By Graham Burns

So what the heck is InstaCamp? Well, if youre anything like me and thought it had to do with rapidly inflatable tents and/or sleeping bags, youd be wrong. InstaCamp is actually an event for marketers, brand managers, social strategists and photographers to come together and discuss the art of successfully using Instagram for marketing.

On March 3, Flashstock held its first-ever U.S. InstaCamp event at Irving Plaza in New York. Heres what we learned.

  Under all of the buzz words, industry jargon and a secret contest to see who could say the word millennialsthe most, InstaCamp provided some pretty powerful insights for companies and brands that are looking to efficiently and effectively engage with the Instagram community. The presenters who provided these insights were diverse in their experience and areas of expertise. From Matthew Wurst, VP and head of social at the blazing hot digital agency 360i, who discussed how his team achieved success with campaigns like #snackhacksfor Oreo to crowd favorite 17-year-old IG influencer Humza Deas, who instantly captured the audiences attention with his infamous roof-toppingshots and stories of trespassing.  

  We’re caffeinated thanks to @standcoffee and well on our way with #instacampNYC at @irvingplaza! A photo posted by FlashStock (@flashstock) on

For most companies and brands, their first step is to say to their teams, we need to be on Instagram. They then start posting random superficial content with no rhyme, reason or game plan. Unsurprisingly, this is a big no-no according to Michael Scissons, co-founder/chairman of Flashstock. Instead, he suggests examining the trends and data and coming up with a strategic, focused and consistent approach to the platform that takes full advantage Instagram’s biggest strengths. Grant Munro, co-founder and CEO of FlashStock, and Edlynne Laryea, consultant at Global Digital Center of Excellence at Johnson & Johnson, asked the audience to think before you post and ask the question would I hang this on my wall.

The most honest and insightful presentation of the day came from Gian Carlo Pitocco in his presentation on the Future of Instagram. The main take away being if you want to succeed on Instagram you need to know thy audienceand be authentic.Instagram, as with each individual social platform, has its own unspoken set of aesthetics that hold value in the community. In order to break through all the other marketing white noise, you need to have a deep understanding of the established style of the community. In other words, you have to learn the rules before you can play the game.

Its no secret that Instagram has rapidly become one of the most popular social networks, with about 300 million active users per month (as of December 2014), and that kind of traffic is sure to bing more and more marketing dollars in the very near future. The only question is, will that money be turned into effective statements that engage their intended audiences, or will they simply cause users to unfollow?

[featured image via Flashstock]