Behind the InstaMeet: @sejkko, Lisbon

In a new series highlighting cities where InstaMeets happen across the world, we speak to the Instagrammers behind the scenes of organizing. To view more photos and videos from the recent Lisbon InstaMeet, browse the #TwinBridgesMeet hashtag and follow @sejkko on Instagram.

For Portugal Instagrammer Manuel Pita (@sejkko), Instagram is about more than just posting beautiful content—it’s about connecting with people.

The desire to bring together Instagrammers across Europe in the picturesque city of Lisbon led to an InstaMeet of great scale for the eighth Worldwide InstaMeet.

Inspiration

"There is a special brand of creativity in Instagram that carries an European signature, both in terms of aesthetics and concept," says Manuel. "With all this came the desire to explore the connections between Europe and other strong Instagram communities in the US, Asia and Latin America."

Manuel’s idea was to host simultaneous events at Lisbon’s Ponte 25 de Abril and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in the US to symbolize the European community’s connection with the rest of the world. He got in touch with San Francisco community organizers Brock Sanders (@mrbrock21) and Jim Barcelona (@barce) via Instagram Direct and set “a beautiful project” in motion.

"During several discussions with other Instagrammers—also enabled by Instagram Direct—I became aware of how important it is for the evolution of our communities to meet in person, to be inspired by the multiple dimensions of those we follow and admire. We also spoke about the importance of encouraging people to truly own the way they interact on Instagram."

Organization

Here are Manuel’s tips for organizing an InstaMeet in your city:

  1. "Make your passion for supporting a heterogeneous community of people, united by their expression through Instagram posts, be your first and foremost motivation. This does not exclude the participation of sponsors and brands. But the main goal, and the main idea of your meeting is to bring people who share their love and curiosity for Instagram together. This will ensure that anybody who wants to take part of your initiative will feel included and indeed find a meaningful place in the meeting you organize."
  2. "Find the right balance between giving structure (planning) and allowing self-organization by the people participating in the InstaMeet. The idea of such a meeting is not that there is a fixed itinerary, where everything on a list is done in order. But equally, it is not about people gathering in one place and getting confused about what is going on. There has to be a fair degree of planning of the key elements of your meeting, along with the wonder of discovering the shape it takes when it actually happens."
  3. "Pick a special feature of your city, the people in it or a theme to be highlighted in the InstaMeet. This will allow you all to tell the world a message about something unique. For the #TwinBridgesMeet, we used our bridge and the link it provided with the US community in San Francisco, but it could have been one of many other things about Portugal.”
  4. "One important thing the team in Lisbon—José Lourenço (@joselourenco) Gabirela Mateus (@gmateus) and myself—discussed in our post InstaMeet review was that, for a next event, we would encourage people to wear a name tag. This will make it easy for Instagrammers to interact.”

Reflection

The result was the #TwinBridgesMeet: two large groups of Instagrammers gathering to take photos and videos on Instagram more than 9,109 kilometers (5,660 miles) apart.

"The experience of reviewing the hashtag for our event is something I will never forget," Manuel reflects. "Many people were in Lisbon and San Francisco creating and capturing such a diversity of magical moments. Families with children, school friends, grandmas and grandpas, people on their bicycles, people with their pets, sunrise and sunset gazers, picnics and masqueraders. I found out about so many beautiful things that happened by carefully looking at what people had been adding."