Stories can be created by selecting the camera icon in the top left corner of your screen. There are many different creative options, including Instagram Live, taking a photo/video, Boomerang, and sharing a song of an artist that is performing at your venue. Check it out and go wild!

Stories can be a great asset in promoting upcoming events as well as maintaining your venues social media presence during and after the event also.

Venues such as the Oxford Art Factory and Cafe Lounge utilise stories to promote gigs that are coming up throughout the week. Once they have published them, they also add them to their ‘Highlights’ - which basically adds the story to their profile and ensures that the story does not expire after 24 hours as Instagram Stories usually do.

Check out the image below to see what this looks like:

Image shows the Instagram page of Sydney venue The Oxford Art Factory. It shows how they have saved some of their Instagram Stories as highlights, so they are displayed underneath their profile picture for longer than 24 hours.

If your Instagram profile has over 10,000 followers, or is a verified account (with a blue tick), then you can add URL links to your stories through the ‘Swipe Up’ option. When creating these stories, there is a link option at the top of your screen. Select this, and paste in your chosen URL.

If you don’t have a verified account, simply writing a caption like “Link in Bio” will direct your followers to the appropriate page for more information.

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Posts for venue specials & features

According to marketing influencer Neil Patel: “in marketing terms, by presenting not only your products, but also the culture and lifestyle that surround them, you’re strengthening your brand equity; that is, the feelings associated with the brand.

We can translate this quite easily to your venue’s social media.

Many venues already post images of their drink specials, food specials, trivia nights and more on a regular basis. Check out some of the examples below.

Some things to keep in mind:

1. Tagging/Mentioning & Hashtagging:

It could be a brewing company/alcohol brand, sporting teams, other product brand (e.g. amp brand/mic brand) just to name few. Mentions and hashtags can up your engagement by making your post visible in other searches.

2. Offering promotions via Instagram:

Particularly on days when you may not have an event. Targeted promotions can play on people’s spontaneity and encourage people to come to your venue! Here’s an example from The Lansdowne:

Image shows an Instagram post by Sydney venue The Lansdowne. It shows a them promoting hospo happy hour, where patrons who have an RSA license or a payslip from their hospitality job can get discounted drinks.

Image shows an Instagram post by Sydney venue The Newtown Hotel. It shows them promoting an event called Queers Eve through posting a picture and tagging the performers Instagram handles in the post.

Image shows an Instagram post by Sydney venue The Botany View in Newtown. It shows them promoting $10 frozen magaritas available in their rooftop bar.

Image shows an Instagram post by Sydney venue Hive Bar. It shows a picture of their sign outside of their venue which promotes their comedy night and also a promotion on Batch tinnies.

Image shows an Instagram post by former Sydney venue Monkey Magic. It shows a picture of a dish that is a new addition to their menu.. They have also included half a dozen hashtags including keep sydney open, darlinghurst and sydney late night eats.

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Instagram Stories for venue specials/assets

Due to the 24-hour life of an Instagram Story, stories are generally perceived as spontaneous content. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Business News Daily reports that Instagram Stories are “a great way to test content, find out what works and adapt very quickly."

Many venues post stories that give behind-the-scenes insights into the inner workings of their venue. It could be videos/photos of staff working (e.g. making cocktails), or the kitchen, the venue, etc.

A good sentiment to follow comes from Andrew Caravella, who says: "the main focus should continue to be on cultivating community through engagement and ongoing dialogue."

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