Why event Instagram Printing is dying and what's replacing it

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

Since its inception in 2011, Instagram Printing was THE method for printing straight from your phone at events. It was marketed as the best way to get brand exposure on social media and the easiest way to get several hundred of your guests' images from their phones plastered across the internet.

The benefits of event Instagram Printing:

  • The photos look as good as on your phone

  • One hashtag made it possible to focus attention

  • Branding on prints made the event/brand remembered

Once this technology was on the market, you'd have been silly not to take advantage of it and give your guests the best experience possible. Overnight, event Instagram Printers took off and no one looked back...'til now.

3 reasons it's on its way out

1. Privacy

The Instagram printing systems work by trawling through a public hashtag and downloading all the public photos. Wanting to leave your collection of personal photos private so creeps can't look at your family and beach pics? Too bad. Unless you're an influencer or actually have that #grammable life, you probably have your profile set to private and don't plan on changing that. It's awkward to ask someone to give away their privacy for a print, so most people don't even bother.

2. Feed Curation

Instagram is about the look of experience, style and socialising. Below are two examples of curated feeds: @thegrounds, a grammable event venue in Sydney; on the right is @brittany_daisy, a Sydney based lifestyle blogger. People don't want to post 5 images from the same event unless it's "Throw-Back-Thursday" or a "Take-Me-Back" post which gives you an extra 1 or 2 posts before it's too much. My best friend's wedding was great, but still only 2 or 3 Insta posts worth. Think you can avoid that by adding multiple photos to a single Instagram post? Too bad, the software can't handle gallery posts, so guests are required to switch privacy to public, post a few images, delete the images after they print, and then switch privacy back to private. You can again understand why most just don't even bother.

3. Number of Prints

For the reasons above the use of event Instagram printers have significantly reduced in their effectiveness. For corporate events with thousands of people, like music festivals and fun runs, the service can still work, but social events like weddings and birthdays will generate very little use. Less use means less prints which means less value. Also keep in mind, a lot of guests at social family events like weddings are older or just not all that tech-savvy, and would need twice as much education to use the service at all.

Q: What's next?

Ultimately, technology can solve some of these issues and staff can solve some others, but Instagram is not built to work seamlessly with printing software. This is why major software manufacturers have to frantically issue software updates and have a service outage every time Instagram decides to change their interface. There are a lot of businesses that still rely on the Instagram loophole from 2011 and I really sympathise for the event hosts that don't realise the risk they're taking with that software - Instagram can and do change their API without warning, leaving event printing businesses up a creek without a paddle. It didn't take long for me to wonder if there was a better way and to start the hundreds of hours it's taken to research, develop and execute on the solution.

A: The Upload Link.

The Upload Link is a URL which goes straight to your personal upload page - no Instagram or app download required. It doesn't require a login so is quick and easy. It's one touch to select your photos (yes multiple photos at once if you want), and one more touch to upload to the event host's predetermined cloud storage. The page is personalised so you know you're in the right place and there is no privacy issue. It doesn't rely on any social platform and is fully customisable. Instant prints are an add-on which can be run by any event printing business, but ultimately the upload link is your personal image aggregator. Want all your guests to send you their event photos from their phone? One link. Want your remote staff to send you photos of the work they've been doing? One link. Want your customers to get a print with your branding? One link. Personalise the link with something unique like uploader.photos/alisons21st or uploader.photos/robertsonwedding and voila!

Independent Software

Relying on a free loophole in an internet based service was never going to last so it's best to use something independent, scalable and with backups in place.