Alex Hammond

Digital Communication Officer, BE Vienna

Guest blogger for FCDO Editorial

Part of Digital Diplomacy UK in Austria

19th January 2017 Austria, Vienna

How and why we hosted an Instagram event

A photographer is on his knees, stealthily taking pictures of Ambassador Leigh Turner from behind a Christmas tree. Another stands in the corner, facing the wall. Unnoticed by the other guests, she points her camera at the ceiling and triggers the shutter.

Has the Ambassador’s residence in Vienna been infiltrated by foreign agents?

Not quite. We invited a group of 15 high-profile instagrammers to the Ambassador’s residence for a chat about Instagram, photography and social media in Austria. Their photos and videos of the evening will soon be seen by tens of thousands of people.

Our goals were to increase the quantity and quality of followers for the Ambassador’s Instagram account, to meet regional digital influencers and to get expert advice on how to make the most out of this rapidly growing social channel.

Organising the event

We contacted the admins of a popular regional instagrammers collective that organises regular instawalks. Pitching the evening as an exclusive opportunity to photograph one of the most beautiful houses in Vienna, and to meet the Ambassador, we asked them to come up with a list of attendees. This was then combined with our own list, which was based on:

  • Quality/subject of images
  • Engagement
  • Number of followers

(The third of these can be easily manipulated – as our guests told us on the night.)

The event was organised on an evening shortly before Christmas, when the residence was looking especially photogenic with its large tree and decorations.

After offering the guests a welcome drink – from a beautifully presented selection of British products – the Ambassador gave a short talk followed by a Q&A session. The instagrammers were then given a tour of the residence and let loose to take photos, while chatting with the Ambassador and Embassy staff.

What the instagrammers taught us

The instagrammers told us about the best time to post (breakfast time and tea time for Austria), what images work on Instagram (symmetrical and exclusive) and how to build a following (make it personal, post regularly, engage, ask questions and tell stories).

We learnt that some users schedule posts with hootsuite and that few post immediately after taking a photo, preferring to edit and then post at the most effective times of day.

We also learnt that many popular Instagrammers have multiple accounts. They put a wider range of images on personal accounts, while focussing their popular accounts on a particular topic, style or niche.

One of the most interesting things we took away from the event was how many of the attendees posted Instagram Stories from the event, as opposed to photos. For some people, photos of the residence would not have fitted with the theme of their accounts, whereas temporary videos do not stick around for long enough to clutter up a timeline. Our selection of British whiskeys was a popular motif.


All of the attendees started following @LeighTurnerFCO, with whom many of them now regularly engage on Instagram. His follower numbers grew by around 10% during and immediately after the event.

The instagrammers are keen to join us for further events.

All attendees posted either a photo from the event or an Instagram Story (total combined followership 350,000+). Theirs is a younger audience that we rarely reach with other channels.

And they gave us the hashtag #grambassador for future updates.