Three years ago, Instagram began activating seasonal events that bring together the platform’s community of emerging talent in an effort to support their business goals, celebrate Instagram and create spaces that encourage group content creation. Instabeach is the annual summer kickoff event held in July (this year, July 16 at Gladstone’s in Malibu, CA), and Instaskate is a holiday kickoff event held in November.
But while content creation was the brand’s original goal, a pleasant byproduct has emerged since the program began: the formation of a live community forum that creators enjoyed returning to year after year.
“One special thing about our platform is that you see talent and creators share authentic moments every day just like you and I would do—posting stuff on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween. So, we had a hypothesis that if we worked on seasonal celebrations it would be a great start,” says Justin Antony, head of creators and emerging talent at Instagram. “But we noticed after a doing a couple of these that talent would say, ‘This is like my family reunion, the creators on it are my family.’ It wasn’t just creating content. It was actually building community amongst the talent and influencers. That’s what the events have evolved into.”
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Instabeach and Instaskate attract a younger crowd of digital creators, with follower counts ranging from the thousands to the tens of millions. The events have also become breeding grounds for new talent that the Instagram team hasn’t even heard of yet.
“A byproduct of all of this is that we discover people who aren’t on our radar at this event, because creators bring their friends who might be just starting or they might just be collabing,” says Antony. “We’ve had many examples where a creator introduces us to somebody and then we end up working with them throughout the year on launches of new products or events.”
Every touchpoint at the creator events is designed to inspire content creation, from the logo-branded food to the playful photo ops. This summer’s Instabeach featured a Miami-inspired art deco theme with splashes of Living Coral, Pantone’s 2019 color of the year, throughout. To support proper vertical framing of the photos, video and Instagram Stories being posted by the creators, the space was designed with multiple layers of patterns and prints, including backdrops and cut-out shapes dotting the event’s footprint.
Activities included a retro postcard moment with a coral sunset and fabricated boat that read “Greetings from #Instabeach.” There was a tote screen printing station with four customization options that mimicked the stickers on Instagram: Lit, Yaas, Savage and Bye. There was a “dad hat” station where attendees could use digital kiosks to create a patch, typically their IG handle, that was then applied to the hat on-site.
Food and beverage added to the picturesque scene, including a colorful cotton candy station with Pop Rocks toppings, IGTV-branded mini donuts, and branded, fresh coconuts to sip with party straws. Vendors on-site, from the donuts to the cotton candy to music from DJ Lela B, were all found, naturally, through searching accounts on Instagram. Agency: Manifold, San Francisco.