AJ Fernando's Guide to Planning an Instameet

AJ Fernando's Guide to Planning an Instameet

“How do you know each other?”

These days it’s not uncommon to hear real life friendships developing because of social media. Instagram has become a platform that connects individuals all over the world. Through Instameets, they are able to take the next step and build their connections from online to offline.

What is an Instameet?

According to Instagram:
“An Instameet is a group of Instagrammers (Instagram users) meeting-up to take photos and videos together. It can happen anywhere and can be any size. They’re a great opportunity to share tips and tricks with other community members in your area, and an excuse to go out and explore someplace new. All you need to do is show up!”

My definition of an Instameet

Instagram may be a visual sharing platform but it’s not all about the photos or the videos. It’s about connecting with others through those photos or videos. It’s about being a #communityfirst. To me, an Instameet is the coming together of Instagrammers to connect, explore and celebrate creativity in general. The point of these meet-ups is to get to know the Instagram community beyond the social media app.

Photo by  @jeezy.sam

Photo by @jeezy.sam

Planning my first Instameet

I remember planning my first Instameet. It was for @socality and they had just launched their first community project, which was to bring people together through food. Being a people-gatherer and a culinary artist, I knew that the food project was my calling. I didn’t know what I was doing, what was going to happen or if anyone would even come (I had just moved to Toronto and hardly had friends.) But with the help of another Instagrammer @jemicrenshaw21, we put ourselves out there and took the chance to build community. We not only met like-minded individuals but we encouraged a movement in Toronto.

That first Instameet happened over two years ago. From a group of six people, my Instameets have reached to over 40 people in attendance. I’ve also hosted different types of Instameets from private to public gatherings, group to one-on-one meetings, casual to branded experiences, and local to foreign communities. There is not a single way to host an Instameet—each one will serve a different purpose—but having a process can help with the planning. Here is what I learned from my experience:

Understand the purpose of the Instameet

When it comes to planning a get-together, we usually start with the date. I mean, people have to be available or else there’s no point in planning right? I’ve learned that with Instameets, especially with bigger meet-ups, it good to consider going backwards. Before you plan when, where, who and what, it’s important to understand why. Why are you hosting an Instameet? Is it simply to bring people together? Is it to connect with new faces? Is it to build relationships? Is it to explore a city? Is it to create content? Is it to promote a cause or a brand? It can be one of these reasons or all of them. This part is more about looking at your intentions. By understanding the purpose of the Instameet, you can set goals. By having goals, you can plan not just a successful meet-up event but also a memorable meet-up experience.

Focus on a theme and choose an activity

Once you have a peak at the bigger picture it’s time to work on the details! I personally start by focusing on a theme. It can be a particular event like Thanksgiving or Valentines, or it can be a general concept like food, art, summer or adventure. From there choose an activity that encourages conversation, creativity and collaboration.
My passion is in bringing people together through food so I plan my Instameets around food activities. For example, for #SummerSocialTO Instameet, I hosted a picnic at the park. For #Insta-friendsgiving, I hosted a potluck and during the meet-up I asked people to share what they were grateful about. You don’t have to be specific on the theme but it helps. (And you can brand the Instameet with a hashtag!) Other common Instameet activities are going on an urban photo walk, hiking up the mountains or hanging out at a coffee shop.

Find a venue with attendance and activity in mind

Is it open to the public or an invite-only Instameet? If it’s a public meet-up, how many people are you expecting? Will the space be able to accommodate your group? Do you need reservations? Does it work with your activities? Does it have good lighting? Will you be staying for hours or will you be moving around? Where is the meeting point? These are questions to consider when choosing a venue.

Pick a date and promote it on social media

Give the community a notice 2-3 weeks in advance. You don’t have to take RSVPs (unless it’s a private meet-up) but it’s always good to get confirmation. Invite people personally and get their responses or make a Facebook event. You can also collaborate or coordinate with other people attending. Ask them for their suggestions. Remember that you are part of a community. You don’t have to do everything alone!

If it’s an open meet-up, try to post about it on social media as much as you can. Hype it up and remind the community what is happening the week before, the day before, and the morning of the meet-up. You never know who’s suddenly free or stumbles upon your posts!

Learn as you go

Sometimes what you had planned doesn’t work out and that’s okay! Make adjustments and learn as you go. Whether you get 30 Instagrammers or just one other person to show up, it’s going to be worth it. Know that simply taking the initiative to connect beyond the social media app makes a huge difference. It’s a successful Instameet whenever you put #communityfirst.

photo by  @hypebelly

photo by @hypebelly

Big thank you Alexa Fernando for this wonderful article. Read Alexa's blog here, follow her on Instagram here @ajfernando, and follow her on Twitter here

Creative Community Developer at Snapfluence

I'm the Oxford comma's biggest fan.