[dropcap]I[/dropcap] was raised to believe that meeting anyone in person from the Internet is a pretty bad idea. And at the time — with countless, faceless online lurkers trolling chat rooms for naive youngsters — it was a good rule to live by.
But fast forward to October 26, 2013, to when I attended the very first instameet in Arkansas hosted by local Instagrammers @brenton_clarke and @morleyrobert at Mugs Cafe in North Little Rock. With more than 40 people from at least three different states in attendance, the instameet was a huge success, not to mention an eye-opening experience for just how connective and interactive Instagram can be.
An instameet is a gathering of Instagrammers (aka IGers), or anyone who uses Instagram, to meet up, shoot pictures, learn a little about mobile photography, and make great friends over a common creative interest. Instameets are open to Instagrammers of all ages, and encourage the true Instagram spirit of #communityfirst. Instameets can range from groups in the hundreds (#hauteasever13 in San Diego, California) to groups as small as two (#instameetsaresmallerinArkansas in England, Arkansas), and there is no right or wrong place to meet up. There have been several local instameets since the first #LRInstameet almost two years ago, including #letsmeetinLR, #LRmeetJake, and the #BigDamInstameet.
Now how does one host an instameet? Though it may seem a bit overwhelming, the steps to planning an instameet are simple. Pick a location you think would be a good spot to not only socialize, but a place that could also serve as a backdrop for great shots. The hardest part of the process, in my opinion, is coming up with a hashtag specific to the instameet. Creating a hashtag is essential for an instameet, as it creates a unique gallery just for the meet up. That way all the pictures taken during the instameet can be found under one tag and easily accessible to all who attended.
Once the tag is created, the next step is to spread the word: Pass along the tag and instameet information to friends, family, other social media sites, as well as local feature pages that encourage Instagram community growth (such as @igersarkansas.) Sharing the meet information with Arkansas hashtags is also a good idea to reach a wider audience. If the instameet is posted early enough in advance, soon you will have a successful instameet on your hands.
The most important thing to remember, however, is to have fun. From there it’s a matter of making friends and taking pictures with people whom you’d otherwise never have the opportunity to connect.
For more information on instameets, feel free to check out Instagram’s community page at community.instagram.com.