By Flo Levy
In March 2014, the photo sharing social media site Instagram announced it had over 200 million active users (Instagram Blog) – a figure which I am sure has increased by now. One aspect of Instagram that I find particularly intriguing (and something which I think has contributed to its success) is the way it encourages face-to-face community interaction through InstaMeets.
The idea of an InstaMeet is simple, people meet at a pre-determined place and time to take photos and meet other Instagramers. I told you it was straight-forward! Currently, the main site for arranging and registering for InstaMeets, meetup.com, has 1,991 Instagram communities from around the globe with multiple walks taking place on a weekly basis. I think this idea has become so popular because Instagram promotes a community of sharing, exploration and learning from others, and the best way to do this is face-to-face.
On 28th September, we joined forces with Instagramer Tim Hatton (@the.hat) to arrange our very own InstaMeet on behalf of MERGE Festival. MERGE is an annual arts festival with installations taking place across various Bankside venues, so an Instagram walk was a great way to show the public what was on offer!
After spending the day on the walk I quickly discovered that many of the attendees were veteran walkers with one gentlemen telling me he takes part in InstaMeets nearly every other weekend. He said that the walks are a great opportunity to meet new people and explore cities or areas he has never been to before. On our walk there was a mix of individuals and groups of friends taking part. The groups told me that they used the walks as an alternative to going out drinking or dining out – they save money and still get to spend time together.
From a brand perspective InstaMeets are an amazing way to receive publicity through social media. The attendees post images onto Instagram using a specific hashtag – ours was #mergebankside. We had 35 attendees – with an average of 500 followers each, plus our leader Tim (the leader) and @Igerslondon who helped promote the walk. Combined, this gave us an incredible reach of over 100,000 followers! Currently we have 163 images posted under #mergebankside and this is increasing as people continue to upload more images sporadically. What is more, many of the Instagramers have also been sharing these images on Twitter and Facebook, further extending the reach on social media.
The InstaMeet was really fun to be a part of with everyone taking part agreeing that they felt they were part of something special. This is what is really important, getting the public interacting with your brand because they feel they have access to something exclusive. Overall, they are a fantastic way to interact with your audience, promote a certain image and understand how many people your brand is reaching.
Xanthe is a co-founder and director of Fourth Day PR