Say Cheese: Instagram at Meetings

Snapping photographs that capture the excitement of a meeting is not an easy task. Could getting meeting attendees involved via Instagram help out? Perhaps—and it may even build some engagement.

Let’s be honest: It can be difficult to capture the energy of your association’s meeting on camera. Florescent and dim lighting, groups of people sitting and watching a speaker at the front of the room, and required “grip and grin” shots are just some of the elements that add to that complexity.

And while professional photographers do a great job of making the most of this, your smartphone-wielding, Instagram-happy attendees or exhibitors can also help capture some fun and behind-the-scenes meeting moments. And by allowing them to do so, your association may not only be increasing member engagement with your meeting and its venue and host city but also building a repository of photos you can use in the future. Here’s a look at three ways to use photo-sharing tools effectively at your upcoming events—from associations that have tried these tactics out.

Keep It Simple

If you’re just introducing Instagram at your meeting, or if your attendees are unfamiliar with the tool, you’ll want to keep your strategy simple at the start. Take some advice from the Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals. At its 2013 ADRP Conference, it simply asked attendees to upload photos taken on their smartphones to Instagram using #adrp2013. The results: Over the course of three days, nearly 600 photos were shared. ADRP could potentially use them to market future meetings. Plus, members will likely be excited to see their photos being put to use.

Hold a Contest

At the American Society of Landscape Architects’ 2013 Annual Meeting and Expo in Boston in November, attendees participated in an Instagram contest. Here’s how it worked: Attendees visited the social media lounge to pick up a card that contained two logos related to the meeting. Then, over the course of the conference, they were encouraged to snap photos of Boston’s various landscapes with the logos in the frame and then upload them to Instagram using a specific hashtag. The winning prize: complimentary registration to ASLA’s 2014 meeting.

Choose a Creative Hashtag

The Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encouraged its attendees to use both Instagram and Vine—a video-sharing app—at its 2013 Annual Meeting. While it held an Instagram contest like ASLA’s for best photo shared, it also picked a creative hashtag to get attendees’ attention: #forkonfire. It was a spinoff of the meetings theme, “Light Your Fork on Fire,” and related logo. (You can check out a few snapshots for yourself.) The hashtag has continued to be used since the meeting ended, showing that these apps allow meetings to live on even after they’re officially over.

Getting attendees—and even your staff—to capture images and videos onsite may become even more commonplace with the rise of wearable tech devices like Google Glass. Take, for instance, the Washington Restaurant Association, which had staff use the glasses earlier this month to livestream its 2014 Northwest Foodservice Show. Another option is to use something like Eventstagram or Instastrm, which allow you to stream real-time feeds from Instagram on large screens—similar to how many associations do Twitter walls at their meetings.

Have you involved your attendees in capturing moments via their smartphones or photo-sharing tools? Tell us how in comments.


Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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