How to use Instagram Stories for your next event

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Do you have an event coming up that you’d like to promote on Instagram stories? Networking, launches, exhibitions or business events, and sport races and competitions are all great opportunities to engage with attendees and your audience on Instagram stories.

But how you do you put together a strong strategy? What should you post about? Who should you include? How many posts should you do? Should you pre-prepare any stories? What types of stories should you use? What equipment do you need?

These were all questions I had and more, when I joined the Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon’s media team to share the 5-day event on Instagram stories. 

Photo credit: José Luis Houcade

Photo credit: José Luis Houcade

Norseman is an extreme long distance triathlon in Norway, which goes from Eidfjord to Gaustatoppen. Triathletes start by jumping off the back of a ferry at 5am into freezing fjord water temperatures, then a 3.9km swim, followed by a 190km cycle and 42.2km run, and athletes gain over 5000m in elevation. It’s not for the feint hearted!

[Read more about the 2018 Norseman race in my race report here]

I felt armed with the answers, as I’d attended many marketing events, including Chris Ducker’s Yourpreneur event and many of marketing guru Janet Murray’s incredible events, Build Your Audience Live being the most helpful!

In this blog, I will cover everything you need to know about how to use Instagram stories for your next event, including the lessons I learnt from streaming 2018 Norseman and how I’m planning the Instagram strategy for 2019 Norseman.

Read on and find out:

1. Just say yes and figure it on the way

When I spoke to Janet Murray about the topic for my talk at 2019 Build Your Audience Live, one of the first things Janet mentioned was how a lot of people are scared or nervous when it comes to Instagram stories.

A lot of people tell you to just say yes or to just do it, but as a mindset coach, I find this can be unhelpful advice when unhelpful and negative feelings are keeping you stuck from getting on Instagram Stories.

I find it helpful to remember these three things:

  1. Absolutely every expert that you follow was once a beginner. They once did awkward and embarrassing Instagram Stories too, but by being brave, courageous, laughing at themselves and posting continuously, they became good.

  2. Instagram Stories and Live only last 24 hours - and they’re only seen by a fraction of your followers. So even if you think it was a disaster, it’s gone in a few hours.

  3. You can’t fail at Instagram Stories, you can only learn from each story you do and if you get feedback, great, you can use it to make the next story even better!

Now I’m going to be honest with you about how I landed my dream job working for Norseman:

It was March 2018 and I was attending The London Triathlon and Bike Show. I had seen that Dag Oliver, the General Manager of Norseman, was speaking and had emailed him beforehand to arrange a quick chat at the show, which he’d agreed to.

When I arrived at the show I couldn’t find Dag anywhere! I had almost lost hope, but then I saw him give James Lawrence, a.k.a the iron cowboy, a bright yellow Norseman swim cap. Torn between asking James on my podcast and asking Dag about volunteering for Norseman, I decided to run Dag down. 

When I caught up with him, he asked if I could blog and do Instagram. I said yes. At the time, I was just blogging for Red Bull and I’d never done Instagram professionally, but I really wanted to work for Norseman (my dream is to race in 2021). I knew I had the skills and knowledge, it was just a case of researching, going through my notes and working hard to grow my expertise.



2. Research

Research your favourite people or brands who do Instagram Stories really well to get an idea of what works, what doesn’t work, what you like, what you don’t like and how you can make Instagram Stories your own!

Don’t get too bogged down in the research phase. I’d spend a maximum of 2 hours gathering ideas and then occasionally watch your favourite accounts’ IG Stories. For example, I have written down in my calendar key triathlon races to watch on stories. 

When conducting my research, I look at how influencers (I really like @shona_vertue , @richroll , @mikaellindnord and @ianefinch) and brands/events (I love @superleaguetriathlon and @worldtriathlon) use Instagram stories. I’ll screen shot my favourite stories and save them in a folder for later.

I also listen to podcasts and read blogs by marketing experts on how they advise using IG and IG Stories - Janet Murray and Phil Pallen are always my go-to people!


3. Event day content plan

Once you’ve completed your research and have a rough idea on how you’d love to use IG Stories during your event, it’s time to create your event day content plan!

Your event day content plan should be made up of 30 minute time slots from when you want to start creating IG stories to your last story.

First, fill in the plan with the all of the things that are happening, such as talks, introductions, lunch etc.

Second, using your research, input each story you’d like to create, including what time, what kind (e.g. image, video, live etc.), who (if anyone) it will include anyone, and if it’s not you, who will be creating the story.

If you have a very specific call-to-action you want to promote throughout the event, it’s a good idea to have a few different images or videos pre-pepared that you can quickly and easily upload. 

For example, for 2019 Norseman we want to drive people to our live stream at certain times, so I’ve created on-brand IG Stories telling people to swipe up for the live stream.

To show you how I’ve prepared 2019 Norseman’s IG Story race day content plan, I’ve included a screen shot of the plan for the first day below.

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4. Confirm IG stories with contacts

Once you have the event day content plan in place, contact everyone you need to (e.g. photographers, interviewees) and confirm with them that they’re happy to do a story with you. You can be flexible or book them in and send them the question in advance so they’re prepared.

5. Pre-prepared any images and/or videos

If you want to post on IG Stories any pre-prepared images and/or videos, get it done ahead of time. If you’re outsourcing any design or creative work, make sure they have the instructions and deadline ahead of your event.

I love using Canva for everything, the pro plan is fantastic as you can upload your brand logos, colours and fonts to make sure everything is on-brand. You can also pre-upload any pictures into a folder and you can create a specific event folder that holds all of your designs for your event.

Below are three stories that I’ve prepared for 2019 Norseman:

6. Equipment

It’s important that you have the right equipment for your event. You’ll need to do some research to find out what set up is best for you. I’ve listed my 2018 Norseman set up below, I prioritised sound quality, and what I’m considering for 2019 Norseman:

(Just so you know, the sound quality from the Rode microphone is excellent for podcasting too. I ripped all of my audio from the IG Stories for 2018 Norseman and created a podcast episode which is coming out soon!)


7. Lessons learnt

2018 Norseman was my first time using Instagram Stories to promote and stream an event live, you can watch all of my stories live below:

Don’t be fixated on timeliness to the detriment of the video

I was trying to upload everything in real time and often this meant I missed tagging the right people, including myself, sponsors and key athletes, and some of the key moments.

Pro tip: If you’re time restrained and not video savvy, use IG to record the video, download and then when you have time, upload the video with great design, content and relevant handles. You can always record the video on your camera, use an app to edit it and then upload to IG Stories, but this takes longer.

Have all your tags in notes

I didn’t know the tags of the key athletes and as a result I missed out on tagging them in the stories. This wasn’t a disaster, but means we missed out on reaching a different audience.

Pro tip: have the person’s name and their handle in notes so you can easily copy and paste into IG Stories.

Have fun!

Have fun with IG Stories, try stuff out and don’t be afraid to approach people to ask them to do a 15 second video. All they can do is say no, which isn’t a big deal.

Pro tip: collect some video story ideas that you loved and give it a go, interact with your audience using stickers (e.g. questions, quiz and poll), try live QnA, use GIFs and have some quick answer questions prepared e.g. one thing you’re looking forward to about [insert event name].

Welcome feedback and listen to the best

Overall I had really positive feedback, especially from Dag and Erik, my media manager, who were the most important people to impress.

The number one piece of feedback I had, which I’ve taken on board, is that I featured myself too much. Now, I could take this to heart, instead I actually understand where they’re coming from.

Norseman is all about the race: the landscape, the athletes, the support crew and volunteers. Although I tried to make my commentary enhance the race, my handheld tripod meant I couldn’t get much distance between myself and the camera, so the audience didn’t get to see huge amounts of scenery. It was also difficult to capture the athletes, as they were going SO quick.

Pro tip: Listen to feedback from a wide range of sources and take the best pieces of advice, feed off the positivity and make the next time even better!

8. 2019 5-day Norseman content plan

I am SO excited for this year, as I want to create the best ever Instagram Story coverage of a live race.

This is going to be my set up:

Here are the pieces of content I’m focusing on:

  • Landscape shots

  • Athletes whizzing by

  • Interviews with athletes, support crew, volunteers and sponsors

  • Snap shot commentary when it’s getting exciting - but mostly limiting to text on video/images

  • Pre-prepared images for CTA and key pieces of info e.g. athlete registration

9. You never know where it could lead

Don’t let fear, anxiety or imposter syndrome hold you back. I learnt how to do this from practice and experts like Janet Murray, and I’m learning every single day.

By saying yes to Dag at The London Triathlon and Bike Show, I decided I’d learn how to be the best Instagram Story person and how to write an amazing press release (thank goodness for Janet Murray’s book: Your Press Release Is Breaking My Heart: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Selling Your Story in the Media!).

I worked really hard and learnt A LOT.

I’m now a good friend of Erik’s, my media manager, and Dag brought me on as a permanent member of the Norseman media team. I now run the Norseman Instagram account (@nxtri) and was asked to lead and host the new Norseman Radio podcast.

I’m so grateful I said yes, because it’s an absolute dream to work for a brand like Norseman, not only is the race spectacular, but the people are awesome too! So I encourage you to say yes to Instagram Stories and see where it takes you!

Follow me on Instagram @adelaidegoodeve and Norseman @nxtri, and if you have any questions, send me an email to adelaide@adelaidegoodeve.com