As recently as five years ago it was seen as odd, even reckless, to meet up with online contacts. But very quickly, forming real-life relationships with people that we’ve met online is becoming commonplace. We now network on LinkedIn, meet dates on Tinder and find our housemates on Facebook. But… Instagram?
“People take to Instagram every day to share their passions, tell stories and capture the world as it happens around them,” explains Kristen Joy Watts, the New York-based fashion lead for Instagram who oversees the brand’s art and fashion content. “Our goal is to see this continue and grow as new creative communities emerge.”
Cue the Instameet, a series of catch-ups between Instagram users around the globe.
Instagram actively started encouraging the practice in March 2011 when the first Worldwide InstaMeet was held – a day where people around the planet got together with other Instagrammers to take photos of their city. More than four years later and the company has organised 11 official global InstaMeets and now holds them across three to four weekends a year. Influencers are getting in on the action too, with street-style photographer Lee Oliveira extending an invitation to his 344,000 odd followers to meet up at arguably Sydney’s most Instagrammable spot of all, Bondi.
Kristen believes that Instagram meet-ups, whether official or not, have huge potential for entrepreneurs, particularly those who want to build a community around their brand. Her advice for business owners is to use the platform to engage like-minded people.
“Follow partners, spokespeople, advocates and influential members of the community whose storytelling may relate to yours,” she suggests. However she’s quick to add it’s crucial to stay authentic and remember it’s not about selling a product, rather: “It’s about connection and creativity.”
So, thinking about hosting an Instameet of your own?
PICK YOUR LOCATION WISELY
You want to be able to perform an activity, such as a short walk, with the group. There needs to be plenty of photo opportunities and maybe an end point to meet up at and debrief after everyone has finished their shoots.
CHOOSE THE PERFECT TIME
If going to a city, Sundays are nice and quiet, but if you’re going bush, the golden hour (the last hour of sunlight) creates a glowing backdrop.
SET UP A HASHTAG
Something short and to the point.
CREATE AN INFOGRAM
Use the Over app to create an image of the area you’ll be going to, which is overlayed with text including the location, date, time and hashtag.
PROMOTE THE EVENT
Through Instagram, obviously, but also any other community groups or social media sites. Make it easy for your followers to regram or share the details by keeping the infogram in a public Dropbox file.
After the event, make sure there’s somewhere for you all to relax, share photos and handles so you can all stay in touch.