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Instagram Enthusiasts Meet in Real Life “Insta-parties”

shared from News.com.au

The magic unicorn presenting paper flowers at the gate was the first clue this was no normal party. And then came the viola player, the photo booth and the yards of homemade bunting strung up around the garden of the white house in Melbourne’s St Kilda. This was a special party. An Insta-meet, actually, organised by the Australian uber-stylist Megan Morton for her devoted following of crafters, bloggers, photographers and style junkies.

“I wanted to create something for my community, people who love beauty but for whatever reason can’t get to one of my classes,” says Morton, whose courses at The School in Sydney are a mecca for makers and lovers of beautiful things. As soon as the invitation went out to her 15,000 Instagram followers, the buzz started to build. “When I heard someone was flying in from Perth for the afternoon, I thought, ‘Gosh, this might be huge. I better get a taco truck!’”

Yup. By 2.30pm on Sunday guests were lining up, iPhone cameras poised. The afternoon started with an Insta-treasure hunt around 13 stores in Melbourne that had donated prizes, then back to the garden for rosé, cupcakes and mingling, while children ran about and a friendly Great Dane worked his way around the crowd. Guests, who wore name tags with their Instagram handles, connected over their shared love of pompoms, peonies and tea cosies shaped like pugs, just as Morton had hoped.

“I just wanted people to come together,” she says. “We’re all so pushed in our jobs and lifestyle in the big city that we’re never able to come together without scheduling. I wanted to create that accidental sort of meeting place. It was a beautiful thing.”

An accidental meeting place is the perfect definition of an Insta-meet. Traditionally – that’s 10 minutes ago in social-media time – Insta-meets were the preserve of webby nature lovers gathered for a solar eclipse or freak tide. But the idea is gaining traction in the photo-sharing community. It’s the tweet-up of 2010, the flash mob of ’05. There are photo walks in Sydney, Insta-bikers in New York, gallery get-togethers at London’s Tate Modern and a Utah Insta-roadtrip is in the works.

Hamilton Island hosted its second Insta-meet in May, after the inaugural meet-up in 2012 attracted a throng of passionate snappers who shared thousands of images of palm trees and sandy feet with their million collective followers.

It’s clever marketing by the island, sure, but according to photographer Luisa Brimble, the friendships formed are real and pleasantly un-ironic. (She attended the second meet with Michael and Lindy Klim, Home and Away actress Samara Weaving, foodie Billie Law and model Rebecca Judd.) “It felt like we were all friends already from following each other on Instagram,” she says. “The vibe was amazing. It was just buzzing with so much creative energy – the total opposite of all the negative things you read about people meeting over the internet.”

Indeed, the notion of real communities forming out of online ones happily counters that internet cliché about nerdy teenagers in Seoul playing World of Warcraft with lonely cat ladies in Texas.

Does Insta-love ever turn into actual love, though? Of course. For many, Insta-dating, a trend first reported in New York Magazine back in January, feels like a more organic way to find love than putting yourself out there on match.com. And unlike a carefully crafted (and probably bogus) dating profile, a photo feed lets you know much more about the person you’re Insta-crushing on, where they go and what they really eat, wear, and read.

In business land, Instagram is making innovation happen. When Sass & Bide hired blogging, pinning, tweeting model Coco Rocha for its spring campaign, it was as much for her social-media pull as for her legs-’til-Tuesday. Fashion designer L’Wren Scott switched a runway show last season for a major Instagram campaign, while cult retailer Urban Outfitters links customers’ Instagram product pics to its online store.

Morton, meanwhile, plans to gear more and more of what she does towards social media, trading traditional book launches for more Insta-meets (Sydney next, New York at Christmas), recruiting staff and sourcing ideas – all from the one online community. “Instagram is shaping every single thing we do, from our visuals to our language to our kitchen selection and finding a florist or someone to run a workshop or bake for us,” she says. “Doing things any other way seems old-fashioned now.”

Source: News.com.au | News Limited [pics]

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